Fiction podcasts have become an immersive way to engage people with storytelling. In his podcast “The Apprentice”, Laurent invites people into a...
Which Format Fits You Best? Here’s an Astonishing Variety of Asynchronous Podcasts
Categories like crowdsourced, conversational, narrative, fiction, non-fiction, and even synthetic podcast episodes allow podcasters to explore new ways to captivate their audiences.
- Podcasts available in a variety of sizes
- What’s an asynchronous podcast?
- Conversational vs narrative podcasts
- Crowdsourced episodes
- Microcasts at a large scale
- Immersive experiences: fiction and non-fiction
- Synthetic podcasts
Podcasts available in a variety of sizes
When it comes to asynchronous podcasts there’s not one type that fits all but that’s its beauty. The variety of formats enriches the podcasting space and it allows the content creators new ways to captivate their audience. Podcasters might also find that there’s one type that best suits their needs that they haven’t thought of before.
If you’re a new podcaster or one that feels limited by the traditional setup, this is the article you’d like to read.
What’s an asynchronous podcast?
It’s a transition from live interviews to timeless content creation.
Producing an episode happens at different moments in time:
- The host records the questions, follow-up questions, commentaries to the guest’s answers, and/or narration without interacting directly with the guest.
- The guests record their answers in their own time and send them to the host for further editing.
- Voice actors (if it’s an immersive experience) record their dialogs independently from each other.
- Synthetic voices (optional) are added after.
Depending on the format, podcasts can be more or less asynchronous. However, there’s always an element that takes them out of the live and simultaneous dialogue carried out by the show’s participants. Let’s dive into these different categories.
Conversational vs narrative podcasts
The first distinction is between a normal conversation between the host and the guest (conversational) and narrating the guest’s answers either by the host, another teammate, a synthetic voice, or a cloned one (narrative).
The traditional interview recording is something we all know about, except with an asynchronous approach, both the host and guest record their answers independently. It’s a conversation but deferred.
For instance, at Rumble Studio we’ve created the Audio Leads podcast series with 15-minute interviews with guests across various podcast services. It simulates a traditional podcast but it shifts into making the interview asynchronous. Both the host and guest record their answers in their own time.
Here’s an excerpt of one of the asynchronous interviews we did with ESCP Business School simulating a traditional interview but recording it asynchronously:
Then we have the narrative podcasts as a variation of the dialogue format. Instead of listening to the guest’s answers, the host speaks directly to the audience. Even if the host is narrating the guest’s topics and ideas, the host can also include audio excerpts from the guest to support a statement narrated earlier by the host.
Inexperienced hosts can easily grasp their way around this format. This technique allows them to have complete control over the structure of the episode. It also adds a layer of storytelling that’s limited in the traditional interview format, innovatively captivating the audience.
Our client Juan Diego Network created a powerful podcast, 3/27, that also serves as an example of what a narrative format looks like. In this show, a special TV host was hired to narrate the pandemic experiences of Catholics from Spanish-speaking countries and dynamically intertwined with the guest’s answers. Listen to an excerpt exemplifying this podcast format:
When you don’t have the content, outsource it.
This modality allows you to gather recordings from many guests and assemble them into one or more episodes. Usually, the host records a set of questions and sends them to different guests. They then record their answers and send them back. Next, the host or editor puts them together in a coherent way. This may lead to some additional feedback by the host to each answer to make it seem more like a live session. The host can release it later as a single episode or as a series of episodes with at least two guests per episode.
Voicebot, an online platform that specializes in voice technology, did this with our help. The host, Bret Kinsella, created a two-part podcast series gathering 13 interviews of executives of the voice and conversational AI industry in only 3 weeks. He sent 3 questions asking them to predict the state of the industry for 2022 and he was able to gather key insights in no time.
Listen to an example of the crowdsourced episode Voicebot created with multiple guests using our platform:
When time is not on your side, this is a very effective way to amass tons of content for your show!
Microcasts at a large scale
Interviewing dozens of companies for your podcast can take a lot of time, but months (or years) can turn into weeks with an asynchronous approach.
This type of podcast relies on getting lots of short content (2 to 10 minutes) from a variety of guests to serve as a go-to resource for educational or business purposes. You essentially get an online audio database that people can access (either free or for a fee) frequently and quickly.
For instance, a newsletter and podcast called Sounds Profitable wanted to survey the podcast businesses so that newcomers could catch up quickly to the state of the industry. Instead of taking Zoom calls with every company, Bryan (owner of the podcast) sent the same 5 recorded questions to each firm. He asked them to record short answers that he would later assemble into an inventory of podcasting industry companies.
Here’s an example of one of the companies interviewed asynchronously by Sounds Profitable using our platform:
Anyone trying to pitch to a podcast business or preparing for a meeting with a firm in this space could easily access this index and get a quick introduction to that company.
With our online asynchronous tool, he was able to turn this into a reality.
Immersive experiences: fiction and non-fiction
Podcasts can become fantastic audio movies when you include voice-over dialogues, sound effects, and a soundtrack.
You can create fiction or non-fiction stories that captivate people’s attention by masterfully assembling the different sound layers of the episode.
Non-fiction refers to real events that can be portrayed as a documentary, investigative journalism, historical event, or crime story, among others. For instance, the French branding agency HRCLS produced an astonishing documentary about women victims of violence in a 5-episode series called Repair the Violence that mixes different sound features to captivate you from the very beginning.
On the other hand, fiction podcasts unleash their creativity into imaginary stories that absorb audiences into a captivating audio experience. Listeners are transported into a new world where anything is possible. Much of their story immersion lies in imagining these landscapes in their minds driven only by the sense of sound. All other senses are left to the audience to assemble however they like.
A French podcaster Laurent Brouat has taken fiction podcasts into the realm of business. In his podcast “The Apprentice” he manages to turn the life of successful entrepreneurs into engaging narratives producing over 50 episodes in over a year. With his team of 4, he’s able to create powerful narratives in only 4 days.
His immense success in this genre shows that audiences are eager to embark on this sound-driven journey and enjoy being taken on a wild ride without the need for any visuals. Audio is the future.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is slowly but firmly entering our lives, even in the art of podcasting.
This type of podcast focuses on converting text into speech where a software-generated voice reads a digital text aloud. It essentially tries to mimic the human voice with AI technology.
There are different software to achieve this like Descript, Amazon Polly, or Speechify which can be used for various purposes (e.g. helping people with reduced vision or learning disabilities) and is now starting to be used in podcasts as well.
Some of these podcasts rely exclusively on communicating through synthetic voices like Philosia, which focuses on the narration of articles about religion and spirituality. Another option is to combine a host and guests with audio excerpts narrated by a variety of synthetic voices. For instance, The Alpha Wave podcast delivers bite-sized pieces of content from peer-reviewed papers, articles, and other sources from the cryptocurrency space intertwined in the conversation between the host and their guests.
There’s much work to be done to bring more liveliness to synthetic voices, especially in a podcast environment, so using this technology might prove more effective if combined with real human voices.
However, this technology already enables more accessibility to the space by allowing people with disabilities (e.g. deafness) to create their podcasts, something unthinkable a couple of years ago!
New types of asynchronous podcasts are emerging and bringing a new flavor to the industry. Categories like crowdsourced, conversational, narrative, fiction, non-fiction, and even synthetic podcast episodes allow podcasters to explore new ways to captivate their audiences.
Audio is becoming more prominent with time and the variety of podcast categories shows that listeners are eager to consume content outside of traditional boundaries. Asynchronous podcasts have emerged as an engaging alternative that podcasters should embrace sooner rather than later.