Rosemary Bucher and Claire Kinton have created their own world: Zelda Roy’s world, to be precise. This fictional world is brought to listeners in the format of a radio show and reviews all the pop culture that has slipped into modern day conversation.
As Bucher and Kinton sat at the bar of BU West’s Starbucks, the sounds of coffee beans grinding, patrons chatting and jazz music mixing in the background, they listened to a snippet of the debut episode that was being released the next day, April 7th, and smiles were present as they listened to the character they had brought to life. It was through the shared inspiration that had been found by listening to Commonplace Books’ podcast Welcome to Night Vale, The Zelda Roy Show was born.
“I made you listen to Night Vale,” Bucher says to Kinton, who agrees, “and you kept posting things on my Facebook, like ‘we should do a podcast’ [and] ‘everything is podcast and nothing hurts.’ I think was an actual Facebook post.”
“Yes, it is,” Kinton confirms while smiling.
“We wanted to be producers so we wanted to do something that was in our budget [and] it’s on our schedule,” Bucher says. “It’s just something that we can have fun with.”
The plot line that follows The Zelda Roy Show took much longer to create and the two had many things to consider when they began brainstorming ideas for the show. “The hardest part is figuring out why would someone record themselves,” says Bucher, “and why would they want that.”
“And we also wanted to make sure we weren’t just copying Night Vale,” Kinton adds. “I mean, obviously it’s a homage to Night Vale […] but we didn’t want it to be like ‘oh, this is a radio show about how weird my town is.’”
The plot that they did come up with, however, is nothing less than unique and interesting. Set in the fictional town of Delorenze, Zelda Roy hosts a radio show that reviews all of the modern pop culture references that we may know today but are unknown to the townsfolk of Delorenze, a place that hadn’t seen modern entertainment since the 50s when a man from Hollywood, sick of being unsuccessful, created his own cultish town. Within this town, they produced their own works and forbid outside work from being shown. Within the past year, a revolution of sorts has taken place and now the town needs to reconnect to the outside world that it has been cut off from all these years. Helping to do that is Zelda, an arts critic, who deals with all of the new entertainment that is infiltrating their world, as well as filling in listeners on the town gossip.
“I guess the real idea is [that] we kind of take for granted all the things that we’ve had in entertainment. [The things] that we’ve known our entire lives,” says Bucher. “What if you were experiencing them for the first time as an adult with no preconceived notions? What would you think of them? […] And at the same time, this revolution just happened and that’s not a really easy thing to get past.”
Entertainment, however, is a subject that the pair know quite a bit about. At least more than the people of Delorenze. Both are first year graduate students at Boston University (BU), currently enrolled in the Arts Administration program, which is actually how they first met.
“We were in the same classes the first semester,” Bucher says. “Claire [messaged me on Facebook] and said ‘Hey, let’s hang out!’ and I totally didn’t see it. And before next class, she said ‘So, do you totally hate me?’ and I just looked at her with a slightly dumber face than usual.”
“[But] alas, a great friendship was born,” says Kinton.
Rosemary Bucher, 22, from Palmyra, Pennsylvania, considers herself to be a “theater nerd” and always has been. She studied English with a concentration in Communications and also Music Business during her undergraduate career. Bucher began listening to podcasts, especially Welcome to Night Vale, through recommendations on the social media site, Tumblr. She listens to others such as Serial, Thrilling Adventure Hour, and This American Life, but Night Vale is a dominate presence in her podcast library. Her hobbies are centered around creativity and involve singing, tap dancing, playing piano, as well as reading, watching television and enthusing over pink sparkly things and technology (and you’d be surprised how often they overlap), she claims. Bucher says that she enjoyed the business side of music and theater after working as a stage manager.
Claire Kinton, 24, from Reading, Massachusetts, is a lover of the theater world. She studied Communications with a concentration in Mass Media for her undergraduate degree. The graduate student is an avid fan of Welcome to Night Vale’s podcast, which Bucher introduced her to. Since then, she has ventured into other podcasts, like Thrilling Adventure Hour and This American Life, but her primary go-to podcast is Welcome to Night Vale. Outside of podcasts, her interests revolve around the arts, ranging from reading to singing to acting to staring blankly into space, as she puts it. Kinton says, however, that while she loves the theater, she wasn’t interested in becoming an actress.
For The Zelda Roy Show, each of them have a part to play in making the show work. Both Kinton and Bucher are the writers. In addition, Kinton portrays the voice of Zelda, while Bucher writes the music and does the editing for the episodes.
“I think that they’re a great team,” says Bridget Dennis, who, like Kinton and Bucher, is enrolled in the Arts Administration graduate program at BU and bonded with the two of them in shared classes. “Both have great instincts for what’s really funny and I know their process is really collaborative. Watching them work was great, they communicate very well and they’re agreeable but still make their opinions clear. [They’re] both solely focused on putting out quality content, so they don’t have the brain space to make drama. Neither of them has an ego or thinks her input is more valuable. You can tell they’re close friends, but they also have this great working relationship on top of that.”
While they would like to eventually bring in others to voice other characters, they say that it won’t be a big thing that happens during the show, much like Welcome to Night Vale which primarily relies on the voice of Cecil, with few characters joining him on his radio show.
“[With] the kind of person that Zelda is, she’s like ‘it’s my show, you can talk for like a minute,’” says Kinton with confidence, as if she’s channeling the head space of Zelda.
The main character was named Zelda for a few reasons, says Kinton. The name fit with the 1950s aesthetic that the writers were going for, as well as being homage to Zelda Fitzgerald, who both writers are fans of. Bucher’s great-grandmother was also named Zelda and the graduate student finds that to be a cool coincidence.
“Plus, we figured it would make a good episode down the line someday when someone tells her about [the game] Legend of Zelda,” Kinton adds.
As for the future, well, that remains uncertain for them. The show could turn into just a fun project that they can say they created and use it to help their future careers. Or it could turn into something like Welcome to Night Vale, whose popularity has reached new heights as more people started following the show, to the point where Night Vale now has everything from merchandise to live shows. But it all begins with the episodes.
With the first two episodes released, it can currently be download from iTunes for free by searching for The Zelda Roy Show. The third episode is tentatively scheduled to be released June 7th, and the pair are hoping to release episodes twice a month on the 7th and the 21st. Episodes can also be heard on their SoundCloud page and the link can also be found on their website. The show also has Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr pages that fans can follow for updates about the show. It’s through the use of social media that Kinton and Bucher hope to promote their show.
“[And] bumper stickers,” Bucher adds excitedly.
Whether or not the show rises to the success of its original inspiration, Welcome to Night Vale, the pair agree that they’re having a good time just doing it for themselves. They even have a microphone called “the Blue Yeti,” which is used when they record the show at Kinton’s brother’s home using the GarageBand application. Bucher then edits the recordings using the LogicPro application.
“We’re still learning about what circumstances lead to the best sound, but I think we’re doing a pretty good job so far,” says Bucher.
With Bucher excited about having something with Yeti in the name, Kinton is also excited about getting to practice her “smooth, radio voice” that who knows, might one day come in handy outside of the podcast. While the future of the show may be uncertain for now, the pair are proud of their work and they’re having a blast creating this world of theirs.
“It’s just fun to write,” says Kinton, smiling.