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Welcome to Night Vale is a free, bimonthly fictional podcast produced by Common Place Books. This is a review of the April 27, 2015 live show at the Bing Crosby Theater in downtown Spokane. For more information on the show, check out this preview published in last week's Spokane7.
In its latest live show, “The Welcome to Night Vale” podcast embraces its old-time roots by steeping the story in a classic trope – the murder mystery – and performing a good deal of fan service in a crowd-pleasing two hour performance.
Because much of the audience's enjoyment will come from surprise appearances and twists in the story, I won't say much about the plot itself. Suffice to say, if you're a longtime fan of the quirky amalgamation of NPR, The Twilight Zone and conspiracy theory paranoia, you'll be pleased with the content of the show. And if you're dragged there by a devoted significant other, there's enough by way of background exposition that you'll get what's going on, even if several of the in-jokes are over your hairline. There's a brilliant moment between main protagonist Cecil (Cecil Baldwin) and Madeline (Molly Quinn) involving a certain Katy Perry lyric that will have fans squealing with delight.
The show packs in several appearances from bit players who join Cecil on stage, but this is really Baldwin's show. Most of the performance, he's delivering the script in solidarity with backing from affiliated music act Disparition. The two were comfortably in sync, with the accompaniment rising and falling in just the right places and the performance really feeling like a well-produced installment of the show, which is released every two weeks on iTunes and other podcast services, if you're looking to catch up.
A lot of credit must also be given to writers Jospeh Fink and Jeffrey Cranor for crafting a story that promotes audience participation. In a self-conscious winking moment, Cecil invites audience members to join in the show, then playfully chastises them for being too cool to do so. It's a nod to the willing suspension of disbelief that makes the podcast such a successful and clique-y experience for so many, asking listeners to buy in to an absurd world while at the same time asking them to participate in absurd ways to the unfolding of the story.
The price tag ($30) may seem a little harsh for the amount of content you're getting, but really this is a night of live theatre that is unlike anything else you'll see. Blending live music with a rich backstory that now spans more than 65 episodes, along with surprises that will delight both longtime fans and new initiates to the Night Vale world, “The Investigators” is an experience that fans of the subversive should not miss.
Verdict: 4/5 stars
You hear some stations you might not ordinarily check out.
That must be how, years ago, I came across this Christian pop song. I liked it then. I like it now.
What have you discovered when you set the radio tuner to bounce from station to station?
Twice this week, on my way home from work, I have ridden my bike past people in their side-yard gardens listening to angry talk radio.
Just don't see how that would be relaxing.
To each his own, I suppose. Maybe what sounds to me like ranting strikes their ears as music.
Still, I can't imagine the plants care for it.
NPR's "All Things Considered" has a featue on the coal export issue asking "is it morally wrong for U.S. to export coal?" Their report covers the seven public hearings in Washington that were held by the Army Corps Of Engineers.
At those hearings, the Army Corps of Engineers listened to testimony to help decide which impacts are taken into account as they consider the permit proposal for a new deep-water coal export facility at Cherry Point. If approved, the Gateway Pacific Terminal north of Bellingham would be the largest coal export terminal in the country. In the proposal, up to 62 coal trains would rumble through Spokane on their way to the coal terminal.
(Remember: You have until January 21st to submit comments. If you haven't GET ON IT. )
I thought the NPR report has a funny line that is a testament to the concerns and grassroots oppostion surrounding the project with "it sounds pretty dry and yet the meetings attracted more than 8,000 people."
Not really sure why I like this so much. Maybe I just like theoretical Minnesota.
I have only a tiny sample to go on. So this is total generalization.
But my limited experience with having people listening to a radio while doing some work in or around the house suggests conservative talk is popular in the building/remodeling/household repair trades.
But maybe the next guy will listen to KYRS.
It's probably safe to assume that most people on the bus wearing earphones are listening to music of their own choosing.
But when some stranger across the aisle laughs at the exact same instant you do, it might be reasonable to conclude that you are both listening to the same radio station.
It's a visual moment, but it sort of cries out to be part of the next Spokane Public Radio pledgeathon.
Monday's Slice column about being under the covers on a school night and searching for distant stations on a transistor radio seemed to connect with readers.
But my assumption that this was pretty much a boy thing was politely challenged by several of my correspondents.
"This girl from a small town in Indiana found (dial scanning) very entertaining," wrote Amy Houser. "It instilled in me a wanderlust to explore our country."
Lisa Lasswell is another who remembers. "I was one of those 10-year-old kids who was amazed to discover I could hear, from Spokane, what was going on in some far-away place called Grand Junction (which I then had to look up in our family atlas…does anyone still have or use one of those?). There was something thrilling in the realization that my little radio had a reach of over 1,000 miles, at least late at night when all conditions were perfect. Now with the click of a mouse my 10-year-old son can see around the world. Sigh."
Melissa Shireman remembers, in the late '70s and early '80s, pulling in stations from Las Vegas, San Francisco and Denver on her clock radio. "I thought it was the coolest thing."
Barbara Cunningham, who grew in Southern Idaho, was one of the first in her circle of friends to get a transistor radio. She remembers listening to a station in Oklahoma City.
North Idaho's Robin Draut spent childhood years in coastal Fort Bragg, California. "I loved dialing in San Francisco, Los Angeles and MEXICO," she wrote. "Sometimes I could get stations from somewhere in the East (but then everything was East for us). Since we lived isolated from most of the world, we really loved knowing that we were somehow connected."
Mary Ann McKnight, who grew up in Blythe, Calif., remembers listening to stations in Oklahoma City and Yuma, Ariz. "You had to turn it on at just the right time of day and when my dad wasn't around."
"We moved here from Sacramento 10 years ago," wrote Erica Hallock. "Although we love Spokane, I still miss Sacratomato. When I am driving though our state during the evening/night hours, I love that I can find my favorite talk radio from Sacramento (KFBK)."
Kath'ren Bay shared this. "I am a girl who grew up in Boise and want you to know the late-night under-the-covers transistor radio thing was not just for boys. I'll give you that my radio was a pretty turquoise number, but I 'traveled' all over the country, just like you; chasing wild dee-jays and discovering new music. My favorite city was San Francisco.
"To this day there is something wonderful about night driving and listening to the crisp clear sound of music via the radio dial."
Liz Cox grew up here and still remembers one station that "blasted the wattage into my cottage" from somewhere in Utah or Nevada.
Sara Lindgren didn't get into this as a little kid. But when she was a student at Whitworth, she regularly tuned in a radio signal from Salt Lake City.
Jo Hartley lived in Idaho and tried to pick up a certain station in Sacramento.
Another reader, a woman who grew up in the South, recalled marking her radio dial with a pen so she could find certain stations again.
My colleague Pia Hallenberg reminded me that this isn't just a North American pastime. As a girl growing up in Denmark, her favorite station was Radio Luxembourg.
Another SR friend, Jeff Jordan, recalled living here and listening to KFI from Los Angeles during a time when many L.A. Dodgers were fresh from stints with the AAA Spokane Indians.
"In the summer you usually had to wait until 8:30 or 9 before you could start picking up the signal. It got stronger through the night and it always came in better in my dad's 1959 Ford. Many nights I would fall asleep in the car listening to Vin Scully's Hall of Fame descriptions of Dodgers baseball. Dad or Mom would have to bring me in.
"In my junior high years, Dad would let me start the car for a couple of minutes every hour so the battery didn't die. One of my memorable broadcasts was listening to Vin Scully call a Sandy Koufax no-hitter. Scully just allowed the crowd's deafening roar to tell the story on the final out."
Ken Oaks, who grew up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, remembers listening to WLS in Chicago and, on good nights, WBZ in Boston. "Lots of good memories," he wrote.
Chris DeForest, who grew up in Seattle, remembers doing extra chores as a kid to subsidize the purchase of replacment batteries. They tended not to last long if you routinely fell asleep with the radio still on beneath your pillow.
Kevin Albaugh, who lived in New York state, recalls picking up stations in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and New York City. "It was great fun," he wrote.
Emmett Arndt was another member of this unofficial club. "It was magical to me," he wrote.
Some transistor radios had illuminated tuning dials. But Ken Stout took a flash light under the covers with him.
Lan Hellie, who grew up north of Spokane, made an effort to tune in a Vancouver, B. C., station with a progressive rock playlist.
Bob Brown shared this. "I can't remember where it came from, but the 'Lucky Lager Dance Time' was my favorite program, my first introduction to rock and roll."
Tara Leininger wrote, "When I was a tween (like the term existed back then!) I loved late night radio. I grew up in Kalispell, Montana, and on a really good night I could get Calgary! I couldn't get Missoula but could get Spokane more often than not. I think the mountains really bounced signals in an interesting way."
"My husband's family in Deer Park listened to the Grand Ole Opry from Nashville," wrote Julie Roberts.
From his childhood basement bedroom on the South Hill, Joe Jovanovich picked up stations from places such as Denver and St. Louis.
Vince Roland grew up in Kentucky and listened to stations in, among other places, Chicago and Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Harry Hart shared this. "In 1974, I was driving from Denver to Boise. In the early hours of the morning (around 2 or so) for the last 100 miles south of Boise, I was listening to WWL out of New Orleans. It was as loud and clear as if it was a local station."
Another Slice reader recalled having to sleep in the top bunk in her brother's room when the family had company staying over. On those occasions, she would listen to her brother down below expertly tuning his radio to one far-away station after another. And she would nod off with visions of a big, exciting country dancing in her head.
I could go on.
Thanks to those who shared radio-listening memories.
Spokane's Steve Becker said he still likes to scan the modern version of the radio dial to see what far-away stations he can pick up.
He said it is not unusual to tune in stations from Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Calgary, Edmonton and other cities out West.
But his No. 1 long-distance story comes from a time his own voice was the one someone heard.
It was back in the mid-'80s and he was working for a radio station in Seattle. He got a card in the mail from a guy in New Zealand who had picked up one of his broadcasts. This guy wanted Becker to confirm that he had been on the air on the date in question.
Becker said the fellow reported that he had been on a mountaintop when scanning the radio dial for distant stations.
"I guess the signal must have taken a big skip off the ionosphere," said Becker.
Thieves returned to the KPBX Radio antenna site atop Mica Peak last weekend.
The president gives a regular radio address on the weekend. In the interests of fairness, Republicans get a few minutes of "equal time" to rebut, refute or otherwise try to counter what he has to say.
While the president's address is rarely big news, the GOP response often goes completely unnoticed, unless it happens to be picked up by the network news on a slow weekend.
The GOP passes the honor around so that no one person gets all the good face time. Last weekend, it was U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Eastern Washington's 5th Congressional District. Her topic: So, hey, Mr. President. How about those jobs you're always talking about? Where the heck are they?
Obama's address was a bit more wide ranging, talking about his Twitter Town Hall, talks to lift the debt ceiling and things he's doing to try to get more jobs.
Wait a minute, you say. It's radio so how can there be face time?
Well, they usually have a camera rolling to send out a video version, and post something on Youtube.
This is the video version of the McMorris Rodgers weekend radio address.
To see Obama's radio address, or to comment, click here and go inside the blog.
Perhaps some of us romanticize listening to baseball on the radio because it's one way to avoid seeing the constant spitting.
Carl Kasell, the veteran NPR newscaster and "Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me" announcer and judge, is on the way to the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane on May 9, 7:30 p.m.
Kasell will regale the audience with stories about broadcasting — and even perform a few magic tricks. Yeah, he's also an amateur magician.
"An Evening with Carl Kasell" is sponsored by Spokane Public Radio. Tickets will be $27, on sale Feb. 25 through all TicketsWest outlets or by calling (800) 325-SEAT.
Gonzaga and IMG College, the school’s multi-media rights holder, have announced expanded offerings on TV, including the Mark Few Show, and radio, including the Mark Few Show.
Gonzaga on Thursday announced a nine-year radio flagship agreement. Details below in a GU release.
Spokane announced its TV/radio lineup for the 2009 season. The Shock will be on KHQ’s SWX and on FM-105.7 (The Peak). More here.
On Wednesday morning at the crack of dawn I went “onlocation” in the cab of a Post Falls city snowplow on the first day of the warming trend. It had been exactly three weeks since the snow started falling and fell in great huge record-breaking piles every single day/Kerri Thoreson, OnLocation North Idaho. More here.
*Coeur d’Alene Tribe gets OK for radio station/Becky Kramer, SR
*Flooding concern high in North Idaho/Jody Lawrence-Turner, SR
*Craig, former chief of staff to form consulting firm?/Idaho Statesman
*Vandals deliver punch to Hawaii/Josh Wright, SR correspondent
*Idaho wilderness bill has encouraging future/Jill Kuraitis, New West Boise