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Hacker Public Radio

Hacker Public Radio is a wonderful project. Anyone can submit a show and get it published into the virtual ether. This is a beautiful thing. You end up with some absolute gems but also some weird one's about belt buckles, hysterical political rants and people fixing garage doors but I enjoy it and it's easy to filter out the episodes you don't want to listen to.

When I first found out about HPR I thought it would be a hacker podcast in the other sense of the word, breaking into systems and such, but it's really more about general Linux & UNIX-like topics, free/open source software, tinkering, "maker" stuff, learning and free culture. Even though it occasionally drops an episode on security related topics.

The project aims to put out 5 shows a week, that's a lot if you are counting on volunteers producing content in their spare time. I've never done it myself but I understand that researching, recording, editing and writing show notes is a lot of work.

Every year there are inevitably periods when there are "call for shows", often resulting in some of the usual suspects AKA long time contributors quickly putting something together and submitting. I think the quality of the episodes greatly declines during these periods. You sometimes get episodes where the intro and the outro together is longer in duration than the actual content.

It's not my place to criticize the project since I'm just a non-contributing listener but I can't help but to wonder if the goal of 5 shows per week maybe is too ambitious? I think it would be nicer if some slots were kept empty if nobody submitted a show for that that day. If a show drops, it drops. I suspect that the quality of the shows generally would improve and fewer episodes would be produced in a rush. I can imagine that this would also take some stress off the regular contributors. On the other hand these 'call for shows' might give contributors a kick in the butt to finish and submit their current works in progress.

I feel like an asshole for bringing this up. I love HPR and I have gotten so much knowledge, value and good laughs out it over the many years I've been a listener.

Update Sun 25 Apr 2021 12:05:44 PM CEST

I regret writing this post after Ken Fallon linked to it in the Hacker Public Radio mailinglist which is where policy decisions are proposed and discussed.

I'll leave this post up as a remainder to myself to think things through before publishing.

'Quality' was a suboptimal choice of words. Hell, most of the music I listen to is of poorer quality than any given HPR episode.

I have nothing but respect towards the contributors of HPR.