Love/Hate: Welcome to Night Vale

– by Lindsey and Kelsey

This blog is just a little over a month old. As with any new baby, it’s creators are going to experiment a little to see what makes it stop crying/makes the neighbors happy. Thus, we’re trying a new column today called Love/Hate.

If you’ve read our bio section (which I’m sure you all have, right?), you know that we sisters don’t always agree. If we did, we’d probably be robots or weirdly psychic twins or crazy. We are not the first two of those things. This column will be about those topics/things that one of us can’t stop talking about and the other really wishes they would. We’re starting with a podcast: Welcome to Night Vale.


Lindsey loves.

In recent years, my drive-time listening has taken a rather dramatic turn. Whereas I once only listened to CDs and my iPod because I “can’t stand any talking,” I now listen almost exclusively to NPR and podcasts. I won’t go deep into the why of this change, but I find the calm voices and more involved stories help take my mind away from my driving/traffic related anxiety issues. NPR (and the like) has become my pacifier.

However, sometimes I miss that feeling of emotional surprise that comes when you listen to a new song. I also really like creepy stories, and the typical podcast only has so many Halloween/scary episodes. Enter my new obsession: Welcome to Night Vale. It’s difficult to describe to the uninitiated, but I like to think of it as the best little public radio station in the worst small town. Horrifying news is reported without distress. Odd stories continue throughout the series, so you become attached to the weirdos as things get weirder. I like to listen as I work to their SoundCloud stream here. If you want some idea of the humor without actually listening, check out the Night Vale Radio Twitter feed. It’s dark and sarcastic in a lie-joke kind of way, if you know what I mean. Mara Wilson (yes, Matilda), who does voice-over work on some of the episodes, wrote that a friend of hers said, “I feel like this fills a void I didn’t know I had.” I completely agree. I mean, one of the characters is a faceless old woman who secretly lives in your home. What more could you want?

Often, when I love something this much, I’ll repeatedly blab to Kelsey about just how much I love it. However, she didn’t feel the same way…

Kelsey hates.

Like my sister, I’ve also developed an odd taste (compared to my former prejudices) for podcasts while I’m driving or cleaning etc. It allows my brain to feel engaged while I’m doing something not necessarily brainless, but not very interesting. And I love love love scary stories (this is coming from a child with vivid nightmares that once developed a series of night terrors from a book cover). I regularly watch Ghost Hunters, Celebrity Ghost Stories (so bad that it’s good) and track down frightening paraphernalia (such as Jezebel’s annual Spookiest Stories contest).  That may be one of my issues with this podcast. I tried to make it through a few installments, I really did, but I never made it past around ten minutes. I wanted scary, and I received weird, which isn’t enough to satisfy my podcasting needs. Voices are also uncommonly significant to me in that if I find your voice grating, I won’t listen to your podcast. Period. This American Life is a remarkable podcast, but Ira Glass, bless him, has a voice that only a mother could love. Night Vale, on the other hand, is like listening to a robot that’s slightly more advanced at human pronunciation than your average GPS, but still comes off odd and halting.

Finally, the podcast clearly details strange happenings around Night Vale, which somehow, no matter how odd and satirical the delivery, still conjures memories of sad small-town radio stations. Those crackly AM stations that announce spaghetti dinners and social events alongside depressing local news.

All due respect and admiration to Night Vale and its listeners, but I just can’t.


 

That’s love/hate for you. What do you think of Welcome to Night Vale, readers?

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