My annual thank you to my 'American Idol' followers

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

This is my 10th year blogging about "American Idol" going back to Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice.

It's been quite a journey, as every reality show calls it.

By the time I started doing episodic recaps in 2005, the show was a phenomenon, the biggest thing on TV. It kept growing into season five, its apex.The show then began a gradual decline but remained the "big" show even after Simon and Paula left.

As recently as season 10, the show as bringing in 20 million viewers a week and the season finale drew nearly 30 million.

Since then, it's gotten ugly. "The Voice" stole its thunder. "The X Factor" was an annoying diversion. Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey made millions uncomfortable. People got bored or disenchanted.  Ratings fell off the cliff, especially the past two seasons. New producers and Harry Connick Jr. couldn't redeem the 13th season.

Now, "Idol" is virtually off the pop culture radar screen. When Caleb this year made that "retard" comment, nobody paid any attention. It's now just ... another show, a show that gets beaten by "Big Bang Theory" repeats and even older shows such as "CSI" and "Survivor."  It's time in the zeitgeist is over. (Leave that to "Scandal," "House of Cards," and "Game of Thrones.")

But for you regular readers and for me, "Idol" will always be special. I covered the show from its very first day in June, 2002 and it helped me stay employed even as the print journalism world has gone through major changes.

Though my separate "Idol" blog died in the fall of 2011, I kept writing about it here.  I made a decision to stick with the show (like Ryan Seacrest, minus the millions of dollars) until the bitter end.

So while this has been a dispiriting year in terms of popularity, I truly enjoyed season 13. It helped me forget the godawful season 12.

I think most of the regulars here stuck around because they enjoyed the show, too. While this commenting system is wonky, it is far better than the one we had before. The talent was good (if not the best ever). The judges panel, in my opinion, is better than the original three. The new producers made mostly smart changes. I'm sorry many viewers did not agree.

And next year, "Idol" will no longer have a results show and probably will only have a top 10 instead of top 13. (No loss there in many ways.)

Now it's time to get to the huzzahs. I apologize if I missed anybody. This is by no means a complete list. A few folks seem to have left the scene since last year but we had a bunch of new regulars to make up for them despite the show's shrunken self.

First and foremost, Deirdre for much of my run here has been our de facto den mom. She sets the tone. I feel nothing but the deepest gratitude for her contributions here year in, year out.  Thanks to her, this blog has remained largely respectful, deals with trolls without turning nasty and cares for each other in ways I couldn't ever have imagined. There have been deaths (Nana and Harriet, we still miss you!), illnesses and triumphs. We hope to see you all again for season 14!

JTesla is my rock, an incredibly supportive reader who is almost always the first one to comment about whatever I've written. You da man!

Mercedes S: You've had nothing but heartache with this blog from a technical standpoint yet you're still here. Thank you. And your movie reviews are a nice way to fill in the slow days!

Sam-A1: Another regular who has stuck it out through the good, bad and the ugly, thanks!

Jenny11: Your contributions are welcome any time and I appreciate you being around since the beginning! (And thanks for defending Jena so intensely! I'm sorry I pinned the word "arrogance" so tightly on Jena. There was definitely not a consensus there.)

Rickster: Your wit is divine!

JenniferHopez: Always hilarious!

Pitchy: We're just glad we hardly ever heard your name on the show this year!

G_: You have good taste and a sharp tongue!

TheREALWaryTraveller: I'm glad we were able to keep you entertained while you travel from hotel to hotel, "Up in the Air" style!

Highlander1: You have been with us almost as long as Deirdre, eh?

DoubleNaughtSpy: It was a pleasure to have you and your thoughtful entries again this year.

Jaszy: I am thrilled to see newcomers as active as you! Thank you!

KokoSnoot: You kept things loose and amusing.

DanJohn: Thanks so much for sticking around again and keeping the conversation lively.

Woodpappy: Another regular who has survived multiple blog platforms and the occasional troll!

Others who helped make this blog worthwhile:  SheilaE, MoSch, Negativo, GSUEagle, YogiBare (a conspiracy theorist is always good for a debate!), BigAintheBigA, Hazelnutbah, flat, Idolfan, AGirlNamedSue, Taminator49, ETK, Jnewlin (a latecomer but certainly welcome!), pjk4, GeoffCoe, Jubie, McCovey44 and even LisaJone34, no matter how negative you got.

And for those of you who read this just during the season, I will continue to provide at least one "Idol"-related entry on this blog per week. We have a 14th season to think about now.

I'm not planning to go away. I hope you won't either!