One of my favorite sound styles is horror. I especially enjoy the process of searching for scary, strange, or unique sound samples, which I use for radio projects. Sometimes I just keep digging deeper into the vast universe of these themes without any project in mind—it’s just great to get lost in the connections to be made with these recorded elements.
Old-time radio shows are my favorite. I am in awe of the way these narratives were recorded. When these stories were first broadcast, there were no sound samples or digital music libraries to choose from and plug in digitally. This was radio, usually recorded live, and what listeners heard were elaborate stories that left them in wonder.
Think about the children in the movie A Christmas Story, and how exciting it was for them to vividly imagine the tale coming through the radio.
I was first introduced to radio novelas in Mexico when our family would visit over the summer. From the moment I heard one of these radio shows, somewhere in the background of one of my tía’s kitchens, I was hooked. I remember paying close attention every time we would visit the outdoor markets because there was always someone playing a radio novela in the background.
There were all kinds of themes, too. I remember hearing Westerns, horror, comedy, and even historical dramas. But my favorite continues to be the haunting, frightening, startling, and usually far-fetched radio sketches.
When you listen to these vintage radio productions and start digging into all of them, perhaps at some point sound by sound, you realize their magnitude and complexity. These recorded narratives come to life not just from the outstanding vocal performances but also, and especially, from their surroundings.
Hearing only footsteps crunching among the trees, you can visualize a dark forest, with every other sound element—crickets, branches creaking, wind blowing, a howl—creating even more suspense, more curiosity and, ultimately, the need to listen to more.
Beyond such radio programs, this genre in sound includes poetry, spoken word performances, and communal storytelling. My interest is in all of this but en español. Beyond looking for these nightmare-inducing radio programs, I may sometimes squeal when I find some zombie-chomping-on-bones-type sounds. There is a great selection of creepy aural textures—and things that sometimes should have never been recorded, which make me shiver at the thought.
All of that is to say that this playlist has monsters, cumbia, vampires, brujas, gloom and doom, pop, and more.
The playlist is arranged in order of danceability, ending with some radio novela samples and spooky soundscapes.
Note: You can also listen to episode 1 of No Te Asustes, my horror-themed programa de radio en español, here.