FEATURE: Venturing into Night Vale

Picture a small desert town in the American Midwest. This town has a radio station, and from this radio station a local radio show is broadcast. It covers things such as traffic reports, the community calendar, local events and the existence and purpose of those mysterious lights in the sky above the Arby’s.

In doing so, you’ve pretty much got the gist of what Welcome to Night Vale is.

Night Vale Banner

More specifically, Welcome to Night Vale is a twice-monthly podcast produced by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. Now in its fourth year of running, it has amassed quite a following and shows no signs of slowing down. Masquerading as a small town radio show, Night Vale takes the best elements from Twin Peaks, Stephen King and H.P Lovecraft and rolls them into one neat package that manages to toe the line between satire and horror with almost scary precision. It focuses on the unearthly events that abound within the fictional town of Night Vale, taking the format of a local radio show. Most of the episodes last half an hour and consist of a short plot-line, the content of which varies between each episode, although to its credit the show does display a fair amount of continuity throughout. There are also longer, overarching plots that span more than one episode and are often steadily built up over the course of a few months.

The show has the uncanny ability to make you howl with laughter one minute and shudder the next. The humour presented is often delightfully dark; fans are left questioning their existence or peering over their shoulder in paranoia a lot of the time. This is a large part of what Night Vale is, in fact – the weird being presented as mundane. Fink and Cranor do a masterful job of writing scripts that make the often nightmarish happenings in Night Vale seem just normal enough for listeners to become invested in them.

The ever charming Cecil Baldwin is the voice of the station. Portraying the character that shares his name, Baldwin is perfect in his role as the voice of Night Vale and he is undoubtedly the star of the show, although he’s certainly not the only memorable character. Night Vale has an expansive cast of characters, all well fleshed-out and often just as unusual as the town itself. Despite this, though, they are all realistic and easy to relate to. The cast ranges from scientists with perfect hair to old women who live at the edge of town with a horde of angels, and every character has their own story to tell and impression to leave on the listener.

In addition to the wonderful writing, the podcast also boasts a progressive and unbiased attitude that very clearly comes across in the show; characters are defined not by their sexuality, race or gender, but by their worth as a person. It’s enough to make listeners feel welcome to both the fan base and the fictional town. It definitely has a more philosophical side to it as well, having deep and meaningful messages in almost every episode, tied in neatly amongst the rest.

All in all, there is something for everybody in Night Vale. This podcast seems to have everything – it ranges from horror to humour, drama to philosophy and touches on everything in between. With a wide and varied audience, it’s definitely worth giving it a go; you might just find yourself becoming invested.

You can find out more about Welcome To Night Vale on their website: www.welcometonightvale.com

GS Blogger: Stacey Caldwell

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