Friday, January 9, 2009

Pure Class

I was going to open with some stuff about former 1UP staffers, striking from their hidden base, having scored their first victory, etc., but come on! How obvious is that? Also, their base isn't all that hidden, really. It's in Oakland. Follow the car alarm. Yes, seriously.

Seriously, though, when I went to bed Wednesday night, I knew that the next morning would bring something great. Tweets were coming in from Matt Chandronait and Ryan O'Donnell announcing they were heading to the BART to ride out to Anthony Gallegos' house to record a new podcast they were calling RebelFM. Also tweeting about the new show was Nick Suttner. All of the above, together with Philip Kollar, Jade Kraus, and Anthony (AKA Chuf)'s roommate, Arthur Gies (who sounds a lot like Kevin Smith), stayed up late-late recording a humongous one hour, fifty minute podcast and then editing and distributing the thing.

I won't say too much about the podcast itself, as Bob Mackey's already done a great job discussing it over on 61FPS. What I do want to say, and I'm sort of echoing Bob here, is that it is amazing how little of the podcast is spent discussing the past two day's events. If it isn't clear why that's so surprising, let me just revisit the timeline: Tuesday the whole crew were told of the buyout by Hearst and were laid off. Tuesday night they celebrated a great (great, great) run with friends from 1UP and around the industry. Wednesday they went back to the office and cleared out their desks. Wednesday night was the podcast.

And yet they spend less than the first half hour discussing what's starting to be called the 1UPocalypse. And for the short time that they do discuss it, they don't seem the least bit angry or resentful. They acknowledge the economic realities of the situation, and it's clear that they'd prefer to have kept their jobs—1UP was obviously an incredible working environment—but they don't bear any ill will toward UGO or Hearst. Naturally, they point out that 1UP hasn't been gutted, and though the cuts that have been made are regrettable, many of 1UP's great writers are still there, and they encourage their listeners to keep using the site (as do I). In fact, the Rebels spend a good deal of what time they do devote to the 1UPocalypse discussing the more positive aspects of it, like the droves of Twitter followers they've gotten over the past day or so, or the endless expressions of support, or even the visit from the one 1UP fan who drove to 1UP's building Wednesday afternoon to deliver a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

So for a podcast called RebelFM, whose logo has a subversive-looking backwards letter R (someone notify HUAC or Fox News or something!), the tone is positive and friendly. The "Rebel" in RebelFM has nothing whatsoever to do with any sort of antagonistic stance. This isn't the Avengers splitting up over the Superhuman Registration Act; there's not an evil Corporate 1UP and a benevolent but above-the-law Pirate 1UP. The name only reflects the Rebels' lack of affiliation. They're adrift, now, creating something on their own and for nothing more than their own love of the work, which is more than clear throughout the podcast. This isn't to say that they'll be doing this with whatever's left in their checking accounts. Since the first podcast went up (it's going to be a regular thing, with syndication on iTunes already in place and Zune syndication planned), they've received a good deal of funding in internet-facilitated donations. They're planning to use the funds to keep the show running as well as upgrade their equipment to produce higher-quality recordings. While this will sort of diminish the great DIY rebelness of it all, I'll acknowledge that this will probably be a necessary improvement. Matt Chandronait, one of the former producers of The 1UP Show, is also using his website,, to promote a new video podcast. If you haven't gotten a chance to see The 1UP Show, it's still available on iTunes, and you should have a look; the coverage is excellent, to say nothing of the music and production on the show. Matt and Ryan's work is top-notch, and it would be great for them to be able to continue to produce an online video game show profitably or at least sustainably.

What really stands out in RebelFM is the sheer professionalism of the show. It's there in the Rebels' insistence on continuing their work in the midst of what must be a really difficult situation, and it's there in their strikingly positive way of discussing the situation. It's in their ability to stick to the business of covering games. The first episode, which no one had much time to prepare for, and which was recorded on music-recording equipment—I'm pretty sure this means Chuf and Arthur's Rock Band microphones or something like that—turned out great, for all that. I joke about the sound quality, but even that isn't anything to complain about, really. I'm looking forward to future episodes, which, with the benefit of better equipment and more preparation, should be even better. If they can bring Ryan Scott in for an appearance, well, that would be almost too good.

Thanks for all the hard work, RebelFM, and good luck. And Chuf: yes on the t-shirts.

Click here for the home of RebelFM, Episode 1

Click here for the future home of The 1UP Show's next-gen offspring

Click here for what continues to be a great site for video games coverage

Click here for great ways to start keeping tabs on 1UPpers past and present

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