You Should Be Listening To: “What’s the Frequency”

You Should Be Listening To is a series where I talk up one of my favorite podcasts and explain why you should be listening, too. Each post gives an explanation of the show using the same five questions, including how best to listen and comparisons to other pieces of media. You can find all of my You Should Be Listening To posts here.

All About What’s the Frequency

What is What’s the Frequency?

What’s the Frequency is an independent, serialized comedy/drama/”psychedelic noir” audio drama. The show is relatively new, with its first episode published on September 13th, 2017, and only three full episodes being released as of writing this post (12/27/17). The show takes place in an alternate universe in which only one frequency on the radio works, and it only plays a traditional radio drama.

Okay, but what is it really?

What’s the Frequency is terrifying and riveting, and it’s delivering some of the best horror in the audio drama medium–a medium that’s well past saturated with horror. It’s a show that is confusing and layered and aggressively its own. It’s a show about reality, it’s also a show about the audio and horror industries themselves. It’s strange and surreal and confusing on a first listen, but extremely rewarding.

What makes it different from other podcasts?

Well, first and foremost, the way What’s the Frequency sounds. What’s the Frequency is bizarre. It feels like somewhere between David Lynch and Bioshock, but without the visuals to contextualize it. Don’t let that scare you off, though; while it may seem jarring on an initial listen, What’s the Frequency is worth the close attention it demands. If anything, the horror should be what scares you off–but only if you’re not really a horror fan. Even still, though, the horror here is done in such a strange and unsettling way versus banking on cheap jump scares or descriptions of gore. The horror here is slow and seeping, raveling itself into the mystery at the show’s core. One of the things that sets Whats’s the Frequency so far apart from other shows is how little it depends on dialogue or narration to explain what’s happening in a scene: instead of telling the listener someone is being hit with a telephone, for instance, the production speaks for itself. What’s the Frequency has an almost unparalleled trust and respect for its audience.

When does it start to “get good?”

Like with Greater BostonWhat’s the Frequency is good straight off the bat and just keeps getting better. However, I would urge listeners to approach the show with patience. It has a learning curve, but as I’ve said before and will say forever, it’s so worth it. Think of it like starting the book versions of A Clockwork Orange or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It’s a bit confusing at first, but once it clicks, everything becomes natural.

Why should I be listening?

I believe wholeheartedly that What’s the Frequency shows the trajectory of audio dramas better than any other new show. It’s a show that completely subverts the idea of what an audio drama should sound like in such a refreshing way. It’s strange, and bold, and refreshing, and so dedicated to exactly what it is. The production is gorgeous and the writing is both suspenseful an fun. I’ve called What’s the Frequency the Podcast Problems darling of 2017, and for good reason. You can read more about What’s the Frequency here and here.

Listen to What’s the Frequency if you like:

  • Anything by David Lynch or inspired by David Lynch
  • The immersive strangeness of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil or Neil Gaiman’s Mirrormask
  • The strange feeling of unease you get when revisiting that boat scene from the 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  • The aesthetically-driven horror found in Bioshock and Doshonored
  • The mind-bending nature of films like InceptionThe Prestige, or Looper

You can find more information, including links and transcripts of episodes, on their website.

8 thoughts on “You Should Be Listening To: “What’s the Frequency”

  1. I am not normally a horror person. But What’s The Frequency does things with audio that I have never heard before. I never thought the song “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two)” could chill me to my core, but the way they do things just… works. The interesting audio makes up for the fact that I never ever know what on earth is going on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!!! I’m a horror JUNKIE, so I was bound to love it, but I love that it appeals to people who usually aren’t into the genre. It’s just so different and strange and bold and innovative. Ugh. I love this podcast so much.


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