Gone are the glory days of the mainstream radio serials, but the concept has been revived in the form of Welcome to Night Vale. The popular podcast takes the form of a community radio show that describes the unnatural goings-on in the fictional, absurdly humorous desert town of Night Vale.
Joseph Fink, who created the series (and works with co-writer Jeffrey Cranor) and records it in New York, has described the setting as “a town in that desert where all conspiracy theories were real.” Imagine if the Kids in the Hall hosted the local CBC Radio station in one of those horrors-filled towns from Stephen King’s oeuvre, where ghosts, aliens, shadow government agents, and countless other horror/sci-fi tropes are alive and well. (A sample episode description: “A new city litter initiative, books stop working, and a creeping fear comes to town!”) Oft-mentioned inhabitants include Old Woman Josie, whose house harbours hosts of angels; Carlos the visiting scientist; and the unambiguously named Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home.
The star of the show is Cecil Baldwin, thoroughly amusing as the voice of the perpetually unperturbed radio host Cecil Palmer, whose deadpan reports are by turns hilarious and unsettling. Baldwin’s delivery elevates the already excellent script; it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most-downloaded podcasts on iTunes. Welcome to Night Vale is immensely entertaining, and new listeners would be well advised to catch every strange story by starting from the beginning.
Photo by Andrea Evans. Actor Cecil Baldwin narrates the role of radio host Cecil Palmer for the popular podcast Welcome to Night Vale.