What makes Nightvale literary is the fact that it’s telling a story. The podcast includes all typical aspects of a fictional story like plot, world-building, and characters. The podcast tells a story about the town of Nightvale, and those that inhabit it.
Nightvale uses sound in order to help build the world. Sometimes the podcast has the absence of background noise, but other times the podcast uses music to emphasize certain parts of the story. Over, Nightvale doesn’t use much sound other than the narration and the occasional background music. This forces the listener to focus on what the narrator is saying. It also makes the listener image more of the story themselves. It definitely keeps the story more traditional oral storytelling rather than making it like an audio theatre piece that utilizes movement and sound effects.
Other than sound the podcast also utilizes timing in order to make the podcast more interesting. Often to story is fluid and the narrator continues to talk. However, around the 13 minute mark of the podcast there is a break in the action and a song plays. This song lasts for about two minutes. The podcast uses it almost like an intermission in the story. In the story it replaces the narration of the journey home, but it also provides the listener with a couple of minutes to process everything that has happened so far in the story. It also is the turning point in the story. It’s where the main character begins to feel all of the consequences of his actions.
The way that sound is used in this podcast is much different than anyway I’ve heard it used before. I’ve personally had more experience with audio theatre pieces, which is what I assumed this would be like. They are similar, but audio theatre is much heavier on the use of sound aside from voices. In audio theatre there is almost constantly a background noise (usually music). Additionally, the only other podcast that I’ve heard that was similar to this one was an episode of Smoshcast. Even then, Smoshcast used a lot more sound effects that Nightvale does. The minimalist approach to sound in the podcast makes it very unique, and it provides an engaging experience.