NU Alumnus Becky Kilimnik Launches Homespun Haints Podcast
After growing up in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Tennessee, where “spooky storytelling” is part of the culture, Becky Kilimnik (Weinberg ’00) started her own podcast, “Homespun HaintsWith her longtime friend Diana Doty.
The show, which launched in July 2019, invites guests to tell their ghost stories, among other varieties of haunted tales. Kilimnik said that majoring in anthropology at Northwestern sparked his fascination with human-centered storytelling, so the podcast felt like a natural passion to pick up.
“We’re both aging goths who love scary stories,” Kilimnik said. “We’re not trying to find an answer, it’s really an examination of how we react as human beings to things we don’t understand.
Doty joined the podcast after struggling to find authenticity in her medical career, she said. After a promising opportunity unfolded, she decided to shift her energy to something more creative.
“I thought maybe I should embrace my roots like a scary weirdo, instead of who I built this ego,” Doty said. “Regardless of your education, you can still find value in your life experiences and your education to put into a creative outlet.”
Thanks to the podcast, Doty felt ready to share her own haunting ‘accidental teleportation’ story. As a teenager, she worked as a docent in a museum that was once an orphanage and was allegedly haunted. At one point, she got up to use the toilet in the middle of the night, but when she left the toilet, she said she was in a completely different place.
After 20 years, “Homespun Haints” was the first time Doty felt comfortable sharing her story, she said.
“The basis of our show is that you don’t have to be able to explain it, which is why it’s interesting,” Doty said. “As long as you’re ready to express how you feel, that’s what matters most when it comes to storytelling.”
Both women said balancing the show with their daily lives was a challenge. Kilimnik is a mom and owns a graphic design business, so she struggled to juggle the two with online school during the pandemic. Since the podcast’s launch, Kilimnik has also undergone a personal transformation by getting “out there” uncomfortably, she said.
While dealing with a potentially controversial topic, the two have yet to receive any hateful comments or anyone who doubts the stories being told on the podcast. Doty said this could be attributed to their supportive listeners, but also to the fact that “everyone has a ghost story”.
Many guests leave the show feeling cathartic, citing the experience as the “best unpaid therapy session,” Kilimnik said. The podcast has an opportunity to help people, she said, as guests share stories they might have been reluctant to share before due to the atypical nature of the tales.
Kimberly Gordon, a recent guest on “Homespun Haints,” shared only positive reviews of her experience. After listening to the show for about 5 months, she answered the call from the hosts and was invited.
“I’m so happy to be a part of their podcast family, I feel like they’re friends to me, not just in my head,” Gordon said. “They have such fluidity together, they really blend together and have a great tempo together.”
While it still feels authentic, Kilimnik and Doty will continue to tell people’s stories on the podcast – one weird story at a time.
“What we’ve discovered from the start is that everyone has a paranormal experience that they can’t explain,” Doty said. “If you start to think long enough you start to identify with some of those things that you thought you never believed, it’s more about the connection.”
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