Alongside US-based Stephen Hackett, Myke Hurley is the founder of Relay FM. Largely focused on technology, the network boasts shows such as Upgrade, Connected, and Analog(ue), which all focus on different aspects of how innovations in computing change lives.
I discovered Relay FM in 2015 with the launch of the podcast Cortex. I already followed CGP Grey from his YouTube career and the Hello Internet podcast, so when he announced a new podcast co-hosted by this Myke Hurley guy, I was front of the line.
Cortex stands out as a transparent discussion about how independent content creation businesses are run, using each of the hosts as very different examples – one who works internationally with a range of hosts, advertisers, and people generally relying on other people, and one whose business, until quite recently, had no other employees.
The show manages to be meta without becoming a how-to. Instead, you get to hear the pair discuss what’s going on with them and their businesses and see the problems arise and resolve in what feels like in real time. CGP Grey is changing which software he stores his notes in. Hurley is promoting his assistant to manage sales for the whole company, and outsourcing the editing of another one of his shows. They both explain why it is so difficult to guess how much stock to order for their joint business, Cortex Brand.
The thing I admire most about Hurley is his ability to take the most niche of passions and turn it into an internationally-enjoyed listening experience
Like most Relay FM shows, they do focus a lot on the Apple ecosystem, especially iOS, as these are what they each use for their work. I am a Windows and Android user who does not run a digitally creative business. This means the episodes, which are routinely 90 minutes and often longer, cover topics nearly entirely irrelevant to me. But something about the show still charms me. The way they think about their lives, work, productivity, etc, still feel applicable, especially as a PhD student who manages my own time. If it was a weekly podcast, I may have been less inclined to stay subscribed all this time, but with just 12 episodes a year, the show is a low burden check-in with a pair of friends. Grey is teaching his mother to play Magic: The Gathering. Myke is taking wine-tasting classes.
The thing I admire most about Hurley is his ability to take the most niche of passions and turn it into an internationally-enjoyed listening experience. This is something he’s managed not just once or twice, but consistently. Relay FM’s impressive arsenal of podcasts represents a very interested, curious, and passionate person manufacturing a career for himself talking about things he loves. Myke likes pens. The Pen Addict, co-hosted by Brad Dowdy, has been breaking down the latest news in stationary for nearly 600 episodes. Myke recently got into Formula 1. His F1 podcast, The Backmarkers, co-hosted by Austin Evans markets itself as “for new fans, by new fans. Myke likes video games. Joined by co-hosts Federico Viticci and Shahid Kamal Ahmad, the podcast Remaster covers not just playing video games, but making them. The man even Twitch streams his hobby of making keyboards.
Myke Hurley may have made something for everyone
With so many podcasts under the Relay FM umbrella, Myke Hurley may have made something for everyone. Which almost certainly means he has made something you won’t enjoy. For me, this is Ungeniused. Marketed as a deep dive into some of Wikipedia’s weirder articles, this podcast entails Relay FM founders Hurley and Hackett engaging in some scripted ribbing before launching into what is not far from just reading a Wikipedia page aloud. Hurley is many things, but an actor he isn’t. Scripted podcasts have always been hit-and-miss for me, but something about very-obviously-reading tone the hosts employ is something even 10 minute episodes can’t make me ignore.
While most people are content to just make a podcast, sometimes even outsourcing the technical aspects and production to one of the variety of third party companies thriving in this booming industry, Relay FM (and by extension Myke Hurley) is a free-standing giant. He started podcasts, grew a sustainable business, complete with ad sales and a network-wide in-house subscription scheme, and is successful enough to be able to delegate things like liaising with advertisers or audio editing, to focus his energies on the areas he most enjoys.
Relay FM has been going for nine years now, boasting 18 retired shows. Of the nearly 30 active podcasts, Hurley co-hosts ten. The network’s commitment to uniform quality but diverse hosts and content is reflected in the subtly kindred podcast art. Add to that the network’s commitment to annual fundraising for St Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and you have what appears by all accounts to be a real stand-up organisation and founder. When people wonder how podcasting can be a full-time job, Myke Hurley is who I describe as the archetype.