A few months ago, I discovered podcasts. Or not discover them, per se, as I’ve been aware of them and they’ve been around for ages now. So maybe I should say, several months ago, I decided to give listening to podcasts a try and they’ve consumed my life. My usual music time in the car has been taken up with listening to podcasts, and I’ve also started listening to them when I go on runs.
I don’t know why I didn’t start listening to them before. Podcasts are amazing — or at least the ones I’ve discovered are, and I know there are a ton more amazing podcasts that I could be listening to.
Since the list of channels that I’ve been listening to is rather long, I’m splitting them up into three separate posts. Part II will be fiction and poetry podcasts, and Part II will cover film and filmmaking podcasts.
First up is radio drama or audio theatre, which I think both describe the same thing and I’m assuming apply here, in regards to narrative podcasts in which a story unfolds over multiple episodes.
I’m itching for more radio drama style podcasts, so please send recommendations!
Welcome to Night Vale
Welcome to Night Vale is a serial podcast about a community radio show, reporting on the quaint and creepy desert town of Night Vale. The voice of Night Vale is Cecil Balwin, who reports on local news and community events, like giant glow clouds raining down the bodies of dead animals or the goings on of the Sheriff’s Secret Police or strange underworlds appearing under bowling alleys.
So, I started listening, and because I’m a completionist on these kinds of things, I started at the beginning and have been working my way forward. Since there are over 80 episodes and since I can only listen to one or two a day without devolving into madness, it’s taking me a rather long time to catch up. But that’s okay, because starting at the beginning has allowed me to see how the town and all of its characters have grown and survived or survived but damaged or not survived, as the case may be.
Night Vale was the rabbit hole that spun me off into discovering more and more podcasts. It’s fantastic.
The Message is a sci-fi narrative that follows “the weekly reports and interviews from Nicky Tomalin, who is covering the decoding of a message from outer space received 70 years ago. Over the course of 8 episodes we get an inside ear on how a top team of cryptologists attempt to decipher, decode, and understand the alien message.”
Only eight episodes long, The Message is a great bite-size introduction to this kind of audio theatre and podcasts in general, presenting an unsettling sci-fi storyline with great voice acting and sound effects. Just talking about it makes me want to go back and listen to it again. It’s that good.
Alice Isn’t Dead
Alice Isn’t Dead follows the story of an unnamed narrator, searching for her wife, whom she believes to be dead, while working as a truck driver. Joseph Fink, one of the creators ofWelcome to Night Vale, told Wired, that the story would have the same humor mixed with creepiness as Night Vale — a sure win for me.
This one is so new that I’ve only listened to the teaser. But based on that and the fact that it’s from the creators of Welcome to Night Vale, I have high hopes that Alice Isn’t Dead is going to be fantastic.
Updated to Add: Having listened to the first episode, I can say that Alice Isn’t Dead is creepy in a decidedly different way from Night Vale., where strange and creepy happen but are generally mitigated by the light, humorous tone. Alice Isn’t Dead has humor, however, it seems to be a little darker.
Narrated by truck driver, Nicole, the narration is punctuated by scratchy hiss of the truck’s CB radio cutting in and out. The effect is unsettling as some of the storyline comes through in non-chronological order. The horror of events described are more personal and frightening, leaving a lingering sense of threat. All of this is to say, I freaking like it and can’t wait to hear more.