Katie Couric and Bozoma Saint John have joined forces for a podcast series that is designed to be a forum where business and cultural leaders “feel comfortable talking about uncomfortable subjects,” as Saint John explained.
Couric, the veteran journalist, and Saint John, chief marketing officer for Endeavor, have been friendly for the past few years. The two partnered with iHeartMedia earlier this year to produce a limited-series podcast, “Back to Biz with Katie and Boz,” to examine the nation’s reopening process amid the pandemic from the perspective of businesses large and small.
But after the killing of George Floyd on May 25, Couric and Saint John realized the focus of “Back to Biz” needed to expand to the larger systemic social issues of racial inequality and criminal justice reform, which have been reflected in how hard the coronavirus outbreak has hit marginalized communities.
“We’re looking at the intersection of business and culture and health and how it’s all reflecting the seismic shifts in our country right now,” Couric told Variety. “We’re asking how do we achieve a level of justice that has been too long in coming. The pandemic just set the stage for us to look at these subjects.”
“Back to Biz” episodes are released at 5 a.m. ET on Thursdays. Guests since the 10-part series started on June 2 have included voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi and General Motors CEO Mary Barra. Notables lined up for upcoming episodes will include filmmaker Judd Apatow and Disney chairman Bob Iger.
Saint John, who was previously head of marketing for Uber and a top executive at Apple, told Variety that Couric is the perfect co-pilot for an interview series that will lead to “uncomfortable” topics.
“I trust her voice,” Saint John said. “She does a masterful job of making a safe place for people to ask questions without judgment for people to get accurate information. We need to allow the audience to hear different perspectives.”
Moreover, Saint John, who is Black, sees her partnership with Couric, who is white, as a model for other ventures designed to enlighten different constituencies — from big business to anti-racism activists — on the need to address intractable social ills.
“In this very moment in time where we are looking at diversity in different ways by listening to different voices, it’s that much more poignant that it’s the two of us asking the questions,” Saint John said. “And we’re also expressing our feelings and our own ways of coping. I think it was quite a divine intervention that we found each other in this moment to bring different point of views to people seeking answers right now.”
Couric and Saint John met in 2018 when Couric interviewed the executive for a previous podcast series, “Getting There,” featuring female business leaders. “She had me at ‘Hello.’ I fell in love with her,” Couric said. “She’s the most incredibly ebullient person I’ve ever met.”
(Pictured: Bozoma Saint John and Katie Couric)