If you're an avid listener of podcasts This American Life or Stuff You Should Know, you may have noticed that a rising program has knocked them off the top spot on the iTunes chart. Welcome to Night Vale launched in June 2012, but this Summer it not only had people buzzing, it also hit No. 1. In case you haven't heard of it yet (or you're wondering if you should pull the trigger and download it), here's a little tutorial on what exactly Welcome to Night Vale is — and why it's so special.
- What is it? It's a podcast series about the small, fictional desert town of Night Vale. Each show is narrated by Cecil, the anchor at Night Vale's radio station. He gives updates about the community that include warnings about the "glow cloud" hovering over town, and the hooded figures that hang out in the Dog Park (no dogs allowed) and routinely steal babies. It's a bit like an ongoing episode of The Twilight Zone, except it's set in one place, and the story is really long. The bizarre part is that none of the weirdness is presented like it's a horror story; faceless children just happen to be common in Night Vale.
- How often are there new episodes? Episodes typically last around 25 minutes, and they're released bimonthly on the 1st and 15th day of every month. Sometimes, there are also live shows.
- What's the big deal? Welcome to Night Vale is unique in that it creates its own fictional world. It's like any other entertainment narrative, there's just no visual aspect — except the vivid one listeners inevitably create in their heads.
- Will you like it? Ask yourself the following questions: Do I like the works of David Lynch? Am I into supernatural and/or paranormal films or TV? Do I know how to work iTunes? If you answered yes to any of these, you'd probably be into Welcome to Night Vale.
- Where can I find it? Welcome to Night Vale is on iTunes, and yes, it's free to download.