On November 18th, 5by5 Network founder Dan Benjamin delivered the first of hopefully many State of the Union addresses for the young broadcasting company. The network has grown by leaps and bounds over the past three years, adding many new shows, with a variety of topics, and a variety of personalities.
In 2012, 5by5 launched 10 new shows – Amplified, The B&B Podcast, The Comic Shack, The Crossover, The Frequency, Giant Size, In Beta, Old Tech News, Quit!, and Systematic. As is the way things go, the network also lost some shows, most notably three of their flagships – Build and Analyze with Marco Arment, Hypercritical with John Siracusa, and The Talk Show with John Gruber.
Out of the flagships that have gone (or are going), the most controversial departure happened in May, when Philadelphia’s own John Gruber took The Talk Show to Mule Radio Syndicate, seemingly without warning. The Internet was abuzz with speculation as to what would cause a rift between Benjamin and Gruber, as they’d been co-hosts on the show since its inception in June of 2007. It was apparent from the lack of engagement on later episodes that John Gruber was either losing interest or had his mind elsewhere. Benjamin would lob questions at Gruber, only to receive one-word replies or changes of subject, and the show’s quality suffered. After the switch was made, there was little official talk about it on both sides of the aisle. Eventually, however, it was made known that while both parties held no personal resentment toward each other, there were business concessions that neither person was willing to make. Such is business, I suppose.
The other flagship shows to meet the end of the line have not actually stopped broadcasting yet. Both Build and Analyze and Hypercritical will both see their last episodes at the end of the year as both Marco Arment and John Siracusa focus on their own personal endeavors.
Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper, and the founder of the new iOS Newsstand publication, The Magazine, certainly has his hands full with the new venture. Unfortunately, a weekly podcast just simply isn’t in the cards at the moment. Arment has said that this does not disqualify him from potentially doing a podcast every now and then, but that the show Build and Analyze, after over 106 episodes since November of 2010, is done. Marco plans to be a guest on the 5by5 show The Crossover as his schedule allows, and has recently celebrated being one of many publications in Apple’s Newsstand to outlast News Corporation’s The Daily.
John Siracusa, famous for his exhaustively in-depth reviews of Mac OS X, and the owner of Hypercritical as both a brand and a podcast, will be taking time off in order to focus on personal projects. He’s considered, and not ruled out the idea of looking into woodworking as a hobby, but also stated that he would continue to be a part of 5by5 shows like The Incomparable as his life will allow. Hypercritical ran on 5by5 for over 97 episodes since January 2011, and it will be a void felt for a long time. Siracusa’s ability to tear apart the loose threads on any subject, and his unabashed opinions were what made the show what it was. John has stated, however, that he does reserve the rights to the Hypercritical name and, while he has no plans to do so at the moment, reserves the right to reignite Hypercritical as a podcast any time in the future, on 5by5 or otherwise.
As 2012 draws to a close, as does the curtain on two beloved podcasts from an equally beloved network. The way is paved, however, for new talent to emerge with fresh ideas and interesting perspectives. I am very excited for what 2013 will bring.