The Talk Show With John Gruber

May 25th, 2012

For the past few years, John Gruber and Dan Benjamin recorded an informal, off-the-cuff-seeming podcast called The Talk Show. I didn’t listen to every episode, but I listened from the very beginning, before Dan had even founded the 5by5 network that later became its home.

I see The Talk Show’s format as the prototype for many other successful 5by5 podcasts: Dan plays the cool, somewhat disinterested straight-man to a “star,” whose own temperament, philosophies and interests ultimately define the show. After the initial success of The Talk Show, Dan threw the net wide, inviting folks such as Marco Arment, Andy Ihnatko, Merlin Mann, John Siracusa, Horace Dediu, and Jim Dalrymple to indulge audiences with their own personalities and areas of expertise. I even had the pleasure of playing the star myself on one episode of Build & Analyze.

Last week, John announced matter-of-factly that The Talk Show would no longer air on the 5by5 network, and would be joining the lineup at the fledgling Mule Radio Syndicate. Dan does a great job at 5by5 of emphasizing that the star of each show is who makes the show what it is. Nonetheless, Dan’s personality is unavoidably material to the mood and progression of these shows, so it’s safe to say that The Talk Show’s departure from 5by5 marks the end of an era.

The good news for fans of John Gruber, is it doesn’t mark the end of The Talk Show. John’s obsessive, meandering, sometimes distracted personality lives on at Mule, and I think this promises to be another great era in The Talk Show’s history. Episode 1 featured John Moltz of Crazy Apple Rumors fame, and the two delved into all the kinds of topics I’d expect. I thoroughly enjoyed the show.

I enjoyed it so much, I decided to co-sponsor this week’s episode, along with my good friends from Bare Bones Software

The Talk Show Episode #2: Dare I Say, Kubrick? 

Much to my delight, the episode turned out to feature one of my favorite “internet stars,” Mr. Adam Lisagor of Sandwich Video fame. John literally can’t go wrong if these folks are representative of the stature of future guests. So, give the new Talk Show a try, won’t you?

76 Responses to “The Talk Show With John Gruber”

  1. Jay Says:

    I’ve tried to listen to both episodes. I doubt I’ll be listening to many more.

  2. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Jay: You didn’t say anything about what you didn’t like. But I’m curious: did you enjoy the older versions of the show?

  3. Martin Says:

    Same here. I was off the hook after 5 mins.

  4. TJ Draper Says:

    I enjoyed the 5by5 The Talk Show immensely. Been a fan for a long time. I felt the users were pretty much given the finger. I think most of us long time fans loved Dan as much as John. And I think we wanted to see an amiable parting of the ways. Whether it was amiable or not was not spelled out, there was no farewell episode for Dan talking about what was happening going forward. We were kind of left in the lurch.

    I haven”™t finished this week”™s episode of The Talk Show on Mule Radio yet but I did tune in when I saw John was going to address it (I was not planning on listening again).

    We”™ll see, but it all feels really poorly done and not very considerate.

  5. Tom Says:

    John is to self absesed to be a good interviewer and too lazy to properly prepare for the show. Having two strong personalities on the show doesn’t make an interesting dynamic. The current show comes off as John not really having a clue where to take the show or how to get it there. His butchering and half hearted presentation of sponsors names, catch phrases and sometimes deprecating tone is a dis-service.

    After listening to the first 2 episodes I will not be wasting my time further.

  6. Sammy Says:

    After how poorly Gruber handled the split – it wasn’t matter-of-factly, it was dismissively – and the disrespect he has shown his audience, I’m no longer a listener or reader.

    I’m not lumping the sponsors in with Gruber’s behavior and I won’t fault you for going where the ears are, but Gruber’s got lots of work to do to reestablish what he had with Dan and the respect he had from his audience.

  7. Ivan Says:

    Have to agree with Draper about being given the middle finger. After the way he left 5by5, I can’t bring myself to listen or support the guy anymore. He is free to do whatever he wants, of course. The way he went about it was in very poor taste, however.

  8. bobsageek Says:

    I’m not sure why everyone is getting offended? Yes, it was a bit jarring, but it was a business decision and has very little to do with the listeners. I plan to keep listening to many shows on 5by5 and continue on with the Talk Show as well. I think people are taking this all far too personally.

  9. Aaron Says:

    I have listened to The Talk Show for a number of years and it was definitely one of my favorites. However, this new one just has not been able to hold my attention. I have made it all of 30 minutes into each of the 2 episodes only to find myself not paying any attention. The show seems listless to me… nothing anchoring it to specific topics. What should be pre show chit chat and catch up ends up as the first 30 minutes. Maybe if I could make it past that I would discover something great.

    I definitely don’t begrudge Gruber for the split. I have been in business with friends before and experienced the exact same split. It’s a really tough situation and sometimes you have to do what you have to do and hope the friendship is deeper than the business relationship.

  10. Linus Edwards Says:

    I’ve listened to every episode of the 5by5 Talk Show and most of the other 5by5 shows. I’ve loved them and thought the Talk Show was by far the best if the bunch, and a template for the others as you said. However after this ‘break up’ between Gruber and Benjamin, I feel a little hesitant about continuing to listen to either 5by5 shows or the new Talk Show. I guess I feel either Gruber or Benjamin did something wrong, but I don’t know who to blame. Maybe they both did something wrong, but without all the facts out there we will never know. The way they parted though just still feels wrong in my mind. I also wish Gruber had not called his new show ‘The Talk Show’, and I think most fans would agree. While just a name, it just doesn’t feel right he didn’t start brand new with a new podcast and new title.

  11. jEN Says:

    I feel the same way. I loved the original Talk Show, but the Dan-less version is cringeworthy right now. It might get better with time, but I won’t listen to the podcast for another few months, I guess.

    It also confirms my notion towards Gruber that he’s a bit… antisocial and will drop you (and your “friendship”) as soon as he can benefit from somebody else more.

  12. Rusty Moyher Says:

    I also found the change jarring. But I found some closure from a brief “special” that Dan posted last week:


    The four mintue clip contains Dan’s thoughts on The Talk Show. I greatly appreciate Dan sharing this. I hope you do too.

  13. Chuck Says:

    When I heard that Dan wouldn’t be on the show anymore I was surprised, he was clearly the guy who ran the show. I always felt that he just called Gruber each week, with Gruber not really doing anything for the show besides answering the phone and talking for one or two hours. And it was great, Gruber’s opinions and insights are great, but he’s to much all over the place and even disinterested at some points to run a show himself.

    I haven’t listened two episode two, in which according to the description they’re going to talk about the split. I tried to bring the follwoing up at http://blog.5by5.tv/2012/5/21/regarding-the-talk-show , but they moderate the comments and clearly didn’t think my insinuation was appropriate, and appears to only let comments through that praise Dan, granted it is his website and he can do with it what it want’s.

    Something clearly happened, Dan said that Gruber didn’t even wanted to do a last goodbye show, and said he was advised not commenting on it, even though he follows by saying that he got attached to shows and would want to know what happened when something changed on one of his beloved shows. He says that he was surprised that Gruber continued the show without him, he basically says that he has no idea why Gruber didn’t want to do the show anymore. Dan said he considered not saying anything, which is always a bad sign, Gruber didn’t even mention it in the first episode, at least they’re bringing it up in episode two, hope it’s a decent explanation.

    I see three explanations myself: 1) Something happened between Gruber and Dan that they don’t want to talk about, to the degree that they don’t even want to talk to each other anymore or want to explain it to the listeners. 2) Gruber is basically just an asshole and just left for no reason, not caring about anyone. 3) Gruber got a container full of gold from Mule Radio Syndicate and doesn’t want to say he sold out in public or even Dan. This was clearly a big middle finger to the listeners, and I can’t say I appreciate it.

    Wow, this post kinda got out of hand, guess I got some text left over from my attempted comment that never got approved at Regarding The Talk Show.

  14. ngaffney Says:

    I look forward to hearing more of Gruber’s show and more or less enjoyed the first one. I am literally listing to the second episode as I type this. Lisagor’s great.

    During the first episode of The Talk Show v3, there was a moment that made me feel kind of weird. It was such a small thing: John and John Moltz were talking about cable companies, and John related a fairly long story about having to get multiple cable cards to get his cable to work right (or something like that). The thing is, I had heard the story before, on an earlier episode of one of the previous incarnations of The Talk Show. If it had been him and Dan talking, I have no doubt the conversation would have been something like: John – “It was like my time with the cable cards”. Dan – “Oh yeah, the cable card thing”. And us, the listeners, in our heads – “Oh yeah, the cable card problem John had”. Because we’ve been listening since 2007 and know all the stories. And listening to him tell the story to Moltz felt like a friend having to explain an in-joke to the new guy.

    I’m being way too sentimental. I’m sorry it didn’t work out between the two of them and I’m sorry that it ended because of a business disagreement. But I know I didn’t just listen to the old versions of The Talk Show for John. I listened for the interactions between two funny, clever guys who seemed to be on the same page about a bunch of stuff. And the more I listened, the more I liked the two of them together. If Dan asked more questions, those questions made up a lot of the reasons I listened.

    I’ll probably continue listening to the new show. I’m sure John’s reasons for leaving 5by5 were legitimate. But, despite whatever differences John and Dan had, it will be quite a long time, if ever, before I think of the new show as “The Talk Show”. Because the old show wasn’t just John and Dan. It was John, Dan, and us the listeners, nodding along and smiling. To have John tell me that Dan wasn’t really that important…well, it makes me question why I bothered listening in the first place.

  15. Jay Says:

    Daniel, I was a fan of the previous versions, although I was not a fan of all the Bond stuff. I don’t think he handled the move well, but I could get over that if the podcast was actually interesting. It isn’t, as far as I can tell. At least the parts I’ve been able to listen to have not been all that interesting.

  16. DHS Says:

    We don’t know what happened behind the scenes but they way Gruber just announced the new show without thanking or even acknowledging Dan Benjamin and 5by5 spoke volumes.

    While Gruber was silent, hiss wife and other Mule radio allies mocked those who were upset by saying that the podcast was merely switching servers.

    Not so, as I’m glad Daniel’s post points out, Dan was an integral part of the show and I believe, essential to making a Gruber podcast listenable. Gruber may have brought a lot of people to check out 5by5, but Dan and 5by5 made the Talk Show a great show worth coming back for.

    I thought it was ironic that Gruber linked to Dan Harmon’s “refreshingly honest” post on getting fired from Community. Gruber would have gone a long way, if he was honest about why he fired Dan.

  17. Kevin Riley Says:

    Thoughtful post. Glad to hear you’re not going to sexually assault the eye sockets of people who disagree with you.

  18. Willie Abrams Says:

    ngaffney nails it when he says: “To have John tell me that Dan wasn”™t really that important…well, it makes me question why I bothered listening…”

    The short version is that John thinks the show is his, while the rest of us viewed it as a collaboration between 2 specific individuals.

    John wouldn’t have caused this commotion if he had called it something else. End of story.

  19. Jeff Says:

    I, too, will not be listening to the new show.

    I get that a business disagreement occurred, and I’m not about to give that any weight as I don’t know the details. I also get that John might have wanted to explore a new format, with him as the host. While I doubt the result would be as interesting to me (as others have said, Dan was an integral part of the show’s charm), it seems defensible to me.

    What I didn’t like was the way this went down. This came out of the blue, apparently even surprising Dan. At the end of episode #90 of the old show John says that he’d be back the following week, and then… nothing. Eventually, an announcement for the new version of the show comes up with no acknowledgment of the old show, the split or Dan’s contribution. Would it have been too much to ask for a couple weeks notice and agreeing to do a “farewell” show?

    John Gruber is an insightful commentator on all things Apple, but this has left a pretty sour taste in my mouth. John has the right to take his act elsewhere, but the _way_ he did it leaves me disinclined to give it my support. Dan – and listeners – deserved better.

  20. Tim Says:

    Gruber is too interesting to be stuck in the hosting role. Adam saved the second episode by assuming the role of host.

    I don’t see this format working.

  21. charles Says:

    Thanks for the link, Rusty ( http://5by5.tv/specials/6 ). This is exactly what has been missing in the whole “affair”. Some kind of explanation (maybe closure is too strong a word). Maybe John Gruber wanted to do it the “Apple way”, ignore the past to highlight the present or the future. However, it did not come out as well as the iPhone introduction; it felt more like the silent recent yanking of Rogue Amoeba’s app.

    The new version of the show, I found “meh” for the first episode. I’ll give it another chance and see if it gets better.

  22. Matt Lebowski Says:

    I won’t be listening to the new show. It’s not because I’m mad he left 5by5. I’m angry at the way he did it. He was extremely disrespectful to Dan, and more so to fans who listened and basically paid part of his salary. I know the typical Gruber attitude is f*ck all you people, well hopefully he f*cked himself this time. I think his ego has gotten so big it’s finally gone into orbit; I really doubt he has the listeners he did on 5by5. It even extends to Daringfireball, he hardly writes his own posts anymore. Everything is a 2 second comment on someone else’s writing. He went from announcer to color commentary. Maybe his contacts dried up, because he hasn’t posted anything in ages.

    Then the best part was the “f*ck you” link he posted about users having opinions online. He wants to play the passive aggressive jerk off, he can play it to an audience other than me. (and a lot of these people from what I read)

    With the bearded one on 5by5, Gruber isn’t as missed as he thinks.

  23. AAPLWatcher Says:

    “The short version is that John thinks the show is his, while the rest of us viewed it as a collaboration between 2 specific individuals.”

    Well, no, not the “rest of us”. Some of you. I enjoy Dan as a host, but I listened for Gruber, Dediu, Arment, Dalrymple, and Dan Jakult (do more shows) , and will continue to listen to them wherever they go. To me their shows are their shows.

  24. Andy Lee Says:

    Daniel, I’m glad you posted this. As usual, I feel that you try to frame things with kindness to all parties involved.

    I’ve always admired how Dan runs 5by5. You nailed it: on the air, he treats the hosts like stars. It reminds me of what Johnny Carson’s philosophy was said to be: “Make the guest look good.” Except Dan turns it around and week after week he makes the *hosts* look good. I remember noticing right away when I first started listening how he’d introduce the host with great fanfare, and himself almost self-effacingly.

    (That said, I haven’t been a regular listener of any 5by5 show, including The Talk Show. I have my favorites and every once in a while I’ll “channel surf” and see if an episode of one of them appeals to me.)

    I was pretty appalled by Gruber’s not only silence but snark on the matter (http://daringfireball.net/linked/2012/05/21/sturm-und-drang). Obviously I have no direct knowledge of what happened, and Gruber’s explanation (which I just now listened to) is vague. Maybe their “business disagreement” was so ugly, so emotional, so bitter — maybe Dan did or said something so heinous — that the *most* gracious thing Gruber could do was walk out abruptly and say nothing about it, because anything he *could* say would hurt Dan. Or, less melodramatically, maybe there are legal issues still playing out, so for now the less said the better.

    But to mock the fans who cared? After years of cultivating and profiting from fan loyalty? Gratuitous and not nice. And I’m not too impressed by how he “addresses” the issue in Episode 2. He spends too much time being coy before getting to it, and I don’t see why it has to be teased out of him. For a matter like this, he should have addressed the audience directly like Dan did.

    Anyway, life will go on. It’s nice to get this off our chests, but we’ll forget all about it eventually.

  25. Caleb Says:

    This is perhaps a bit unproductive, but I find it interesting the Mike Monteiro who feels he owns white Helvetica on black, is clearly making something so derivative of 5by5. Sure the idea of a podcast network isn’t new, but then neither is helvetica on black. Maybe I was imagining it, but it seems to be collective cause I’m not the only person who felt like the emphasis and timing of the Mule Radio app being FREE was a jab at Dan. Plus we don’t just assume that Mike knew about 5by5, we all know Mike knew about 5by5 since his show was on there first. My guess his break from 5by5 was more amicable, though Dan has proven to be the bigger man with The Talk Show from all evidence I’ve seen so far. I haven’t really listened to Let’s Make Mistakes, but maybe Mule Radio is less worried about earning the explicit tag, which Dan felt would be a bad business move, but attractive to Gruber.

    Even though The Talk Show became the template for other 5by5 shows, The Talk Show was always billed as co-hosts John and Dan. They had equal billing. If Gruber wanted to do something new, I think he should’ve found new artwork and a new name, even if it was The New Talk Show. Continuing The Talk Show without Dan feels disingenuous to the loyal listeners.

    I’m not a fan of what Gruber did, but I wouldn’t go as far as wishing him failure. The whole thing immediately brought to mind a popular morning DJ. Essentially he fired his co-host straight man to make more money. However without a string to keep his kite personality grounded, he lost direction and I believe it had to at least be part of the decline of the radio station as among a group of 1-2 dozen people I knew, everyone within a month switched away to another morning show. Hopefully John finds his feet or finds someone to help anchor him. I’m not sure that I’ll be a listener.

  26. joecab Says:

    The old show was fine. I tried listening to the new one but it wasn’t working for me; maybe it’ll take off more with newer listeners. I’ll probably try it again in a few months if I hear people saying it’s better than it was. Let’s Make Mistakes remained almost the exact same show when they went from 5by5 to Mule so no change there, but then they didn’t have a change in co-hosting.

    BUT … I too was upset at how fans of the old show were dismissed and ridiculed by John (and to a lesser extent Mike Monteiro). J+M: Fans are what make your shows successful if you’re seeking listeners which bring in sponsorships; otherwise you’re just talking to yourselves. Of course you guys should do your own thing and gain the audience you deserve, but why go dumping on the people that got your shows popular in the first place? Let’s face it, you both have reputations for being pricks but at least your prickliness usually seemed focused at a deserving target.

    Neither Dan nor John really owes anyone an explanation. But fans didn’t merit derision either, no matter what went on behind the scenes. I’ll still read Daring Fireball but I think I’m through with his podcast.

    Sorry this conversation got a bit sidetracked Daniel. But on the plus side I just started listening to your old Core Intuition podcasts and those I really like. :) Wish you had time to do them again.

  27. Rick Roberts Says:

    It”™s not simply that Dan “plays” disinterested, it”™s that he very often IS disinterested and distracted. Gruber made a very good move. Now we get to hear him. It was NEVER Dan I tuned in to hear.

    Good riddance to the old format. I hope Marco, Siracusa, and Horace follow.

  28. Andrew Says:

    I had always suspected that Gruber was a douche and this move confirmed it for me. Since the switch to Mule Radio, I read daring fireball less enthusiastically. It used to be the first website I would check during the day, now I find myself checking out The Loop or other sites first. He may not like the fact that people become somewhat emotionally involved in the websites that they read or the podcasts that they listen to but it is the truth.

  29. Lee Says:

    I used to listen regularly to The Talk Show on 5×5, but as I listened longer I grew less thrilled with Mr. Gruber’s overall tone. I love reading his site, have done so for eight years or so, and will continue to do so…but in my experience he just didn’t translate as well to radio.

    Eventually it was Dan Benjamin for whom I tuned in…and then I stopped listening altogether. I won’t pick up the habit again on Mule Radio.

    I used to listen to Dan’s show with Horace Deidiu, but stopped that after a while as well. While the lure of listening to Jon Gruber isn’t enough to tempt me to listen to the new Talk Show, I do feel like finding a different 5×5 podcast to start listening to.

  30. Kevin Crossman Says:

    The problem with the current version of The Talk Show is that John Gruber does not have any “broadcasting” sense. I’ve listened to 67 mis of the latest episode and he NEVER introduced his costar on the air. His Ad Reads are beyond terrible. It’s good he has the good sense to admit as much but, really, how hard is it to read it a couple times to get the sentence flow so it doesn’t sound like a stilted reading?

    John’s an interesting guy, but he’s better being the pundit and not doing that plus straight-man and interviewer. The sooner the show format goes back to John not being the 1st banana the better. Better to have the other guy be the person who filled Dan’s role – questioning him and keeping things moving.

    Also, topical podcasts suffer when they are released two days after recording. This gap needs to tighten up…

    It’s probably about a 3.5 star show now, whereas the old Talk Show with Dan Benjamin was 5/5 stars all the way.

  31. Paul Rumens Says:

    It nice to see that every one feels that same way as I do.

    I can’t believe that John agreed to selling Talk Show t-Shirts a few weeks before moving on, a real middle finger to fans.

    It just like Axl Rose, you are not in the Guns n Roses now. Same here, if John wanted to leave fine, if he wanted his owe show, fine. If he had called his new show Eating Apples, fine. But the way he handled ts just makes me disrespect the guy. I feel guilty now when I read Daring Fireball, and I can’t where my shirt any more.

    I think I have to delete DF from my bookmarks.

  32. Chiefpilot Says:

    I was a big fan of the Dan/John show and won’t be listening to any more episodes of the John/Whoever show. The new show isn’t “The Talk Show” because that was the show Dan/John did together and it reflected both their personalities. This new show doesn’t have the same high production values, the same feel, the same anything besides John’s rambling, now without Dan’s gentle hand to guide him back on track. I listened to the first two episodes and won’t be listening to any more. Instead, I’m expanding my circle and listening to some of the other 5by5 ‘casts I’d missed before. Time much better spent.

  33. Christopher Rizzo Says:

    I listen to The Talk Show to hear what Gruber has to say, just like when I read Daring Fireball, I want to read his thoughts on topics. I don’t care that he left 5by5 and decided to do it on his own. I will listen in every week to The Talk Show just like I have for the last year.

    The fact that people are upset about Gruber leaving 5by5 to go at it on his own is hilarious. It is just a podcast, it is not the end of the world.

  34. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    Paul Rumens – not to say you are wrong, because I don’t have any information on the subject, but do you know from some reliable source that John Gruber “agreed to selling Talk Show t-Shirts a few weeks before moving on”? Isn’t it possible that he either didn’t know about them, didn’t agree, or hadn’t yet decided to move on when he did agree?

  35. Jo Says:

    My guess is what you described is one of the reasons he left 5by5. There are like 4 different podcasts on 5by5 all discussing virtually the same thing week to week.

    Now Gruber just chats about what interests him, this worked well for his blog, instead of wondering if he is just rehashing other shows.

  36. Austin White Says:

    I have listend to all versions of the Talk Show. I enjoyed listening to Dan and John talk about various topics. I think Dan is very talented and they did some great work together. The new show is somewhat of a change but I think in a good way. I am excited to see who John has on for guests perhaps it will be some new people that we have not heard from. I have enjoyed the difference in the new show. Perhaps this will be less predictable and structured. From episode 2 it sounded like there was a business disagreement. Those things happen and will happen forever. If John were tired of podcasting he would not have switched networks. Clearly he wants to continue to speak to his audience and I am looking forward to it.

  37. Andy Says:

    I wonder if you expected the comments to be so one-sided when you posted this, Daniel? Blimey.

    Although not a listener myself, I’m intrigued by the drama. I used to be a big JG fan, but I’m over that now; I am however intrigued that so many people assume that DB has been wronged. I don’t know whether he is a completely innocent party in this or not, but the anti-Gruber outpouring is somewhat overwhelming.

    I’ll forever remember my second-year Chemistry teacher casually remarking to me that, “No-one likes a clever dick.” I’ve found that to be good advice. I wonder if it has something to do with the recent vitriol?

  38. slant Says:

    I don’t think anyone really begrudges Gruber for splitting up with Dan Benjamin. Most of the people are unhappy with *how* he did it. To most listeners, the Talk Show was a two person show, in spite of the fact that Gruber was the “headliner”.

    Name “rights” aside, it probably wouldn’t have killed him to do a “goodbye” show with Dan as a courtesy to his audience, instead of responding with a strategic set of passive aggressive posts on his site. Most of the people listening to the podcast read Daring Fireball, and those eyeballs help Gruber command high ad rates through the Deck.

    My own take is that by taking the name with him, Gruber is basically suggesting to the Talk Show audience that it was really a one man show. This is probably why a lot of listeners are taking umbrage, because Dan Benjamin had a significant contribution to the success of the show.

  39. bobsageek Says:

    Ahh, the righteous indignation of the Internet, not sure why you are all owed an explanation? It would have been nice for a farewell episode, but really, who cares? Dan Benjamin carries on with his many hosts, Gruber is doing well (stop acting like this new version of the Talk Show is some awful recreation, the feel is very similar although at time I do miss Dan’s style, the different co-hosts every week so far is refreshing).

    In a few weeks the drama will die and you’ll all be back, you didn’t listen to the Talk Show when it was on 5by5 for Dan Benjamin, you listened to it for that moment once or twice a show when Gruber would just nail a current Apple news piece or meander over topics until he stumbled on one of your favorite apps or gadgets and for those few minutes you shared some common ground, that hasn’t changed.

    You sound like a bunch of gossiping house wives ::whispers:: did you hear about the Gruber boy, such a shame ::rabble::rabble::

  40. ericdano Says:

    Gruber has lost me as a listener. His lack of professionism is mainly why. Plus, his new show sucks.

  41. Matt Lebowski Says:


    Nice try, Gruber.

  42. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    @Matt Borderline funny :) But I can confirm that @bobsageek is a certified, non-Gruber individual.

  43. Nate Says:

    As great of a podcasting mold Dan and John created with The Talk Show, am I weird for feeling the two were not the right match as co-hosts?

    The podcast seemed to succeed _despite_ this mismatch of temperaments, which was enjoyable when it went well, but was painful when the two clashed. Maybe, in fact, those great episodes were so great because they represented an accomplishment, like seeing vinegar and water mix and stay mixed.

    As a fan of both John and Dan, I’m actually a little relieved that they parted, despite being conflicted and sad when it happened. I would have liked a smooth separation, but I’m not entirely surprised it wasn’t smooth. More likely, I’m over-exaggerating things. And John already said he left for business reasons, which I’m not debating.

    The only thing that’s still bothering me (aside from the abruptness) is the continued use of the name. On the one hand, it’s a really great name — perhaps the perfect name now that the show is hosted by John (not a slight; I like rambling podcasts). On the other, The Talk Show probably wouldn’t exist (at least not as we know it) without Dan Benjamin. Would John be cool with Dan using the name for a podcast that didn’t involve John? Maybe John thought of the idea for the show first, but as John has argued often in regards to Apple’s success, isn’t it execution that matters most?

  44. Nate Says:

    And by “vinegar and water”, I of course meant “oil and water”. D’oh.

  45. Erik Says:

    I know it’s not the same thing at all, but after reading through the perceptions in these comments, I couldn’t help but think of that scene in Casino, when Sam Rothstein changes his title to “Director of Entertainment”, and launches the “Aces High” television show to spite and belittle the gambling commission: http://www.metacafe.com/watch/an-3Ldat4J7thbbbn/casino_1995_director_of_entertainment/

  46. azulum Says:

    to quote bobsageek above:

    Yes, it was a bit jarring, but it was a business decision and has very little to do with the listeners.

    I can think of several media conglomerates who would agree with you, and look where that has got them.

  47. azulum Says:

    To clarify my point, in case you missed it, the Talk Show has EVERYTHING to do with the listeners.

  48. Bahi Says:

    Apple’s text-to-speech could be made to read the sponsor messages if need be – that part of the new show is currently fingernails-on-chalkboard bad. Even though the sponsors’ products are great and Gruber is known to use and love them (and I mean that seriously), John reading the scripted messages sounds like a little boy learning how to lie for the first time. The first time it happened, I had to pause the show to shudder and recover.

    It was a truly awful first episode on Mule but, thankfully, the second one with Lonely Sandwich was a very good recovery. I hope both Dan, whose personality and style on the show I will always miss, and John continue to do well and perhaps even team up on the air from time to time. I think the _way_ Gruber ended it with 5by5 was completely wrong but I’d be surprised if Gruber himself disagreed, at this point. We’re human and it was clearly an emotional issue for him and that kind of thing happens to us all.

    I’ll continue to listen to Dan’s many shows and John’s new thing and wish them both well. But please, John: consider Serena or Emily or even Victoria.

  49. John B Says:

    thanks rusty for the link to Dan’s explanation.
    He gets it – Benjamin uses ‘we’ a lot.
    Gruber uses ‘I’ much more

  50. Jack Ilybna Says:

    Loved the old Talk Show. The new one, both episodes so far, is awful without Dan. It’s so bad that I can’t listen anymore. Oh well, it was a beautiful thing while it lasted (at 5by5).

  51. Tony Says:

    I was disappointed by the show being “cancelled”, and I was confused in a child-like way. “Where’s Dan, mommy?”

    But I was also disappointed when Merlin Mann dropped his book deal because he could not bring himself to finish the book he had, as a professional, agreed to write. I looked up to him, and he turned out to have a different set of priorities than I do.

    I think this is the case with Gruber. People look up to him, idolize him, and when he takes actions we don’t agree with, our feelings are hurt. This is, ultimately about us, folks.

    All that being said, I think it was a dick move against someone who showed Gruber the way in podcasting.

  52. Jason Clarke Says:

    I think Gruber has made a serious (and common) mistake by underestimating just how important a solid, professional show host really is. Dan wasn’t the reason I initially tuned in to the Talk Show (iterations 1 and 2) but he’s definitely the reason I KEPT tuning in. John’s “hosting” skills are non-existent, and it shows. The Mule version of the Talk Show feels slapdash and sounds terrible, audio quality-wise. I’m sure they can fix the audio issues, but Gruber needs a straight man like Dan Benjamin or Leo Laporte to keep things organized and interesting.

    I hope Mule figures out how to fix this, but I’m not sure it’s fixable without Gruber consenting to let someone else who knows what they’re doing be the actual host.

  53. plentynuff Says:

    I don’t care why John left 5by5, or whether John and Dan are friends, or what the history was. These men are strangers to me and their business between them is theirs. However, as someone who long enjoyed the show, I do care that John, his wife, and his new podcasting partner took to the internet to shower contempt on fans that were upset about the change. These are people who *liked his creative output so much* that they were upset/anxious at the prospect of losing it, and when they expressed this feeling, they were mocked. That’s just being a shitty person. I don’t give my time, attention, or money to shitty people when I can help it. As John said: Adios.

  54. Chuck Says:

    @bobsageek: Who cares? Obviously everyone does, have you not been reading any of these posts?

  55. Chuck Says:

    Just listened to Gruber’s ‘explanation’. They started, got of track so often that it took them half an hour to basically say it was a business disagreement. I can understand that. That’s not at all what Dan insinuated with his vague explanation, frankly he makes it seem like he doesn’t even know what’s going on, which I doubt, but could believe taking Gruber into account.

    Gruber took the name because he says that he came up with it and that he rather takes it with him than have sit idle. Can understand that. He left because they had a business disagreement, fine, I can understand that. However, the way this was handles I can’t. There must be something else besides a business disagreement that would prompt this type and handeling of change.

  56. Chris Yoda Says:

    Lets Crucify John Gruber. RIGHT?

    Maybe NO. Here’s why I think we should’nt.

    1. John Gruber took the pains of supporting Dan to Build 5by5. Once 5by5 had traffic Dan extended it to other star writers. 5by5 is doing well, but who owns 5by5 ? John?No. Dan? Yes. So John practically got employed in a diversified radio network , which he practically helped build from the scratch.
    Ask any entrepreneur how it is to work as an employee again.

    2. John Gruber does daringfireball. From the days when Apple was pretty much a funny obscure little company making music gadgets.And a few macs. Hes put his blood and sweat into it and do the math,it makes money.
    John DOES NOT need money from 5by5.
    Otherwise John Gruber would be writing for Techcrunch. And maybe now a partner at Crunchfund.(Sorry Mike,MG, I love you guys)
    So this John Guy is a kind of a fella who really does things well and has a vision for doing it well.
    Imagine Steve Jobs at Sequoia Capital after getting fired from Apple- Nah.

    3. John Gruber is honest. He’s not the kind of guy who will entertain you to gather your sympathies. He’s honest. Brutally Honest. And that’s why I read DF and will read DF as long as I can.

    4. Farewell: Farewell for whom?
    A. John thank Dan or Dan Thank John?- Question is does it matter? Some things are better left like that.
    B. Thank the Fans?- Are you kidding me? We want these guys like Horace and Gruber to start thinking about fans,before they write something??
    What Next?Thank Sponsors? Thank Corporates?
    Sorry these people are not on our rolls.We should let them be.

    5. Fuck with emotions-
    A lot of people here think John Gruber is simply being Arrogant by not delving deep into the topic.
    But Look at this
    John just wanted to get out of the whole mess- He did not want to disturb how the rest of 5by5 network was functioning.
    Remember the Mike Arrington/Arrianna/TC episodes? We don’t want that shit again right?
    I feel Dan took an emotional high ground making that plea for the farewell- It s just not professional enough.

    John kept the whole matter as low profile as possible, so that both Dan and John could go on with their lives- Do the things they love.
    Its us( the readers) who have created such a mess out of this- And honestly if you ask me, its grossly Unfair.

    You should follow me on twitter @yoda_2little


  57. bobsageek Says:

    Well said Chris Yoda.

    And seriously guys, can we stop acting like John and Dan didn’t ramble and get off topic, some of the Talk Show’s best moments were ‘off in the weeds’ moments.

    As some others have said, when we spend a lot of time listening to podcast with hosts we love, we tend to feel we have gotten to know them. But they don’t know us, and frankly, I don’t want them to succumb to ‘fan outcry’. We have a simple social contract with these guys, we keep listening as long as they are compelling, and that’s that.

    And Chris Yoda nails it by the way, do we need another TechCrunch meltdown? Or gimmicks like the guys at the Verge pull on occasion? I’ll take a quiet, drama free exit any day.

  58. Chuck Says:

    @bobsageek: A quiet, drama free exit could have perfectly happened, if they didn’t take the we-won’t-say-anything-maybe-no-one-will-notice approach. I know I wouldn’t be commenting here if either party just been honest and explained what happened, or even just told that it happened, one day their was just a new show, Dan wasn’t on it, it wasn’t on 5by5, no-one was even acknowledging that something happened. That you can’t comment on DB and that comments are heavily moderated at 5by5 sure did not help the matter. That we’re having this discussion on a sponsors site is proof enough that it wasn’t handled properly.

    You can blame the listeners all you want for making a fuss about it, but that’s because of the actions and lack of actions from both Dan and Gruber.

  59. Charles Says:

    I was a fan of the Talk Show on 5by5 almost from the beginning. I have tried the first two shows with Dan and you can tell that the formula is not quite right. I will be moving on to other shows.

  60. DDA Says:

    I’m biased since I think Monteiro is a serious dick; the way this was all handled that has (re)confirmed that belief. The best explanation I’ve heard is one on DFWC; the business disagreement was that Gruber wanted a piece of the network itself. Dan said no but Mike said yes. Of course, this is speculation but it sure fits the facts. :-) I do believe that Gruber alone won’t be able to build Mule Radio that fast.

    I’m unlikely to listen to the New Talk Show beyond the first episode (I’m curious what Moltz has to say) and I doubt the fact that Red Sweater is sponsoring it will make any difference to me in how I view you, Daniel, or MarsEdit. I’ll still listen to Core Intuition, too.

    But @bobageek misses an important point; it was Gruber and his Mule buddies that made this a problem. If Gruber had done the right thing and done a farewell episode and called it something other than “The Talk Show,” it would (probably) have been fine. But that isn’t Monteiro’s style.

  61. Jack Says:

    “But @bobageek misses an important point; it was Gruber and his Mule buddies that made this a problem. If Gruber had done the right thing and done a farewell episode and called it something other than “The Talk Show,” it would (probably) have been fine. But that isn”™t Monteiro”™s style.”


    The move was done in the worst possible way–I almost wish I could say it was done in a ham-fisted way, but I can’t; it just seems like such a blatant and incredibly underhanded move. The only thing Gruber/Mule could’ve done worse was to TP Dan’s house on the way out of town.

    Honestly, the way the whole business was conducted just makes Mule look really, REALLY low rent.

    For those interested, there’s a great discussion of the sleazy breakup over on MetaFilter – http://www.metafilter.com/116143/How-to-dispel-gossip

  62. Jason Painter Says:

    My faith in Gruber is shaken but I have listened to the first episode and it was generally enjoyable. His live reads of ads were stiff and don’t compare to Dan or Merlin “talking about something he really likes”. Other than that, the show was pretty much the same, although it was better when Dan ran it, freeing John up to simple ramble.

    I’m a little upset over the break-up and am a little wary of John now, but I see no reason not to continue to listen.

  63. emgee Says:

    Gruber is incredibly insightful and well connected, and for those reasons I read his blog and listen to The Talk Show. However, he’s also an asshat and doesn’t seem to care enough to make a professional podcast. Half of what Dan did was elicit some sort of response out of Gruber, who seemed like he’d rather be drinking that recording a podcast.

    That said, personality-wise, I don’t think Dan was a good match for Gruber, so I’m not sad to see the show go elsewhere. Gruber doesn’t need Dan so much as he needs a nanny — or at least someone who cares enough to get him to put in some time.

    Regarding the sense of entitlement, I feel that an explanation and a wrap-up show isn’t too much to ask for. Both John and Dan are supported by sponsors, and they sponsor because we listen to their ads and pay them. They make their living because of their listeners and I don’t feel it inappropriate to ask to have some idea of what happened. Kudos to Dan for giving an abbreviated version of his side and not slinging any mud. I’m about to listen to see what Gruber had to say. I’m going to keep on listening regardless of the whole mess, because for all his faults, Gruber really is a smart guy and worth listening to.

    Throughout all this, the cynic in me is wondering if Gruber didn’t intentionally be quiet to drum up a bit of controversy to promote his new show on Mule.

  64. Mickey Says:

    John did something very cold and callous to a friend. If I were a sponsor, I would not want to be associated with something like that. Not only will I not be listening to The Talk Show anymore, I will not be reading Daring Fireball anymore either.

  65. bobsageek Says:

    It’s only a problem if you are desperate to involve yourself in other people’s private affairs, I’ll keep listening to 5by5’s assorted hosts and Gruber where ever they go. I didn’t miss any point, but you guys are missing the fact that you are acting like a bunch of jilted girlfriends. It’s a podcast and it cost you nothing, get over it. You don’t really know if they were friends, if it was really ‘cold and callous’ or any of the other emotional arguments you guys keep throwing up.

  66. Russell Says:

    Daniel: did you pay full price for the ad, or was there a special discount involved?

  67. Darlaj Says:

    The salient business question is does John Gruber still have credibility? Does anyone now believe John personally uses and endorses sponsors’products? I don’t. Now I look back and realize just how many apps I have purchased immediately after reading about them in DF because I trusted Gruber’s opinion, and his judgement, only to find they sucked. I will continue to read DF for news, but his disdain for his advertisers is clear now that he’s in the position of having to vocalize the ads himself.

    He has demonstrated repeatedly that he can speak off the cuff with great enthusiasm about things he really likes –Kubrick, Bond, Yankees, seltzer, Apple, etc. so it’s not as if endorsing a product he really believes in is beyond his abilities. It’s obvious to me he will take anyone’s money but he’s a very poor liar. I suppose that’s a mark in his favor.

  68. Puiz Says:

    I don’t get those who go on about how we don’t “deserve” an explanation. Of course we don’t. However, we can still have opinions, right?

    There is no way John would come out of this looking good, I agree with what seems to be the consensus.

    Finally, the show was flawed then (with the rambling, the incompatible personalities, John’s apparent annoyance or lack of enthusiasm), and it’s flawed now (lack of structure, weird handling of guests who are more like guest hosts with Gruber remaining the star). But come on: the Talk Show was never a professionally done show. It’s a podcast, an amateur thing. I don’t see a major drop in quality (just yet). It’s fun.

    Though, again, John didn’t come out of this looking like a good person. (Which, incidentally, Dan did.)

  69. Arnoldo Says:

    Love the new show, especially episode 2. Definitely going to check out MarsEdit.


  70. Noliv Says:

    A few observations from a listener of The Talk Show. I don’t think anyone owes us any explanation and certainly not a farewell show. But announcing a new episode without a word about the change seemed to show a misunderstanding of what the show was to a large part of the audience and why the listeners enjoyed the show. It’s no surprise that a very large part of 5by5″™s listeners like Dan very much, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the new show would disappoint a part of the listeners…
    In the end it, only the quality really matters… I disliked the first episode on Mule but I’ll surely give the show a new chance in a few weeks if I hear good things about it.

  71. Jasper Says:

    When you leave a job, you give two weeks’ notice. Not doing so fails Wheaton’s first law: Don’t be a dick.

    That is even more important when it’s about media stopping or moving networks.

    Aside from all that unpleasantness, which was *not* kept private, the new show is pretty clearly not up to the standards of the old one yet. There’s an improving line, so who knows, at some point it may become listenable again… but that day is not this day.

  72. MKP in DC Says:

    The Handling:
    Dan and John are people, free to run their businesses as they see fit. However, Daring Fireball and 5by5 are brands with many loyal supporters that make their business model possible. The abrubt ending, with no explanation was a public relations failure and people deserve better than to be left in the dark.

    The Show:
    Dan was a crucial element to the show’s quality and success. I may check in every now and then, but definitely won’t be listening as often.

  73. DM Andy Says:

    Daniel, maybe this is just a nick-picky point, but hell, I’m a nerd and when something doesn’t sit right, I need to try and find out why. You say above “I thoroughly enjoyed the show… I enjoyed it so much, I decided to co-sponsor this week”™s episode…” However John Gruber’s just posted on DF “I can”™t thanks the show”™s debut sponsors enough – Rogue Amoeba and 37signals the first week, Bare Bones Software and Red Sweater Software this past week. It means a lot to me that all four got on board before hearing an episode.”

    So you’re saying you sponsored after hearing Episode 1, John’s saying that you signed up before Episode 1. Don’t suppose it matters but why the discrepancy?

  74. Daniel Jalkut Says:

    DM Andy: When I agreed to sponsor episode #2, I think Bare Bones was already on board. Maybe they had been on board for that episode since before #1 shipped? But I had a chance to listen to the first episode before agreeing to sponsor #2.

  75. Matt B Says:

    Wow, I wonder if this is the most ever comments on a post for you Daniel?

    bobsageek misses the whole point. Why do we care? Because we loved the podcast, and when you love something, you get emotionally invested in them. When that something stops, you get upset. Its called human nature. So yes, it does cost something- our time, our money, and our emotions.

    And yes, we, as listeners-who support the shows by listening to ads, and possibly purchasing their products- do deserve some sort of explanation. Even a simple thing as John and Dan saying on the blogs/twitters “The Talk Show is moving/ending”. I think keeping the name also wasn’t smart.

    And finally, I think what really got people up in arms is Gruber’s wife and Mike mocking people who had feelings (like bobsageek). We are fans of the show. The more fans, the more advertisers and the more money from them. How does mocking the people who support your show make sense?

    I don’t fault Daniel for sponsoring this- I’d imagine he did not quite expect this outcry. But its a lesson for everybody to see.

  76. vlad Says:

    If you listen to the beginning of episode no. 3, you will see gruber is an a**. Unsubscribed. Did like the 5by5 ones tho.

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