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Legendary Cryptid Expert Lyle Blackburn Launches “MONSTRO BIZARRO” Podcast

Sunday, May 15, 2022 | Podcasts


Podcasting has pressed onward and upward to the apex of the information dispersion food chain, and listeners are devouring their favorite subjects with such fervency that the landscape is overflowing with shows servicing every corner of fandom that exists. A voice familiar to the cryptozoological buff is that of Rue Morgue’s very own Lyle Blackburn. Often the first name hosts turn to when looking for an expert to speak about legend and lore, Lyle decided it was high time to carve out some room within his busy schedule of writing books, attending speaking engagements, and touring with his band Ghoultown to finally launch his own show. Monstro Bizarro (sharing the same name with Blackburn’s famous RM column) delves deep into the stories of the strange and supernatural, with the debut episode having hit airwaves in April and immediately establishing itself as a bonafide success with listeners. While preparing for the annual Fouke Monster  Festival, Lyle spoke with Rue Morgue about what it took to finally convince himself to toss his iconic black hat into the podcasting ring.

Seeing as how you’re such a sought-after commodity in the cryptozoological community, it seems only natural that you’d want to launch a show. What made now the right time to do so?

People have been asking me for a number of years. I’ve narrated quite a few Small Town Monsters documentaries and coming from the band Ghoultown, it only made sense that I would do something audio-related with cryptids and monster research. But having my hands full with writing books and doing research, plus being interviewed on just about every podcast of the genre, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. People do still read books and books sell, but there’s a whole demographic who are into these subjects that either don’t read books or don’t have as much time, but they do listen to podcasts. So, I thought it was time I try something like this. There are millions of podcasts within the paranormal and cryptid fields and there are a lot that are of the interview format, so I thought that if I’m going to do something, I want to do it differently. Borrowing a little from the Small Town Monsters format where I’m narrating the tale of a cryptid case, I decided I’d do an audio version, but with a spooky theme song and some sound effects. That way it was unique to me and I could control the pacing and the suspense of the story.

Cryptid lore is kept alive by the sharing and retelling of these stories of mothmen and sasquatches. Considering the sheer number of times these tales have already been told in print and film, where exactly does the podcast format fit in?

Like everything I’ve ever done, I’m simply appealing to people who are interested in this. These could be people who’ve read my books and I may have covered the topic already, but I’m not reading out of the book. I’m trying to offer something to everyone; whether that’s somebody that hasn’t read my books or seen the documentaries or the people that love what I write and want to have more Lyle Blackburn products to choose from. It all kind of goes back to the way I approach writing in Rue Morgue, where I’m in a horror magazine but I’m specializing in cryptids.

Surely the podcasting also offers some fluidity in reporting recent developments in the field.

Books and films take a long time but a podcast episode is much more timely, so I can be more up to date. If it’s something I’ve covered in a book in the past, I can now add to it.

What are your current plans for the format of Monstro Bizarro?

For now, it’ll stay like it is, and starting with the second episode, it relates to the audience a little more because we have people that have sent me questions (for a Q & A segment). I have so many ideas and material that I don’t even see room for interviewing guests, except for maybe ramping up and doing more episodes or special episodes. There is room to move and I think it’s all really based on the reaction to the podcast and how many people are listening. This was a big question right off the bat because, when I told a few of my colleagues that I was doing a show that didn’t have guests, they told me that it wouldn’t work. But there are a lot of popular true crime podcasts that have one or two hosts and they don’t interview people – they tell stories. You don’t know until you put it out there, but the reaction was overwhelming. Everybody loved it, so I knew I was on the right track.

The show suffuses serious discussions on cryptid culture with a not-so-subtle horror vibe. And while cryptids generally fall into that realm of being “horror,” not all cryptid enthusiasts are necessarily horror fans. Have you received any pushback for putting out something that was too creepy?

I get a little bit of that, not so much in people wording it that way, but in terms of the subject matter having crossed over from horror. Yes, there are spooky stories and the creatures themselves would be shocking and horrifying if you saw them in real life, but it also goes into scientific research because many people are out to prove these things or to convince mainstream science that there’s something to this. That’s not my expertise since I’m not a scientist and I don’t pretend to be one. I would love for some of these things to be proven just like the next guy, but I’ve always seen myself as more of an investigative journalist – a person who documents and gathers all the information to carry on these stories and help to pinpoint areas where there’s a lot of strange activity. That’s been my approach and, sure, there’s going to be hardcore people on both sides that don’t get it, but I stay true because I’m such a horror fan and a fan of cryptids, so I’m always somewhere in the middle. The real spark for me came from The Legend of Boggy Creek movie. Part of the thrill was not only that there is some unknown, unidentified creature out there, but the thing is also scary. When I tell the story it probably sounds spookier than maybe somebody else telling the very same story about a sighting, but when I tell it I’m playing up the spooky part. In my mind, if you were alone in the woods and you suddenly came upon a 7-foot tall ape-like man covered in hair that was towering above you, it would just be terrifying. I don’t care what your preconceived notions of something like Bigfoot are.

The debut episode spins a particularly chilling tale of Texas’ The Lake Worth Monster. Are there any upcoming episodes that you’re particularly excited to share?

I’m excited about going forward with more of these stories, but I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t too Bigfoot heavy in the beginning. I wanted to establish that we’re talking about cases of any sort of spooky or strange thing. In the next episode, I’ll be covering a case that no one has really heard about, but it involves a 911 call to a small-town sheriff’s office of people saying they had seen this bizarre thing walking on two legs; sort of a man-like creature walking up from railroad tracks through their neighborhood and then disappearing into some abandoned buildings. This was something that went on the record with the police department because they called 911 – several people did. I communicated with the 911 operator who took these calls, and that set up this tale of people being so scared that their kids came inside screaming. I’m excited because it’s not been written about and it’s not well known, so it’s something new and different. Of course, I’ll look into some of the more famous creatures: Moth Man is on the list, as are dogmen, werewolves, those kinds of things. There are some things I haven’t even been able to cover in books that I’ll be able to talk about in the podcasts. There’s a good list, it’s just hard to figure out which one to do next because I want to do them all at once!

Lyle Blackburn’s Monstro Bizarro podcast is available on all major podcast platforms, as well as his website.

Kevin Hoover
Ever since watching CREEPSHOW as a child, Kevin Hoover has spent a lifetime addicted to horror (and terrified of cockroaches). He wholeheartedly believes in the concept of reanimating the dead if only we’d give it the old college try, and thinks FRIDAY THE 13th PART V is the best in the franchise. Aside from writing “Cryptid Cinema Chronicles” for Rue Morgue, he’s been a working copywriter for over a decade and you’ve probably bought something with his words on it. He also believes even the worst movie can be improved with buckets of gore.