Welcome… to Night Vale

I do a lot of driving. I usually rock out in my car to my own music. I plug into the aux jack and spotify it up. But my girlfriend plugs in a few weeks ago and starts playing a podcast.

“I don’t know…”

“No, trust me. It’ll be good.”

So I give it a shot. Sure enough, by the end of a weekend I’m untold hours into a series of 20 minute broadcasts featuring a captivatingly articulate host, secret government agencies, and a fugitive five-headed dragon that wants to run for mayor.

If you’ve never been sucked into a podcast series before, this might be for you. It’s a recurring radio show broadcasting from a fictitious city in the desert where all sorts of strange goings-on, well… go on. As Joseph Fink, one of the creators of “Welcome to Night Vale”, put it in an interview with NPR’s Jacki Lyden,

“… I 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.”

The show’s host and main character, one Cecil Gershwin Palmer (voiced by Cecil Baldwin), delivers news and other reports to the city of Night Vale, often as events unfold. This real-time breaking-news reporting style is complemented by Cecil’s deadpan delivery of mostly outrageous occurences. It’s comical. If comedy and commentary are their goals, the creators of Night Vale are sincerely succeeding.

Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor got Night Vale started a few years ago and produced it using Fink’s company Commonplace Books. As far as I can tell, the success of Welcome to Night Vale has made these men very busy.

In fact, now in their third year, the Night Vale production crew and creators went on tour. These live performances of brand new scripts wrapped up at the beginning of April, but after doing a small bit of reading I found this awesome stop motion video that Dylan Marron (voice of Carlos) put together of the tour.

Honestly that looked like a lot of fun and not what I would imagine a normal tour looks like for publishing company. But then again, Commonplace Books is not a normal publisher. In fact, it’s not even really operational. I find that quite appropriate. It reminds me of the Night Vale Harbor and Waterfront Recreation Area.

It gets me to thinking about business models for creative ventures.  It seems that for every business offering creative services or producing creative content using a standard model, there is another one that is succeeding in a non conventional way.

I enjoy Night Vale and applaud their successes. Now to buy a T-Shirt.


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