Take your mind off COVID-19 with Relic Radio vintage radio podcasts [What We’re Into]

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Relic Radio vintage radio podcasts take my mind off the coronavirus pandemic.
Vintage radio podcasts are perfect for taking your mind off the coronavirus pandemic.
Photo: Lewis Wallace/Cult of Mac

What We're Into bug The nonstop onslaught of coronavirus news is making me a little crazy. Headlines asides, COVID-19-related content even infects the stream of shows in my Podcasts app. To ease my coronapanic, lately I’ve been binging on something a lot more relaxing: vintage radio podcasts from Relic Radio.

Served up through a variety of free podcasts, these old-time radio dramas really help take my mind off the rapidly unfolding COVID-19 horror show.

You can find vintage radio shows on a lot of websites, but I find Relic Radio podcasts the most convenient. The service offers eight vintage radio podcasts, divided by genres: horror, sc-fi, mystery, comedy, etc.

Each week, Relic Radio releases one new episode for each of its free podcasts. (You can also listen to previously released podcasts.) Each podcast contains an episode of a show from the golden age of radio, along with a little bit of background on the original broadcast. The radio shows range from really old to relatively modern. They typically clock in at around 30 minutes.

Relic Radio vintage radio podcasts

I particularly like Relic Radio’s Strange Tales, Science Fiction and The Horror podcasts. At first glance, you might not think the subject matter would prove so calming. But these horror stories come from a simpler time, before the torture (and pandemic!) porn that clogs Netflix these days.

The episodes on Relic Radio’s horror and sci-fi podcasts come from vintage radio shows like Suspense, Lights Out and my favorite, CBS Radio Mystery Theater. I used to lie awake at night listening to that one with a little earpiece plugged into my transistor radio back when those were a thing.

The beauty of these vintage stories is that, even when the stories actually prove chilling, they offer some real escapism due to the “theater of the mind” nature of radio drama. There’s only one drawback, really: The recordings vary greatly when it comes to audio quality. Some sound pristine. Others sound like somebody recorded them using a cassette tape that wound up taking some damage over the years.

Take a trip back in time

However, some of the episodes come with a bit of bonus content that I truly love — the commercials that ran during the shows’ original airing. Talk about a time warp. Hearing vintage commercials for classic cars, cigarettes and wacky ’50s food is like entering an alternate dimension.

Most nights during coronavirus lockdown, I find myself with an AirPod in one ear, drifting back to a simpler time via Relic Radio’s vintage radio podcasts. A time before streaming video and even, in some cases, before color TVs. With the San Francisco Bay Area’s COVID-19 shelter-in-place order extended into May, Relic Radio’s extensive back catalog of old-time radio dramas could come in handy.

Get Relic Radio podcasts

Price: Free

Subscribe: Relic Radio

What We’re Into is a recurring feature on The CultCast, the official podcast of Cult of Mac. The segment gives us a chance to talk about things not necessarily related to Apple (but still totally addictive).