This is Dave Shepherd with an update on the status of the Word Nerds podcast.
Most of you have noticed that we Word Nerds have been absent from the airwaves (or the Internet-waves) since April of this year. We’re sorry about our extended absence. Over the past four years we have built a sizeable community around this podcast—a far larger community than the two Howards and I ever anticipated when we started back in March of 2005. We have made many friends around the world and have even met some of you offline. But this year we have come to feel that we have in some sense let you down as a “Word Nerds community.”
For more than a year, we produced the show once every week. In the late summer of 2006 I realized that the demands of producing the podcast every week were much more than I could keep up with. The show became a burden to me and to my family, so I convinced my partners to reduce the frequency of The Word Nerds.
In 2007, when it was sometimes difficult for members of the original team to get together, Barbara helped us keep The Word Nerds going by contributing her insights and writing occasional shows. During 2008, Barbara was the principal content creator for as many shows as anyone else in the team.
In 2009, it has become more and more challenging for us to keep producing robust and interesting content with any kind of regularity. We became aware that we were sometimes stretching to find content topics, and that our treatment of those topics wasn’t always as thorough as it was when we started. Our work lives also pushed the show to the margins this year. I myself had to spend the summer completing two large and challenging book translations, long-term commitments that extended back almost to the beginning of the podcast. Both Howards were away on long-term travel on opposite sides the world: Howard Chang to China and Taiwan, Howard Shepherd to Germany. Barbara’s work required her to travel around the USA more frequently. And my own work responsibilities have increased as well, since I am now the chair of the foreign language department at the high school where I teach. Other important aspects of our lives, which faded to the background over the past few years, have raised their hands and asked for our renewed attention.
Therefore we have decided to stop producing The Word Nerds as a regular podcast series. The obligation that we used to set for ourselves to put out a show every week, or every three weeks, or every month, has drained away a lot of the joy that the project held for us in the beginning. No corporate entity or external structure has ever required us to keep the thing going, so there just doesn’t seem to be any reason to allow a production schedule to tyrannize our lives.
This does not mean, however, that The Word Nerds is / are dead. We still may publish blog posts or produce podcasts from time to time, whenever we feel we have something interesting to say. But these publications won’t show up in your RSS subscriptions or your playlists with any predictable frequency.
As a practical matter, if you have been a subscriber to The Word Nerds, if you feel yourself to be part of the Word Nerds community, you certainly can stay subscribed. It won’t burden your iTunes podcast list to do so. All our old shows will remain available online, and any new podcast we put out will come to you automatically. Just don’t feel you’ve missed something if you don’t hear from us for quite awhile. We won’t be putting a show out just because we haven’t done one in a month or two or three. We’ll only put one out if we have something interesting to say about language.
Before I sign off for good, I want to acknowledge once again some creative people who have helped our show sound better than just our voices would sound. Chris Clemente of the Chicago band Kick the Cat—which may not even exist as a regularly-playing band anymore—graciously granted us permission to use their provocatively titled song “Blow Me” as our theme song. Evan Stone, leader of the Translucent Ham Sandwich Band in the Los Angeles area, is the creator of our alternate closing theme, “Grapes.” And all you listeners who gave us show ideas via email, blog comments, and forum posts, deserve our heartfelt thanks.
Thank you for your enthusiastic support over the past four and a half years. It has meant a lot to all four of us to feel connected to you, and we hope we’ll see you again sometime in the future, either online or in person.
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