Well, today LugRadio turns 4. Quite a roller-coaster it has been too.

Just over four years ago, in the far corner of The Moon Under Water pub in Wolverhampton, we hatched the idea of LugRadio. For a while I had been thinking of doing on online radio show about Open Source, and when Matt Revell joined Wolves LUG, he mentioned he had had thoughts of doing an online radio show too. We roped in a few loud characters from Wolves LUG (namely Aq and Sparkes), and LugRadio was born. It would be a few months before we finally got round to recording our first show in my tiny home studio in my house. Although my home studio was reasonably kitted out, it was nothing compared to the current setup – we were using a cheap multi-tracker running on a PC, four drum mics (with socks as pop-shields), and all four of us crammed into an extremely small space. The first show was 22 minutes and 38 seconds long and was frankly…rubbish by today’s standards, but at the time I think it genuinely brought something new to the Open Source community, and the core LugRadio formula was there in its rawest form. Knowing we could not afford to distribute the shows, we concocted a devious scheme of allowing our listeners (assuming we would get listeners) to mirror the show and therefore share the bandwidth hit. That system is still in place now, and a typical show will have 15+ mirrors pumping out shows to an estimated 20,000 listeners.

We were all pretty nervous if LugRadio would go anywhere; we figured it would either generate some interest or really piss some people off and last only a few shows – we knew the recipe would be somewhat controversial for some people. In fact, in the early days, I was a full-time freelance journalist, and I will never forget going to karate with this deep uncertainly about whether LugRadio would be a wise idea for my career. At that point, my work was starting to become fairly public (due to my magazine work), but my voice was always carefully written, edited, crafted and refined before it ever went to the editor – LugRadio however, was balls-to-the-wall frankness, largely un-edited and up-front. As I mulled on this over a few days I came to the conclusion that I am my own person, and I should never hide my personality; I figured that as a journalist, and eventually as an advocate and community manager, being frank and truthful with people is essential, not optional. Fortunately, LugRadio has had the opposite effect and helped grow all of our careers, as opposed to hinder them.

We are all amazed at where LugRadio has gone in the last four years – none of us ever expected it to grow like it has. There are many milestones that have freaked us all out – people who we respect listening to the show, showing up at conferences all over the world and people saying they like the show, winning a marketing award, topping magazine reviews of podcasts – each of these was a huge surprise as we have always seen the show as fundamentally four loud blokes rambling on in a room; our benchmark has always been other shows, and we have always felt somewhat amateur and still do to this day. To see formal recognition like this is a very strange experience, but a huge buzz too.

The community that has grown around the show is stunning, and it always amazes us that we have such a thriving community and importantly, a culture that has been defined around the show in the forums, planet, facts, quotes, clan, #lugradio IRC channel, and with hashlugradio. People contribute to the show in many ways – we have nearly 1000 members on the forums, and around 100 people constantly in #lugradio on Freenode, and people constantly contributing emails and ideas to the show. The emails segment in the show has always been my personal favorite segment – it is really great to have some fun with the emails people send in, and we get some truly interesting and amusing mails. One thing I love about our listeners is that they don’t take themselves too seriously and are more than happy to put the boot in where required – it always provides fun and exciting content. Our incredible community has helped with all aspects – the content, the website, the system administration, the mirroring, the promotion and more.

Thanks must also go out to the 100+ interviews that have been conducted in the last four years, and some of the frankly bizarre questions we may have asked people – these include Simon Willison, Quim Gil, Lennart Poettering, Rob McQueen, Christian Tismer, Niall “digitaldeath” O’Brien, John Alfred Knottenbelt, Alan Cox, Sean McGrath, Greg Kroah-Hartman, Adam Williamson, Havoc Pennington, Colin Walters, Will Stephenson, Sacha “Sago” Goedegebure, Alexandre Juillard, Gavin Henry, Lee Jordan, Jeff Waugh, Miguel de Icaza, Sven de Marothy, Aaron Seigo, Mike Hearn, Seth Nickell, Kevin Carmony, Michael Meeks, Ralph Giles, Edward “lamb-burning surrender monkey” Hervey, Ryan Quinn, Henrik Nielsen Omma, Carl Worth, Joe Shaw, Paul Leonard, Adrian Keward, Paul Sladen, Caroline Yates, Jonathan Riddell, Maria Blackmore, Hubert Figuere, Alex Hudson, Aquarion, Schwuk, Digit0, Mozrat, Richard Allan MP, Howard Berry, Russ Phillips and Jen Phillips, Mark Shuttleworth, Dave Camp, Yannick Pellet and Carlos Guerreiro, Ian Brown, Sarah Ewen, Greg Mancusi-Ungaro, Ian Wilson, John Leach, MrBen, Adam Leventhal, Philip Copeman, Bill Hilf, Jeremy White, Jacob “jimmac” Steiner, Dave “pig-carrying Irishman” Neary, Chris Messina, Simon Phipps, Timothy Miller, Cliff Brereton, Jeremy Katz, Matthew Garrett, Michael “mdk” Dominik, Ted Haeaeaeaeaeaeagear, Rory McCann, Matthew East, Gareth Bowker, Mirco Müller, Aaron Bockover, Robert Love, Luis Villa, Bastian Nocera, Philippe Normand, Jan Schmidt, Graham Taylor, Justin “juski” Hornsby, Peter Hollingsworth, Justin Davies, Cory Ondrejka, Sava Tatic, Stephen “SheepEatingTaz” Garton, Pia Waugh, Scott James “Three Shot” Remnant, John Cherry, Eric Raymond, Alan “Popey the sailor man” Pope, Matt Wilson, Andrew “spline” Lewis, Chris DiBona, Stéphane Marchesin, Mickey Lauer, Wouter van Heyst, David “tyrion” Dolphin, Christian Schaller, Becky Hogge, Ian “Howlin’ Mad” Murdock, James Governor, Matt Lee, Chris Jones, Jeremie Zimmerman, Neuro, Branden Holtsclaw, Bradley M. Kuhn, Zeth Green, Barbie

Of course, LugRadio has also spawned LugRadio Live which has seen three UK shows (2005, 2006, 2007) and the up-and-coming LugRadio Live USA 2008 and LugRadio Live UK 2008. We delved into and analysed the ethos and formula behind the audio show and worked to convert into conference form and every LugRadio Live has has been an utter blast. Particular thanks must go to the people who believed in LugRadio Live back in 2005 when we had no reputation behind us – and specifically to our good friends at Bytemark Hosting for supporting us every year. Two particular things stick in my mind with LugRadio Live. Firstly, I will never forget in the build-up to the first LugRadio Live – Aq and I would have lunch together in Birmingham to discuss and make plans, and we were both hugely terrified that no-one would show up. We came to the conclusion that if around 60 people attended, we would be happy. When it got to the big day, we had over 200 people attend in our tiny little venue. We were stunned. The second memory was the unbelievably heartening feeling that ran through my veins when we ran the 2007 event – we had over 12 crew (all LugRadio fans and volunteers) get to the venue at 7am and within minutes of us getting in, every single crew member was chipping in, working hard and doing their best. With all of the crew adorned in yellow t-shirts, it was like a pack of animals dispersing – they shot out across the venue and started constructing the entire event in two hours. With the months and months of build up, stress and tension that we had put in, seeing the crew put in every ounce of energy they could that weekend, was simply stunning.

I am so proud of what LugRadio has gone onto achieve – we are not the most insightful, we are not the best produced, we are not the funniest, but I am hugely proud to see the sheer amount of content around LugRadio and LugRadio Live, and every bit of it has been entirely volunteer based, done in spare time, fueled by caffeine and late nights. To be honest, we were half-expecting that the energy from the listeners and us would wain after the first year or so, but four years on, it is just as exciting as ever – LugRadio would be nothing if it were not for our incredible listeners. Thank you everyone for sticking with us. 🙂

I would love to hear people’s fave memories from the show, LugRadio Live or anything else – head over to this forums thread to add yours. 🙂

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