On July 18, This American Life's podcast was knocked from the No. 1 spot on the iTunes chart by an out-of-nowhere sci-fi hit called Welcome to Night Vale, created by friends Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. The fictional bimonthly serial, masquerading as a news-radio show in a paranormal desert town, has inspired a nationwide craze of lights-out binge listening. How did it become a sensation? Take a look at the numbers, and then click through our slideshow of the podcast's best fan art.
7: Number of times faux news presenter Cecil Baldwin describes Carlos, the new scientist in town, as "perfect" in the pilot episode, which aired June 15, 2012.
150,000: Mumber of downloads (according to Fink) as of Episode 25's airing, on June 15, 2013, when Carlos finally returns Cecil's affections. Fink suspects this was the moment that "really excited Tumblr."
2,500,000: Number of downloads during July 2013 alone. Fink says Cranor has a hunch that fans of the NBC series Hannibal, who spread their love on Tumblr, "latched onto us because we have a similar dark sense of humor."
5,800,000: Number of downloads during August 2013—unprecedented success for a scripted fiction serial in podcast-land.
20: Number of seconds it took for a live October 10 performance at Brooklyn's 450-capacity venue Roulette to sell out.