The Horror Show with Brian Keene ended its weekly podcast run after almost six years, the author announced in an August 27th statement on briankeene.com. The Horror Show ran from its first episode on January 29th, 2015, to its 279th episode on September 3rd, 2020, according to the show’s archives. The finale’s description simply read: “Changes aren’t permanent, but change is.”
An insider’s view of the horror fiction business, Keene’s show was sometimes raucous, usually informative, often introspective, and always entertaining. The format made you feel like you were sitting around a table in the back of a quiet bar listening to people share their unfiltered passion for horror fiction.
The show was obviously a labor of love for Keene, who won the 2014 World Horror Grandmaster Award. Probably best known for his Bram Stoker Award-winning debut novel The Rising, Keene’s career has crossed over into a number of different genres and media. Read his bio HERE for a snapshot of his varied background.
My first and favorite Keene novel is Ghoul. I immediately became a fan after reading it, and I’ve since read numerous Keene books. Dark Hollow (what an opening line) and Castaways (Troy is a blast) are two of my favorites. Keene is simply one of the best in the business.
The Horror Show was the go-to podcast for horror fans, publishers, and writers. Keene interviewed the legends of horror fiction, the mainstays, and the up-and-comers. He talked industry news, offered publishing advice, and addressed trends in the genre. The podcast archives are basically a modern historical record for horror fiction.
Some of Keene’s shows tackled controversial issues in the publishing business, which required quite a bit of investigative journalism. As a newspaper journalist myself for two decades, I can tell you that it can take an emotional toll on you when reporting negative news, especially about people you know. It creates backlash and bitterness and collateral damage. Even when what you’re doing is right, it can still feel wrong.
Keene posted a release about the end of The Horror Show on his website. Like his podcast, the release is direct, heartfelt, and honest with the requisite F-bomb thrown in to make it classic Keene. The author addressed the toxicity of social media.
“With each passing year, the show has become more and more popular, but with that popularity comes more work and more headaches and more time away from writing,” Keene wrote. “I understand the role the show plays in people’s lives, and I understand, as my friend Hillary Monahan said, ‘You’re an important voice … and the community will miss you.’ And as Christopher Golden pointed out, ‘You’ve done a lot of good with The Horror Show, brother. That includes respect for the history of the genre and lifting up new generations of writers. The constant melee of social media is poisonous and maybe it doesn’t need the oxygen you give it. But that other stuff? It does.’
“But here’s the thing,” Keene continued. “If you’re going to do a show that — at least in part — focuses on fairly presenting news that impacts the horror genre and industry — then you’re going to have to give oxygen to some of that poisonous stuff. And when you give oxygen to the poisonous stuff, it slowly takes your own oxygen away. Here lately, I’m having trouble breathing.”
My take? Keene’s in his 50s and tired of the BS. Who can blame him? The good news? The Grandmaster is not going away, just his weekly podcast of The Horror Show is. All the episodes will continue to be available for free HERE.
“That doesn’t mean I’ll stop giving a platform to other voices and shining a spotlight on the genre’s history,” Keene said in his statement. “I intend to continue doing both of those things via semi-regular livestreams on YouTube. I say semi-regular because I don’t want to be tied to a schedule, the way I was with the podcast. Coming up in the next two months on The Horror Show, I had intended to interview Gabino Iglesias, Stephen Graham Jones, Cina Pelayo, Tim Waggoner, Wesley Southard, and Somer Canon. I’ll still be doing that, but on YouTube, rather than a podcast, and I’ll focus ONLY on giving them a platform, rather than a format where they have to share the spotlight with whatever terrible f***ing thing happened in the industry that week. And I’ll also use that platform to examine the genre’s history. I’ve been dying for an opportunity to show off stuff like my 90s horror zine collection and uber-rare Richard Laymon works, and stuff like a letter from Robert Bloch to J.F. Gonzalez.”
You can read the entirety of Keene’s statement on his website HERE.
My final thought? I think Keene is the Batman of horror podcasts. I recall the restaurant scene in The Dark Knight when Harvey Dent says, “Whoever the Batman is, he doesn’t want to do this for the rest of his life. How could he? Batman is looking for someone to take up his mantle.”
I think Keene is looking for someone to take up The Horror Show’s mantle and continue its mission of spotlighting the writers, the news, and the history of the horror genre.
I wonder who will be the next Batman of horror podcasts?
Until next time, listen to the finale of The Horror Show with Brian Keene HERE.