When I started the No God Cast I did so with the intent of producing a high quality show appreciated for its honesty, integrity, low-key personal interviews of community celebrities and non-celebrities, and measured delivery of its content. Other projects of mine, Secular.FM and Secularite Magazine, were born of this same desire. I wanted these endeavors to be relevant, game-changing, and impacting and I expected them to be well received because of the ambition and clear benefit they provided to the community as well as the level of work I (and others) were putting into them.
In the Spring of 2014 I was struggling. After a little over a year I had sunk over $14k of my own money into these projects and was spending approximately 35 hours a week working on improving and growing them. I was also working a full-time job and the ~80 hour work week was running me ragged. I decided it was time to think about quitting the day job and attempt to monetize the NGC as well as Secular.FM. To assist in this I created two Patreon pages. The first to support the NGC directly and the second to support Secular.FM (a, then, 24-hour secular online radio station). The Secular.FM Patreon page donated 25% of its monthly contributions to a different secular non-profit each week and, in it’s first month, donated ~$2K to the Foundation Beyond Belief after a reasonably successful 24-hour Podcast-a-thon – held at my home with David Viviano of Atheist Hangouts and featuring over 20 high profile guests from the secular and atheist communities.
It was February 2014 and things seemed like they would work out. They did not. People I depended on to help with the work load of growing these projects and making them profitable (I still hadn’t quit my job, I wouldn’t have dared) abandoned the project to focus on personal endeavors, and the atheist and secular communities seemed very disinterested in supporting either of these projects for more than a month or two. I slowly became unable to pay writers (Secularite Magazine) and never reached the threshold necessary to pay syndicated podcasters. Every dollar that came in, less with each passing month, went to the cost of the projects and never exceeded more that $800 a month. By May there were so few supporters of either project that I was back to paying for everything by myself.
I snapped. I got upset with the atheist and secular communities because of their lack of support, how they said they wanted the things I was making but expected me to do it for free. I lost my temper and I showed my ass a bit during this week or two period of time. I should not have behaved the way that I did (more on this in a moment). I began having health issues related to stress and made the decision to walk away from everything I’d worked for a year to make – I just quit, mid-season. I went in to seclusion and spent a couple of months being angry at certain individuals, disappointed at others, and depressed about my own failure to turn my projects into successes.
Then I figured it out.
It wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own. I expected people to find value in what I was doing, that was an unrealistic expectation regardless of how hard I was working. I expected people to support these projects because of what they had the potential to become – another unrealistic expectation. Finally, I expected people working with me (for free, as I was) to care as much about what we were doing as I did and to put in as much effort and time – perhaps the most unrealistic expectation of all. I had created my own depression, unhappiness, and malcontent – it was totally my fault. The NGC wasn’t special, it was just another free podcast. When it was retired there were a myriad of other atheist podcasts to turn to; there was no great loss. Secular.FM and Secularite Magazine could have been great contributions to the secular community, but who cares? I wouldn’t be the first or last to make, or have the capacity to make, a secular magazine. I wouldn’t be the only person to think of creating a secular broadcasting network. I expected the communities I served to be full of wide-eyed visionaries who would support me because I was doing something worth doing… that was incredibly foolish of me, I knew people better than that.
I left the online atheist and secular communities with a lot of hurt pride, frustration, anger, and disappointment. Five months later I no longer feel any of those things about either of those communities, I’ve moved on. I’ve made peace with my mistakes and I’ve grown significantly as a person. I feel good. I have just one last thing I’d like to say:
I appreciate you listening. Regardless of how jarring the exit was for me, I wouldn’t trade those two seasons of the NGC for anything. I wouldn’t undo any of the relationships I forged with Secular Programming (the ones that persist to this day nor the ones which do not) for anything, either. The No God Cast and my foolish ambitions changed the direction of my life and I am quite glad of it. I have you to thank, listener. Thank you.