This essay investigates the role of the broadside ballad in creating early modern textual publics and the role they played in developing a culture of printed controversy in which all levels of society could participate. Through analysis of a broadside flyting involving Thomas Churchyard and Thomas Camel, I show that broadside ballads were particularly well-suited for encouraging participation in textual publics because they were cheap, widely distributed, and variedly consumed. Furthermore, I argue that broadside ballad controversies were crucial to opening a space for printed debate in England for controversies such as that surrounding the Marprelate tracts.