Tonawanda News

Features

December 9, 2013

BOOK NOOK: 'Night Vale' a podcast that reads like a book

Tonawanda News — Brooklyn’s Commonplace Books is an indie publishing start-up, with a couple of novels now distributed. By the looks of their website, they seem to be doing moderately well with sales. However, it is from a more unlikely source that the press has found the majority of its fame – their creepy, spine-tingling, fun-for-all-ages podcast, “Welcome to Night Vale.”

“Welcome to Night Vale” isn’t a book, but rather an online radio show, one that anyone can download for free on the bi-monthly basis it is released. While it is still owned and operated by a company as small as Commonplace Books — at last check, the company’s staff had grown to four employees — “Welcome to Night Vale” has sky-rocketed to No. 7 on Apple’s “Top Charts” for podcasts. This is a huge accomplishment, considering the likes of the show’s competition, including Chicago Public Media’s “This American Life,” WNYC’s hit show “Radiolab,” Joe Rogan’s immensely popular “The Joe Rogan Experience,” and many others. 

“Night Vale’s” success is well deserved. The podcast is a fictitious radio program, meant to emulate local news radio channels. Each episode includes weather and traffic reports, local breaking news, editorial and opinion pieces, and more, all from the completely made-up town of Night Vale. Those who are familiar with Garrison Keillor and his imaginary town of Lake Wobegon, along with his radio show “A Prairie Home Companion,” would feel right at home listening to “Welcome to Night Vale” — with one large twist.

The town of Night Vale isn’t your everyday town, like Lake Wobegon. Instead, it is haunted by bizarre and incredible events on a regular basis. From shrieking monsters falling from the sky, to hovering glow clouds demanding the city obey its will, from inexplicable disappearances and reappearances of town monuments, to bottomless pits that radio interns seem to always be falling into, “Welcome to Night Vale” turns a little imaginary town into a 24/7 haunted house, and the listener is in for the ride.

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