Podcast Picks: Old Gods of Appalachia
"From ghoulies and ghosties, long-leggedy beasties, and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord deliver us."
Diving into cracked, dusty diaries of pioneers in Northwestern Pennsylvania, growing herbs used in folk medicine called "Granny Magic," listening to old mystery and horror radio show archives, and hiking cathedrals of trees and decaying cemeteries is my gig. While braiding all of these interests into an obsession, I stumbled upon the horror-fiction podcast Old Gods of Appalachia (OGoA) by co-creators Steve Shell and Cam Collins. The 480-million-year-old Appalachian Mountains and their plateaus run up to Newfoundland, Canada and down to Alabama, from the Atlantic coast and west to Ohio. That's tons of geography for material.
The stories of OGoA take place between the late 1700s and the late 1900s, set in hills, caves, forests, and hollers of an alternate Appalachia (pronounced: apple-atchya) mostly before advancements in modern medicine and science. Dark themes of the supernatural, the occult, madness, and generational trauma pulse through the veins of these engrossing tales. It has Celtic, Native American, African, and Germanic threads throughout, mirroring traditional folklore of the region. Most episodes flow like chapters with something special occasionally woven in as a treat.
Since 2019, over 20 artists have given voice to many characters like lost innocents in the shadows of watching woods, hard-working folks clinging desperately to their faith with calloused hands, angered ancient spirits lurking in caves, and crooked mine owners treating lost lives as numbers in a ledger. Despite its wildly varying stories, the bones remain connected and strong. The writing and acting are earnest without being belittling, like some more recent Appalachian memoirs. You can catch the OGoA cast and crew in person at the Roxian Theater in McKees Rocks on May 19 with their performance of "The Price of Progress."