Just A Story: The Urban Legend Podcast

Just a Story: The Urban Legend Podcast A weekly Podcast taking a look at the stories that we tell over and over again. What our myths and misdeeds, fears and fables say about us as humans.
RSS Feed
Just A Story: The Urban Legend Podcast


All Episodes
Now displaying: Page 1
Jun 5, 2016

Once upon a time there was a man who was anything but a Prince Charming. From Narcissus, to Bluebeard, to Henri Landrieu history is peppered with tales of guys who are really bad at relationships, and really, really bad for their partners' health. What inspired stories of such toxic lovers? Join us this week as we take a look at the relationship cycles of narcissists, the myth that helped define a disorder, the roots of a fairy tale with a truly terrifying bad guy, and the origins of the term, 'gaslighting'.

May 29, 2016

You should be safe in your own bed. It should be a place that allows you take refuge, recharge, and find peace. But nightmares, bad dreams and old hags can ruin that for anyone. These self-generated specters can make a prison of a bed, a place that generates anxiety and represents anything but peace. Now take the fear one step further, imagine that not only is your bedroom a place that traps you inside with all the things that go bump in the night, but your body rebels and the trap becomes more menacing. You can't move. You're wide awake, but you can't move. Maybe there's something in the corner of the room, or pressing on your chest. Maybe you're only aware of the feeling that you are not alone. This is sleep paralysis and it's been happening at least as long as people have been recording history. But what is it? Join us this week as we explore the mystery of sleep paralysis and ask whether or not bad dreams are really nothing to be afraid of.


Special Guest Story Teller: Dan Foytik of 9th Story Studios, Checkout one of his many great podcasts including 9th Story

May 22, 2016

How do you remember summer camp? What stands out most for you? Is it the memory of mosquito bites? Winning that year's capture the flag? Promising to write new friends, or your first love (and meaning letters with stamps, and only until school starts again)? Or do you remember the spooky stories told around the campfire, the camp ghosts, and fear of Jason Voorhees? What if those stories told in the dark weren't just imagined to frighten new campers? What if there really was some psychopath hiding in the woods? And what if said psychopath had magical powers? Join us this week as we explore the reasons we go into the woods for 'Lord of the Flies' style fun in the summer, and if there really is anything lurking in the woods right behind your cabin

May 15, 2016

Have you heard that the gay mafia is running Hollywood? Well any disenfranchised straight guy in the entertainment industry will tell you about it. Hyperbole aside, the gay mafia is a running joke/ urban legend that keeps popping up in pop culture. Where is this idea coming from? As much fun as it is to imagine a West Side Story-esque take on The Godfather, there's actually a historical source for this idea that is less than humorous.
Everyone knows about the Red Scare, but two shades lighter and just a hair more to the left there was a scare of equal importance. Join us this week as we examine the true story of the Lavender Scare; and explore the ways in which high-powered historical figures like J. Edgar Hoover and Joseph McCarthy left lasting scars on the LGBTQ Rights cause in America.

May 11, 2016


 The website Creepy Pasta has become a nearly ubiquitous cultural phenomenon. This site offers users a chance to share short fiction in a variety of media. The stories are generally scary, but they range in genre from classic horror to speculative fiction to political thriller. It's safe to say that among a subset of Internet users, a few of these stories have become legendary. Have the lines between written stories and oral tradition been blurred by the online community? Is this folklore? Are these stories urban legends? They've certainly left a mark, perhaps most infamously inspiring one attempted murder involving three 12-year-old girls. Join us this week as we celebrate our 25th episode, and explore the Creepy Pasta greatest hits from "The Russian Sleep Experiment" to "Slender Man", and ask what this new form of story swapping means for modern culture.

May 8, 2016


 The website Creepy Pasta has become a nearly ubiquitous cultural phenomenon. This site offers users a chance to share short fiction in a variety of media. The stories are generally scary, but they range in genre from classic horror to speculative fiction to political thriller. It's safe to say that among a subset of Internet users, a few of these stories have become legendary. Have the lines between written stories and oral tradition been blurred by the online community? Is this folklore? Are these stories urban legends? They've certainly left a mark, perhaps most infamously inspiring one attempted murder involving three 12-year-old girls. Join us this week as we celebrate our 25th episode, and explore the Creepy Pasta greatest hits from "The Russian Sleep Experiment" to "Slender Man", and ask what this new form of story swapping means for modern culture.


To Check out Audio Dime Museum:

May 1, 2016

Every year anxious freshmen shuffle into lecture halls for intro to psychology courses, they'll learn names like Freud, Jung, Skinner, James and Piaget. Without a doubt, they'll learn the name Kitty Genovese along with those. Unlike the others on that list, Kitty never planned on being incorporated in the textbooks and PowerPoint presentations (had any of them known what PowerPoint was). She was murdered in New York City in 1964 by a violent serial offender. Her story is robbed of its complexity and reduced to a parable, used to illustrate the perils of urban apathy. The concept is largely responsible for pioneering the study of the bystander effect. There were real-word, long lasting, far-reaching consequences, as well. The idea that 38 of Kitty's neighbors watched from their windows as she was attacked without bothering to phone for help haunted policy makers and scholars of human behavior, as well as people who read about in it newspapers all across the country for decades. But is it just a story? This week we take a look at the legend of urban apathy and get to know the dynamic, brave woman behind the notes in your psych 101 notebook. Join us as we explore the urban legend of the murder of Kitty Genovese.


To check out Audio Dime Museum:

Apr 24, 2016

Remember how you begged to go in the haunted house at the Halloween carnival when you were a kid? You know, right before you promptly freaked out and realized you were not as tough and grown up as you'd hoped and began begging your mom, dad, uncle who thought it was hilarious, etc. to leave? What did they all say to calm you down? 'Don't worry it's all pretend?' Right? Well, what if they were wrong? Once upon a time, not so long ago, they were. The body of Elmer McCurdy was discovered in a California fun house over fifty years after his death. We'll tell his incredible story in this episode before examining other preserved bodies found throughout the world. From bog people to incorrupt saints we explore the world of mortal remains that remain long after their owners have made their exits, and how they effect the living. Join us this week as we analyze the urban legend of the funhouse mummy and other unsettling finds.


To enter the Audio Dime Museum:

Apr 22, 2016

Extra! Sam had the chance to speak with Shelley Ritter, the Director of the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi about the blues, Robert Johnson, and the origin of "The Devil's Music"  

Learn more about the Delta Blues Museum:

Apr 18, 2016

Once upon a time, armored knights searched the world for sacred relics, and stories of their quests became legend and lore. Centuries later, noble scholars would follow in the footsteps of these most romantic heroes. Though, any Spielberg and Lucas collaboration would probably bust enough blocks to annihilate a game of Tetris, the pair of pop culture juggernauts found a truly  magical formula with the titular character, Indiana Jones and the films based on his adventures. By combining classical errant knight plots with the all-American swagger of a bad boy academic who hated Nazis, they ensured that no one would be able to resists the charms of their hero, and maybe, just maybe, they granted this fictional character the immortality promised by the relics he pursued. But there aren't really badass archeologists trotting the globe and shooting up bandits, right? The Nazis didn't give a hoot about the holy grail, did they? Join us this week, as we track down the surprising true stories behind the Indiana Jones franchise

Apr 10, 2016

Music doesn't make sense. We, as humans, respond to the essential emotion in notes and melodies without analysis or forethought. It's a natural, innate language that we all seem to speak. Or is it? Only humans seem to possess this natural affinity for music. Sure, birds sing, but they don't *preform*, their songs are lingual substitutes. We are the only ones who choose to sing when we don't need to. We are also the only ones who can lie, bargain with gods, fret over the state of our immortal soul or troll others on the Internet. So this whole music thing has always made people... Nervous. Music, in some ways, seems unnatural; and if you've ever seen any portrayal of life before ~yesterday, you'll know that all unnatural things are... Of the devil. There is a long association between musicians and the devil; (yes, even before Charlie Daniels said so). This week we will take a look at why that might be. From Paganini to Robert Johnson we'll explore what master musicians have gotten in return for selling their souls. So, join us at the crossroads as we ask, what's the connection between the Faustian bargain and the gods of music

Apr 2, 2016

Weight loss schemes and health trends seem to dominate our social media feeds. Pictures of food are second only to cat videos and inflammatory political rants. Whether you're trying to do battle with the scale, purify your digestive track and character through abstaining from (or introducing) certain types of food, or just trying to find the secret to that elusive idea of a healthy lifestyle, there's a plan being peddled to suit your needs. Fad diets aren't new. No, in fact, it seems that as soon as people weren't producing their own food, advice on what to eat began to flow freely and persistently. Some of the suggestions became so prevalent, despite their outlandish nature, that they can only be called, 'urban legends'. This week we focus on extreme diets, colorful charlatans and despicable dietitians as we dive into the wonderful world of weight loss. We'll meet the man behind the breakfast cereal, Dr. Kellogg; check into Starvation Heights under the care of Linda Hazzard; and see what happens when unrealistic standards of thinness and beauty effect susceptible populations. Join us as we look at everything from outlandish dieting advice, to the real and serious effects of eating disorders


Also, check out our historical storytelling podcast Audio Dime Museum:

Mar 27, 2016

Curiouser and Curiouser 
It is American tradition, but what is it? Before the three ring circus, before the 1932 cult classic "Freaks", before American Horror Story ... There was the dime museum. Join us this week, as we explore the storied history of these compendiums of curiosity and ask what legacy they've left behind. Step right up for a grand tour of the birthplace of innumerable urban legends.
As we begin our new experimental, historical storytelling podcast, Audio Dime Museum, we invite you all to learn why we find these palaces of the bizarre so fascinating, and why we just can't look away. 

To Step Inside the Audio Dime Museum:

Mar 21, 2016

You can't go home again.
From Dorothy to Odysseus to the guy scream-singing "One of Us" in the car next to you during your hour long commute, people spend a lot of time and effort trying to make their way home.
The idea of being stopped mid-journey, of never making it home, seems to have had a very long history in fables. One could argue, this is evidence that that fear has had an equally lengthy history in our collective consciousness. That's exactly what we argue in this episode. Examining the urban legend, 'The Vanishing Hitchhiker' we dig in to the fear of never making it home, and the many ways this has been expressed over time.
From people who have made hitchhikers vanish, like Edmund Kemper, to mysterious unsolved cases like the orange sock murders, to the historical legends associated with roadside phantoms around the country; we look at the many and varied roots and the constant evolution of this modern myth


Special Guest Story Teller: Erik Rivenes of the Most Notorious! Podcast 

Check out his amazing true crime podcast here:!-true-crime/id1055044256?mt=2

Mar 12, 2016

Whether wishing we could un-say that thing, or contemplating theoretical physics; we can't help but be fascinated by the notion of time travel. Inspiring such iconic pop culture franchises as Back To the Future, Planet of the Apes, Doctor Who, Quantum Leap, and Star Trek, the idea of visiting the future or the past seems to present limitless possibilities for storytelling. This week we take a look at the scientific theories that fuel these flights of fancy. Join us as we do our best to find the roots of our desires for, or fears of, wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey adventure  Oh Boy!

Mar 6, 2016

Rock and roll. The devil's music. Destroyer of youth and molder of the juvenile delinquents. From hip-cropping television appearances to record burning protests, the good people (whoever that's supposed to be) have been trying to censor the attitudes and prevalence of rock music. And the stars started dying. Young and rebellious, the heroes of counter-culture became victims to their lifestyles in alarming numbers beginning in 1969. After the deaths of such notables as Brian Jones (The Rolling Stones), Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison (The Doors) all occurred while the musicians were aged 27, an irresistible coincidence was noted by fans the world over. With the suicide of grunge icon Kurt Cobain occurring at the same age over twenty years later, 'The 27 Club' officially became the stuff of urban legend. We take a look at what early death does for the legacy of a rockstar and ask the question, is it really better to burn out than to fade away?


Check out Twitter to find our 27 club playlist 

Feb 28, 2016

Remember your first night away from home? Not at camp, Not at a slumber party, but really on your own? What advice were you given about safety? How many times did you check the deadbolt? How long did it take you to get used to the sounds of the house? This week we look at the fears that come with moving away from home, and the stories we make up to make ourselves feel safe. Kids, especially young women, are told that if they're just good enough, pure enough, afraid enough; they'll be safe. Logic follows, then, anyone who gets hurt was asking for it. Using the roommates from the classic urban legend, "Aren't You Glad You Didn't Turn on the Lights" as a case study we look at the way media and society cast female victims as Madonna or whore, and learn a real life cautionary tale. (Brought to you by mass murderer Richard Speck and the letter 'm'.)

Feb 21, 2016

Somewhere between the way things were, and the way they are, there was a hope; no, there is a hope, that there's more to life than meets the eye. But, long before news of scientific discoveries were embedded between posts like '18 Things Only Girls With Curly Hair Will Understand' and 'Hedgehogs: Our New Cute Obsession' and updates for tech devices appeared every other day, there was a sense of wonder and possibility attached to each advance and understanding. Is it so difficult to think that early 20th century imaginations might turn attentions to the boundary between the life and death, expecting that the same science that brought electric lighting to their home or sent their messages across oceans via telegraphs might contact those just beyond the veil? These are the origins of the Ouija board. The swirling chaos that defined that era is full of characters and controversy. The Spiritualist movement pitted master magician Harry Houdini against the master of mystery, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and the fallout was and is incredibly entertaining. Join us as we examine how and if this board works, and take a look at one of the greatest intellectual feuds in modern history. 

Feb 13, 2016

Surely, yes, surely, Norman, Mother, and the horrors of the Bates Motel are merely eccentric imaginings of a darkly gifted mind, right? However unbelievable this Freudian field day seems, it's based on a true story. Just as Hitchcock's film, Psycho, initiated the country (and truthfully, the world) into the age of suspenseful, cerebral horror thrillers; the story of its origin generated a national curiosity about abnormal psychology and its role in creating the modern monsters later dubbed 'serial killers'. Unbelievable from inspiration to publication, from publication to production, from production to marketing, and from marketing to reception this film is a landmark of cinema and storytelling. Join as we take a look at the way Psycho redefined the way Americans saw movies, and the way Ed Gein changed the way we saw the guy next door. 

Guest Story Teller Diane Student from History Goes Bump Podcast

Feb 6, 2016

What do you think of when you hear the phrase 'Mardi Gras'? It seems a safe wager to bet that most minds go to booze, boobs, Bourbon Street and beads, but there is another farewell to flesh, celebrated not so far from the capital city of organized debauchery. Yes, deep along the bayous of Cajun Country men in ornate costumes take to horseback and ride out seeking the ingredients they will need to provide a feast for their fellow townsfolk. Sounds like something straight out of Europe in the Middle Ages, right? It is in fact, but these masked marauders ride to this day, but how did this tradition find its way to rural south Louisiana? Who are these madmen? What do they want? And most importantly, what's with all this talk about a chicken? 

Jan 31, 2016

We all know children are the future, mostly because the song plays at local supermarkets and dentist's office in heavy rotation, but what if that sentiment isn't as comforting as soft rock would have us believe? "Children are all little criminals," a 19th century psychologist stated, and perhaps he's not so far off. There's something parasitic about the relationships between caretakers and their charges, but we'll look at the extreme worst case scenarios in this episode. From the paranormal, black eyed children trading on their cuteness to get a chance to steal your soul, to the factual, real life tales of kids who kill; we'll try to answer the question: why are creepy kids so creepy? 

Jan 24, 2016

Hotels are a common fixture in almost any society. Since before the birth of Christ, and, come to think of it, even for the specific occasion of the birth of Christ, people have been hoping to find some room at the inn. But serving society's weary travelers or playing host to out-of-towners away for both business and pleasure is only the beginning of functions hotels perform. Is there something to the idea that at some hotels you can check any time you like, but you can never leave? The Eagles styled a fictional inn as a purgatory of sorts in their classic song, "Hotel California", and maybe that's not as fantastical as it sounds. We take a look at the things that go on behind those 'do not disturb' signs, and see if there's anything to the idea that hotels are beacons of the underworld. Using the Hotel Cecil, a real-life Hotel California if ever there was one, as a case study we work our way through the vices that draw people, such as Robert Ramirez and Elisa Lam, to these intersections of public and private life and the privacy and anonymity they provide.


Elisa Lam Video:

Jan 16, 2016

As we unpack this legend about a cross dressing assailant attacking a woman in her home, issues surrounding gender, violence, and safe spaces are bound to come up. In this episode we take a look at the history of people posing as members of the opposite sex and examine the lasting effects that old attitudes, fears, and prejudices have left on modern society. The damaging discourse of deviance surrounding issues of gender still shows up today, creating discrimination against the transgender community and the continued prevalence of violence against women. Who is really at risk here? 

Jan 10, 2016

Just A Story: The Urban Legend Podcast


In December of 1973, there was something wrong with Reagan MacNeil and audiences across the globe flocked to theaters to see just exactly what that 'something' was. Dubbed *the scariest movie of all time* by many, THE EXORCIST explores what happens when demonic entities take hold of a human body, and the war that is waged by the forces of good on behalf of that soul. But what is possessions really; mislabeled psychosis or the embodiment of evil? And what lasting effects has this legendary film left on the culture whose curiosity got the better of it all those years ago?

Jan 3, 2016

**New and Improved Audio*** 

For years chaperones and parents did their best to hold onto the keys of their sons' and daughters' chastity belts. The rising car culture after WWII, however; saw more and more teens taking control of the wheel, and making their own sexual choices. Faced with this reality, a frightening boogeyman with a hook for a hand stepped in to do what parents no longer could, give kids a reason to say 'no'. The real question is, who is he?

1 2 Next »