The History of Warcraft Radio
Gareth “Athalus” Cales knew that there was a need and a desire for Warcraft news and commentary that didn’t follow the same old newsblog and fansite format and thanking that a Talk Radio Show might be the perfect solution…. No longer would you have to go to all of the various websites to get your Warcraft news, updates, and opinion pieces, now you simply listened to them while you played the game, and he was going to make that happen.
This format; “Podcasting” had just come into existence and while Warcraft Radio didn’t “invent” the Podcast, it was absolutely paramount to the growth of the format and its introduction into the mainstream. Running with revolutionary ideas, and technology has always been a mandate for Warcraft Radio and that mandate will present itself numerous times throughout this history of the the station.
Creation and Growth
October 2004 – December 2005
Warcraft Radio Launched on October 11th, 2004. There was only one show, and one host. “Saturday Nights with Athalus” provided news, music, and commentary to the Warcraft Community live on the air. the idea was that players could be brought up to date on the latest happenings in the Warcraft universe, and have a curated playlist of music to enjoy as they played the game with no need to take a break from playing to load a website or change their music.
Soon however, it became evident that a single show on a single day just wasn’t going to cut it, the demand was too high, and so the search began for new shows and new hosts to facilitate the ever growing number of listeners. By the end of the first broadcasting year there were nearly a dozen shows broadcasting each week including arguably the two most famous podcasts to come out of Warcraft Radio, Totalbiscuits “Blue Plz” and Slaniks “Vendor Trash.”
More content wasn’t the only thing to increase during this time, in fact, perhaps one of the greatest feats achieved was having braodcasters that dealt with specific niche audiances such as Letos “Ancient of Lore” and “EndGame” with Tyrrum.
Also joining the station at this time was the Donut Boys, Kyle McCarley (Mickey-C) , TheErik, and Dustin who would go on to produce the Infamous “Chalice of Silvermoon” during their broadcasts of “Happy Hour Tavern.”
Collectively these show hosts would go to the very first Blizzcon where Warcraft Radio was the official broadcasting partner with Blizzard. Warcraft Radio allowed everyone around the world whom couldn’t attend the actual event, get a little bit close to all of the action.
Changing of the Guard
January 2006 – October 2007
Athalus had been running Warcraft Radio for quite some time now, and would become the first of many staff members to make the ultimate leap — Landing a Job at Blizzard Entertainment. Unfortunately one of the caveats to landing a job at Blizzard is that you couldn’t be directly involved with any fansites or communities as it would be a direct conflict of interest. On March 18th, 2006 Athalus would broadcast his show for the last time and officially hand the station over to John “Totalbiscuit” Bain.
Totalbiscuit would name Slanik the “Station Manager” and together would see continued growth adding fan favorites such as “Octale & Hordak Vs. The World” and “The Lorekeepers.”
During this time Warcraft Radio announced a partnership with WoW Insider – The most popular warcraft news site that existed at the time which would see a podcast hosted by many familiar writers of the wow insider website broadcast on the Warcraft Radio platform.
November 2007 – July 2008
Behind the scenes a new idea had been given the green light that would change the landscape of Warcraft Radio and Podcasting as whole. The station thus far had worked on an on & off format where if there wasn’t a show happening at any given time, the ‘station’ was silent. In Late 2007 Totalbiscuit announced that a new 24 hour 7 days a week format would be going into open beta. Now when no new shows were broadcasting, archives (or repeats) of past shows, royalty free music, and other special content would be broadcast.
The 24 hour streaming format was something that had rarely been seen in the podcasting world, and certainly not within the video game niche, however this move proved to be tremendously successful with and allowed for consumers to stay tuned in longer and discover new shows and hosts on the station that they may not have tuned into otherwise.
This is turn pushed the station to add even more content with the additions of fan favorites such as “Casually Hardcore” and “MaxSpeed.”
August 2008 – December 2009
Totalbiscuit had now been running the station for 3 years and had seen a lot of growth, however Warcraft Radio had hit a platue, many listeners and show hosts were moving away from World of Warcraft and while new listeners were replacing the old, something needed to be done to put an end to the viewership cycle. To help facilitate this, Eriyanna was brought in as the new Station Manager.
The viewership retention plan was simple, listeners may have been leaving Warcraft, but they were not leaving video games as a whole. Warcraft Radio already had a few shows that were not specifically related to World of Warcraft, however in order to increase retention more shows were brought on that had a general gaming format including “The Donut Shop,” and “TB’s Show about Video Games,”
Of course Warcraft related content was still a key draw for the station and new shows such as “Escsence of RolePlay” and “But Wait! There’s Lore!” were added to keep the Warcraft flavor flowing.
During this time the staff of Warcraft Radio began developing what was meant to be the natural successor to Warcraft Radio — OMFG.FM or “Original Media For Gamers.”
January 2010 –
Blizzcon 2009 saw a major shift in the background attitude at Warcraft Radio. Many on air personalities were no longer interested in World of Warcraft, and had no intentions of continuing of their respective shows. The OMFG idea had been something loosely talked about and somewhat worked on, however, nothing had been fully fleshed out and everyone had their own idea as to what OMFG might look like.
After many meetings, mock ups, and frustrations it became evident that not everyone wanted the same thing and that an agreement would be impossible to come to, and so, on January 3rd, 2010 Totalbiscuit announced that Warcraft Radio would be shutting down.
From the ashes of Warcraft Radio came 3 new ventures, “Original Media for Gamers,” “Vs The World Productions,” and “The Cynical Brit” and each had shows and hosts that carried over from Warcraft Radio.