Things are about to get a lot stranger at your local podcast emporium.
MrBallen, aka John Allen, is a former Navy SEAL turned true-crime storyteller who’s been gaining as many as 100,000 new subscribers each week on YouTube thanks to his skill in sharing “strange, dark, and mysterious” tales.
Allen’s uploaded hundreds of stories to YouTube, and many of them are either known to be true—such as the many murders and disappearances he’s covered—or are based on eyewitness accounts from reputable sources.
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He originally began storytelling on TikTok (where he now has 8 million followers), but expanded to YouTube in March 2020 by recalling his own yes-it-really-happened-to-me experience, where the death of a close friend’s father may have prompted supernatural experiences at their remote cabin. That video, embedded below, is still one of his most-watched, with 6.8 million views.
Allen says he decided to launch the MrBallen Podcast because while YouTube “has allowed me to explore all sorts of crazy tales…I have always wanted to get more detailed, complex and intriguing. With our new podcast, I feel like I’ll be able to go deep on the stories that scare me the most.”
He adds that the growth his YouTube channel has experienced was completely unexpected.
“Right after I posted my first YouTube video back in mid 2020, I told my wife Amanda that I would be over the moon if the channel were to reach 50K subs by the end of that year. And at the end of that year, the channel had reached over one million subscribers,” he tells Tubefilter. “It’s hard to describe what that kind of rapid growth feels like, but what I do know is that my family and I are extremely grateful to be in the position we are in!”
Allen now has nearly 5.4 million subscribers.
And his podcast—currently at No. 2 on Spotify’s podcast charts, having reached No. 1 on the platform’s true crime charts—will upload every Monday and Thursday.
It launched Feb. 14 with a 40-minute episode about the 2002 murder of 18-year-old Rachel Burkheimer.
Allen tells Tubefilter that what happened to Burkheimer was “unspeakably cruel,” and that her story is a reminder “this world is full of wolves dressed in sheep’s clothing.”