Lars and Joe have had a love-hate relationship with most of their earlier content. They were largely done with a different format, are comparatively very rough around the edges, were done on lower quality microphones, were not as tightly edited, and contain a great deal of cringe from Joe. They were hesitant to remove these older episodes for a variety of reasons, such as nostalgia and the fear that their overall listen count would be demolished in the process.
Once Lars found out that his host would retain the listen counts, and that the episodes could be revived at any time, he decided to take them down.
Some have been remastered as classic episodes.
The second purge Edit
In June 2019, a second, much smaller episode purge took place. Only a few episodes were taken down. These included guests who were deemed to be of little relevance to the modern era of the show (such as an anonymous Uber driver guru). The episodes were removed without malice and the hosts were still happy to have recorded them.
One of the major consequences of the great purge (and, to a much smaller extent, the second purge) is that approximately 45% (at the time) of the early show has been more or less lost to the sands of time.
The hosts have considered this acceptable; while not without their charm, the older episodes that have been removed represented what was essentially a different show, with little to no modern relevance.