Interview-style podcasts are the most popular podcast format out there. They offer listeners a unique insight into the lives and thoughts of their favorite celebrities, experts, and others from all walks of life through one-on-one conversations that are often more intimate and revealing than other mediums.
And if you have an interview-style podcast yourself, listening to interviews from highly successful shows can help you shape your own content and learn strategies and techniques to optimize your content and stand out from the crowd.
Let’s take a look at what makes interview-style podcasts the most popular podcast format, the benefits of having interview-style episodes as a podcaster, and the top-ranked podcasts in this category.
What makes interview podcasts so popular?
One reason podcasts are so popular in general is because of the intimate and authentic nature of the medium. Nowhere is this more true than with interview-style podcasts. The format allows the hosts to ask big questions and dig deep into the lives of their guests in ways that other media can't.
Many interview-style podcasts feel like more a conversation between friends rather than a heavily produced TV piece, again, allowing for a more intimate exchange.
From a podcaster's perspective, a guest-driven show has many potential benefits, too. Here are a few:
1. It's easier to generate new episode ideas, which can help you build momentum and keep your audience engaged week after week.
2. Inviting guests to appear on your show can introduce you and your podcast to a whole new audience, tapping into their fan base.
3. Interview-style podcasts are also great for networking- connecting with amazing people who you otherwise may never have had the chance to meet.
When done well, good interview podcasts can create a community of listeners dedicated to experiencing something special and unique that they just can’t get anywhere else––as a listener or a podcaster yourself.
Resource: Find out how Podpage can help you optimize these benefits and turn loyal listeners into supporters of your show.
Top 13 most popular interview podcasts
#1. Fresh Air
Fresh Air from WHYY, is a Peabody Award-winning weekday magazine that focuses on contemporary arts and issues. It's a highly regarded podcast within the NPR network and the whole realm of public radio. The host, Terry Gross, engages in intimate conversations with some of today's most prominent figures.
#2. On Being
This podcast is an amazing blend of spirituality, science, social healing, and the arts. Host Krista Tippett interviews guests on topics like biomimicry, the science of awe, unconventional spirituality, and creative ways to make a positive impact. The conversations are geared toward helping listeners increase moments of joy and imagination and navigating the modern world.
Host and comedian Marc Maron records and interviews this podcast from his home, talking to a wide range of people, including comedians, actors, directors, writers, authors, musicians, and more. Each conversation presents the guest in a fascinating, raw way as they share stories guests have likely never heard before. Marc has a unique interview style that makes for super-engaging content.
Listeners describe this podcast as "TED Talks meet Oprah." Host Srinivas Rao talks with entrepreneurs, thought-leaders, and outliers about living a meaningful life and unblocking the stuck feeling that keeps us from achieving our dreams. Rao has interviewed everyone from Tim Ferriss to Rob Bell and even offers a monthly membership to content creatives with access to workshops and a community, etc.
#5. The Grey Area (formerly Vox Conversations)
The Gray Area, with host Sean Illing, dives into the world of culture and politics with a philosophical twist. Each conversation explores topics that, as the title implies, aren't black and white. The genuine conversations help listeners embrace the unknown, reject absolutes, and explore unique perspectives on a changing world.
Tim Ferriss is a bestselling author and self-experimenter, well-known for his book The 4-Hour Work week. On his highly-successful, long-running podcast, he dissects exceptional achievers from various fields like investing, chess, and professional sports and how to unearth invaluable tools and strategies. Tim is a self-made mega podcaster, and his story is a great study on podcasting success.
Journalist Guy Raz chats with the most famous entrepreneurs, uncovering the secrets behind their iconic brands. Founders openly discuss moments of uncertainty and setbacks and offer insight into their triumphs. How I Built This is like a genius guide to innovation, creativity, leadership, and overcoming obstacles.
The Death, Sex & Money podcast is all about those big questions we think about but don't talk about. and tough decisions, and making the most of our time. Host Anna Sale is an award-winning journalist who dives into topics like relationships, money, family, work and interviews both celebrities you know and everyday folks you might not. We think it makes for a great, taboo-busting listen.
Most popular interview podcasts with famous hosts
Pretty much everyone knows about the Joe Rogan Experience by now and is familiar with the host. But just in case, Joe Rogan is a comedian and is maybe best known as the former host of Fear Factor. His podcast features long-form interviews and expansive discussions with guests from all walks of life. Episodes focus on topics like politics, comedy, and conspiracy theories to psychedelics, religion, and more.
Katie Couric brings her inquisitive, friendly interview style to her podcast Next Question, which explores big and timely topics with equally big-name guests in the hot seat. Episodes range from body positivity and inspiring story of optimism to political deep-dives and hot-button issues.
#11. Armchair Expert
Most people know Dax Sheperd as a comedic actor, but he was first a lover of people and human nature and even has a degree in Anthropology. In his podcast, he explores the messiness and complexity of being human with the goal of finding universal truths beneath the challenges and hardships of life.
The podcast has grown to become a network called Armchair Expert Umbrella which includes all the shows produced by Armchair Expert.
Conan started his podcast after hosting a holiday party where he realized his only friends were employees. So, he decided to start a podcast to, well, make a friend. The episodes are casual conversations with celebrities he enjoys most. Conan talks to each guest with an uncensored dialogue of friends and brings his signature wit and interview skills to every episode–although in a different style than Late Nite.
Host Anna Faris interviews celebrities and everyday guests in an effort to “help” them with their issues. It's mostly a platform for exploring funny relationship stories and unfiltered (but heartfelt) advice. It often veers off-course and evolves into hilarious conversations about life, love, relationships, and everything in between.
Summary & additional resources
These podcasts can help you get ideas for segments, topics, show structure, and even marketing and monetization ideas (Tim Ferriss especially). Use them as research, or just enjoy them for their pure entertainment value. Happy listening!
To learn more about the importance of have a website for your interview podcast, check out these resources: