When Kerri Easterling and Donna Elwin first launched their podcast “A Paranormal Chicks” in April 2018, they had no idea if anyone would even hear what they had to say.
“We have been friends forever, and we sat around watching Dateline talking about it, so we decided to just record it,” said Elwin. “Would anyone listen to it? Well, if no one listened to it, then we were going to have fun anyway.”
“A Paranormal Chicks,” now a two-time FestivalSouth Best of the Pine Belt winner, is a weekly podcast that covers both true crime and paranormal stories.
Easterling and Elwin also host a weekly episode called “Sinister Sightings” where they read listener submitted stories.
Throughout October, they are producing daily shows for their annual 31 Nights of Halloween. They are also hosting Facebook live events like virtual games, cookie decorating and tarot card readings. Additional content will be available to their Patreon subscribers.
Easterling, who handles the true crime stories, said that she finds ideas for episodes through other shows, news stories, and listener recommendations.
“Being true crime, I’m never going to run out of stories, unfortunately,” she said. “We even get a lot of international listeners that tell us stuff that we would have never even heard about.”
Elwin, on the other hand, said that she selects her paranormal stories to balance the heaviness or humor of the show. She also tries to explore lesser-known haunted places, items or legends.
“I’ve covered a lot of big stuff, but everyone covers a lot of the same stuff, so I like the recommendations that we get from places like a random cemetery in Wichita, Kansas,” said Elwin.
The podcast quickly gained a following online that now reaches over 50 countries. In just the last year, the show went from 100,000 downloads to 1.8 million. Easterling and Elwin said they were particularly surprised by the amount of support they received on Patreon.
“The fact that people pay us is mind-blowing,” said Elwin.
Both women attribute the show’s success to the active online community of fans. In addition to Instagram and Twitter accounts, the show has a Facebook group with over 3,000 members.
Easterling described the group as a “safe space” and said, “Other podcasters have even said that our community is like no other. I don’t know how that happened, but it’s really amazing. It really is a place where if someone says something offensive, then it’s shut down immediately. It’s such a safe place for people to express things.”
There are dozens of posts on the Facebook page where listeners have reached out to other fans and the creators for support with challenges in their real lives.
Earlier this month, a woman commented on a Facebook livestream that she was listening to the podcast and talking with the group members to help her get through a rehab detox.
Another woman recently posted pictures of her wedding dress with a request for group members to help her overcome her insecurities about her weight. That post received over 300 encouraging comments.
“People are going through real-life stuff, and if we can make them laugh even one time, then that’s amazing,” said Elwin. “We’ve all been through difficult times, and it is that one thing that makes you laugh or gets your mind off of it that helps. If we can do that, then that’s huge.”
Easterling said the podcast is “much more” than just true crime and paranormal stories.
“We’re honest about our struggles; I think people relate to that,” said Easterling.
The podcast is available for listening on all major podcast hosting services, like Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Those interested can also learn more by searching “A Paranormal Chicks” on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Patreon.