“A Friendly desert community where the air is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep. Welcome to Night Vale“. Croons the mysterious baritone voice of Cecil Baldwin, the voice of main character Cecil Gershwin Palmer in the Welcome to Night Vale podcast.
The podcast is presented as a community radio show for the fictional town of Night Vale, reporting on the strange and often horrifying events that occur within it. The series was created in 2012 by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor and is published by Commonplace books. Cecil Palmer, the radio host, main character, and narrator is voiced by Cecil Baldwin while secondary characters are sometimes voiced by guest stars such as Carlos, by Dylan Marron. The podcast typically airs every 1st and 15th of every month, and consists of news, announcements, and advertisements for the desert town located “somewhere in the southwestern United States”.
In a town where various helicopters circle overhead monitoring your every move, mysterious lights twinkle above the local Arby’s, a dog park forbidden for dogs and people from entering, and the glow cloud rules supreme (ALL HAIL), it comes as no surprise how it was quickly gaining popularity among teens and older adults over the internet by posting various forms of fan art, fanfictions, and at conventions such as Comic Con where they would cosplay as their favorite Night Vale characters. in July 2013, Welcome to Nightfall became the most downloaded podcast on iTunes where it ranked second on the top 10 audio podcasts list
Aside from recording posttests, in 2013, Welcome to Night Vale began presenting live shows which are still being continued into today traveling all over the US and overseas. This gained even more popularity and support for the show through various forms of internet media; enough where the creators of WTNV felt like it was ready to take it to the next level It was announced in early 2015 that both Fink and Cranor would be releasing a novel based off the hit podcast and it was released October 20th of this year and is available in book stores worldwide.
While the podcast focuses on Cecil only describing to you what goes on in this weird town, the book gives you a greater insight in this impossible place through many of the secondary and minor characters on the show and reveals certain parts of Nigh Vale that have not yet been described by the radio host himself.
I personally first came across WTNV early this semester through one of my new friends at college with no prior knowledge or expectations of the podcast whatsoever. Listening to at least one or two episodes from the series was an experience in itself. It was very strange hearing this unsettling, monotone voice reporting on whatever weird things were going on in his life and town, denying the existence of angels and mountains and reminding us to stay away from the forbidden dog park until he has been warned by the mysterious and tyrannical city council that it is illegal to ever mention the dog park to anyone. Needless to say, I quickly became obsessed with it all. Aside from the podcast’s special blend of surrealism and macabre, What was particularly fascinating to me was the rapid progress that Welcome to Night Vale had gained over a time period of only four years. What started out as a bimonthly podcast that was and still is free in iTunes, turned into a worldwide fandom sensation among listeners 14 and up(which would be impossible without their support). It’s truly amazing how the mediums of podcasts and internet media can transform something into print media so quickly and I cannot wait to see what it will evolve and manifest into next.