Students tune in to “Welcome To Night Vale”

Avery Deen, Reporter

“A friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep…”

“Welcome to Night Vale” (“WTNV” or “Night Vale” for short), a podcast about a strange little town in the middle of an unknown desert where strange events are an everyday occurrence. The story is told from the point of view of narrator Cecil Palmer, voiced by Cecil Baldwin, the host of the community radio station. The podcast releases new episodes bimonthly and has many regular listeners such as junior Miranda Van Doren.

“I got into “Night Vale” because some friends of mine really enjoyed how creative it is, and they thought I would like it  too,” Van Doren said. “I enjoy it because it’s really entertaining and it explores a lot of bizarre and mysterious events, yet it has really deep and metaphysical moments as well. It makes for a really unique experience.”

Some examples of strange events in early episodes include the appearance of a floating cat in the station bathroom, an enormous sentient cloud raining dead animals on the town, all food items made with wheat or wheat by-products turning into snakes and the appearance of a man in a tan jacket whom everyone immediately forgets as soon as he leaves the room. These bizarre happenings are humorously explained by Cecil in a way that is unsettling at first, but soon has listeners entranced by the unique brand of macabre humor the show offers. Senior Madeline Williams is particularly fond of The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home, an omnipresent being who enjoys messing with the lives of the town’s citizens.

“”There’s this eerie hilarity to The Faceless Old Woman as character that makes her one of the best parts of the show,” Williams said. “I love when she talks about how she’s right behind you or touching you, and I like the creepy sensation you get when she talks.”

Having now been around for nearly four years, “Night Vale” has gained a massive following and now does live tours in addition to their bimonthly podcast updates. They’ve come to Austin twice in the last two years performing their shows “The Librarian” and “The Investigators.” They have just begun touring their next show, “Ghost Stories,” and will be coming to San Antonio on July 10 and Dallas on July 11. Williams has attended both of the live shows that came to Austin and found the interactive elements exciting.

“The live shows take full advantage of the nature of what “Night Vale” is and their audience,” Williams said. “The experience is unique and exhilarating. I love the way it plays with the senses and perception.”

Recently, a book was written by the creators of “Welcome to Night Vale,” Joseph Fink and Jefffery Cranor. The book followed residents of “Night Vale,” Diane Crayton and Jackie Fiero, giving fans an insight to how other citizens view the cataclysmic events that befall the town, as well as wrapping up a story arc that started in the first year of the podcast.

“I enjoyed that the book gave a unique story that was like the podcast but very original,” said Williams. “The book had strong characters who stood apart from Cecil’s broadcast. As much as I loved it though, I felt that sometimes it described “Night Vale” almost too much. Something I like about the podcast is that the town is shrouded in mystery and we can’t trust what we envision it to be. It’s incredibly difficult to picture the town, the novel sort of took that away.”

The podcast’s most recent episode, “Past Time,” aired on Mar. 14 and discussed how little league baseball works in “Night Vale.” Though there are a few episodes that focus solely on the development of the large ongoing events, but most feature mostly the discussion of the goings on of the average citizens with just hints at the bigger things happening across the town.

“‘Station Management’ is a favorite episode of mine because it really showcases the oddities and off-beat sense of humor that’s a trademark of the podcast,” Van Doren said. “And out of the main story arcs in “Welcome to Night Vale,” my favorite is probably the Strex Corp. story arc. I like how the podcast contrasts the strangeness of “Night Vale” to something that’s darker than the usual “Night Vale.” This arc makes the line of what’s right and wrong a little clearer- which is difficult to distinguish in a place  where conspiracies and supernatural beings are commonplace. I really enjoy the way “Welcome to Night Vale” allows for a more free interpretation of the events that take place within it. It gives you plenty of room to form an opinion of your own. Also it’s incredibly surreal and it has such a unique setting and perspective which I think is pretty hard to come by.”

You can listen to “Welcome To Night Vale” on any podcast app such as Podbay or Stitcher, as well as on their official Youtube channel where they also post behind the scenes bonus content. They have a website where they post tour dates and information, as well as their store where they have “Night Vale” merchandise that updates roughly once every month and a half. Visit for more information on the podcast.