Podcast Review: Welcome To Night Vale

“A friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep. Welcome to Night Vale.”

Welcome To Night Vale is a bi-weekly community radio broadcast about the goings-on in the small desert community of Night Vale. The all-american monotones of Cecil Baldwin blare into your ears for about a half hour. The thing is, very strange things happen in Night Vale. Very strange things indeed.

“The local chapter of the NRA is selling bumper stickers as part of their fundraising week. They sent the station one to get some publicity. And we’re here to serve the community, so I’m happy to let you all know about it. The stickers are made from good, sturdy vinyl, and they read: “Guns don’t kill people! It’s impossible to be killed by a gun; we are all invincible to bullets, and it’s a miracle!”
Stand outside of your front door and shout “NRA!” to order one.”

A melting pot of The Twilight Zone, David Lynch, H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King, Welcome To Night Vale is amazing. It’s all about the crazy things that happen in the little town, a place where pretty much every conspiracy theory and monster story is true. You have to do a double take when Cecil talks about forbidden dog parks and criminal dragons.

“And now for a brief public service announcement: Alligators. Can they kill your children? Yes. Along those lines, to get personal for a moment, I think the best way to die would be: swallowed by a giant snake. Going feet first and whole into a slimy maw would give your life perfect symmetry.”

At first, it seems like this concept of a kooky radio show won’t hold up in the long run, but Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor have created a living, breathing town of secrets and horror. There are many reoccurring characters: Carlos the impossibly handsome (possibly crazy) scientist, old woman Josie, who resides with angels and a very racist Apache tracker impersonator. Of course, we have Cecil, who is absolutely brilliant. They have done an amazing job of crafting these characters, who pop up from time to time in the podcasts. There is no main plotline, however some stories may last several podcasts, sometimes being the main topic of the podcast, sometimes lurking in the background. The podcasts regularly changes the way the content is presented. I won’t spoil how, but it is very creative in its presentation.

“Carlos, and his scientists at the monitoring station near Route 800, say that their seismic monitors have been indicating wild seismic shifts, meaning that the ground should be going up and down all over the place. I don’t know about you folks, but I think the ground has been as still as the crust of a tiny globe rocketing through an endless void could be. Carlos says that they have double-checked the monitors, and they are in perfect working order. To put it plainly, there appear to be catastrophic earthquakes happening right here in Night Vale that absolutely no one can feel. Well, submit an insurance claim, anyway. See what you can get, right?”

The language used in Welcome To Night Vale is amazing. It’s so poetic and vibrant, you can really embrace it as the phenomenal background music washes over you. Sometimes it can even move you to tears, that’s how brilliant the writing is. There is also a “Weather” section, where a song gets played, usually by an indie group. It’s a great way to find new music, and each song fits the mood of the podcast. Very good stuff.

“The City Council announces the opening of a new dog park at the corner of Earl and Sommerset, near the Ralph’s. They would like to remind everyone that dogs are not allowed in the dog park. People are not allowed in the dog park. It is possible that you will see hooded figures in the dog park. DO NOT APPROACH THEM. DO NOT APPROACH THE DOG PARK. The fence is electrified and highly dangerous. Try not to look at the dog park, and, especially, do not look for any period of time at the hooded figures. The dog park will not harm you.”

Some of the stories are downright horrifying, whilst others are heartbreakingly endearing. Welcome To Night Vale is one of the best podcasts on the internet. If you like good writing, good music and good voice acting, this is definitely the podcast for you.

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