Year end thanks

The podcasting community has been so welcoming

As I read the twitter threads exposing and berating Andy Mills and his employers for protecting and promoting him, it feels foreign to me—obviously ridiculous and unacceptable as well. This is my first year as a member of the larger community of audio creators, and it has been the most welcoming and respectful group of people I’ve ever encountered. So for that, thank you.

There are a few people that have been particularly helpful and welcoming, so I just wanted to thank them in writing so that you’ll click on their stuff and support them.

Thank you to

Andrew Blum: He was my roommate in college and the only journalist I knew until March 2020. I called him to ask for help finding writers, and he posted my request on the Study Hall listserv. That kindness was the seed that started the publication side of Timber. The writers that responded were too good to ask to do typical SEO copy writing to promote software. So we decided to make something more ambitious. I wonder if Andrew had an inkling of what he’d be setting in motion? Either way, you should read Andrew’s books. The Weather Machine is about the underlying design and mechanics of how weather is forecasted written in a page turning style, and I loved it.

Shruti Ravindran: Shruti is a freelance journalist and has written more stories for Timber than anyone else. Her insight into how podcasts are made from her training at Transom to her time at Gimlet and beyond have enabled her to do some of the best writing we have. Thank you Shruti for risking writing for a publication that didn’t even exist when you first pitched. Everyone please keep reading Shruti’s stories. There’s one that she’s working on now that I’m so excited to read.

Angela Chen: Angela is the author of ACE, a book on asexuality. It’s the A in LGBTQIA! She’s also an accomplished journalist and editor. When I asked the initial group of writers for some feedback on early website designs, she wrote back, “Have you considered drop caps, pull quotes, and dinkuses?” I was like, “what are those?” and she kindly suggested a meeting. This lead to her not just editing the first several stories but teaching me how to edit. How lucky could a first time publisher be? I blindly encountered someone made of pure gold. Thank you for your time and wisdom, Angela!

Ashley Lusk and Galen Beebe: Shortly after starting to look for writers and foolishly thinking there weren’t any publications with great writing about how shows are made and audiences built, I started finding the other publications that have great writing about how shows are made and audiences built. Principally Bello Collective, owned and edited by Ashley and Galen. I was intrigued, and I saw that I could pay to join their Slack group, so I did. Instead of being weary and circumspect about an outsider with a new publication, they were immediately welcoming and friendly—even giving me a custom made podcast recommendation list. Both Ashley and Galen and their Slack community have been a real help during an otherwise sad and depressing year. If you’re a good person that would also like to be invited into a welcoming community, I invite you to join them. Bello Collective is a treasure.

Helen Zaltzman: Helen is the creator of The Allusionist, and an influential person in the industry. In our conversations, she has set me right more than once when I’ve had wrong assumptions about how the business of podcasting and radio work. She’s lived it, studied it, and explains it patiently. She feels the bad parts of it so deeply that she carved her show out of some cancer that was growing in it. I’m guessing I have Helen to thank for some legitimacy and welcome reception that Timber has received. Thank you for your patience and your welcoming, Helen!

Caroline Crampton: I first learned about Caroline by reading her contributions to Hot Pod which I was told—correctly—is an important newsletter in our world. I’m pretty sure that it’s because of Helen Zaltzman that I got to meet Caroline. In fact I know so. In her first email to me, Caroline wrote “A friend of mine (Helen Zaltzman) was interviewed for a forthcoming Timber article recently and waxed so lyrical about the experience that I had to check it out.” What!? That is so cool! Receiving that email was one of my favorite parts of 2020. But it might have been beat by the day that Caroline gave me notes on the podcast I’ve been trying to make. I don’t know if that show will ever see the light of day, but her encouragement and teaching made me want to keep going. It also made me proud to feature both her beautiful writing about Wooden Overcoats and Melissa Locker’s extremely complimentary profile of her in Timber. I can’t wait to read and help promote the work that she does during her Hot Pod hiatus!

Sean Williams and Danny Gold: Sean Williams has written some of Timber’s most read stories, including—entirely coincidentally—the one on Helen Zalztman. He asked for my help one day because he wanted to start a podcast. He’s done extensive reporting on international organized crime and felt motivated to talk about it with his friend Danny Gold every week. Danny and Sean agreed to let Timber test drive our unfinished software to host their podcast, and thanks to them, we were able to serve up over thirty thousand downloads (in a few weeks! they had an amazing launch) of fascinating profiles on the worst crime leaders around the world before we even had a website that people could log into. Thank you trusting us with your show, Sean and Danny. Our future customers should thank you too. Because of your willingness to take that risk we feel confident that we won’t miss a beat.

Raul Herrmann, Fede Tuckey, and Jony Diaz: These three guys from northern Argentina have kept the wheels turning at our software consulting company Kelsus and managed almost all of our client work this past year, giving me the flexibility to start something new. If it works, we’ll all benefit, but in the meantime, there were certainly less risky ways we could have tried to make more of the business that we’ve built at Kelsus.

Chris Hickman: He’s my partner in this, he’s directing a lot of what we’re doing behind the scenes. He’s thanklessly writing code more than eight hours a day. He’s been a positive influence on me since he joined Kelsus. Chris and I have had an ongoing argument for years where I’ve wanted to do things more loosely and cheaply in the name of agility and speed while he’s wanted to build more carefully with a focus on craft. We spent 100 episodes of Mobycast arguing with each other about how this should be done in software. He won! The result is Timber, the entire message and brand of Timber. We’re building something made to last. We’re building something where craft is the key to everything we do.

Thank you also in no particular order to Pam Moore (writer), Nahsa Smith (writer), Melissa Locker (writer and advisor), Kathrine McLaughlin (writer), Roy England (super dope musician and audio guy), Jenna Spinelle (writer and advisor), Rich Staats (website builder and advisor), Joshua Dudley (writer and social media champion), Jesse Staniforth (writer), Jacob Feldman (writer), Hershal Pandya (writer), Emily Baron Cadloff (writer), Amanda Cupido (writer and behind the scenes influencer), Celeste Kauffman (writer), Brent Rose (writer), Abigail Koffler (writer), Sarah Prager (writer), Scott Bedgood (writer), Sam Welch (writer), Wil Williams (writer and champion), Zach Kahn (unwitting encourager), Ely Fernandez-Collins (podcast friend), Lauren Passel (supporter), Shelley Carr (podcast friend), Calen Cross (podcast friend), Brennan Tapp (supporter), Eric Jones (podcast friend), Cherie Louise Turner (podcast friend), Dan Franks (podcast friend and supporter), Ada Jaarsma (supporter), Juleyka Lantigua-Williams (supporter), Lori Mortimer (podcast friend), Paul Kondo (podcast friend), Drew Ackerman (supporter), T.H. Ponders (podcast friend), Eric Johnson (podcast friend), Daniela Herrmman (amazing designer), Paulo Muchutti (developer), Tobias Auzmendi (developer), and many more. None of you (except Roy, Daniela and Rich) knew me this time last year, but this year you made 2020 special. Thank you!

If you read this far, please join us on Discord. We can talk and talk about podcasts :-)

Happy New Year!

—Jon Christensen