Podcast Innovation: Focus on Fans, Flipping Fads, and a Peek Behind the Scenes
Podcasts, already a booming medium, have undergone tremendous growth in the past two years, and that growth is driving new, creative work across the industry. With more and more people listening to podcasts each month, it’s more important than ever to generate innovative content for a hungry audience. At Pineapple Street Studios, we’re always looking for new ways to keep things fresh and exciting for our listeners, while capitalizing on their tendency to engage deeply with the content they love. Here are some of the ways we’ve been producing innovative podcasts, from our successful TV companion shows to exciting new takes on the traditional interview format.
Focus on Fans with Breakthrough Companion Podcasts
Whenever we’re approached by companies like Netflix or HBO to develop a new podcast based on one of their titles, our primary goal is to find a great way to connect with a committed core audience: the fans. Putting these people at the heart of our creative process has led to some of our most successful and innovative programs. For example, our collection of companion podcasts like “The Chernobyl Podcast” and “Netflix’s Behind The Scenes: Shadow and Bone” emerged from our focus on the audience. In both cases, we asked ourselves, “How can we preemptively answer their questions and satiate their curiosities?” So we looked to the expanded universe of both shows: the adaptation process of the nuclear catastrophe for one, and the fantasy and lore of the other. We watch each series and let our own questions and interests drive our production. In doing so, we were able to innovate our way beyond the more common episode recap format to provide a unique listening experience for fans.
Flipping the Fad with ‘70 Over 70’
Our creators also innovate by searching out uncommon trends and trendsetters. As an inherently modern format, podcasts tend to feature modern perspectives and hyper-current voices. Inspired by conversations with his father, Pineapple Street Studios’ co-founder Max Linsky, producer Jess Hackel, and team wanted to use the medium to elevate a demographic that podcasts and media in general often overlook: people over 70. Linksy is seeking out the wisdom of our elders in his new show “70 Over 70”, talking to celebrities and lesser known figures alike, including Norman Lear, Sister Helen Prejean, Alice Waters, Rep. James E. Clyburn, Dionne Warwick, and Linsky’s 80-year-old father Marty. Critically, Linsky doesn’t just ask the standard retrospective questions that are typically posed to these people; he asks about what they’re thinking and feeling right now: their hopes and their dreams and their fears and their doubts. It’s a fresh, innovative flip of the more common “30 Under 30” format that brings these essential voices to podcasting.
The chance to make this show, particularly over the last year we all just had, has been the opportunity of a lifetime. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing than talking to people like this about what they’ve learned and how we can all make the most of the time we have left.
A Peek Behind The Scenes of Your Favorite TV Shows
Lastly, Pineapple Street Studios has made great innovative breakthroughs by creating content about the making of TV shows. TV is one of the most collaborative artforms, yet most audiences are unaware of the hundreds of people it takes to bring their favorite shows to life. Often, there are stories within the creation of these cinematic series. If you can uncover those stories that everyone else overlooked, you might just find the kernel of an amazing podcast. On our podcast “Behind the Scenes: Stranger Things 3,” for example, the hosts caught up with a sound engineer from the show, an unsung hero behind the hit Netflix series’ technical achievements. He explained that the sound of the Mind Flayer, the spooky, tentacled monster that serves as the main antagonist of the show’s third season, was the product of an unexpected rainy day. Because it rarely rains in Los Angeles, he was inspired to capture the sounds of rain in his backyard, sounds he filtered and edited into the creepy steps of an extra-dimensional monster. The anecdote was the perfect example of the work that goes into our favorite shows — looking for diamonds among the creative process rubble is a great pathway to innovation.
There’s one thing that makes all these different innovation strategies work: high engagement. Good podcasts create hyper-engaged audiences, regardless of whether they’re an existing fanbase for a hit TV show or listeners who just want to follow an interest or passion. This pushes us and every creator to make compelling new content. It’s also inspiring brands to venture into the podcast space, to tap into that rich reservoir of captivated listeners. Whether you’re looking to launch a product, complement an existing campaign, or simply tell one great story, a podcast is the best way to capture deep engagement. But to succeed, you’ll need an innovative approach that stands out from the pack.