Together, Anchor and Spotify have expanded audio storytelling to combine music and talk, empowering creators to dive deeper into thematic narrative through sound. Some really creative ideas have surfaced that utilize both talk and music in a single show, allowing the imagination to get some fresh air and inspiration.
As the student becomes the teacher, the art of listening becomes the key to leveling up your show. Consuming content from fellow audio creators can help you draw key insights, source new ideas, and see how others structure, format, and program their shows.
Here are a few new shows using music and talk to give you some inspiration for your own show.
Genre and place-based analysis
“Breaking and Entering Radio” was born out of Allen Halas and Patrick Carroll’s daily music website in Wisconsin that morphed into a radio talk show incorporating downtempo and hip hop musical selections. “We're literally just two guys hanging out in an office having fun playing music, and this gives listeners a chance to hang out with us,” says Allen Halas. “It's also great that we can interview artists, and then play their music right after that – this way, if you're interested in someone that we have on the show, you can stream their music right away.” By mixing the show up with local and emerging talent, “Breaking and Entering Radio” opens a fun lens to look at programming through bringing visibility to regional artists.
The best new tracks according to up-and-coming musicians
UK-based Dummy Magazine, known for highlighting burgeoning music and the artists behind it, created “The 10 Best,” a music and talk series exploring 10 tracks selected by each guest. “I’m looking for topics that are personal to them [the artist], and will have them relaying interesting details that you wouldn’t get to hear otherwise,” says Felicity Martin, an editor at Dummy Magazine. As a compliment to Dummy’s site content, The “10 Best” hosted by Martin, dives into thematic soundtracks powering the experiences of musicians like Arlo Parks, Daniel Avery, and Jae5. Having fun through themes like “The 10 Best Tracks To Cry To,” “The 10 Best Video Game Soundtracks,” or “The 10 Best Production Hooks,” Felicity helps guests explore moments in time through music and introspective interviews bringing about thoughtful reflection.
Deconstructing one album a week
Recontextualizing cross-genre sounds, Oisín Quinn dives into classic albums each week from artists like Radiohead, Arcade Fire, and Kendrick Lamar on the ‘Quinntessentials’ show. “I have a core format for the show where I lead with an introduction to the artist and album and discuss their discography, but from there I'd always just see where the conversation flows, says Quinn, “I think the lack of a script really makes the show feel more personal, which is exactly what I want.
A behind-the-scenes look into the music process
Established producer with releases on iconic house music labels, Danny J. Lewis, the creator of the “House Music Deconstructed” show, schools listeners on the composition process of corresponding house tracks, sharing personal anecdotes and insider insight on artists and sounds. “I’ve learned an entirely new set of skills, says Danny, “my video tutorials rely on a combination of video and audio, but the podcasts have to communicate using just voice and audio. I pay particular attention now to describing sound and bringing more of an emphasis to the emotional aspects of composition – it all feels more honest now.” Leaning on his knowledge and experience as a musician, Danny is able to offer up a unique perspective and mode for storytelling as he deconstructs a genre near and dear to his musical heart.
Telling the stories behind the songs
“Shamelist” is a weekly show from comedian Nicole Mackie exploring embarrassing stories and the songs that go with them. Through interviews with fellow comedians and featured listener stories, Nicole uses music and her voice to share the human experience through comedy. “I hope ‘Shamelist’ entertains people and makes them laugh, but I also hope it makes people feel connected through shared experiences,” says Mackie, “I've definitely held back out of fear of being embarrassed, and that's shameful! Being embarrassed is never the end of the world.” Connecting songs to silly moments allows listeners and guests to reminisce the nostalgia that songs can leave in our memories.
Music from a single decade
Focusing on music from the 1990s, “Spanners 90s Radio” weaves the most memorable jams from the decade with gentle Dad-inspired commentary from host Richard Ready. “Keeping to the parameter of just the 90s has been a fantastic experience for me as I've just binged on 90s playlists for inspiration,” says Ready. “I've started having a guest on some of the shows to pick 5 tracks and tell me why they choose them and what those songs mean to them.” Ready's show “Spanners 90s Radio” has a laid back vibe that makes you feel comfortable and calm while transporting you to another decade.
Spanning multiple decades, genres, and very human-centered experiences and themes, your show has the possibility to take you in many directions. Reserving the time to research and consume content from other creators may help you stumble upon a new storytelling technique, a way to dissect a new subject, or perhaps some tips to improve your interview style.
If you were a chef, for example, sampling creations from other chefs would give you insight into what ingredients work well together and how they made you feel when you tasted them. The same could be said for creating audio content – whether you’re looking for some inspiration for a new show, want to fine-tune the show you’ve already got, or you’re hoping to garner insights by being the listener yourself, investing time to absorb the shows that already exist can help you innovate on your own format, inspiring you to create your best work.