“Welcome to Night Vale” is a bit more unorthodox than your average podcast, encouraging listeners to “turn on their radios and hide.”
Created by Joseph Fink, the Commonplace Books website describes it as “a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers and cultural events.”
Think community radio from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s” Sunnydale, California or “Supernatural” meets National Public Radio.
The dulcet tones of Night Vale Community radio announcer Cecil Gershwin Palmer paint grisly, beautiful pictures of the tiny desert town. There is an over-arching plot, but not every episode is concerned with the plot—like a real community radio show, sometimes the listener just hears about what’s happening in the town, such as school board and mayoral elections. However, every event, as trivial as it would be in the real world, is made fascinatingly creepy by the paranormal elements of Night Vale.
As far as the plot goes, there is a surprising amount of action and adventure for a radio show. Palmer fancies himself a journalist as well as an announcer, so he always has the latest Night Vale news. There’s an evil corporation, angels and even a love story.
“Welcome to Night Vale” may not be for everyone. It’s a modern twist on an old-time radio serial concept, so it may be hard to slow down and just listen to the podcast. We’re used to our entertainment today shouting and flashing bright colors at us. As a result, the one-dimensional sensory input might not agree with some listeners. However, it’s also part of what makes this podcast so great; the minutes listening to Palmer’s voice can seem almost meditative by the time the episode is over. Unless, of course, the episode is particularly action-packed.
Currently, “Welcome to Night Vale” is on tour in Europe, performing live shows. Over the summer, they went to the San Diego Comic Con.
Episodes are released around the first and 15th of each month. You can download almost all of the episodes on iTunes for free. The live shows can be found for pay-what-you-can on Bandcamp and for $1.99 on iTunes.