In the Town of Night Vale, hooded figures, bizarre flashing lights, and appearances by angels are parts of daily life. And they're all explained and hypothesized about on Welcome to Night Vale, the otherworldly podcast narrated by Cecil Baldwin. Throughout, Baldwin provides updates on the conditions of the fictional southwestern desert town, including messages from secret police and gentle reminders like, "Remember: if you see something, say nothing, and drink to forget."
Each episode is punctuated by a musical "weather report" performed by an ever-rotating cast of indie artists—minimalist Swedish band the Tiny and hip-hop collective Doomtree were both guests. And as the story gets stranger, peculiar characters beyond the trusty narrator come out of the woodwork to feed the conspiracy theories (Carlos the scientist is a favorite).
Created by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, who write every episode, Night Vale combines the calm delivery of public-radio programming with an increasingly dark and complex narrative, creating a unique brand of serialized radio. Despite each broadcast's Twilight Zone-esque eeriness, Fink and Cranor's clever writing makes for a hilarious half hour. Baldwin's asides about his personal feelings toward the town's residents and weird one-off slogans from secret police and local businesses ("This is America! Vote correctly or never see your loved ones again") are among the podcast's most entertaining moments.
And for the first time in its nearly 50-episode run, the show is hitting the road. Tonight's live episodes (same episode, two performances) will tack on an extra hour to the usual half-hour running time and feature a live musical guest to deliver the weather report. The tour marks the first step in an expansion of the podcast's universe—a book furthering the saga of the desert town is scheduled to be released next year.