Welcome to Night Vale
Welcome to Night Vale is a podcast presented as a radio show for the fictional town of Night Vale, reporting on the strange events that occur within it. The series was created in 2012 by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. Published by Night Vale Presents since March 15, 2015, the podcast was previously published by Commonplace Books. Cecil Gershwin Palmer—the host, main character, and narrator—is voiced by Cecil Baldwin, while secondary characters are sometimes voiced by guest stars—such as Dylan Marron, who voices Carlos. The podcast typically airs on the first and fifteenth of every month, and consists of "news, announcements and advertisements" from the desert town, located "somewhere in the Southwestern United States." In an interview with NPR, Joseph Fink said that he "came up with this idea of a town in that desert where all conspiracy theories were real, and we would just go from there with that understood."
|Created by||Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor|
|Length||Typically 20 to 30 minutes|
|Opening theme||"The Ballad of Fiedler and Mundt" (Years 1-3, 6-present)|
"The Ballad of Haydon and Prideaux" (Years 4-5)
|Ending theme||"The Ballad of Magnus and Axel" by Disparition |
|No. of seasons||8|
|No. of episodes|
|Original release||June 15, 2012 – present|
Every episode of the podcast includes a piece of music as "the weather", each by a different independently published artist. The theme and background instrumental music to the series were created by the musician and composer Disparition.
In October 2013, Welcome to Night Vale began presenting live shows, which continued into 2014 with a tour of the West Coast. In addition, it was announced during the episode "The Auction" that a novel would be published in 2015. Fink stated that "it's going to have all the characters and weird atmosphere that you want from Night Vale, with a brand new story that explores parts of Night Vale that we just haven't been able to get into with the podcast". When the book became available for pre-order the following March, it became Amazon's #2 title seven months ahead of its October release date.
Welcome to Night Vale's plot consists of longform storytelling. Individual episodes usually function as standalone narratives and only rarely contain significant developments in storyline. The writers employ running jokes and plot arcs; for example, The Glow Cloud, one of the series' most iconic characters, hypnotizes the townspeople with its colors and noxious gas, making people chant "ALL HAIL THE GLOW CLOUD", and eventually becomes president of Night Vale's school board. Another running joke is that the job with the highest death rate is being an intern at the radio station; the only interns and former interns who are currently alive include (in order of appearance) Cecil, Chad Bowinger, Dana Cardinal, Maureen, Vithya and Kareem.
Characters and narratives may emerge and develop slowly, while unrelated stories may combine to form new plot points. Major stories which have occurred include the development of a romantic relationship between Cecil and Carlos; the stranding of several characters, including Carlos, in a "desert otherworld"; the invasion of Night Vale by the corporation StrexCorp, from the rival town of Desert Bluffs, and StrexCorp's eventual expulsion from Night Vale; the 2014 mayoral elections, with subsequent terrorist activities by failed mayoral candidates The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home and Hiram McDaniels; and the complications surrounding McDaniels' subsequent imprisonment and trial. The series' fourth anniversary in June 2016 coincided with a two-part climax to the most recent storyline: the invasion of Night Vale by mysterious strangers, led by a demonic beagle puppy accidentally summoned from Hell by Chad Bowinger, a former radio intern. The early plot point of a miniature city buried under the town's bowling alley resurfaced after this, in addition to the sporadic appearance of Huntokar, a deer-headed deity with connections to both the tiny city and Night Vale's unusual nature. More recent plot points include the resolution of the Blood Space War, the aging of Lee Marvin and the town being brought back into the normal flow of time.
Cast and charactersEdit
- Cecil Baldwin as Cecil Gershwin Palmer, the narrator of the podcast and the host of Night Vale's radio station. He is described as "not too short or tall, not fat or too thin." His true age is unknown, as he references being alive for events hundreds of years in the past, however time does not work correctly in Night Vale. Cecil adopts a cat named Khoshekh who is found floating in a stationary position in the station's men's bathroom. He is also Jewish. In the credits he is referred to as "The Voice of Night Vale."
- Dylan Marron as Carlos, Cecil's scientist boyfriend and later husband. Described as having "perfect hair" and "teeth like a military cemetery," he initially comes to Night Vale as an outsider but soon integrates into the community through this relationship with Cecil. Cecil fawns over him for the first year of the podcast before they begin dating. They were married in the series' hundredth episode "Toast", and in the "A Spy in the Desert" live show it was revealed that the couple had adopted a son named Esteban who they had kept secret for two years. He was originally voiced by series co-creator Jeffrey Cranor who stepped down after his first voice appearance because he felt uncomfortable being a white man voicing a hispanic character.
- Jasika Nicole as Dana Cardinal, former Night Vale Community Radio Intern and former mayor of Night Vale. In the episode "The Sandstorm" she kills her double, an act that comes back to haunt her after Danas from parallel realities seek revenge on her in Year Six. To date, she is one of few people who have survived Night Vale Community Radio's internship program.
- Kevin R. Free as Kevin, Cecil's Desert Bluffs counterpart obsessed with blood and gore, offsetting his cheery disposition. He now lives in the Desert Otherworld, which he has named Desert Bluffs Too!, where he continues to broadcast his radio program.
- Lauren Sharpe as Lauren Mallard, the former head of StrexCorp and current mayor of Desert Bluffs Too!, although she seems to answer to Kevin.
- Mara Wilson as The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, a former mayoral candidate and being who simultaneously lives in the homes of all Night Vale residents.
- Jackson Publick as Hiram McDaniels, a literal five-headed dragon and former mayoral candidate. After attempting to assassinate the Mayor, Four of his heads are placed on trial, excluding the Violet head, who worked to prevent the assassination.
- Retta as Josefina Ortiz, commonly known as Old Woman Josie, Cecil's dearest friend and formerly the only person in town to openly acknowledge the existence of Angels.
- Hal Lublin as Steve Carlsberg, Cecil's brother-in-law whom he used to dislike, but now respects. His daughter Janice has spina bifida and is captain of her school's wheelchair basketball team.
- Symphony Sanders as Tamika Flynn, a well-read young woman in charge of a teenage militia in the desert and the only member of the City Council that is not part of their one singular body.
- Maureen Johnson as Intern Maureen, a disgruntled former Night Vale Community Radio intern and former commander of an army of Strangers.
- Kate Jones as Michelle Nguyen, the owner of Dark Owl Records who disdains any music that is remotely popular. She and Maureen have been dating for the past 3 years.
- Mark Gagliardi as John Peters (you know, the farmer?), a local farmer who specializes in growing imaginary corn. Not to be confused with John Peter (you remember, the pharmacist).
- Desiree Burch as Pamela Winchell, the former mayor of Night Vale and current Head of Emergency Press Conferences.
- Emma Frankland as Sheriff Sam, who became sheriff of Night Vale after the previous sheriff mysteriously disappeared. They use they/them pronouns.
- Tina Parker as Huntokar the Destroyer, the dear-masked goddess who created Night Vale.
- Wil Wheaton as Earl Harlan, a local celebrity chef at the restaurant "Tourniquet." He is a childhood friend of Cecil, although he has difficulty remembering his past.
- Meg Bashwiner as Deb, a sentient patch of haze, who comes on the show to read advertisements. She has a sister named Caitlyn who is also voiced by Bashwiner. Bashwiner also provides the voice of "Proverb Lady" who reads the credits at the end of every episode.
- James Urbaniak as Leonard Burton, the former host of Night Vale Community Radio and Cecil's childhood idol.
- Marc Evan Jackson as Marcus Vanston, an extraordinarily wealthy Night Vale citizen who was turned into an Angel during the mayoral debate.
- Molly Quinn as Fey, a computer program from the radio station WZZZ that reads random numbers of an unknown purpose, but eventually becomes sentient. Quinn also voices Fey's creator, computer programmer Melony Pennington.
- Felicia Day as Joanna Rey, a shape-shifter zookeeper.
- Jason Webley as Louie Blasko, the former owner of Louie's Music Shop before it burned down and he skipped town with the insurance money.
- Annie Savage as Diane Crayton, the treasurer of the Night Vale PTA and the co-protagonist of the Welcome to Night Vale novel.
- Joseph Fink as Teddy Williams, the owner of the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex.
- Fink also voices Josh Crayton, Diane's shape-shifter son who takes the form of a "Thirty-something podcast writer" during the "All Hail" live show.
- He voiced "Intern Joseph" in "The Investigators" live show, Telly the Barber in the "A Spy in the Desert" live show, and sang a song as youth basketball coach Jacobin McPhee in the episode "The Veterans."
- Aliee Chan as Basimah Bashara, a young muslim woman whose father has been away fighting the Blood Space War for most of her life.
- Dessa as Sabina, Cecil's pregnant cousin.
- Hunter Canning as Hugh Jackman, the owner of the new technology start up company eGemony who shares his name with the famous actor.
- Lusia Strus as Missy Wilks, a Night Vale citizen and former Playboy Playmate.
- Erica Livingston and Christopher Loar as Maggie and Donald Penebaker, a husband and wife who serve as the voices of the phone tree menus for all services in Night Vale.
- Flor De Liz Perez as Lacy, a representative for the Night Vale Department of Water
- Jeffery Cranor as Charles, Carlos's Desert Bluffs counterpart. He is a theologist and Kevin's boyfriend.
- Cranor also voiced the Secret Police Spokesperson in "The Investigators" live show and Lee Marvin in the "A Spy in the Desert" live show.
- TL Thompson as Lee Marvin, Night Vale's most local celebrity who has been perpetually having his 30th birthday since time immemorial. He is responsible for time in Night Vale being put back to normal in the Year Seven finale.
- Rob Neill as Kasper Rhodes, a businessman in town who offers to freeze people's brains after they die with the intent of achieving immortality.
- In the live show "The Librarian" Andrew WK, James Urbaniak, Molly Quinn, and Wil Wheaton all perform the same monologue as a new intern at the station, but on different days of the tour.
While every episode of the show is written by creators Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor, so far 25 episodes and 2 bonus episodes have had guest co-writers.
- Episode 9 "PYRAMID" - Regic Lacher (pyramid messages)
- Episode 18 "The Traveler" - Zach Parsons (lead story)
- Episode 20 "Poetry Week" - Trilety Wade, Russel Swenson, Vanessa Irena, Katherine Ciel, Erika Paschold, and Danielle DuBois (poem submissions)
- Episode 28 "Summer Reading Program" - Ashley Lierman
- Episode 29 "Subway" - Russel Swenson
- Episode 34 "A Beautiful Dream" - Zach Parsons
- Episode 37 "The Auction" - Glen David Gold
- Episode 39 "The Woman from Italy" - Glen David Gold (additional material)
- Episode 40 "The Deft Bowman" - Zach Parsons (additional material)
- Episode 50 "Capital Campaign" - Ashley Lierman
- Episode 79 "Lost in the Mail" - Zack Parsons
- Episode 91 "The 12:37" - James Moran
- Episode 101 "Guidelines for Disposal" - Brie Williams
- Episode 112 "Citizen Spotlight" - Brie Williams
- Episode 113 "Niecelet" - Dessa
- Episodes 117-119 "eGemony (Parts 1-3)" - Glen David Cook
- Episodes 124-126 "A Door Ajar (Parts 1-3)" - Brie Williams
- Episode 133 "Are You Sure?" - Brie Williams
- Episode 138 "Harvest Time" - Brie Williams
- Episode 141 "Save Dark Owl Records" - Brie Williams
- Episode 143 "Pioneer Days" - Brie Williams
- Episode 151 "The Waterfall" - Brie Williams
- Bonus Episode 1: "Minutes" - Ashley Lierman
- Bonus Episode 2: "What of the Sea?" - Marta Rainerz
Welcome to Night ValeEdit
In October 2015 Fink and Cranor released a novel by the same name, Welcome to Night Vale. It is told primarily from the viewpoints of Jackie Fierro and Diane Crayton, both citizens of Night Vale who have been featured in the podcast. Critical reception for the book has been positive.
In the March 15, 2017 episode of the podcast, Fink announced a second novel, titled It Devours!, which deals with Carlos and his team of scientists investigating the Cult of the Smiling God. It was released October 17, 2017.
The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your HomeEdit
In the September 15, 2019 episode of the podcast it was announced that the third Night Vale novel, The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home will be released on March 24, 2020. The novel will once again be co-written by Fink and Cranor and focus on the backstory of the title character. The audiobook will be narrated by Mara Wilson, who provides the voice of the Faceless Old Woman on the podcast.
To date Welcome to Night Vale has released four books featuring scripts from the show as well as commentary, introductions by the authors and original illustrations. Each book corresponds to a season (or year) of the podcast. They include Mostly Void, Partially Stars for Year One, The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe for Year Two, The Buying of Lot 37 for Year Three, and Who's a Good Boy? for Year Four.
Night Vale PresentsEdit
Night Vale Presents, formerly known as Commonplace Books, is the production company for Welcome to Night Vale. In 2016 Night Vale Presents expanded into a network hosting other original podcasts besides Night Vale.
The first NVP network podcast, Alice Isn't Dead, is written by Night Vale cowriter Joseph Fink, and was performed by Jasika Nicole, who played Dana on Night Vale. In season three, Erica Livingston joins her as narrator as Keisha's wife Alice. The story is presented as monologues broadcast over a trucker CB radio, as a woman named Keisha drives a truck across America, looking for her missing wife. The first season of 10 episodes was released between March and July 2016, and a second season began airing in April 2017 to August 8. The third and final season began airing on April 24, 2018. A novel based on the series was released on October 30, 2018.
The second Night Vale Presents podcast is Within the Wires is an anthology series of found audio tapes, written by Night Vale cowriter Jeffrey Cranor, as well as and Janina Matthewson. Season one is narrated by Matthewson and told as a series of relaxation tapes prepared for a patient in a mysterious medical center known as "The Institute." As the story unfolds, it became clear that the narrator of the tapes had a connection to the patient, and may have had a secret agenda. The first season of 10 episodes was released between June and November 2016. The second season, narrated by Rima Te Wiata, is presented as a series of museum audio guides and aired from September 5, 2017, to January 9, 2018. The third season, narrated by Lee LeBreton, is a political thriller set in 1950s Chicago told through letters from a bureaucrat to his secretary. It aired from September 4, 2018, to January 15, 2019.
A third podcast, The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air), was released October 12, 2016, in collaboration with WNYC Studios. This radio drama podcast is written by and stars musician Julian Koster, It depicts Koster as a shy janitor named Julian working in the Eiffel Tower, where his favorite show entitled The Orbiting Human Circus is performed. His frequent attempts to appear on the show often end in embarrassment and depression for Julian. Tim Robbins voices the narrator inside Julian's head, and John Cameron Mitchell voices John Cameron, the host of The Orbiting Human Circus. The second season premiered on November 6, 2019.
Night Vale Presents' first non-fiction podcast, Conversations With People Who Hate Me, premiered on July 30, 2017. It is a weekly discussion-based podcast featuring Dylan Marron (voice of Carlos on Welcome to Night Vale) talking with people who have sent him hateful comments online, or mediating conversations between others who have had arguments online including celebrity guests.
I Only Listen To The Mountain Goats, features conversations between Joseph Fink and musician John Darnielle of the band The Mountain Goats. Each episode features a new cover of a Mountain Goats song by a different artist (some of which have been used as the 'weather' in episodes of Night Vale). The first season, focusing on the band's album All Hail West Texas, aired from September 27, 2017, to April 5, 2018. An album featuring all the covers from the first season was released the day after the finale digitally and on vinyl. Season two, focusing on the band's then-upcoming album In League with Dragons premiered on April 4, 2019.
A fiction podcast, It Makes A Sound, was launched in 2017, detailing an amateur radio host's love of a local musician named Wim Faros and her hopes of revitalizing her hometown. The podcast was created, written, and narrated by Jacquelyn Landgraf. The first-season finale aired on January 21, 2018. A soundtrack album based on the first season was released called Win Faros: The Attic Tapes was released on January 30, 2019.
Good Morning Night Vale is an aftershow for Welcome to Night Vale featuring Night Vale voice actors Meg Bashwiner, Symphony Sanders, and Hal Lublin breaking down and discussing every episode of the show.
On March 28, 2018, Night Vale Presents added Sleep With Me to their network. The show was previously presented by "Dearest Scooter" from 2013 to 2017, and by Feral Audio from 2017 to 2018. It is a storytelling and health-based podcast hosted by creator Drew Ackerman, designed to help listeners fall asleep.
A fiction podcast titled Adventures in New America, created by Stephen Winter and Tristan Cowen premiered on September 28, 2018. It is described as "the first sci-fi, political satire, Afrofuturistic buddy comedy" podcast. It followed two African-New-American friends, the lonely curmudgeon IA, and lesbian thief Simon Carr as they partake in a series of high-stakes heists to get quick cash to pay for IA's medical treatment. It stars an ensemble cast featuring Paige Gilbert, Bryan Webster, Pernell Walker, Starlee Kine, and Stephen Winter.
Dreamboy is a fiction podcast created by and starring musician Dane Terry. The first season aired from October 23, 2018, to March 26, 2019. The musical mystery podcast is about a "spun-out musician" and zoo employee named Dane living in Cleveland, Ohio as he attempts to solve the mystery of mysterious flickering lights across town, as well as a murderous zebra. On December 3, 2019, it was announced that there would not be another season of the podcast.
Night Vale Presents announced in January 2019 that they had added the podcast Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, previously presented by Panoply, to the network's roster. Hosted by Vanessa Zoltan and Casper Ter Kuile since its inception in May 2016, the podcast attempts to read the Harry Potter books as a sacred text, exploring the characters and context of one chapter per episode through a different central theme.
Start With This, a non-fiction podcast by Night Vale co-creators Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, premiered on March 22, 2019. It features the duo sharing writing tips and prompts for listeners to sharpen their own writing skills.
The show has been described as "the news from Lake Wobegon as seen through the eyes of Stephen King", and Christopher Wynn of The Dallas Morning News characterized it as "NPR meets The Mothman Prophecies". The Daily Dot's Gavia Baker-Whitelaw compared the podcast to being "caught somewhere between Weird Twitter and 'Tales of the Unexplained'" and said that it is "well worth a listen—although possibly not after dark, if you live in a small town yourself". Colin Griffith of The A.V. Club said the show is "really well done, offering a surrealist/absurdist (and occasionally existentialist) take on community radio, with dispatches from the small, delectably nightmarish desert town of Night Vale". Writing for TechGeek, Erin Hill considered the uniqueness of the podcast to be "its presentation of what is ordinary", adding that "many of the things that Cecil reports goes against our idea of normal, but [everything] is presented in a manner that makes it seem mundane".
In July 2013, Welcome to Night Vale was ranked second on the top 10 audio podcasts list on iTunes, behind radio program This American Life. During the same month, it surpassed This American Life to become first on the podcasts list, having received 150,000 downloads during a single week.
In December 2013, The A.V. Club ranked the show 7th on its Best Podcasts of 2013 list.
Co-producer Jeffrey Cranor attributed this spike in popularity to both Tumblr and fans of the television series Hannibal. Max Sebela, a creative strategist for Tumblr, stated that the fan following began to "spiral out of control" beginning on July 5, with that week having "20,000-plus posts about 'Night Vale,' with 183,000-plus individual blogs participating in the conversation, and 680,000-plus notes". The Twitter account for the podcast has been noted as having more than 20,000 followers by July 2013.
According to The Daily Dot, new listeners primarily come through fan following and word of mouth primarily on Tumblr with fan fiction and fan art focusing on the romantic relationship between the show's narrator and scientist Carlos. Fans have published "fanscripts", transcripts of the podcast, in order to widen the accessibility of Welcome to Night Vale.
On October 15, 2015 producers Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor were interviewed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and Cecil Baldwin appeared for a Community Calendar public service message for Night Vale. Mike Rugnetta of PBS's web show Idea Channel compares the show to horror writer H.P. Lovecraft's style of writing about fear of what we don't know. He says "But Night Vale turns Lovecraft's 'unimaginable terror' into 'drab mundanity'."
In December 2017, it was announced that Gennifer Hutchison, a writer and producer on Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, is adapting Welcome to Night Vale for television. The series is being produced by Sony Pictures Television, where Hutchison has an overall deal, and developed for FX. Fink and Cranor will serve as executive producers.
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