From Firsthand Experiences to Tragic Endings, These 11 Podcasts About Cults Are Must-Listens
If you watched Waco on Netflix in one sitting and have read everything about the Manson Family that you can, then we have some podcast recommendations that will be right up your alley. From the charismatic leaders who establish them to the hopeful recruits who join them, cults are truly fascinating — especially since there are so many whose stories you don't know. We've rounded up some of the best podcasts about cults out there, including series that cover everything from history to psychology to firsthand experiences. If you're looking for something new to listen to, give one of these 11 fascinating podcasts a try.
Therapist Rachel Bernstein has worked with survivors of cults and emotional abuse for nearly 30 years, which makes her the perfect person to host this weekly podcast. Bernstein interviews former cult members and those who've escaped from psychologically abusive relationships, offering helpful advice about protecting yourself from controlling individuals.
Rather than focusing on cult leaders and their willing recruits, this insightful podcast, hosted by Dhyana Levey, tells the stories of those born into sects and extremist groups who eventually escaped. Generation Cult offers a perspective that isn't often considered from people who never had a choice, and the stories of how these individuals acclimated to life on the outside are pretty inspiring.
Cults of Our Lives
If you're a fan of My Favorite Murder, then you're sure to enjoy this similarly structured podcast series. In Cults of Our Lives (which unfortunately ended its run in September 2019), besties Halle George and Stasie Sereda have candid discussions about the bizarre world of cults, delving into various sects and offering their own (oftentimes hilarious) takes.
Transmissions From Jonestown
This 12-part investigative series breaks down the unbelievable true story of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, which resulted in the largest mass suicide in modern history. Incorporating audio clips from the Jonestown tapes (which were released by the FBI 20 years later), Transmissions From Jonestown attempts to explain how one man convinced over 900 people to take their own lives.
Let's Talk About Sects
Australian writer, filmmaker, and podcaster Sarah Steel hosts this (cleverly named) podcast, which revolves around the fascinating world of sects. From cults to secret societies to zealous religious groups, Steel covers a new sect each month, taking deep dives into each sects' leaders, recruitment processes, and memberships.
Ever wonder about what goes on in the minds of cult leaders and their followers? That's the focus of Cults, which is hosted by Greg Polcyn and Vanessa Richardson, the same duo behind the popular podcast Serial Killers. In the weekly podcast series, Polcyn and Richardson conduct interviews with former cult members in an attempt to uncover the secrets and psychology of cult life.
You Must Remember Manson
Think you know everything there is to know about Charles Manson and the Manson Family? Think again. Originally released in 2015 as part of the podcast You Must Remember This, Karina Longworth's 12-part series explores details about the infamous cult leader and his victims that even serious crime buffs may not know.
This weekly podcast — which is hosted by Paige Wesley, Armando Torres, and Andrea Guzzetta — offers hilarious takes on both well-known cult figures and totally obscure ones. In addition to telling well-researched stories and offering fascinating miniseries, this podcast delivers info in a way that's fun and entertaining.
Whether you're familiar with the Heaven's Gate group or not, this 10-part investigative podcast tells the story of cult founder Bonnie Lou Nettles and her protégé, Marshall Applewhite, like you've never heard it before. The series is hosted by Glynn Washington (who was raised in a religious sect himself) and goes into wild detail about the Southern California cult most famous for its 1997 mass suicide.
I Got the Hell Out!
What is life like after you escape from an Old Testament, polygamous, doomsday cult? Debby, who spent 10 years of her life as part of a religious sect before escaping in 2013, offers her own firsthand experience in this surprisingly funny podcast. The series follows Debby's candid conversations with her friend, Laura, who acts as cohost and audience proxy.
The Gateway: Teal Swan
Hosted by journalist Jennings Brown, this six-part series tells the story of Teal Swan, a self-declared spiritual teacher, author, and social media personality whose self-help YouTube videos supposedly help people struggling with depression. Despite her fanatical fan base, many have criticized Swan's unconventional methods, and Brown takes a deep dive into Swan's powerful persona through a series of intimate interviews.