True-crime investigations, fictional radio shows set in small towns, long-form obsessive pursuits of a reclusive fitness gurus—the biggest hits in podcasting in recent years have taken a lot of varied forms. But the latest one trying to jolt the industry is doing it using an even more unlikely genre than most: musical theater.
On the surface, 36 Questions, which stars Hamilton alum Jonathan Groff, is a narrative podcast about a couple working out their marital issues through song. But for producers Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie, who produced the 2013 fiction podcast Limetown, it’s the first step towards a podcast channel built around experimentation. It's the start of a master plan to lure listeners away from long podcast series and into a sprawling ecosystem of audio aimed at evolving what podcasts can be. “There’s an unlimited amount of ways to go right now, because the podcast form is so young and so pliable,” says Akers. “How can you mix up the form, how do you mess with the audience in an interesting way?”
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