I had absolutely no intention of writing this.  Things are going well here at RandomChatter.  Kyle just released the new episode of The ForceCast.  Paul, Megan, and Saf are still out there working on various projects and, if Paul’s tweets are any indication, may have a big announcement coming soon.  Spencer was on a great episode of Star Wars Rebels: Declassified on Rebel Force Radio.  People are moving forward.

However, there has been a big conversation on Twitter (and other places) that’s been getting heated, and now it’s started to move into areas that, in my personal opinion, really aren’t appropriate.

I’m going to tell you that’s really happened behind the scenes.  Normally I wouldn’t do this (as I haven’t in past similar situations).  And I hope that Kyle forgives me, but I hope he also agrees that perhaps this will set things straight and calm things down.


My Personal Departure

I’ve been with the ForceCast since Jimmy & Jason left.  We’ve been through a lot of changes since then, but we’ve tried to always deliver interesting content covering aspects of Star Wars about which our audience wants to hear.  We (not I, but we) took the network from a single weekly news show plus a monthly literature show (Jedi Journals, which continues to go strong and, fortunately, is clear of all this drama) and an Indiana Jones show (IndyCast, also drama-free) to a selection of several shows, including a “watercooler-style” discussion show on Echo Base, coverage of Rebels on Rebels Roundtable, gaming on the Sabacc Table, etc.  We had a great team of volunteers that delivered some wonderful content.

The downside of dealing with a volunteer environment is that people still have to keep up with jobs and family.  For some people involved in some of these shows, they no longer had the availability to participate.  Some of the shows went by the wayside as a result.  Others were kept alive by personal sacrifices of other hosts.

On a personal level, I felt I was being stretched too thin.  Without getting into details, I felt like I was spending 80% of my ForceCast time dealing with things on the back-end and only 20% of my time actually making shows.  I was burning out, and I wasn’t able to do what I loved (making shows).  In addition, we were still having problems with staff availability, which was directly affecting release schedules.  To be clear, shows were getting made, and we continued to get positive feedback from our listeners.  But the one recurring negative feedback theme was consistently.  I didn’t feel I could impact that issue, so combined with the fact that I was no longer doing what I loved, I decided to leave.

I contacted Dustin (who runs TheForce.net) and Philip (who owns both sites) and explained my situation.  They were both very understanding.  I told them I’d go back to my personal podcast network, which was much smaller-scale.  I told them that I would stick around behind the scenes and help with the transition for my successor.  Philip and Dustin agreed on Kyle as a successor, so I contacted Kyle and let him know.

To be clear—as of this writing, I still have access to almost all the resources I had access to before at ForceCast.  I have continued to be in contact with Dustin and Kyle about various aspects of the transition.  My offer for back-end support still stands, and I’m still committed to helping the continuity of their network in whatever way I can.


Lou, Chris, Nate, and Mike

Lou started his podcasting career with me on the RandomChatter network back when we were doing LostChatter.  I remain very happy that I was able to eventually bring him over to the ForceCast network with me (and I hope he agrees).

In my return to RandomChatter, I brought the Echo Base and Sabacc Table shows with me (Kyle and I had talked, and he stated he had no intention of continuing those shows).  The Outer Rim show was a non-Star Wars show anyway, so that came too.

Because those were the only shows Lou and Chris were on, and because they wished to remain on those shows, they “ended up” on the RandomChatter network.  Same goes for Nate and Mike from the Sabacc Table.  Chris McGuffin still also remains on the ForceCast network handling their social networking.


The ForceCast Hosts — Paul, Megan, and Saf

Last year, when Justin Bolger (whom I still consider a dear friend) became the lead on the ForceCast show, he brought over Paul, Megan, and John.  John left for a film project, and Saf was brought in.  Justin left the network in December.  Paul, Megan, and Saf continued to host the show, building up a strong fan following based on their strong insights on the newly-evolving Star Wars universe.

Upon my decision to leave, the tentative plan was to have the main ForceCast show continue until we were told otherwise from Kyle.  I would continue to handle the production and posting the show to the website and RSS feeds until someone else was ready to handle it.  This way, they could continue what they’d been doing and shows would continue to be produced, causing as little interruption as possible.

We set up a Skype meeting with the three hosts, Kyle, and myself.  Kyle had already taken the reins at this point, so the idea was that he would explain a bit about his vision for the network and how the three existing hosts may be involved in the future.

Kyle asked if they might be interested in taking of Rebels Roundtable, as it had always been a popular show but had been dormant for a long time.  The three of them explained that their scheduled didn’t really permit them to take on an additional show (at this point, they believed this would be in addition to their current ForceCast show).

As the discussion went on, Kyle explained that he wanted to take the main ForceCast show in a different direction, and that direction did not involve the current hosts.  Kyle mentioned the possibility of them doing something different on the network, but I think they were still confused (and hurt) by their removal, so while technically it was mentioned, it was never really discussed.  As the conversation went on, everyone parted ways.


Addressing the Drama

As I said, the Internet’s kind of blown up over this whole thing.  I’d like to address some of the comments I’ve seen.


1. “{insert host here} started up a bunch of drama.”

To my knowledge, none of the people mentioned here started any drama.  While people rushed to Paul, Megan, and Saf’s defense on Twitter, I didn’t see any posts in which they themselves instigated any drama.

Likewise, while there are a couple of comments Kyle made with which I take issue, I didn’t see any situation in which Kyle started any drama either.  And Bailey’s Dave’s post on Facebook (see update below) was in response to the drama, not to instigate any.

This was a result of Twitter followers.  And I understand why they’re upset.  And they certainly have a right to speak up.  But at the end of the day, let’s keep it at “expressing opinions” and not “starting wars.”


2. “The four ForceCast hosts were canned.”

Three of the four were let go.  I left voluntarily.


3. “There was a takeover.”

No there wasn’t.  Again, I left voluntarily.  Then a successor  was brought on.  And then he made a decision about the direction in which he wanted to take the flagship show—which, as painful as it may be to those of us who miss Paul, Saf, and Megan, is absolutely Kyle’s prerogative.  And his responsibility, if he truly believes that’s what’s best for the network (whether we agree or not).


4. “The old hosts were canned because of their sex/race/position on social issues.”

Star Wars, perhaps more than any other fictional franchise, has embraced diversity.  I was always proud that the ForceCast network, especially the main show with its rotation of hosts over the past year, also represented that diversity.  I hope the audience shares that appreciation.

The removal of those hosts can seem like a blow to diversity.  Therefore, I believe it’s important to point out two things.

First, while I certainly can’t read his mind, I have absolutely no reason to believe this had anything to do with Kyle’s decision.  Kyle comes from a professional radio background, and I believe he made his decision to let Saf, Megan, and Paul go was specially in order to bring the vocal presentation and audio production more consistent with the radio industry.

Second, these hosts are still active within the Star Wars fan community (and within other fan communities as well).  And if Paul’s tweets are any indication, they may have another Star Wars podcast in the works.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m upset that they’re no longer on the show.  And yes, it does directly affect the representation of diversity on the ForceCast, even if only for the moment.  But let’s not make up reasons why things happened a certain way.

Kyle wants a certain style of show, and it’s as simple as that.


5. “The old network was going nowhere.”  “The fans were left behind.”

I do feel that Kyle has helped promulgate this opinion, and I don’t appreciate it.  I’m a bit insulted by it.  I understand that it’s important that he publicize the “new beginning” of the network, and I don’t fault him for that.  Still, I feel there are better ways to do it that aren’t as disrespectful and as dismissive to those who have come before.  That being said, this is a disagreement.  People have them all the time.  Kyle and I are not at war.  And I wouldn’t even be bringing this up now if all of this other drama weren’t needing to be addressed.

Yes, the ForceCast used to be the #1 Star Wars podcast.  It used to be the only Star Wars podcast.  And it was being produced by a professional radio broadcaster.  Back then, podcasts were still relatively new.  Skype, production software, and affordable equipment wasn’t very common or didn’t exist.  Now the world of podcasting has changed.  While I appreciate Kyle’s goal of making the ForceCast the #1 Star Wars show/network again, implying that it hasn’t been for the last few years as a result of failure on our part isn’t fair to those who came before—nor is it fair to the other great Star Wars podcasts out there that didn’t exist before.  Given all the great shows out now, I don’t think any Star Wars podcast is going to pull that far ahead of the crowd ever again.

The network was popular (and still is).  Our numbers were great.  Our fans were enthusiastic, and our feedback on the content of the shows (with some very recent, very specific exceptions) were consistently positive.  Yes, we did get negative feedback — our show release schedule wasn’t as consistent as it should have been.  I regret that.  A lot.

That being said, all of the hosts involved with the ForceCast over the last three years—those already mentioned, plus Ed Dolista, Jay Shepard, Chris Wyman, Eric Geller, and Justin Bolger—put a lot of work into their shows.  And from what we’re continuing to hear, our audiences loved our shows.

Making it sound like the ForceCast was basically an apocalyptic wasteland of podcasting for the last three years is perhaps a bit much.


In conclusion…

I’m hoping this all blows over soon.  Drama like this is never healthy for anyone.

If you like certain hosts, listen to them.  If not, don’t.  If you like all the hosts, then listen to all of them.  Nobody’s under any delusion that everyone is going to like Echo Base, or that everyone will like The ForceCast, etc.  That’s why it’s great that there so many Star Wars podcasts out there.

And nobody’s truly gone.  Saf is still out there.  So is Megan.  And Paul.  And me.  This isn’t the end of the world.  Paul, Megan, and Saf are going to do great things within the Star Wars community.  I hope I will too.  And I hope Kyle does too.

We may not all be happy with how things worked out.  But we’re all part of a larger family.  And things will work out.  In the meantime, let’s get back to sharing our passion for Star Wars.

May the Force be with you.


The ForceCast has been officially disbanded.

I’ll be posting more on this over the next few days.  I have more to say, but I don’t have the time right this very minute.  Follow me on twitter (twitter.com/erikblythe) and I’ll let you know when the next post is up.  We’ll probably also talk about it on RandomChatter #103.


I was sent the following, and for the sake of making sure accurate information is out there, I’m posting this at Dave’s request. For those who don’t know, Dave is Kyle’s co-host from the final episode of The ForceCast.

The ONLY thing that I want to make clear were three points about Bailey’s post, because

1) It was not Bailey’s post. It was my post. With her permission, I used her name in the signature because when we’re being attacked and accused of not being diverse, it seems appropriate to have the response be coming from the upcoming female host. She has literally done nothing wrong, and does not deserve to have her name dragged through the mud. Bailey is perhaps my greatest friend, and to see my poor decision affect her like this hurts me to no end.

2) Regarding the posts insinuating that nothing on the ForceCast was getting done, or that I was discrediting the work that had been done, that was not at all my intention by any means. At no point was I attempting to “call people out” for not getting things done-this is a group of volunteers, who have lives. I simply meant it as “Some shows have fallen far behind in releases and we’re getting everything back on track and going to provide consistency”. I was in no way trying to start any kind of “twitter war” or anything of the sort, in fact, I praised the previous hosts and offered to direct people to them in their endeavors.

3) I fully acknowledge that some of the things I said were worded incorrectly and came off as harsh. When we’ve got our hearts and souls into a show and have put so much work into, it’s hard to see many on twitter react so poorly, which is why I can understand why some of the prior hosts may have been upset at my choice of words. Again, this was not my intention. Many things were said defensively and without context. I was not in the main meeting discussing the future of the ForceCast and was simply going on what I had gotten from one or two people, but we needed to address some of the rumors that were spreading like wildfire, as Erik has kindly put to rest.

I 100% admit that some of the things I said were harsh, such as “If you decide to leave, we’ll be saddened that you’re leaving, but we won’t miss you”. That was absolutely uncalled for. Literally years of work has been put into this network, and some fans have remained dedicated to The ForceCast for many years and to suddenly brush off people who disagreed with the new direction was completely beyond any kind of acceptable response. Erik did eventually make a post on facebook regarding this message clearing a few things up, and after seeing that what I had said had come off much harsher than I intended, I reworded many things and added a bit more clarification. But unfortunately, the controversy lies in my original posting, which is what seems to be spreading, and not the appropriate changes that were made clarifying some things.

I know this may not change much, but I want you all to know that the message was made out of response of frustration and I fully admit that some of the things I said where either poorly worded or shouldn’t have said at all. I just want you all to know that it was meant to be a message of “We’re addressing the terrible rumors, and here is where the new show is headed”. At no point did I ever mean to hurt anyone or result in the network’s cancellation, and for that, I can’t even express how sorry I am. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive the choices that were made, and realize that mistakes happen. Thank you all for your patience and understanding, and may the force truly be with you all.