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Goodbye to the Longform Podcast 2 min read

Goodbye to the Longform Podcast

They saved the best for last.

By Cary Littlejohn

I said goodbye to dear friends tonight.

No, it’s not that kind of serious, because the “friend” is actually a podcast. And its hosts. I shared recently about the impending end of the Longform podcast, and it’s regretfully arrived. And boy, oh boy, what a get: John Jeremiah Sullivan.

Episode 585: John Jeremiah Sullivan - Longform
Interviews with writers, journalists, filmmakers, and podcasters about how they do their work. Hosted by Aaron Lammer, Max Linsky, and Evan Ratliff.

He’s got to be the show’s great white whale: He’s one of the best to ever do it and he’s never been on the show before. It’s so fitting that he would be their final episode.

Not to be too dramatic, but I treated the moment with some solemnity, not a tongue-in-cheek sort but an honest variety. I took the episode out of my earbuds and instead piped it through my big stereo, letting the voices and conversation fill the entire room instead of just being piped directly into my ear canal. That straight-to-the-dome quality of podcasts helps breed that heightened intimacy we feel from the medium; it’s why we feel like our favorite hosts are just friends. And in that spirit, I let my friends in and made drinks to settle in and enjoy each other’s company properly.

I further altered my normal podcasting mode by slowing it down to a normal speaking pace. It served nobody’s interest for me to speed it up. For once, I wasn’t trying to get through a podcast; I was intent on savoring it as long as possible. I sat with a pocket notebook, and I took notes, trying to drink in the knowledge pouring out of a master. It was quite lovely, a nice way to spend the evening and one I could always repeat from the show’s deep archive but just wouldn’t be the same.

Again, not to be overly dramatic, but when Max Linsky started wrapping up the episode, thanking the many along the way who’ve helped to make it possible, I got legitimately sad. My eyes watered. And I know that’s a silly thing. I do. I get it. But it was as natural as breathing in that moment; it could not be helped. The show meant the world to me. It was everything I loved about journalism school, everything I loved about working at a newspaper, everything I love about working with journalism school students. And I will miss it. And them. Max let me know, through the episode’s final words, that I wasn’t alone in how I felt, when he thanked the many listeners who took the time to reach out. The podcast mattered to a lot of people, and in a small way, that bucks me up. Feels less lonely in a moment of sadness. His response to the notes and thanks was perfect:

We should all be lucky enough to do work, to make things that mean something to other people. It’s the best. It is the absolute best.