More than 200 free ideas for your next podcast

By Melody Kramer and Christine Eriksen

Everyone has a podcast. Every business wants a podcast. Why? They’re cheap to make, they create community and brand affinity and a loyal subscription base. But the podcast space is still the Wild West. Companies are scrambling to corner the market, an audience, a vertical strategy. What will work? What won’t?

We don’t know either, but decided to help y’all out — some of these ideas are serious, some are not. We hope all of them spark your imagination. If you decide to make any of these, let us know. Or invite us on as guests.

Interview everyone on your block. Call it: The Block

  1. More ambitious: Everyone in your zip code.
  2. Less ambitious: At the table in the coffee shop where you’re sitting.

Record yourself making your dinner. Describe what you’re making.

  1. Omit the dinner, add building a cabinet. It’s a DIY show, without visuals.
  2. Keep the dinner, add breakfast sounds, like sizzling bacon.
  3. You don’t mention what you’re cooking. The audience has to guess based on the sounds. It’s bacon.

Your entire season covers one person.

  1. Episode one: profile of the person
  2. Episode two looks at industry where the person works.
  3. Episode three: an in-depth look at a hobby the person enjoys
  4. Episode four: a look at the person’s congressional district.
  5. Episode five: an interview with the person’s favorite author.
  6. Episode six: Reader questions and feedback.

A podcast based on the question “How’d you know?” The question is open-ended: let guests take you where they’d like.

Interview everyone in the United States with the last name Smith.

Pull out a tape recorder on your commute. Profile one person every day. Call it: Commute.

  1. On a flight: Call it Seatmate.
  2. In a physician’s waiting room. Name it HIPAA.
  3. On a roller coaster. Check your levels during the screams.
  4. Up your game: interview five people. Keep each interview to a minute.

Scavenger Hunt: request people submit different sounds every month to you.

  1. Month one: backyard sounds
  2. Month two: an interview with someone who doesn’t look like you
  3. Month three: a minute-long ambient introduction to your town
  4. Month four: an interview with a toddler
  5. Month five: an interview with an older person

Interview people who make podcasts.

  1. Interview people who listen to podcasts.
  2. Interview people who interview people who make podcasts.
  3. Interview people who write 1000 ideas for podcasts.
  4. Interview people who download podcasts, forget about them, and realize their iPhone is now 70% podcasts.

A podcast that’s the length of someone’s commute.

  1. Uses machine learning: can adapt to length of time.
  2. Doesn’t use machine learning: you make 1000 different variations and cut them all together.

Podcast for someone who works at home — commute is 15 seconds from bedroom to couch.

  1. Podcast for astronaut who works in space — commute is long.
  2. Podcast for astronauts who are based at the International Space Station. Call it: Mission Control to Major Tom.
  3. Podcast for submariners about everything they’re missing on land.
  4. Podcast for people who work in underground nuclear facilities about worst disasters in history.
  5. Podcast for people who work from home. Basically the mundane conversations people at work have that you have to listen to. Ask people to submit the worst/best conversation they’ve overheard at work and we’ll get people to read them. Call it: Office Chatter/Commuteless

A podcast you can play for your dog when you leave the house. Silence followed by your voice saying “Who’s a good girl? You are. You are.”

  1. Cats. Complete silence. Can opener.
  2. Fish. Do they have ears?

I interview you. You interview Joe. Joe interviews Mary. Mary interviews Greg. You get the idea.

  1. I interview you. You interview me. I interview you. You interview me.
  2. I interview you. I interview you. I interview you.
  3. I interview me. I interview me. I interview me. Call it: Diary.

Live commentary on live events.

  1. Live commentary on previously taped events.
  2. Omit the commentary. Just rebroadcast the live event and occasionally mutter “Did you put the clothes in the dryer?” over the broadcast. Call it a remix.
  3. Live commentary on other people’s live commentary of live events. “I really would have liked the commentator to say more about the background of the synchronized swimmer, Greg.”

Conversations between grandparents and grandchildren.

  1. Between grandparents and tech CEOs.
  2. Between grandparents and tech CEOs’ grandparents.

Find people with the same names as famous people and interview them as if you’re interviewing the famous person and just let the conversations go where they take you.

People reciting lists of items they’ve purchased in the past week.

  1. People telling us what podcast ads they’ve heard in the past week. This show will be sponsored by stamps.com.
  2. People telling us what’s in their Costco shopping car. (I’m obsessed with what people purchase from Costco and always wonder if I could be making better or different decisions because I always go to my old standbys and can’t purchase a gallon of something to test it out.)
  3. People sharing something they learned today. Perhaps it’s short and curated together. Think Ask Reddit, but automatically-put-together and listening to different voices.

People who don’t watch sports watch the same video of a sports game ten times and explain what they watched.

  1. People who have never been to a play go to four plays in a month and offer reviews.
  2. People who have never been to a different country interview someone from a different country.
  3. People who review books for a living interview people who review movies for a living about the theater.
  4. Reverse that, add a Proust questionnaire.
  5. The Proust questionnaire, as written

Interview famous people and ask them who has asked them questions from the Proust Questionnaire

  1. Interview non-famous people and ask them to talk about famous or non-famous people that they’d like to interview using the Proust questionnaire

Narrating my commute to work

  1. Narrating a fictional story about people who walk into this Starbucks over the next half-hour and making up backstories about their lives.
  2. Narrating all of the commercials I encounter on a daily basis. No commercials on actual program.
  3. Narrating all of the random thoughts that pop into my head over the course of a day and then interviewing experts about them + listener mail.

A news program about the election from the perspective of people who do not have the right to vote.

  1. Election coverage from people who live in towns with populations under 5,000 people.
  2. Election podcast about elections for hyperlocal offices. Think cub scout pack.
  3. Election podcast for Presidential Election of 1932. Use actual clips.
  4. A news podcast that features a segment from where you live and a segment from a different place

A news podcast that consists of people talking about the news using the 1000 most commonly used words in the English language. Podcast is not one of those words. Neither is Mailchimp. Stamps might be. Good luck.

  1. A news podcast featuring people explaining what you need to know about the previous week’s news, if you were on vacation or just need to catch up.
  2. A news podcast that is inserted as an ad in feature-y type podcasts. (Perhaps it’s local? Perhaps it’s something that based on your listening, you should know.)

3. A news podcast featuring a newscast from where you grew up and then one from where you live now. (Hi public radio. You can make this right now.)

4. A news podcast that features people’s first audio news stories. Call it firsts.

5. A news podcast that features people’s best audio news stories. Call it bests.

Sports. Where to begin? This podcast allows amateurs to narrate pro games.

  1. The opposite.
  2. A podcast that looks at one season. Episode one is from the pov of the fans. Episode two, the team. Episode three, the coaches. Episode four, the camera people. And so on.
  3. Like Bill Simmons, but entirely focused on a little league team. Call it: The Not So Bad News Bears.
  4. Interviews with people who started playing a sport later in life.
  5. Interviews with child athletes about professional games.
  6. A podcast metronome to put under other podcasts to listen to while playing a sport.

A podcast that fits between other podcasts, like a podcast sandwich.

A podcast featuring two car mechanics who happen to be brothers who enjoy solving problems which sometimes involve cars.

A podcast about vacations that you can only listen to at work.

  1. A podcast about data entry that you listen to while doing data entry work, and then call in to relay how difficult that was.
  2. A podcast about vacations that you have never taken.
  3. A podcast entirely designed for the busiest travel day of the year. Call it: Stuck in Traffic.
  4. A podcast interviewing everyone at an I-95 rest stop.
  5. Conversations with people who have never left a 50 mile radius near their birthplace.

Interviews with founders.

  1. Of tech firms.
  2. Of shoe stores.
  3. Of foundries.

A podcast for metal detector enthusiasts that drives them crazy. Beep.

  1. Ambient noise from a truck rally.
  2. A 24-hour long podcast with approximately 2 minutes of noise and the rest silence. Call it 4:33.
  3. You call in and play bagpipes. We play them on air. The show lasts one episode.
  4. The podcast is recorded in a vacuum. Call it: The Sound of Silence. Oh wait. Not that vacuum. Call it: The dog goes under the bed.
  5. A podcast full of thunder. The dog goes under the bed.

A weekly critique of the New York Times Wedding Section.

  1. The crossword puzzle.
  2. The obits.
  3. The obit writers.

People reciting their favorite joke.

  1. Carlos Mencia recites the favorite jokes that other people have recited.

A show, in three acts, that actually never leaves the first act.

  1. A companion podcast to This American Life.
  2. A companion podcast to that podcast.
  3. A companion podcast about podcasts.

You didn’t think we were going to skip millennials did you? Millennials prepping for job interviews.

  1. Millennials reading their resumes out loud to avoid typos.
  2. Millennials realizing that people born in the late 90s are now in college.

Each car model gets a different tone. The experimental tone-based podcast is the melody that results as cars drive through a tollbooth on the NJ Turnpike.

  1. A podcast that’s silent for exactly the amount of time that you sleep and then gently wakes you with a tone. Call it: Alarm Clock.

Describing visual paintings. What do you see when you walk through The Met? Tell us.

  1. Describing sunsets.
  2. Describing Instagram photos of sunsets.

It’s a full hour-long ad for stamps.com, sponsored by Squarespace.

  1. The opposite. If you become a member, you get an additional hour on the topic.

Let your audio recorder battery run low. Really low. Interview people. Don’t look at the battery. Whatever you record, that’s your podcast.

  1. Same thing, add the batteries. Lose the recorder. Recount the conversation.
  2. Keep the battery power up. Add a cohost and a studio audience. A TV studio audience. Add a wardrobe department. Never mention any of this on the podcast. Destroy the videotapes.

A 30 second Squarespace podcast, sponsored by Squarespace.

A podcast about people trying one new thing i.e learning a dance for 30 days.

  1. Learning to podcast.
  2. Learning to silently meditate.
  3. A podcast that explores the truth.

Ten different people watch the same scene of something they have never seen before and have to describe it. Who do they sympathize with the most?

  1. A podcast about the last 24 hours.
  2. A person describes yesterday in great detail to someone else.
  3. That person has to describe what the previous person did.
  4. Call it Telephone.

A podcast about older people teaching a younger person something they were told they had to learn. i.e. knit, cleaning.

  1. Millennials teach older people how to use iPads.
  2. Teenagers explain trig to old people like me. And then people like me explaining adults never use trig.
  3. Hobbies. Record a group of friends who gather every week to knit. (Thanks Noah!)
  4. Same thing, but bridge players.
  5. People who play cards on a regular basis talk about their best card games and hands. I love watching poker. Now I want to listen to it.

A podcast designed for Uber drivers.

  1. Maybe it’s Uber drivers giving advice to each other. Maybe it’s live.
  2. A podcast designed to onboard Uber drivers.
  3. Or really any other profession.

You record something, maybe the answer to a question. What’s the earliest news event you remember. Then, you are given five random segments, each about a minute long. It’s other people answering that question. You rate them. Other people rate yours. The top ones air somewhere with a large audience.

Perhaps a podcast calls you on a nightly basis. What would that look like?

Every single interview ever taped with a single person across many shows.

Not so much a podcast as a way to reduce friction in podcasts. I’m on hold with a company. They should play podcasts. And I should have an easy way to subscribe to those podcasts from my phone.

Watch a movie that you watched during your childhood but you haven’t seen since your childhood. Tell us about it.

  1. A movie that always scared you.
  2. The first scary movie you remember seeing.
  3. A movie your parents or guardians told you you couldn’t see.

Every idea that you’ve just read, in one podcast.

  1. A podcast designed for people to listen to in dentist chairs.
  2. Or every day for a minute during pregnancy, for the non-pregnant partner.

Podcasts designed for specific times of day, that spontaneously disappear after that time. Am I describing Snapchat? Oh god. I am.

You should respond and continue this list because this is fun. Make it a podcast?