“Bolt your doors, lock your windows, turn off your lights, and come with me into the weird darkness…”
And so begins every episode of Weird Darkness—a podcast hosted by Darren Marler that covers topics related to unsolved mysteries, true crime, conspiracies, horror, and science fiction. Fans of X-files, Star Trek, Unsolved Mysteries, and the Twilight Zone will not be disappointed!
Always an entertainer, Darren began acting and singing in junior high school (and continued through college). For many years, people commented on his speaking voice, and Darren found his niche in radio. Now, thirty years later, he continues to love his role as radio host. His resume includes narrating audible books, voiceovers, portraying characters on fiction podcasts, acting film credits, radio host, stand-up comedian, and podcaster. While working full-time from his home studio, Darren also creates daily episodes for Weird Darkness.
Darren has been a fan of the supernatural, science fiction, and horror genres for as long as he can remember. When he was in fifth grade, he found a book of ghost stories in the library, and one story in particular was imbedded in his psyche.
“I remember the image in my mind of the Mothman attacking a car that was bolting down the road, grabbing onto the roof, clawing, climbing it, and scaring a teenage couple to death,” Darren shares.
It makes sense, then, that when Darren decided to take his love for “the scare” one step further in 2015, the first airing of Weird Darkness (on a YouTube channel) was about the legend of Mothman. (That video is still available on YouTube, along with a montage of drawings and images of Mothman.)
In 2016, Darren created the Weird Darkness podcast, and just one year later, he had grown a community following of listeners from around the globe. The show now has 700+ episodes and averages 500,000 downloads per month.
Darren goes above and beyond to engage with his community. Featuring themes on certain days of the week, he encourages interaction with his fans. For example, Wednesday’s theme is “Weird@Work.” Listeners can win Weird Darkness swag and a shoutout by sharing photos of themselves listening to the podcast at work. Thursdays are known as the “Creepy Pasta Day,” during which Darren brings to life characters from fiction stories. (A fantastic example of a “Creepy Pasta” episode is the January 3 show based on S.R. Roanoke’s “A Summer of Werewolves.” Darren portrays no less than five characters, including a female! The story leaps to life—so much so that it’s easy to forget it’s fiction!) And on Fridays, Darren features episodes submitted by his listeners, re-telling their personal experiences while thoroughly enjoying “acting” them out.
The podcast isn’t only about dark stories, though. Darren openly shares with his community that he has lived with depression for most of his life, and that it wasn’t until he was in his twenties that he received proper diagnosis and treatment. His experience battling this mood disorder has turned into a passion for bringing awareness to it, and for helping his listeners ease their pain and feelings of aloneness.
To further support his listeners who may be dealing with depression, Darren created a resource page called, “Hope In the Darkness.” It provides contact information for the International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression (www.IFRED.org) and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org).
Last year, Darren raised almost $2,000 for IFRED via his first Overcoming the Darkness fundraising campaign. Encouraged by his results, he plans on making the fundraiser an annual event each October—the first week of which having been long designated as Mental Illness Awareness Week.
Darren, a self-proclaimed workaholic and night owl, credits his wife of 25 years, Robin, for his growing success. Attributing it to her love and emotional support, Darren says, “She doesn’t listen to the podcast; she’s never listened to an episode! But she will drive around with Weird Darkness advertisements on her car and hand out my business cards to everyone she meets. She’s my biggest fan!”
Creating content five days per week can be challenging. Fortunately, Darren has a wealth of resources to work with. “Rarely, will I actually go out and research something and put it together myself. I subscribe to a bazillion email newsletters. I do have authors that I work with specifically, and a wide variety of topics that I can mix and match to create episodes. I would love to say that I am smart enough to be able to do all the writing, but there’s no way I’m ever going to be as brilliant as some of the people that I narrate.”
Darren truly enjoys meeting his fans, who he has lovingly named “Weirdos,” and building relationships with them. Last year, he even began attending Comic Cons and other themed events to interact with his listeners. He’s also created a Facebook group by the same name of his show, which is very interactive.
Last November, Darren began hosting a “Weirdo Watch Party,” too, in collaboration with www.Eerielatenight.com. Participants log in to the website and chat live with horror hosts while poking fun and discussing the B-movie of the night. The most recent party had viewers from 40 countries and 610 cities!
Darren is the proud recipient of two honors last year: being a finalist for the “Storyteller-Drama Award” and for the “People’s Choice Podcast Award,” as well as being named in the top 20 “Best Storytellers in Podcasting” by Podcast Business Journal.
“It’s a great feeling, knowing that people believe in what I’m doing and like my work enough to nominate me for an award,” Darren says.
March 2020 Issue