The Editors’ Response to Rusty Quill’s Statement

A Research, Opinion, and Advocacy Piece by Wil Williams and Tal Minear

Who we are


Let me introduce myself. I’m Tal Minear, a fiction podcast producer. I’ve been a creator in this space for over 5 years now, and I do a lot of things across audio fiction. Recently, I designed the cover art for Afflicted (distributed by Rusty Quill). I’m not going to name everything I’ve made here, because it’d take a while, but you can find most of what I do with a simple search. Most relevantly, I edited the article by Newt. I was part of interviews with 10 people and heard story after story of alleged mistreatment by Rusty Quill. If you read the piece, you know a few of them — but it’s different getting the first-hand story. I didn’t have to take Newt’s word for it.


I’m Wil Williams, a professional podcaster and writer. Like Tal, I’ve been in the podcasting industry for some time, formally entering the space in 2016 — and like Tal, I wear many hats. I have written on podcasts for publications like Vulture and Polygon. I’ve discussed podcasts on NPR programs several times. I was the managing editor for Discover Pods, a blog dedicated to podcasts, before being laid off during a buyout. I’m the CEO of Hug House Productions, a podcast collective, and the showrunner for a fiction podcast. I do not see my work in any competition with Rusty Quill — more on this later — but it certainly has informed my concept of what a healthy workplace can look like in audio.

Journalistic standards and ethics

A few quick notes on what “makes” a journalist: there is no such thing as journalistic “accreditation.” Journalism is an industry, a field of work, that can be entered through various methods. Journalism is facilitated, but not preceded necessarily, by a journalism degree; the two are not synonymous. Journalism is, ultimately, a job, and a journalist is a person who does the act of journalism. Every person who worked on this piece does journalism and is a journalist, and we are all known within the podcasting industry — again, our specific demographic — for our work.

Labor and competition in audio drama


Let’s discuss what we mean by the terms “labor” and, in a moment, “competition.” In regards to labor, we can use this simple definition from Kimberly Amadeo via The Balance: “Labor is the amount of physical, mental, and social effort used to produce goods and services in an economy.”

Employees vs. Contractors

Another important clarification when discussing labor rights is the difference between an “employee” and a “contractor.” A thorough breakdown of the distinctions between these two types of laborers can be found here, but there are two sections especially pertinent for labor in the podcasting space:

  1. In regards to employment laws, employees are “covered by a number of federal and state employment and labor laws,” whereas, in many cases, contractors are “not covered by employment and labor laws.”
  2. In regards to compensation, employees “[earn] either an hourly rate or a salary,” whereas contractors have “[contracts which] may be for a total amount. It could be for an hourly, daily, or weekly amount that ends on a specific date or a total amount to be paid when the job is completed.”


“Competition” is an interesting concept in the audio space. In regards to physical products sold, competition is usually clear: Pepsi is a competitor to Coke, as both are similar products with slight variations that lead to a preference for one over the other in most consumers. Typically, those consumers will choose one option over the other regularly, making competition an important factor in the business plans of both Pepsi and Coke. You can read more about it here.

Thanks, Corrections, and Clarifications

There were statements in Rusty Quill’s response that we feel were inaccurate. But before we touch on those, a few things we’re happy about. Quotes from Rusty Quill’s response will be bolded and put in quotes for clarity.

Responses and rebuttals

Our “fundraising projects”

In its response, Rusty Quill said, “Two out of the three of the contributors appear to be involved in fundraising projects running at the point of publication, and the article actively encourages people to pull support from The Magnus Protocol in favour of other creators.” This is incorrect. Only Tal was remotely involved in a fundraising project (they are a voice actor in the second season of Transmission Folklore). While they were involved with the podcast, they were not involved in fundraising for it. The Transmission Folklore campaign ended 2 days after the article’s publication and did not hit its full goal. Tal would have been paid $146 at the end of the campaign. We do not feel the article increased that rate by any amount, but in a show of good faith, Tal has requested that the showrunners keep their pay.

Financial and reputational “sabotage”

Rusty Quill alleged, “we are being forced to defend ourselves from what appears to be a case of carefully timed, deliberate defamation from people seeking to exploit recent hardships for our staff possibly to sabotage our fundraising and reputation,” a claim we would like to address in this section.

Industry standards

Rusty Quill said, “Our company wide flat pro-rata rate is £13.25 per hour for all staff including leadership, but this excludes creators who are paid separate rates as industry standard. It is true that freelance editors would expect a higher rate, but this pay is competitive in the UK for people holding permanent positions that also offer additional support.” We’d like to elaborate on industry standard payments for sound designers to clarify why we (and others) believe that industry standard sound work should, in almost all cases, be paid more than £13.25.

Network partners

Rusty Quill wrote, “In terms of network partners, the allegations seem to be made by a single former creator on the network who left some time ago and another who is not, nor ever has been, a network partner.” This is inaccurate; we spoke with several sources. However, we will not be revealing with whom we spoke, as everyone has requested anonymity.

The numbers

Rusty Quill wrote, “The claim that a show would require 125,000 downloads on the network in order to make $1000 is completely false.” While our reporting was accurate as far as what our source reported, we have been able to gather additional information that paints a more nuanced picture since the article’s publication.

The transcripts

In response to the statement, “Rusty Quill’s [transcripts] are riddled with errors, inconsistent, incomplete, and generally a poor representation of the show’s audio,” Rusty Quill wrote “In terms of our transcripts, these are historic allegations that are now factually untrue. All our official, original transcripts have been generated by paid professionals.” We have never disputed that paid professionals generated the transcripts, only that they are not fully accurate.

Workplace culture

Rusty Quill said, “Our most recent formal Employee Satisfaction Survey, which was conducted by an independent third party, found our scores to be ‘exceptional’ and these were shared internally. Furthermore, we have already internally released a 2023 Operations Update which included factual information on related topics including recent redundancies and our plans for the future. This update is due for public release in the new year.”

The Discord

After the publication of Newt’s official piece, we were advised by previous members of the Rusty Quill Official Discord server (a hybrid between a large group chat and a forum) to investigate the goings-on in the server before it was closed. As such, we reached out to some of the server’s former moderators to discuss their experiences with Rusty Quill and the server. We were not members of the server, and our discussion in this section is informed by interviews with those moderators. Allegations of racism have been made towards the entire team of moderators — not just the sources we communicated with — and the server itself. Many of the rules that garnered complaint seem to have come not from the moderators themselves, but from Rusty Quill; however, we understand the gray lines between the different levels of power at play in regards to this situation. We wish to give these moderators space to share their experiences. We do not condone racism of any kind, and we are actively committed to anti-racist efforts in our work.

Final thoughts

Two or three people having the experiences we’ve shared is an outlier. Ten to twenty people is, in our opinion, a trend. We’re glad for the positive stories people have shared in the aftermath of our first article, but plenty of unhappy tales came our way as well. Here’s a quote from someone who reached out after the article’s publication:



Tal (they/them) is fiction podcast producer who cannot be stopped from making things and will occasionally write about audio fiction.

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Tal Minear

Tal (they/them) is fiction podcast producer who cannot be stopped from making things and will occasionally write about audio fiction.