Mike Monteiro

May 29, 2014

3 min read

Everything dies. Sometimes they die well.

Mule Radio is closing.

Well, kind of. Mostly, but not quite. I’ll explain. But first, let’s go over a little history. We started Mule Radio a couple of years ago because I was looking for a home for my podcast, Let’s Make Mistakes. In a pique of punk rock DIY fever, I gathered the team at Mule and convinced them we could build our own network, produce our own shows, invite our friends to join us, and even make a little money. And we convinced our friend Caleb Sexton, a fantastic audio engineer, to join us as a partner.

The first few months were fun. The first few months of anything usually are. The team worked its ass off, we built a site, gathered our shows, and launched to the world. We muddled along, quietly pleased with ourselves and slowly increasing listenership week over week. Shit got real when John Gruber joined us. That’s when people took notice. Including sponsors. The Talk Show was the rising tide that lifted all the ships. And now we were making enough money to consider this a real business, including hiring our first Radio employee. Except that it really wasn’t a real business. It was a side project. A side project that was now playing with real-ish money.

And therein lies the problem of side projects. They will either muddle along as a fun side project and provide a necessary distraction from your main work, or they will grow and demand your attention. They want to be fed. The answer to “what if this fails” is easy. You shut it down. The answer to “what if this succeeds” is much harder. Especially when you’re not willing to walk away from your main job. And I wasn’t.

As Mule Radio grew it needed more of our resources. We needed to sell ads, take care of our hosts, find new shows, gather payments from sponsors, negotiate deals for hosting, pay hosts, file W-2s. In short, what started as fun became a business, and I was already running a business. Therefore, I couldn’t provide this business the level of attention needed to run at the level of quality I wanted it to run.

This decision was helped along by a series of fortunate events. Last month, John Gruber, who had stuck with us for so long, decided to take his show in-house. Which made total sense business-wise. And we wish him the best success. Our employee, Lina Misitzis, was offered a job producing her own stories, and I’ll leave that news for her to divulge. Last but not least, Caleb Sexton and his wife Evelyn found out they were having twins! (This may come as a surprise to all of you, but running a podcast network and starting a college fund for two children do not go hand-in-hand.)

Everything dies. And this seems like a good time for Mule Radio to die.

We will remain open, but starting in July, we will only host Mule Design employee shows. Let’s Make Mistakes, David McCreath’s wonderful It Might Get Personal, Mike Essl and Ed Casey’s Issues, and Erika Hall and Gabe Levine’s Running From the Law will remain. But we will go back to doing it for fun. We will not sell sponsorships. We may do a few things here and there for reader support, mainly through Tugboat.

But we’ll no longer be in a position to earn revenue, or provide quality service, to outside hosts. And we love our hosts. We want to give them time to find new homes. (Roman Mars, call me!) We’ve got some fantastic shows on our network, including Jeffrey Zeldman’s Big Web Show, Everything Sounds, Here Be Monsters, and Audio Smut. We hope they continue producing great shows somewhere. They deserve better than we can give them right now.

We’re very proud of the shows we’ve brought to you in the last couple of years. We’re incredibly thankful for the people who trusted us with their work, and to all the people who listened to all those episodes. We love you all.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have another business to run.

English is my second language. You were my first.

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