Radio Drama Love: Welcome to Night Vale

I’ve spoken before about my love of radio shows and podcasts (the radio show of the modern era). Well, podcasting has managed to blend my love of this vintage-appropriate art form with my love of science fiction and fantasy writing. Similar to The War of the Worlds, my new favorite podcast blends realism with surrealism and presents a weird, fantastical, unlikely world in the mundane format of a community news show.

Welcome to Night Vale brings us Cecil Baldwin, the voice of community radio for the desert community of Night Vale. But very early on in the biweekly podcast’s first episode, it becomes clear that all is not what it seems it should be in Night Vale. From the menacing advance of the glow cloud to the pecularities of local government, things go from weird to really weird quite quickly, and yet each episode brings a new weirdness to pile onto the weird layer cake of this little show.

Perhaps my favorite part of the podcast is the jovial and unfazed manner with which Cecil reports even the most bizarre occurances. His silky voice maintains an air of casual reporting, indicating that even the very bizarre is simply business as usual in Night Vale. Which makes for all the more impact when he reports on something that is odd, even by Night Vale standards.

The show also has an interesting and subtle commentary on real-world community politics. Despite being set in a place where time has no meaning and sometimes it rains small-to-largeish animals, there is still that guy who is the local agitator, and the subway system still has delays and track work. In fact, listening to the episode about the public transit system while commuting to work on the train nearly sent me into fits of conspicuous mirth while my fellow passengers zoned out on their devices. In such a strange world as Night Vale, the aspects of life that ring true only serve to point out the absurdity of real life.

I highly recommend you check out the podcast. It’s difficult to explain without lessening the experience of hearing the episodes for the first time, so I won’t try to explain further. Suffice to say, it’s weird and delightful.

[The Night Vale logo was created by Rob Wilson and was found on the Welcome to Night Vale website,

Vintage Pastime: Radio Plays

When I was a girl, I would occasionally spend days with my grandparents while my parents were away or when I was sick and had to come home from school. One of my favorite things was when my grandmother would bring out her recordings of old episodes of The Green Hornet radio show. There was something so different about listening to a story rather than watching it on TV.

These days, radio shows are mostly podcasts, about non-fictional topics, but they can become massively popular. Boyfriend and I just started listening to Serial while driving home from his family’s home several hours from where we live. It’s so absorbing to listen to these people, but also fun to imagine what they actually look like. I’ve definitely been sucked in and we’ll have to set aside some time to finish it rather than watching TV at night.

But I love a good fictional radio play. On Christmas Day, we listened to two special Christmas radio plays on two separate public radio stations. They were both really silly, and not the best written, but they were fun. And listening to the actors try to differentiate characters through voice alone leads to some fun variation.

On Sunday nights, my NPR station airs The Big Broadcast. I used to only hear it when we drove to a Sunday night swing dance years ago, but it’s a lot of the same old radio shows that my grandmother used to share with me. Listening to it reminded me not only of a bygone era, but also of sharing time with her.