Comments 2

As you may have noticed, Howell Creek Radio hasn’t had any new episodes for a couple of years. Now I’m formally closing the book. There won’t be any more regular episodes.

Back in May of this year I quietly added the itunes:complete tag to the podcast’s feed, which signals to iTunes and other directories that no more episodes will be added. I didn’t announce it because I was reluctant to tap that final nail in. I kept thinking maybe there was a way I could still fit this project into my life. But there isn’t.

Perhaps if this had been a different kind of podcast – something with broader potential appeal – I could have found a way to make it a responsible use of my time as well as an enjoyable one (that is, a way to make it pay). Or perhaps if I hadn’t had children, perhaps I would have had enough free time, and few enough other obligations, to continue putting in those hours for all the same happy reasons as before.

But the biggest reason I’m closing up shop has to do with a basic fact about podcasts. In order to keep a podcast going for years and years, you need subject matter – a huge source of ready material. Whatever that source is, you’ll end up strip-mining it for raw creative fuel. I didn’t know this when I started. From the beginning, Howell Creek Radio’s source of material was “Joel’s mundane life and thoughts”, and, well, I used up my mundane life and thoughts pretty quickly. I was always uneasy about having to analyze everything in my life and everyone I knew as possible podcast material. Looking back, I’m surprised I kept it going with any amount of regularity for as long as I did.

If I were ever to start a podcast again, it would probably be something with a more focused theme and a commitment of no more than 8–12 episodes at a time, where I could write and record all the episodes in advance.

Meanwhile, I’m still practicing intermittent creativity at The Local Yarn, the site where I’ve been writing since 1998. The site has an email newsletter and an RSS feed of its own. Definitely subscribe to one or both of those if you want to keep in touch.


  1. Rundy Purdy

    An official separate podcast was clearly too much creative weight for you to carry along with other life obligations. But I think you and I share the curse (or blessing) of wanting to do it “all or nothing.” It didn’t satisfy you to have occasional podcasts in your original website because it didn’t “fit” and so you tried to spin off a full fledged podcast. I don’t disagree with your decision to close this official podcast (and it wouldn’t matter if I did) but I would encourage you to not feel like this has to be the closing of the book on experimenting with the audio creative form. You started out randomly putting your intermittent podcasts in your original website. Though that may not have felt according to Hoyle we who enjoyed your creative work enjoyed that as it was. I hope if the mood strikes you that you will continue to put up whatever creative expression best suits what you want to share—even if it is a random audio file that doesn’t fit in a larger podcast narrative. Your life is narrative enough.

    You said that you struggled to find enough profundity in your life—another issue that I see echoed in myself. In my own analysis of self I have concluded this is a problem with my perspective, not the material. A desire to mine profundity is a desire to feel important. I have concluded that it is better for me to write to express joy and wonder, and that it doesn’t need to be new joy or wonder for we can delight ourselves and our readers returning to the joys and delights we know day after day.

    The problem is when we have lost any moving sense of joy or delight in the life we have. After having come through some hard seasons in my life (of several different causes) I recognize that is the greater problem I have: I am trying to find some profundity to fill the lack of simple joy. So I am looking for that heart because I think when I find that heart and perspective then the muse of sharing my delight in life for the life that it is will come back.

    I wish it would hurry though.

    I hope you enjoy your creative pursuits bring you joy.

  2. Joel (Author)

    Thanks Rundy. Reading your comment makes me wonder if I have understated the amount of time and energy involved in producing audio, even “random audio files”. Between writing, editing, recording, audio editing and publishing, it takes me roughly an hour per minute of finished audio, at the barest minimum, and that’s if I’m shooting only for internal coherency. When I started, five hours was maybe a 20% of my spare time each week at the most, and now it’s more like 110%.

    When I use that time to be present in my life with no other ends in mind, I find it exponentially more meaningful and joyful. Any time I spend bottling that life up diminishes it. Didn’t used to be that way, but now it is.

    So for me it’s not a matter of finding meaning in my life, it’s a matter of preserving it however possible. The podcast is the victim of those priorities, sadly. (Now I’m wishing I had conveyed all of this more clearly above)

    Compared to audio, writing and programming require far smaller slices of time and concentration, so that’s where the pendulum has swung for now.

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