American Hysteria

American Hysteria
American Hysteria is a podcast exploring the fantastical thinking and irrational fears of Americans through explorations of moral panics, urban legends, and conspiracy theories, how they shape our psychology and culture, and why we end up believing them. Poet turned podcaster Chelsey Weber-Smith explores the sometimes hilarious, sometimes horrifying stories of historical and modern American freak-outs, why we fear the wrong things, and the real social issues these bizarre panics act to covering up. An in-depth alternative history, the show also analyzes how issues of race, gender, sexuality, and class have informed our beliefs from the Puritans to the present. Subscribe now on Apple, Google, Spotify, or where ever you get your podcasts.

Aug 19 • 41 min
Two Flexible Skeptics Contemplate the Unknowable Universe: American Hysteria in Conversation with the Something Scary Podcast
Aug 12 • 40 min
AFTER SHOCK: The Mad Gasser of Mattoon
Aug 5 • 17 min
5: Monsters
Jul 29 • 36 min
Ted Bundy
Jul 22 • 15 min
4: Celebrity
Jul 15 • 38 min
Skylark Presents: The Long Hallway
Jul 9 • 3 min
Parrot Fever
Jul 8 • 14 min
3: Quackery
Jul 1 • 38 min
Jun 24 • 14 min
2: Germs
Jun 17 • 36 min
Introducing Man in the Window
Jun 11 • 15 min
AFTER SHOCK: griefbots
Jun 10 • 16 min
15: Talking to the Dead
Jun 3 • 33 min
14: Presenting American Hysteria: Season Two
May 27 • 3 min
14: #freebritney
May 20 • 17 min

After TMZ reported that Britney Spears had been checked into treatment for mental health issues in April, concerns were raised about the state of her conservatorship, the legal agreement that gives her father a great deal of power over her affairs. A…
14: Murder Minute: Check out our newest sponsor
May 15 • 6 min
Through meticulously crafted storytelling and sound design, American Hysteria’s newest sponsor, the Murder Minute podcast, delivers a unique and immersive listening experience in true crime. Murder Minute is the length of a short commute, it’s a perfect…
14: American Hysteria LIVE in Seattle
May 13 • 2 min
For the very first time, American Hysteria is putting on a live variety-hour vaudevillian show so that you can experience our first season of moral panics, urban legends, and conspiracy theories in a totally different way. You’ve never seen a live podcast…
13: Skylark Presents: Earth Break Starring Jenny Slate
May 7 • 2 min
Out now, Earth Break is the latest scripted series from Skylark Media. Jenny Slate stars as Lynn Gellert, the last person left on Earth. Her constant and only companion is the voice recorder she managed to salvage from her mother’s house. As symptoms of a…
13: Believing in the Blair Witch
May 6 • 17 min
This is the 20 year anniversary of one of my favorite movies of all time, The Blair Witch Project, a movie that masqueraded as real found footage of three college students who went missing in the woods while recording a documentary on the local legend.…
11: Skylark’s Blackwood: An Urban Legend Audio Drama
Apr 29 • 2 min
Check out another of the Skylark family’s podcasts: Blackwood, the story of three teenagers investigating a local urban legend, The Bugman, that turns out to be more fact than fiction. Blackwood is an audio drama written by Will Rogers, American…
12: The Mandela Effect
Apr 22 • 14 min
Our culture, our society, our very sense of self, relies heavily on a faith in our memories as perfectly accurate. But what if our memories aren’t as reliable as we think? What if we can recall vividly, things that never actually happened? And what if…
11: Skylark Presents: Feminist Folklore
Apr 15 • 2 min
Feminist Folklore is a weekly podcast from Skylark Media, assistant produced by Chelsey Weber-Smith. Each week, Carlea Holl-Jensen and Rachel Marr share a different folk story or fairytale from around the world and dive into what it says about past and…
11: The Momo Suicide Challenge
Apr 8 • 14 min
The newest viral internet urban legend focuses on an entity named Momo, a creepy humanoid figure with giant eyes, a strange too-wide smile, and grotesque chicken legs, said to message teens and kids on messaging apps with escalating dangerous challenges…
10: The End of the World
Mar 25 • 44 min
It has been said that the apocalypse is as American as apple pie, and for our season finale we are exploring different versions of the end of the world, the hyper-religious, the new age, and the scientific, as well as Chelsey’s personal experience with…
9: AH The Calm Down: The Morality of Drugs and the Opioid Crisis
Mar 18 • 27 min
This week we will be discussing the history of drug panic in the United States and its effects in the present day. My guest is Sarah Deutsch, a friend of mine from high school who received her masters in Public health from the City University of New York.…
9: Drugs
Mar 11 • 35 min
_This episode contains references to graphic racism_ When a security camera caught footage of a 31-year-old Florida resident eating the face of a homeless man, the news and social media dubbed him the Miami Zombie, and it was widely speculated that he was…
8: AH The Calm Down: Murdered on Lovers’ Lane
Feb 25 • 24 min
For this week’s episode of the Calm Down, my guests are the women of Feminist Folklore, our partner podcast at Skylark media. Each week Carela Holl-Jensen and Rachael Marr consider what fairytales, folk stories, and urban legends can tell us about culture…
8: Teenage Sex
Feb 18 • 35 min
In 1996, Scream taught American teenagers the first rule to surviving a horror movie. Never, ever have sex. Classic slasher movies have their roots in an urban legend we all heard growing up: a guy and a girl are parked on a deserted lover’s lane making…
7: AH The Calm Down: Talking to My Christian Friends About Gay Stuff
Feb 11 • 27 min
For the Calm Down this week my guests are my two Christian friends who wish to remain anonymous, as they are sharing some anti-establishment opinions. Brianna is a poet who got her masters with me at the University of Virginia, and her husband Patrick has…
7: The Gay Agenda
Feb 4 • 37 min
The purse-carrying, tutu-wearing purple Teletubby Tinky Winky was outed as a homosexual in 1999, capping off a decade of conspiratorial anti-gay writings and videos that influenced politics straight up to supreme court. Accused of using kids shows and…
6: Introducing Feminist Folklore
Jan 28 • 3 min
Introducing another great podcast from Skylark Media! Feminist Folklore is a weekly storytelling and discussion podcast where each week, hosts Carlea and Rachael share a fairy tale, myth, or legend from around the world, and discuss it from a feminist…
6: AH The Calm Down: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Clown
Jan 27 • 26 min
On the Calm Down this week we are talking Phantom clowns, horror movies, and the uncanny valley. My guest is John Campopiano, an independent filmmaker, writer, and film collector who works for PBS’ Frontline His debut documentary explored Stephen King’s…
6: Phantom Clowns
Jan 21 • 37 min
For most of us living in the US, clowns have become much more associated with horror than the laughter of kids. The “killer clown” epidemic went viral in 2016, with reports across the nation of evil clowns trying to lure children into the woods, attacking…
5: AH The Calm Down: Kids in Cauldrons and Satanic Ritual Abuse
Jan 14 • 27 min
For this week’s Calm Down we are talking about part two of Satanic Panic that focused on Satanic ritual abuse. My guest is American Hysteria’s editor and producer Rod Rodriguez of Clear Commo Studios. A US Army Reserve Intelligence Officer, Rod earned his…
5: Satanic Panic: Part Two
Jan 7 • 36 min
_Please be aware that this episode talks about child sexual abuse. We recommend listening to part one of Satanic Panic first._ In 1980s America, when 60% of people believed that devil worship was a serious problem, two new characters, Stranger Danger’s…
5: AH The Calm Down: He’s Baaaack! Satanic Panic Themes in Riverdale and Sabrina
Dec 17, 2018 • 24 min
Welcome to The Calm Down, this week Chelsey is talking Satanic Panic with two friends and coworkers, siblings Will Rogers and Kristen Rogers Anderson. Will is the writer behind Skylark media’s audio drama Blackwood, an amazing series following three high…
4: Satanic Panic: Part One
Dec 10, 2018 • 36 min
This episode is part one of our two-part series on perhaps the most mystifying moral panic in US history, the 1980s and early 90s ‘Satanic Panic.’ For this episode, Chelsey covers the rise of organized Satanism beginning in the late 60s, as well as the…
3: AH The Calm Down: Hidden Anti-Semitism in Conspiracy Thought and Getting to Know Satan
Dec 3, 2018 • 23 min
The Calm Down is a mini episode of American Hysteria coming every other week. Today we’re following up on last week’s show about the illuminati, please listen to that episode first. My guest is Mark Gunnery, a queer Jewish journalist who produces the Kojo…
3: The Illuminati
Nov 26, 2018 • 35 min
For this episode, we’ll explore the mother-of-all conspiracy theories, the Illuminati, an alleged secret society and their evil world domination plan known as the New World Order. Chelsey takes a stroll down memory lane with friend Austin Smith, to a time…
2: AH The Calm Down: Needles & Strangers & the Illuminati, Oh My!
Nov 19, 2018 • 25 min
Every other week host Chelsey Weber-Smith will sit down with a guest to breakdown the previous episode, reveal all the stuff that was left out, as well as chat about the next week’s topic. This week, Chelsey and long time friend Jake Weholt, who you will…
2: Poisoned Halloween Candy
Nov 12, 2018 • 33 min
This episode takes a look at our history with candy, the desire and the panic, and explains why sweets have always been a source of fear for parents. Starting with the strange 1800s religious beliefs of Dr. Harvey Kellogg, about candy leading to sexual…
1: Stranger Danger
Nov 12, 2018 • 33 min
This episode explores the evolution of American’s bogeyman, the Stranger, and reveals how rare these types of kidnappings really are. Through looking at the sensational child snatching crimes that have shaped our culture from the 1800s to the 1980s, and…
1: Introducing American Hysteria
Nov 5, 2018 • 2 min
Skylark Media presents American Hysteria, a brand new podcast exploring our moral panics, urban legends, and conspiracy theories, how they shape our psychology and culture, and why we end up believing them. Host Chelsey Weber-Smith will attempt to…