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More than just talk - Further Together: The ORAU Podcast brings people together

From the best way to search for “purple squirrels” to the craziest stops on a colleague’s professional journey, the conversation topics have taken one serendipitous turn after another during the first year of Further Together: The ORAU Podcast.

Launched in May 2019, the podcast pools the talents of veteran communications staff members Michael Holtz and Jenna Harpenau as hosts. Drawing inspiration from ORAU’s corporate tagline, “Further. Together,” the hosts showcase some of the best and brightest of ORAU’s experts and staff and how they are making a difference. Michael and Jenna reflect on their first year behind the microphone.

Where did the idea for an ORAU podcast first originate?

Michael: I attended the Alexa Conference in January 2019 and gravitated to the podcast track. I got some great ideas and came back ready to put them into motion. We had most of the resources we needed already in place, and Jenna was an easy choice for a cohost.

How do you decide on the guests and show topics? How do you prep for each episode?

Jenna: We put together an early list of guests. Once the word got out that we were doing this, and it wasn’t a scary process, people were knocking on the door to be a part of it. We don’t have to do much prep. Our guests are all extremely passionate about their work. We find it easy to just ask a few questions, and they are eager to answer.

Michael: For one episode, we knew ORAU’s recruiters used creative strategies to recruit impossible-to-find job candidates. We wanted to find out how they “hunt” for those people. We had no idea that would become “The Purple Squirrel episode.”

What are some of the unique things you have learned about ORAU and your guests in this new role as podcast hosts?

Jenna: People are able to let their guard down with us. We get to see a different side of our executives, employees and experts that we don’t normally see on a day-to-day working basis.

Michael: Exactly. I mean, who knew that (ORISE Director) Jim Vosburg was once a sheriff’s deputy in Albuquerque?

Jenna: I’ve been here almost 10 years, and I’ve learned nuggets of company information that I had no idea about. For example, our cell phones pick up radiation. ORAU experts are figuring out ways to test this. If there’s a radiation accident, your cell phone could be an indicator of how much possible radiation you have in your body so they’ll know if you need to be treated right away.

What do you see as the value of the podcast for your listeners?

Michael: It’s amazing how the podcast has become one of those things with no negatives. Our guests enjoy the chance to talk about what they do; and our listeners—inside and outside the organization—have a chance to learn something new about ORAU.

Jenna: It’s cool that people can listen and learn more about the company that makes them say, “Oh wow, they can do this? I need that for this project.” People start getting outside their silos and learning ways they can work together.

Michael: We’re still working through our first list of people to interview. But we are also being timely—doing special editions of the podcast to coincide with a guest’s appearance at a conference or visiting a potential new customer. And truly, the opportunity for anybody at ORAU to be part of the podcast is out there. If they’re making a contribution, they have the opportunity to talk about it.

You can subscribe to Further Together – the ORAU Podcast at


Jenna Harpenau (left) and Michael Holtz launched Further Together: the ORAU Podcast in May of 2019. Each episode showcases some of the best and brightest of ORAU’s experts and staff and how they are making a difference in their respective disciplines. Listen to the latest episode or subscribe to the podcast at

Our Experts

Jenna Harpenau

Jenna Harpenau

Jenna is a marketing and communications specialist for ORAU. 

Michael Holtz

Michael Holtz

Michael is a senior marketing and communications specialist for ORAU.