Podcast Review: “The Black Tapes”

Out of all the podcasts I listen to, “The Black Tapes” is probably my favorite. “The Black Tapes” is a three-season mystery/thriller docudrama that began in 2015, produced by Pacific Northwest Stories (PNS) and Minnow Beats Whale (MBW).

The biweekly podcast takes place in—you guessed it—the Pacific Northwest, and follows host Alex Reagan as she teams up with paranormal expert Dr. Richard Strand to investigate reports of ghosts, demon worship and witchcraft. New cases are reported to the Strand Institute, a nonprofit organization that Strand began, following his wife’s mysterious disappearance. The podcast gets its name from a shelf of black VHS tapes that chronicle paranormal incidents Strand has never been able to debunk.

“The Black Tapes” is heavy on the plot and on the development of relationships between its characters. Initially, the show gives off heavy “X-files” vibes, with Strand in the place of Scully, and Reagan, determined to discover the truth behind Strand’s mysterious past and his tapes, as Mulder. The characters of Nic Silver, Reagan’s coworker and confidant, and Meerkatnip, a skilled hacker, also appear regularly throughout the series.

Though there are plenty of weird goings-on, it’s rare for any of the cases that Strand and Reagan investigate to pan out—at least, not in the way you’d expect.

This is the kind of podcast to listen to if you want answers to your questions presented on a silver platter. Though each of its three seasons has an individual arc, what Reagan and Strand discover throughout the course of the series builds toward a finale of apocalyptic proportions.

PNS and MBW have worked hard to make “The Black Tapes” as realistic as possible. According to this article, they have never officially released the names of their voice actors, or publicly admitted the podcast is fictional–though the photos used on the official “The Black Tapes” website and some research reveal Lori Henry as the voice of Alex Reagan, Christian Sloan as Richard Strand, Terry Miles as Nic Silver, and Cristine Kofsky as Meerkatnip.

The series, and its sister podcast “Tanis” (which features Nic Silver and Meerkatnip in more prominent roles) are produced by Terry Miles and Paul Bae.  

“The Black Tapes” is a podcast I would recommend for anyone, whether you like your podcasts hard-boiled or a little more inclined toward fantasy. This podcast can be downloaded on iTunes or from other sites listed here.

Story by
Megan Fairbanks
printchief@suunews.com

Photo courtesy of
PNWS

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