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Welcome to Night Vale Is a Creepy, Quirky, Hudson Valley Podcast

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Courtesy of Welcome to Night Vale

A top podcast that exports listeners into a crazy universe of conspiracies and oddities is created right here in the Hudson Valley.

Imagine a place where your wildest dreams (or nightmares) came true—and you’d be in Night Vale, a fictional desert community where surreal events regularly occur with little-to-no effect on its mundane citizens. (Seriously: a five-headed dragon named Hiram could run for mayor and residents would just shrug it off.) This Area 51-esque town comes alive in the form of the wildly popular podcast series, Welcome to Night Vale, that’s presented as a local radio show hosted by Cecil Palmer.

Though the creepy tales take place in a ghoulish, Southwestern locale, the episodes are written in the Hudson Valley—Milan-based Joseph Fink and Saugerties-based Jeffrey Cranor are the brains behind the podcast. The duo (along with Fink’s wife and tour manager, Meg Bashwiner, and friend Cecil Baldwin, the voice of Cecil Palmer) first met at a Manhattan theater troupe, the New York Neo-Futurists. There, they excelled in storytelling, audience engagement, and production—which turned out to be a perfect combination for a podcast. “Around 2012, I was unemployed and started writing these paragraphs about a weird desert town…” says Fink. The rest, as they say, was history.

Welcome to Night Vale

Courtesy of Welcome to Night Vale

What started as a 30ish-minute, twice-monthly dispatch soon turned into a top podcast on Apple and Spotify, with over 200 episodes, and extended to two New York Times best-selling novels and over 400 live events. The podcast has quite the cult following: it’s downloaded over five million times a month.

Welcome to Night Vale is such an engrossing listening experience, it feels like you’re watching a movie, making it perfect for long walks or drives. Each episode immerses you into a land of outlandish characters—like the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your House or the Glow Cloud that takes control of the town. Cecil recounts the news as if it’s just another day at the office—unphased by evil librarians, ominous monoliths in the dog park, or his interns regularly dying on the job.

Night Vale isn’t supposed to make sense. Kate Leth, a comic book writer and friend of the creators, put it best: “[it’s as] if Stephen King and Neil Gaiman started a game of SIMS and then just left it running forever.”

Listening to the podcast is one thing, but the live shows take the eeriness to another level and have lured worldwide audiences to the Sydney Opera House, the West End in London, and Bard College’s Spiegeltent. After a two-year hiatus, Welcome to Night Vale will be back in action, including two shows next month at the Colony in Woodstock. “[The feedback] is indescribable. It’s a special thing that we get to do. Live theater is where we all came out of… Of all the things I do, getting to write a show that gives people a nice evening out—that is the thing I love to do the most,” explains Fink.

Welcome to Night Vale live is original content—equally fun for podcast fanatics or newcomers to the spooky desert world. For general admission tickets for Night 2 ($35) on June 5, visit Eventbrite or welcometonightvale.com/live.

Related: The Vale Fox Distillery Makes American Single-Malt Whiskey a Thing

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