Welcome to Night Vale is a twice-monthly podcast series written (mostly) by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, consisting of a community radio show based in the titular desert city.
Having over 70 episodes so far in the main storyline, all roughly between 20 and 30 minutes, one would be forgiven for thinking that entering the tale at this stage would be a herculean task. That is, until the sultry voice of Cecil Baldwin and tone-perfect music by Disparition filters through the speakers, quickly making the episodes fly by.
If anyone you know (or even yourself) has ever wondered why voices are so important, and indeed why many such as Steven Blum or David Hayter are able to earn a living by simply voicing a character, this series will explain all with a masterful brush. Cecil does an amazing job of immediately pulling you into this insane and darkly humorous world, crafting not only his own character and personality but breathing life into the stories presented. Starting at episode 26 other voices are also brought into the cast such as the wonderful Mara Wilson (Matilda from, well, Matilda) and the ever-fantastic Will Wheaton (still waiting on Firefly). Now some of you may be thinking; ‘It can’t be that strange, after all I saw the film version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – it can’t be worse than that!’. You would be wrong on so many levels.
For example, it is established within the first episode that Old Woman Josie out near the car lot has several angels living with her, doing chores and the like. During the same episode the city council sends a reminder that angels definitely do not exist, as knowledge of them is strictly privileged information. They also later clarify that you should not encourage them by offering money if they happen to forget their bus fare and take to hovering around the station, asking for change.
Another instance of the charming way in which such weirdness is readily accepted is in the second episode’s Community Calendar.
Usually this would simply be an update of different events on each day of the coming week or month, however in Night Vale it is announced that Wednesday has been canceled, due to a scheduling error. Then there is the way in which, despite having no real world sponsors, advertisements for Subway’s new mashed potato sub worm their way into the broadcast. Essentially, think The Mighty Boosh, but with more punchlines and better characters (I am also partial to a bit of Boosh, but that’s besides the point).
It must be noted that Night Vale is not for those who do not appreciate the odd chill up their spine. Without going into all-out spoilers, episodes 19A and 19B are particularly potent in bringing the frights to the fore, although every episode has a sense of comical dread woven throughout the script. However, if you are intrigued by the thought of a radio broadcast with pitch-perfect delivery, blunt acceptance of Lovecraftian events and a weather segment consisting of various songs, I would highly recommend downloading the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. Alternatively you can visit their recently created Youtube channel and listen to all of the episodes download-free.
If, however, the episode backlog is still a worry to you then fear not! On the 20th October the Welcome to Night Vale novel is being released, which (if the audiobook preview below is anything to go by) can be enjoyed by both the hardcore fan and the newbie looking for a taster.