10 Questions With: Christine Schiefer from ATWWD Podcast
In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, True Crime is having a moment. It seems like Netflix, Hulu and HBO are in a constant battle to see who can put out the gorriest, darkest true cime doc next (Looking at you, Abducted In Plain Sight). And that’s just on streaming services. Podcasting is also seeing a huge surge in popularity, due largely in part to the True Crime Genre. Christine Schiefer, along with her partner-in-crime Em and dog Geovanni, is a recent and rising star in this niche-yet-also-widely-popular medium. As one half of the And That’s Why We Drink Podcast, a bingeworthy paranormal and crime show, Christine dives into some of the gorriest muders of modern history on a weekly basis (Em usually covers the paranormal stories, in case you were curious). What I love most about ATTWD though is the relationship the two hosts have. They converse naturally, talk about the intimate details and struggles of their lives, and genuinely have so much compassion for one another. Listening to the podcast I find myself thinking it must so easy to turn your passion into a job, because they make it look fun and effortless (I also know from personal experience that it is, in fact, not effortless). Over the holidays Christine took some time out from her busy schedule to talk to X Chrome about life as a podcaster on the rise!
Oh hi! Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions. First up, what was it like starting a podcast with one of your closest friends?
Oh hi! Thank YOU for giving me the opportunity! Em’s and my origin story is a little odd in that we weren’t good friends when we started the show. We had known each other a couple years, but weren’t close by any means. The first few nights we hung out in LA, we talked for hours. After I introduced Em to podcasts, they said, “Hey, we could do that.” I took a little bit of convincing, but ultimately I caved and we spent our last few dollars on recording equipment and hoped for the best. Over the past few years, Em and I have absolutely become best friends. It’s kind of cool that our personal relationship has grown so much in such a public way. People really got to watch our friendship evolve. Short answer - it’s been incredible! ;)
Podcasting is having a MOMENT, but it seems like any podcast associated with murder or the paranormal goes extra gangbusters (if that’s a phrase). Why do you think True Crime and the Paranormal are such popular topics for listeners?
It’s kind of funny how “hot” true crime has become. Entire TV networks have rebranded themselves to focus on true crime - ahem, Oxygen - and it’s working! I think the fascination, especially for women, is a desire to understand and gain control of something so dark and threatening. For example, I had my fair share of “true crime”-adjacent experiences growing up, and rather than scare me away from learning about crimes, they’ve only served to make me more interested in researching the people behind them. I believe that for women, there’s a sense of empowerment in bringing dark stories to the light and discussing them openly and freely, and I’m proud to be a part of that movement.
What I’ve found most enjoyable about your podcast (besides the murder and ghosts) is how genuine both you and Em are and how real your friendship is. How do you think your friendship has impacted the success of the podcast?
At the risk of sounding cheesy, our friendship grew alongside the show. The show is, in essence, the foundation of our friendship. I think that makes it feel genuine. Our listeners get to learn about us as we learn about each other, so it’s almost like they’re our friends sitting in the room with us!
You and Em are in thea massive ATWWD tour! What’s been the best part of doing the live shows? What’s your favorite place you’ve visited so far?
Let me tell you, live shows are a whole different animal! We just finished up our first “leg” of our tour, which was DC->Philly->NYC. It was truly a blast. My favorite part of touring is definitely visiting places I’ve never been. I love traveling so it’s really thrilling for me. We recently went to Philly, a city I’d never visited before, and I absolutely loved it there. I think it reminded me of everything I miss about the East Coast. (That being said, it was also pretty great to come home to the 70-degree weather here in LA…) My favorite part of doing the shows themselves is the energy from the audience. Talking to a crowd of people, laughing and joking with them, is so rewarding and so affirming. Meeting them afterward and giving them big hugs in the VIP meet-and-greet line is also such a blast!
What’s been your favorite or most memorable episode so far? (So far mine was the one when the picture fell off the wall while you were recording and/or the Listener Stories Episode where the kid talked about living in a Matrix Glitch with his girlfriend).
It’s hard to believe we’re almost at 100 episodes. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I did love covering Gypsy Rose and Dee Dee Blanchard because Em had no idea there was a twist in the story - watching them react in real time was a riot. (If you don’t know what this story is about, I won’t spoil it! Listen to episode 15 or watch the “Mommy Dead and Dearest” doc on HBO!)
You and Em just celebrated the two year anniversary of And That’s Why We Drink (congrats!)– How has life changed since you started and what’s been the biggest lesson?
We are still in shock that we’ve made it this far! Life has changed a lot since we started. We’re both fortunate enough to do the podcast for a living now, which is something we couldn’t ever have imagined two years ago. This sounds uber-cheesy, but the biggest thing I’ve learned is to follow your passion. I spent so long trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I thought there had to be a concrete answer, some very linear path to follow. I came up with “TV writer,” and I poured my heart and soul into that. And I made it happen. While I was working at Nickelodeon, though, I reached a crossroads. It was either pursue TV writing, like I’d planned, or leave that path and focus on the podcast full time. When I searched my heart and really listened to my gut, I knew I had to abandon the “path” I had planned out for the next ten years of my life and follow my passion instead. And it’s been worth every moment! Five years ago, I didn’t know podcasting would be a potential job, let alone a career path. I think it was looking at And That’s Why We Drink as a passion project rather than a potential job that really allowed it to grow into what it is. In short, I’ve learned that if your heart and gut want to go somewhere that your head hasn’t planned, pull a Cascada and listen to your heart!
If I’m not mistaken, you and Em both have full time jobs on top of creating this podcast. What’s it been like managing the day to day while also becoming entertainment personalities?
Whoops, guess I sort of answered that in the last question. Nope, we are fortunate enough to have quit our day jobs a couple months ago! Working full-time, especially in the entertainment industry, while also doing the show turned out to be way too much for both of us. To avoid burn-out, we had to make the tough decision of quitting our dream jobs (Em in props and me in kids’ TV) to pursue the show. We definitely made the right decision. Now we have so much more time and energy to devote to making a quality show and engaging with our listeners. Best decision we ever made!
Do you have any advice for people looking to explore a passion or creative project?
The number one piece of advice I like to tell people who are considering podcasting or another creative endeavor is to pursue it out of passion and interest when you first start, rather than for profit. Em and I spent hours talking about ghosts and murderers in our spare time, so the show came naturally to us. We cared about the subject matter and we cared about each other. Don’t get me wrong, money is great, and we are thrilled that this has become our career, but if we had started ATWWD thinking we’d ever make a living off of it, we’d have quit in a matter of months. We didn’t really start profiting until about nine months into the show, and that was just an added bonus for us. Make sure you love what you’re doing, and you’ll attract the right audience and the right opportunities.
What are your hopes for the future of ATWWD? Are there any topics you want to cover, areas you want to cover or cities that are on your wishlist?
Now that we do the show full time, we are constantly brainstorming new ideas for the show! This tour is going to take up a lot of early 2019, but we’re also discussing other ways to branch out and cover more ground. Our two-year anniversary is in February so we’ll probably plan a big episode for that week, and there are definitely a few big topics I’ve been saving for upcoming episodes. As for touring, I have my fingers crossed for an Ohio show! I’m from Cincinnati so it would be super cool to do a sort of homecoming tour. I’m also hoping we go international sometime in 2019 or 2020. Australia? UK? It’s not on the books yet but I’ll put it on my vision board.
Last question- how is Geo handling the fame?
Gio is definitely loving the attention. He gets a lot of fan mail so every time a package arrives he thinks it’s for him. But in all honesty, I am so thankful that he and Junie get so much love from Em, Eva, and our listeners. It’s so special that my boys have become integral to the show, and Em and I both know that we have Gio to thank for ATWWD’s success ;)