There is something about true crime stories that fascinate us while simultaneously sending a chill down our spines. The Morbid podcast, hosted by Alaina Urquhart, an autopsy technician/ author, and Ash Kelley, a hairdresser, is one such podcast. It explores spooky true crime stories with a pinch of comedy thrown in. A “lighthearted nightmare” is the best way to describe this podcast.
Morbid became very popular among true crime enthusiasts because the hosts always do a lot of research and they genuinely have fun recording the episodes. Their goofy personalities attract a lot of their subscribers. They also focus on the worth of the victims and make them seem human, which listeners love!
The Creators Behind the Morbid Podcast
Alaina Urquhart is an autopsy technician at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. She has a degree in psychology, biology, and criminal justice, and conducted her research on the postmortem study of aortic hemorrhage caused by CPR. She loves morbid stories and has written a crime thriller called “The Butcher and the Wren.” Because of her job, she provides unique insights from within the walls of a morgue for the crime stories.
Ashleigh Kelley is a hairdresser and Alaina’s niece. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Bristol Community College, and studied hairdressing at Toni and Guy Hairdressing Academy. Currently, she works at Salon Capri in Dedham, Massachusetts.
When she was 7, Alaina’s mother gifted her a copy of “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,” which is where her love for all things scary stems from. She and Ashleigh were practically raised as sisters, so Alaina passed on her love of spooky stories to her niece. The Morbid podcast was started as a way for the aunt-niece duo to share their love of true crime stories with the world. The hosts also launched the Morbid Network, under which five other podcasts exist.
Themes and Topics Covered
In this true crime anthology podcast, the hosts discuss the most morbid stories in extensive detail. They are known for their research, their sympathy to the victims, and, most importantly, for their humor, which helps in lightening up the grisly subjects of their episodes.
Every week, they also post an episode of “Listener Tales,” which includes stories sent to them by their listeners. They also have a series of “Mini Morbids” episodes, which are shortened versions of some full-length episodes.
Currently, the podcast has over 500 episodes! Let us analyze three episodes of Morbid to understand the podcast better.
The Brutal Hoia Baciu Forest
In this episode, the hosts take us to a mysterious forest in Romania, the place where Dracula was born. Known as the Bermuda Triangle of Romania, the forest is named after a shepherd who disappeared along with his entire flock of sheep. Locals avoid the place. People who have entered the forest have vanished with no trace, along with all their things. Those who survive to tell the tale suffer physical and mental distress.
Locals believe that the place is haunted by the spirits of murdered farmers from long, long ago. In the middle of the forest, there is a perfectly round and clear spot surrounded by vegetation. Nobody knows why the trees don’t grow there. Rumor has it that this spot is a portal to hell.
If you want to learn more about the endless mystery shrouding this place, listen to the episode!
The Survival Tale of Vicky Cilliers
One day, in 2015, Vicky Cilliers, an expert parachutist, leaped from a plane that was flying 4000 feet above the ground. For some reason, her parachute failed to open. She plummeted to the ground and, shockingly, survived the fall, only because she landed on a freshly plowed field.
Was it just an unfortunate accident? Or an attempt at murder?
After two criminal trials, Emile Cilliers, her husband, was found guilty of attempted murder. The parachute incident was his second attempt at murdering his wife in less than a week!
Want to hear all the morbid details of this story? Tune in to Morbid!
The Mysterious Disappearance of Theodosia Burr Alston
This incident happened way back in 1812. Aaron Burr, a founding father and former Vice President, had just gotten out of exile. Theodosia Burr Alston, his daughter, boarded a ship from South Carolina named Patriot which was heading to New York to go visit her father and spend some time with him. But she never reached her destination. The ship and Theodosia had disappeared at sea.
What actually happened to her? Listen to this episode to learn about the various theories surrounding her disappearance.
Reach of the Morbid Podcast
The Morbid podcast has 7.26k subscribers on Youtube, 818k followers on Instagram, 126.1k followers on Twitter, and 122.4k followers on TikTok.
Alaina Urquhart-White, one of the hosts, has 280k followers on Instagram and 45.6 followers on TikTok. Ash Kelley, the other host, has 318k followers on Instagram and 105.3k followers on TikTok.
On YouTube, where view statistics are readily available, it appears that the average episode receives anywhere between 1.3k to 5.3k views, with some of the most popular ones getting 8k views.
As of January 2023, Morbid was ranked #10 on Apple Podcasts in the USA.
Based on this analysis, we estimated that the Morbid podcast receives 10k – 15k listens each time an episode goes out across Apple, Google, YouTube, and Spotify podcast networks.
The Format of the Podcast
Each podcast episode begins with a few advertisements, followed by the hosts greeting the listeners. They also give updates about the podcast, if any. After the unsettling theme music, they introduce the incident and get into the nitty gritty of the case.
The entire episode is narrated as a conversation between the two hosts. It feels like we are just listening in on two best friends having a discussion about a topic they stumbled on. This, interjected with their humor, helps the podcast from turning too dark, while also giving all the information about the incident. We also get to know their opinions about the incidents, which is pretty cool.
They feature guests in some of their episodes to listen to their spooky stories as well as have discussions with them. Their past guests include Alvin, one of the hosts of the Affirmative Murder podcast, hosts Corinne and Sabrine from the Two Girls One Ghost podcast, Cameron Esposito, a stand-up comic, hosts Holly and Bridget from the Girls Next Level podcast, YouTubers Sam and Colby, and Paul Feig, the legendary director.
Reception and Impact
Since its inception, the Morbid podcast has gained a lot of popularity – both because of the subject matter, and the hosts themselves. The episodes give off the feeling of campfire conversations with your best friends. The hosts often refer to their listeners as their best friends, and even have a cute nickname for them – “weirdos.” Their goofy and wholesome personality definitely attracts the listeners.
Alaina and Ash are also thorough with their research, and do a very good job of giving all the details while injecting comedy into the episodes. This makes the gruesome tales easy to listen to.