Audio books are a creation that goes back to the 1980's. They take a traditional way of telling a story, reading, back to its roots, listening. They are a nice, simple way of easily digesting a piece of entertainment.
While listening to the SXSW Podcast on Podcasts I was reminded of audio books in the commentators various suggestions on how to spice up a podcast. I also think that many of these tips could have been applied to my group's podcast to make it a more cohesive, polished product. Outside of the obvious technical issues that help to create a good podcast, I think that the SXSW commentator's suggestion of creating a story arc and summary via bullet points is an excellent idea.
This idea of spontaneous chatter between specified key points allows the podcast to combine the simplicity of a audio book and the chaos of a conversation into a developed, complex form of Web 2.0 story-telling. With the commentator's able to explore the creative elements of an interview while still being able to steer the conversation through its various pit stops.
To me, thats what separates the great modern story-tellers from the good ones. This ability to balance spontaneity and focus can be the deciding factor in how one average low budget podcaster can create a unique platform for themselves to attract an audience.