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Some sad news about Pop Rocket

Posted by Maximum Fun on 2nd May 2019

We have a sad announcement to make today: Maximum Fun will no longer be producing Pop Rocket. We started the show in January of 2015, as a chat-show counterpart to Bullseye. Our goal was a place to feature “smart, funny, sometimes sweary chat about everything great in entertainment.”

We’re proud of the show. We think, thanks to the hard work of the panel and the production team, it featured some of the most insightful, unusual, and hilarious (and profane) commentary on movies, music, television, and culture more broadly. This isn’t a happy day for us.

Some context: Pop Rocket is a production of Maximum Fun. It was created and developed by our founder Jesse Thorn with our former Senior Producer Colin Anderson, and has been produced by Christian Dueñas and our current Senior Producer Laura Swisher, with additional help over the years from MaxFun Production Fellows and producers. As a MaxFun production, Maximum Fun bears the full cost of production of the show, including paying the hosts, staff producers, editors and recording and hosting costs. While the show has developed a passionate community, we haven’t been able to develop revenue that covers those costs at any point in its history, and over the past two years, listenership has declined.

We recently learned that our host Guy Branum, and one of our permanent panelists, Margaret Wappler, will be stepping away from those roles in order to pursue other projects. Given that reality, and the financial picture for the show, we are unable to sustain its production. Over nearly five years, we’ve proudly supported the show as it went through personnel changes, leaves of absence, and the regular challenge of producing a weekly program. It has been a passion project for many of us at MaxFun, and we are sad to see it end. Ultimately, though, we are responsible for the show’s sustainability, and don’t think we can ensure that going forward.

If you’re a MaxFun member and you wish to update your membership, you can do so here. Starting in June, Pop Rocket will no longer factor into revenue split calculations for members who support multiple shows. Practically speaking, this means that the other MaxFun shows you listen to will get a slightly larger piece of the pie. We understand that the timing of this announcement, a bit more than a month after the MaxFunDrive, isn’t ideal. It wasn’t how we would have planned it, but we felt it would be inappropriate to delay or to fail to be frank with our employees, talent and community.

Pop Rocket is one show in a constellation of culture programming at MaxFun. If you are a Pop Rocket fan, we hope you’ll look into some of the other offerings which share the values and DNA of the show we will all miss. We also plan to maintain the Pop Rocket archive for the foreseeable future.

We offer our sincere thanks to Guy, Margaret, Wynter, Karen, Oliver Wang, Colin, Christian, our Production Fellows and producers,and all of our guests and guest hosts. We are proud of our association with all of them, and proud of and grateful for their hard work. We’re also grateful for the hard work of the show’s current producer, Laura Swisher. She and Christian remain on our staff, and are working on other projects at MaxFun.

— Jesse, Bikram, Laura, and the team at MaxFunHQ.