Rob Prince is looking for a specific kind of story. It’s ordinary for people to have days when something goes wrong. Occasionally, people have days when bad thing after bad thing happens, and the problems pile up. Even more rare is when that pile of problems can’t be avoided. Then, Prince thinks the story is ripe for Dark Winter Nights.
Dark Winter Nights is a live show and podcast based in Fairbanks that showcases true stories from Alaska. Prince is the show’s host and creator. He launched Dark Winter Nights in 2014 with a live show at a small Fairbanks venue. Its popularity soared quickly and has continued to rise. The live shows, which take place once in November and once in the spring, attract hundreds to Fairbanks’ Hering Auditorium. In early 2021, The New York Times named Dark Winter Nights as one of the best winter podcasts.
Prince created the show as the antithesis to reality television shows based in Alaska that fabricate drama. He thought that audiences craved authenticity, and he knew there were plenty of true Alaskan stories that didn’t need embellishing. “The cool part about Alaska is it seems like everyone has a crazy story,” he says.
Dark Winter Nights stories include tales of a river rafting trip that ended with a helicopter rescue, a drug bust gone bad, and a girl with impaired eyesight who had a close-up encounter with whales. “It’s kind of a privilege to be the one who gathers these stories and saves them for posterity. There’s a privilege in that and that feels like a cool gift—to…come up in front of a group of eight or nine hundred people and say here is my gift from you, and it’s this story we found from this person,” Prince says.
Find all the stories at darkwinternights.com. The live show is happening November 21.