Tucson sisters start true crime podcast centered around the Southwest

In a guestroom recording studio, Margot Carmichael and her sister Jenna Schneider gather to tell stories to listeners every week about tragic deaths that happened in and around Arizona.

Since December, the two sisters have teamed up to create “Death X Southwest,” a true crime podcast centered around exploring stories about various murder cases that are unique to the Southwest.

Carmichael and Schneider grew up in Chicago, but when Carmichael came to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona, her family came along too and hasn’t left since. Following in her sister’s footsteps, Schneider also attended the UA.

Just like their similar taste in universities, the sisters were also both drawn to true crime. Carmichael and Schneider said they became more interested in true crime once podcasting became a popular medium. They also tended to be more drawn to books and movies with true crime themes.

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As a podcast producer for Calvary Media, a Los Angeles-based media company, Carmichael said she always has podcasting on her mind, which led her to share different ideas for new shows with her creative sister.

While talking about a true crime podcast Schneider enjoyed listening to it, Carmichael began thinking about a name for a podcast about crimes that happened in Tucson or in the Southwest. Thus, “Death X Southwest” was born.

“We just kind of bounce ideas off of each other for a couple of months and then I brought it to my bosses at Cavalry Media, pitched them the idea and they loved it,” Carmichael said.

The sisters decided to focus solely on homicide cases that happened in the Southwest to help fill a gap that they say is missing from other true crime podcasts.

“We realized that the Southwest is severely underrepresented in true crime podcasting,” Carmichael said. “There are a few small podcasts that do focus specifically on the Southwest or cities in the Southwest, but there’s really not much.”

After they were given the green light, Schneider said they did some practice episodes in order to navigate the roles they would play. Carmichael would eventually be the one who researches the different cases and then tells the story to Schneider, who would ask Carmichael questions about the case and give her thoughts.

In order to find a case, Carmichael searches online for homicides that happened in the Southwest that have enough reliable information on them. Once she finds a good case and has done the research, she writes a script and gets ready to record.

The two sisters meet at the recording studio in Carmichael’s guestroom where Carmichael begins to tell the story while Schneider interjects with her questions.

“We start up every episode by kind of generating a little bit of sense of place a little geography,” Carmichael said. “A lot of these places that we’re talking about, neither of us have necessarily been to or spend too much time in. So, we try to talk about interesting facts and general information about the location of each of these crimes, and then we get into the story.”

On Dec 12, the first episode of “Death X Southwest” made its debut on Apple Podcasts. In addition to their weekly podcast, they also put out bonus episodes that are titled “Look-up List.” The Look-up List episodes allow Carmichael and Schneider to take a look back at their most recent episode and correct any facts they may have gotten wrong or address topics that needed a deeper dive.

“I think for both of us, a big part of what was important to us from the beginning was remaining authentic and being honest and true to who we are,” Carmichael said. “So while we certainly always want to put out the most accurate and well researched information, sometimes I’ll find something after the fact, so I just think it’s an opportunity to be honest and to say we don’t have all the answers all the times.”

So far, Carmichael and Schneider have covered cases such as Adrienne Salinas’ death. According to the podcast, Salinas, a college student from Tempe, disappeared in 2013 and her remains were found months later.

“Death X Southwest” has also covered the death of Gloria Marmolejo, a mother of two who was slain in 2009 in El Paso, Texas.

As for the future of “Death X Southwest,” both sisters hope to grow a loyal following and cover some stories that take place in Tucson. Carmichael and Schneider are also hoping to go on tour one day where they can visit Southwest cities and tell the stories on stage with the help of detectives, police officers or family members involved in the case.

“As a podcast producer, I’m aware of how much work goes into podcasting and various podcasts,” Carmichael said. “But I’ve learned it on a different level now, so I have great respect for all the fellow podcasters out there.”

“Death X Southwest” is available to listen to on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Both of those platforms are available for download from the app store.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of smart home security brand Arlo, fans of true crime were more likely to take their home security seriously. Buzz60’s Johana Restrepo has more.

Jamie Donnelly covers breaking news for the Arizona Daily Star. Contact her via email at [email protected]


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