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Podcasting Resources and Audio Storytelling: Podcast Formats

This guide provides resources and information to assist with finding sound, sources, archival and contemporary, to help you create a podcast. Understand principles of Fair Use and locate sources in the Public Domain.

Podcast Formats

As you decide how you will frame and convey your story to your audience, it can be helpful to consider the vast sea of examples that are already out there.

This 'incomplete typology' is not intended to be an exhaustive list of podcast formats or types, merely an overview of some of the most commonly used non-fiction/documentary story shapes and formats. Many podcasts also blend components of several of these structures quite effectively.

Adapted from Justin Schell,

Types of Podcasts


  • One track featuring solo voicehopefully a compelling speakerwithout much supporting material (akin to the format of Talk Radio)
  • Might include interlude music or other breaks for the sake of variety
  • Examples: The Memory Palace and Hardcore History

Interview (Basic)

  • A recording of a conversation between two or more people, with minimal editing
  • Evidence of some basic editing to remove particles (ums, ahs, etc), possibly some restructuring of clips to create or clarify a narrative in post-production
  • Might have a break in the middle for a change of pace (or to run an advertisement)
  • Examples: The Accessible Stall; America Adapts: The Climate Change Podcast; Sounding Out!

Conversation Among Hosts

  • Could have elements of all of the above, but its core structure is a conversation among multiple regular hosts/contributors (similar to a panel discussion)
  • Example: How to Survive the End of the World (Autumn Brown and adrienne maree brown)

Narration/Voiceover + Interviews + Other Audio

  • The voiceover provides the narrative structure for the story (the ‘glue’ or throughline)
  • “Picking and choosing” pieces from the interview(s) and other audio clips to add dimension to the story
  • Example: This American Life, 99% Invisible, Radiolab

 Non-Narrated Podcasts

  • A type of story where the voices of people in the story comprise most, if not all, of the story itself. While it may be edited by a producer, the story features little to no narration by that producer.
  • Examples: Snap Judgment, Love + Radio, Radio Diaries

 Performance Presentation

  • A recording of a live presentation of some kind (poem, reading, interview from live event, etc) that is ‘wrapped’ with a voiceover before and after to contextualize, and/or summarize it
  • Example: The Moth

 Fictional Narrative Podcasts

  • Reminiscent and often inspired by the radio dramas popular throughout much of the 20th Century, these shows either create original dramatic content or adapt existing written content to the audio drama format. Elements can vary among shows, but most will include multiple voice actors for different roles and sound design, including music, ambience, and sound effects.
  • Examples: Welcome to Night Vale, Passenger List, The Truth

Adapted from Justin Schell,