If you're a podcast fiend, chances are you're familiar with at least one podcast housed under the Feral Audio umbrella. The podcast network, founded in 2012, is home to shows like Chelsea Peretti's Call Chelsea Peretti, the beloved sleep-aiding daily show Sleep With Me, the feminist satire Reductress Presents: Mouth Time!, and We're No Doctors, a show about health and medicine hosted by Busy Phillips and comedian Steve Agee.
Following a searing indictment of Feral Audio founder Dustin Marshall's abusive behavior, the future availability of these podcasts is uncertain. On December 21, Marshall's ex-girlfriend, Potty Mouth band member Abby Weems, posted a long overview of her relationship with Marshall. She claims Marshall was jealous, controlling, and violently unpredictable while they were dating due to his Borderline Personality Disorder, and exhibited behaviors of stalking after they broke up. "I want poeple, especially women, to know that he's dangerous," Weems wrote.
Four days later, Marshall responded to Weems' allegations with a long post on his personal Tumblr. In his statement, he outlined that he planned to take responsibility for his actions, validated many of Weems' allegations, and addressed both his diagnosis with Borderline Personality Disorder and his drug and alcohol addictions.
Marshall also stated he was stepping away from Feral Audio so that he could receive mental health treatment. "To Feral Audio artists, after six years, I can no longer have the pressure of running a company, continue this lifestyle and be mentally healthy...Since Feral Audio is forever married to my name, i [sic] am dissolving it so no dark cloud should ever be above your work," he wrote.
What will happen to Feral Audio's many podcasts? Its website says the podcasts are "100% creator-owned," so ostensibly creators can continue to produce without worrying about rights to intellectual property. But they will need to move their existing work to a new distributor, and in many cases, find new production support staff. As for the future of Feral Audio itself, Feral Audio's president, Jason Smith, promised followers on Twitter that an announcement would come soon. He also offered wholehearted support to Weems.
There's speculation that Feral Audio's podcasts will be migrating over to Starburns Industries' new podcast venture, SBI: Audio. Feral Audio has been in partnership with Starburns since 2016. In a Facebook post from December 26, the day after Marshall's announcement, Starburns Industries announced that three Feral Audio podcasts (and "more") would be making the leap to SBI: Audio.
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Aside from the harm Marshall caused to Weems, his behavior may have repercussions for the Feral Audio's podcast creators, many of whom are vocal, visionary women. A sampling: Feral Audio was the original home home of My Favorite Murder, the wildly popular true-crime podcast which has since moved to Midroll Media. Currently, Feral Audio hosts Glowing Up With Esther and Caroline, run by comedian Esther Povitsky and Caroline Goldfarb, who runs the twitter page @OfficialSeanPenn. Cameron Esposito's podcast, Queerty, features some of the most influential members of the LGBTQ+ community. Chelsea Peretti interviews all of your favorite celebrities on Call Chelsea Peretti. Recently, Ethnically Ambiguous With Anna and Shereen was launched, during which two women hosts discuss being a Middle Easterner in America.
Now, each podcast must make a decision about their next steps. Public responses from podcasts are coming in gradually. Doughboys has asked for time in announcing its next step.
The founder of Sleep With Me has chosen to go independent fully.
In a recent disturbing twist, Marshall expressed suicidal sentiments in a Twitter poll asking followers whether he should take his life or not.
This is a breaking news story. Refinery29 has reached out to Dustin Marshall and CEO Jason Smith for comment. We will update with updates as they become available.
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.
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