Welcome to another edition of my BASEMENT’S PODCAST REVIEW series. For this one I am covering HYSTERIA 51, one of the best names for a podcast ever! While trying out a variety of different podcasts on the subject of UFOs and the paranormal, we came across this one and quickly subscribed.
Hosted by John Goforth and Brent Hand, this show covers so many topics that I love to read and listen about. Though many topics may be covered on other podcasts, I love to see the HYSTERIA 51 take on all of them. John tends to be the skeptic with Brent believing more often then not, though both are quick to call something fake when it obviously is. They do not believe just to believe or debunk just to debunk; they look at the evidence and make their own decision, all the while making their audience laugh out loud.
According to their website, HYSTERIA 51 is a weekly podcast that takes an every-man approach to the World of the Weird – UFOs, Aliens, Mysteries, the Paranormal, the Unusual, and the Unexplained. Hosts John Goforth, Brent Hand, and Conspiracy Bot (a cranky robot bent on world domination who also happens to be the show’s head researcher) examine a different topic each week and generally come to one conclusion…the truth is out there, but you won’t find it here.
HYSTERIA 51 is a 2019 Webby Honoree and has been featured in HuffPost, Podcast Movement, KC Paracon, Planet ComiCon, Alien Con, Wizard World, and Discover Pods as well as being picked by POPSUGAR and UPROXX as one of the best conspiracy-theory podcasts in the field.
This show is definitely one of the best out there. The editing is so well done, with both Conspiracy Bot and Kyle coming in just at the right time to completely disrupt the discussion in hilarious ways. Though people may have different views on the topics covered, John and Brent present them with not only well-researched evidence (or lack of) and then sprinkle in a lot of humor, making the show enjoyable for all to listen to.
I recently spoke with Brent and he and John agreed to answer some questions for my readers. He was also gracious enough to provide all of the pictures used in this blog, for which I am truly grateful!
David: Growing up, were you always interested in the topics you cover on HYSTERIA 51? Was there one in particular that you gravitated to more than others?
Brent: I have loved fortean topics as long as I can remember. Unsolved Mysteries was a staple in the Hand household as well as Time Life Mysteries of the Unknown. It is just something that has fascinated me, and 40 years later I am still fascinated.
John: I’ve always been intrigued by the outrageous and the mysterious, but true…stories like The Somerton Man or Numbers Stations. The next logical step was to step into the world of the weird and explore both the WHY of proven cases (like the Somerton Man) and IF of unproven cases (any number of cryptid or extra-terrestrial encounters).
David: What inspired you to do the HYSTERIA 51 podcast?
Brent: John and I had wanted to do a show together since we were in college. We had thought about radio, but that didn’t end up happening and life took hold. Years go by and podcasting became a thing and we jumped at the chance to do what we had always dreamed of. We knew we wanted to do something on fringe/fortean topics so a brain storming session over a few beers came up with Hysteria 51, a play on the famous Area 51 base.
John: Like Brent mentioned, we’ve always thought it would be fun to banter back and forth and get paid for it. Then, when my “day-job” took me into the podcast field, the table was set. The last remaining piece was for Brent to build Conspiracy Bot!
David: With the topics you cover, is there one that stands out as being 100% believable? If yes, why?
Brent: I think we will both pick this, but for me it is JFK. True as far as it was a conspiracy and not a 1 man show.
John: Definitely JFK. I mean, not only is the evidence overwhelming (and not just the whole magic bullet thing). But even the federal government said so. The United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) concluded in 1979 that Kennedy was probably assassinated as the result of a conspiracy.
David: What is your favorite topic to cover? Why?
Brent: Alien and/or UFO encounters. I love hearing the stories of people who have had experiences they cannot explain when they come off as genuine. There are TONS that don’t fit this bill, but when they do I have a blast researching it. The unknown is a powerful drug, I guess!
John: Kind of like I was saying before, I’ve always been into the mysterious, yet true. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good alien story and do believe aliens exist (though that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been here). But I LOVE things we KNOW happened, but can’t explain the why. A favorite of this century was the Internet mystery – Cicada 3301.
David: What is your least favorite topic to cover? Why?
Brent: Serial Killers. We get requests to cover them constantly. We did a couple early on but have decided to get away from covering them. Too many people put them on pedestals and seem to ignore the victims, and that just made for an experience we did not enjoy being a part of.
John: Agree with Brent on serial killers. I also don’t love outrageous stories that are obviously untrue. The whole Weekly World News type of thing…”I had Bat Boy’s baby” and the like. Those stories are preying on the good nature of open-minded people and just trying to make a quick buck.
David: Is there one episode of HYSTERIA 51 that stands out as being the most difficult to make entertaining? In other words adding humor?
Brent: For me it’s Jonestown. And we left the humor out for the most part, other than bashing Jim Jones for the evil person he was. But it was an important story we felt needed to be remembered so we chose to do it. It can be a fine line to walk between humor and exploitation, so we try to be very aware of where we are at all times.
John: Early on we did an episode on the disappearance of Flight MH 370. It’s such a strange and unusual mystery that we really wanted to do the episode, but it was tough to strike the right balance when discussing such a horrible tragedy.
David: Is there one topic that you really want to cover but haven’t been able to yet?
John: The Denver Airport. It isn’t that we couldn’t do the episode today, but we had plans to fly there, interview workers as we could, and record from the airport. Then the pandemic hit – so we put that on hold. We’ll get to it once we’re past the pandemic though!
David: Are there any podcasts that you listen to regularly?
Brent: You Made it Weird with Pete Holmes, Breakers, Larkspur Underground, Welcome to Night Vale, The Black Tapes. I will also throw on Joe Rogan from time to time as well as Last Podcast on the Left.
John: Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend, Fake Doctors, Real Friends, Here’s the Thing w/ Alec Baldwin. Reply All, and lots more. Always up for a good fortean episode of Joe Rogan (except Alex Jones…no thanks). And I do listen to a handful of sports betting pods – really like The Dream Preview with RJ Bell.
David: How long does each episode take to produce?
Brent: From the time we stop recording there is about 6 to 8 hours of editing for a finished episode. I cut parts that didn’t flow well, or where we repeated ourselves and I removes most pauses, umms, clicks, etc. That is time consuming but it worth it to me for sure.
David: What is the process in creating each episode?
Brent: We schedule 10 episodes at a time, I pick 5 and John picks 5. We each work on the outline for our 5, then trade them. That way we both have researched the topics and gone over the outlines and made our own contributions. The days before we record, we each go over that topic again and see if we missed anything or not. We are always 10 or so topics ahead and try to stay that ahead in recording so that we have a buffer in case of emergency, and it allows us the proper amount of time to research give each topics the time it deserves.
David: Whose idea was it for the addition of C-Bot and Kyle, two very funny aspects of the show?
Brent: Matt Owens. He has been a guest several times on the show and had previously hosted his own podcast when we started H51. We were going over some things to read in an episode and we wished we had other people to read them. He suggested a robot or something similar and we ran with that.
John: And as far as Kyle goes – after we had run with C-Bot for a while, it felt like he needed a partner in crime. Around the same time, the whole “Storm Area 51” thing was happening and some of the memes / jokes were about a bunch of “Kyles” rushing Area 51. That’s where his name came from. I think his fascination with cheese muffins was mainly due to my hunger one morning when writing.
David: Are the contributions of C-Bot and Kyle thought out in advance or are they done on the fly?
Brent: Done on the fly. The robots have to work spontaneous, it’s in their contracts!
I cannot thank Brent and John enough. Not only did they help a lot with this blog, but they have been quite the distraction since the pandemic started. It is times like these when we need to escape our worries, if even for the length of a podcast. I look forward to each new episode and there is plenty of a backlog of episodes I can listen to when I need to decompress, listen to subjects that interest me and be able to laugh out loud.
You can listen to the HYSTERIA 51 podcast on Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts on.
Don;t forget to listen to other episodes in my BASEMENT’S PODCAST REVIEW series.