What Are Your Options for a Podcast Format?

Topic: “What Are Your Options for a Podcast Format?” If you don’t know where to start, start by asking yourself: What kind of material does my audience want?

The response to this question should guide your early planning. You can find out what your audience likes to learn about most by looking at your website and social media analytics. For example, if your audience likes long-form blogs, you could start a podcast that discusses problems in your industry. If your audience likes short takes on current events, a podcast that sounds like a conversation might be more interesting.

You don’t have to decide just yet. We’ll show you the most common ways podcasts are put together so you can see what’s possible.

Different kinds of podcasts

Since more than 850,000 podcasts can be downloaded right now, we can see why you might think the market is a little crowded. How are you supposed to stand out when so many podcasts exist?

There’s nothing to worry about. Even though the number of podcasts is growing, that doesn’t mean you have to make one. With the right plan, you can always find a small group of people who can’t get enough of your content, no matter how boring your industry may seem to the general public.

Choosing the right podcast format is the first step in making a podcast that will appeal to your ideal audience. There’s always a way to make these 5 main types of podcasts your own:

Podcasts of interviews

Most episodes of an interview podcast have one or two hosts who talk with one or more guests. In this format, the guest talks about a certain topic, industry, or theme in a way that only they can. You can break this format down even further into two types of podcasts:

Interviews with experts

In podcasts like Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale, the person being interviewed is seen as a thought leader in a certain area. For example, a guest like Bill Gates might talk about what it’s like to be a business owner in the technology field. Many people listen to this podcast to learn more about a certain industry or to learn things that will help them in their jobs.

Interviews about entertainment

Podcasts are meant to be entertaining and ask guests to tell interesting stories about their lives. Most of the time, comedians or people who write about entertainment host these shows. For example, showrunner Noelle Stevenson recently talked about her experiences in the entertainment industry on comedian Carmen Esposito’s podcast Query.

Interview-style podcasts can take a lot of work to put together. The podcast presenter must have the proper abilities to elicit engaging tales from guests. This is a great way to show a variety of opinions and points of view.

Examples of Interviews on Podcasts

Podcasts with conversations

Conversational podcasts that are co-hosted are a lot like old-fashioned radio shows. In this format, two podcast hosts talk about specific themes and topics in a fun way. Co-hosts often talk about news stories that are making headlines and offer insightful or funny comments.

There may also be guests on podcasts that sound like conversations. For example, Francis Ma and Jeff Baker, who host the Above the Fold podcast for Brafton, often have guests from all over the world of content marketing.

These podcast hosts must be quite at ease and well-known to one another. If the hosts do not get along or do not know each other well, the audience will be able to tell. Since you can’t plan a conversation, or at least shouldn’t, this format works best with hosts who can think on their feet.

The technical challenges of making a conversational podcast may be unique. For example, if the hosts live in different cities, they need special software to record their voices separately and put them together.

Examples of Conversational Podcasts

Monologue Podcasts

In a monologue-style podcast, only one person talks for the whole episode. Most of the time, someone who is an expert in a certain field hosts these podcasts. People watch to learn more about a subject or to hear an informed opinion on recent events.

For instance, presenter Stephen West takes listeners on tour through the evolution of philosophy in the Philosophize This! Podcast. West gives an overview of the major movements in philosophical thought through the ages, starting with presocratic philosophy.

This podcast style can be used for any topic, but the hosts should have enough experience and knowledge to fill many episodes. Still, it is possible to make a limited-run podcast about a single topic or issue, like an audiobook released in parts.

The benefit of a monologue is that you don’t have to rely on other people. The host doesn’t need to plan with another host or book guests. But even with this style, you still need to do much research.

Monologue Podcast Examples

Investigative podcasts and story podcasts

People who listen to podcasts like to hear stories and learn more about things. One or more presenters use each podcast episode in this style to deliver a complete narrative or a specific chapter of a larger narrative.

Podcasts that are based on nonfiction stories come in a wide variety. Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast is on one end of the range. Carlin makes well-researched miniseries on his podcast that take listeners to important times in world history. His show takes so much research that it takes months to make each miniseries.

My Favorite Murder, which Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark host, is on the other end of the spectrum. Each episode goes into horrible detail about a single case. This show is also based on much research but adds more personal thoughts to each topic.

Nonfiction podcasts can take a lot of time and money to make. Podcasters who are good at this format are good at researching and have a good sense of what will be entertaining.

Podcasts that tell stories or do research

Podcasts with roundtables

Roundtable podcasts, called panel shows, have a set or changing group of hosts who talk about and comment on certain topics. Most of the time, each episode has the main host who acts as the MC, while co-hosts play different roles. For example, some co-hosts might comment funnily, while others might give more in-depth information.

Panel shows try to make their viewers feel like they’re in an exclusive group. For example, people who have been listening for a long time will understand inside jokes and host quirks better than people who are listening for the first time.

Roundtable podcasts take some stress off of one person by giving the work to more than one person. On the Joe Budden Podcast, for example, the former rapper talks with co-hosts and guests about hip-hop, sports, and news.

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