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Good Night, Night Vale


By Breanna Shiflett

Five-headed dragons, mysterious hooded figures, and a dog park that no one but said figures are able to enter may not be exactly normal for most towns, but for the small desert community of Night Vale, they are about as commonplace as their high school football team or public radio station. Well, those two things aren’t ordinary either, since the quarterback is a two-headed boy and the administration at the radio station has never actually been seen, but the definition of “commonplace” is different depending on who you ask. Welcome to Night Vale, where “the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep.” That’s perfectly normal, right?
Welcome to Night Vale is a twice monthly podcast that is recorded in the format of a public radio show hosted by the soothing Cecil Baldwin. The show is a production of Commonplace Books, and is written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Craner. Although each episode varies in their overall topics (whether it’s a report on the terrifying Street Cleaning Day or the lights in Radon Canyon), they all have familiar segments such as traffic, news, and weather. But don’t be fooled — these “regular” segments each have their own Night Vale twists, such as the weather, which is actually just a different song by an independent artist each time. There are also many recurring characters that are mentioned throughout the episodes, such as perfect-haired scientist Carlos, Old Woman Josie and her angels, and Intern Dana.
The show has been described by listeners as “NPR from the Twilight Zone,” or “like Stephen King and Neil Gaiman started building a town in The Sims and then just… Left it running. For years.” One of the things that makes the podcast so great is how casual it is with the strange and crazy things that go on around the town. “[In Night Vale], things like ghosts and aliens and angels are ordinary parts of life,” explained Fink. “Not only is it a small desert town where everything’s weird, but the weirdness is just part of day-to-day life. It’s not weird for the people who live there.”
Although the project just recently celebrated its one year anniversary and its 31st episode, the fanbase grew to monstrous levels over the summer through websites like Tumblr and Twitter. In July 2013, WTNV became the number one audio podcast on iTunes, with the show receiving 150,000 downloads in one week alone. The show has gotten so popular that it has started having live shows, with the tickets selling out in minutes.
Welcome to Night Vale is released on the 1st and 15th of every month and is available for free on iTunes. Because the episodes are free, the podcast is largely run on donations, as well as sales from the brand new WTNV store. Fans can purchase WTNV boy scout buttons, Glow Cloud t-shirts, mugs, and more to help support the show.

 At the close of every broadcast, Cecil makes sure to sign off in the same way, and it’s only appropriate to do the same thing here: Good night, Night Vale. Good night.

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