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Telling an Evergreen Story: An Interview with Karen Jagoda

April 6, 2023

Whether executives or industry leaders are discussing their company’s latest innovations or sharing their personal journey to success, podcast interviews offer a unique platform for people to connect with their audience and make an impact in the world of business.

Meet Karen Jagoda – president of Turtleback Interactive and host and producer of the Digital Politics Podcast and the Empowered Patient Podcast

With years of experience in multiple industries, including politics, digital media, sales and healthcare, Karen has helped several companies and leaders attract audiences and grow their business by interviewing them on her podcasts. From digital politics to healthcare and patient advocacy, Karen knows podcasts can help elevate companies and their offerings. 

Get to know a little bit more about Karen and her thoughts on what makes an ideal podcast interviewee.

Tell us about your career journey. You started in the advertising industry and have evolved in podcasts. What inspired you along the way to make this transition?

I started my career as a systems analyst at the Social Security Headquarters, drawing on my undergraduate degree in math and political science and a master’s degree in business. I then moved to Washington, D.C. to work at think tanks focusing on the impact of the emergence of the information age. I decided to jump into sales and enjoyed selling personal computers to corporate clients, including newspaper and magazine publishers, embassies, and government agencies. When the Internet came along, I was well positioned to work with web developers and web services to help various clients take advantage of the technology and buy digital media.  

In 1999, I co-founded the non-partisan E-Voter Institute to focus on educating political and advocacy leaders about the power of the web to reach and persuade voters using online ads and compelling content. In 2003, I moved to La Jolla, CA, and continued the E-Voter Institute events and research. In 2007 I was asked to host a live online radio show for the San Diego Union Tribune, and Digital Politics Radio was created. This was before podcasts were popular, and the show’s name changed to the Digital Politics Podcast years later. In 2015, I started the Empowered Patient Podcast because of my exposure to precision medicine, biotech, and digital health companies and researchers here in San Diego.  

Politics and healthcare are two very different verticals. What led you to create podcasts in these verticals?

The common interest that drives both podcasts is the convergence of technology with traditional industries. I saw a market need for short-form podcasts on topics that appeal to niche audiences eager to learn about advancements and hear from their peers. The Empowered Patient Podcast gets 20 times more downloads, including the podcast and transcript, than the Digital Politics Podcast. The transcripts are more popular than the audio files.

What do you predict will be the most talked about trends, topics or themes in the healthcare industry for 2023? What about politics?

Healthcare trends: Artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics, wearables, invisibles, and sensors, an expanded understanding of the social determinants of health, naturally derived medicines – including from cannabis and psilocybin, advanced biomarkers, accelerating drug discovery and development and oncology breakthroughs.

Political trends: Misinformation, disinformation and deep fakes, increased need for rapid response, changing advertising models to include paid influencers, cord cutters and connected TV (CTV), use of AI in campaign management and content creation, virtual options for volunteers and supporters and grassroots organizing tools. 

What are some characteristics of an ideal podcast guest? 

A conversational tone rather than a lecturing tone is ideal. It shows a sense of humor and answers the question asked, not the question they want to answer.

Do you have any pet peeves that guest interviewees should avoid? 

Guests should not be reading from a script. Try to avoid saying the word “obviously” in their answers.

You have an engaged audience, so what are some best practices you and your guests use to keep listeners tuned in?

I keep the podcast episodes to 15-20 minutes and consistently publish new podcasts and newsletters weekly. For the Empowered Patient Podcast, I often publish up to four interviews a week, thinking that one or more might interest my audience since I cover a wide range of topics. I post all episodes on social media and make links available to guests to post on their own social media and websites.

Are there specific topics that you cover in your podcasts that you’d like to gain more perspective on?  

For the Digital Politics Podcast: I would like to know more about targeting across all digital and traditional media to reach voters and activists, influencer marketing for politics and activism, integrated solutions for down-ballot campaigns and local organizing.

Empowered Patient Podcast: Translational research based on the understanding of the human genome, approaches to fighting cancers and preventing remission, mind/body connection and chronic diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, mental health, medical devices, predictive models, biomarkers and precision medicine and understanding the genetic basis of rare diseases.

What are some of the main benefits for guests and sponsors to participate in podcasts versus other mediums? 

The podcast is a format that is appealing to a broad audience and, at the same time, can be used to reach audiences interested in specific topics. While some podcasts report on the news, others are downloaded months or years after they are first published because of the educational or entertainment value of the content, the viral nature of the episode and current events sending people to search out relevant content. Advertising on podcasts can take many forms and is shown to be effective for persuasion, branding and calls to action.

I also make a transcript available for each of the Empowered Patient Podcasts. These transcripts are downloaded more frequently than podcasts. I have been told the transcripts are easier to share with colleagues and appeal to those not listening to podcasts.

What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing as a podcaster right now? How are you tackling it? 

I am seeking sponsors for podcasts, newsletters and the Empowered Patient Podcast transcript. I have had a variety of sponsors over the years, and the audience for both shows continues to grow. I am curious about ways to monetize this content in ways that work with sponsors’ marketing and communications goals. Particularly for the Empowered Patient Podcast, a challenge is finding time to schedule all the guests who request to be on the show or ask to come back for additional episodes and updates.

What is one final thought that you want to leave our readers with? 

Audiences want to hear authentic voices and more than just marketing talking points. The best guests are those that can explain medical or political concepts in understandable terms.


Karen – Thank you so much for being our guest and sharing your insight! 

Interested in learning how we can leverage our connections to help your brand tell smart stories? Reach out today!