Review: “Welcome To Night Vale”
Last week, my good, great and excellent friend Shark told me about a podcast she had been listening to, entitled “Welcome To Night Vale.” She described it to me as “this story where all these weird things are happening in this town, and the person doing the podcast is like the radio show guy.” A little more specifically, it’s like the local radio news of a small town in the middle of the desert somewhere (which I believe is in Southern California, because there is a Ralph’s Grocery Store in this town, and Ralph’s stores only exist in Southern California) called Night Vale. It’s true, a lot of really strange things happen in this town, including things like time travel and a government which has taps on all the phone lines and can scan people’s thoughts and even alter their memories (very 1984 when I think about it). Also, there is a dog park where no dogs or humans are allowed; in fact, citizens are advised not to approach, look at, or think about the dog park, and to take no notice of the hooded figures which are in the dog park.
The deep, eerie voice of the radio news announcer (Cecil Baldwin) greets the listeners with an ominous phrase or two, followed by the phrase, “Welcome To Night Vale.” The intro music, piano against an electronic background, leads into the main broadcast about a certain strange story happening in town concerning a certain citizen or political figure, mainly with strange or surreal circumstances (i.e. someone goes missing, something randomly appears, or a strange thing that shouldn’t be there is causing havoc around town). Various editorials, ads, and side stories occur as well, and every time the Weather segment is announced, a song by an indie band is played (different band every episode). The reports usually conclude with a brief introspective and philosophical editorial, and then the words, “Good night, Night Vale. Good night.”
I listened to Episode 1 yesterday morning, and in the span of about 36 hours I have caught all the way up to the current episode (Episode 27). This is a bimonthly podcast, with a new episode aired on the 1st and 15th of every month. Each episode is between 20-30 minutes long and each one provides a wonderfully surreal and interesting news report about this fictional desert town with time travel, crazy citizens, an overbearing Orwellian government and hooded figures in the dog park. It’s like NPR meets Neil Gaiman and Stephen King. And I love it. I am definitely anticipating the next episode with the utmost enthusiasm.