“Murder on Ex” podcasters: “You are two women, both blonde and young? That’s not possible!”

Linn Schütze and Leonie Bartsch were warned at the beginning of their careers that the media was a shark tank. Instead of adapting, they pave a new path: They rely on unconditional support without a bite reflex.

Now the podcasters are on the “Forbes 30 under 30” list, have a million listeners and a joint production company. In an interview with BRIGITTE you dispel the prejudice that there can only be one.

BRIGITTE: After true crime, you dedicate yourself to “murder on Ex” in your new podcast now “True Love”, i.e. love. People always only ask couples things like that: What’s the story of how you met?

Linn: We met during our internship and I would say it was love at first sight. Leo was late. Leo has a knack for always being late.

Leo: I’m not proud of being late on the first day of work, that’s the one thing you really want to avoid.

Linn: But you made a big entrance out of it. She had a coffee mug in her hand, a little messed up and I thought: Wow, that’s cool! And: I am the opposite! I was probably 20 minutes early.

And how did your podcast come about?

Linn: I always listened to a lot of true crime podcasts and there was always a wait for a new episode, which took too long for me. Then during a coffee break I said: Guys, I think this is the thing, we should do it! And everyone is like: Absolutely not! Leo was the only one who said: Yeah, I think it’s cool, let’s do it.

Leo: I’ve always said before that if I find a person who has exactly that vision, who would give everything for it, sits down at home, writes scripts, thinks about shoots, then I want to go through with it with them. And then I met Linn. And I still remember clearly that I wrote to my friends directly: I found the person.

Leo: We never expected that it would take off so much that we would have our own production company. In a certain way, you always make a fool of yourself when you go out with something and the first episode is online – and at the beginning only your best friends and your mother see it. But you have to believe in things and see them through.

We live by the philosophy: It doesn’t hurt you at all if you support other people. Women in particular need to support each other.

Women are still accused of competition in old role models. Did you always just work together instead of against each other?

Linn: Yes and I think the podcast thrives on our connection. It’s nice to have someone to go all the way with, even though it can be overwhelming at times. In a duo you always have someone with whom you can discuss everything. If I had to decide everything on my own, I would go crazy.

It is said about the media industry that it is a shark tank. This has always bothered us and still bothers us. We live by the philosophy: It doesn’t hurt you at all if you support other people. Women in particular have to support each other so hard. There is always the cliché that only one person can be at the top – on the contrary. We have a lot of podcasters with whom we work and only benefit from it. We are very happy that all the people we work with are the same way. Even though you’re in the same bubble, you support each other and that’s worth its weight in gold. If others need advice, they can always contact us. There’s no point in getting in each other’s way.

The most important thing about our story is that we remain true to ourselves.

Keyword shark tank: Have you ever had obstacles put in your way?

Linn: You have to be honest: As soon as you get a lot of attention, you also get a lot of hate. That was overwhelming for us. You just notice negative comments and it gets really personal, someone then writes that if I had Linn’s vote I would kill myself. I’m always happy that we have each other.

Leo: Yes, I think Linn’s voice is really beautiful! We are our protective shield. Anyone who decides to do something in public has to face backlash. Sometimes we should talk more casually, then we should be more personal, then we should just not say anything personal and then we are much too relaxed again. Everything is coming. Then you have to listen to your gut feeling. We were lucky, we started at Pro7, we had huge support there. But they also told us: Great, if it goes well, it can stay. If not, then not.

Linn: There was one or two people running around asking: What do the two little volunteers want here? But as Leo says, we learned at some point: you have to listen to yourself, otherwise you’ll go crazy. The most important thing about our story is that we remain true to ourselves.

As women, have you had to struggle with prejudices and role clichés?

Leo: We are now very autonomous and self-determined, 100 percent our own bosses, which is a great privilege. When we had the opportunity to produce our investigative report “The Neighbors” as a documentary, a lot of people suddenly had their say. Then suddenly it came: “So, you’re two women and you’re both blonde and young – that’s not possible. We have to change that now. Leo, maybe you can always wear a leather jacket and ride around on a scooter, that would be a cool role.” We should distance ourselves from each other because older men can’t handle it when we’re too similar. That was a hard time.

How awesome is it that true crime podcasts are dominated by women for once?!

Linn: Sometimes we had moments where we thought: Would you ask two men that too? Is this because we are two women and can’t appear naive and stupid?

And that’s what’s so cool about podcasts. For once it’s all about the content! Nobody looks at you and says, well, the woman has too much on her plate, the woman looks unpleasant. It’s all about the stories we tell. That’s why we love it so much. We canceled a big television project because we wanted to produce “True Love,” a new podcast.

There are so many similar types of men in public who speak with the same opinions about the same topics.

Linn: That was a thing at the beginning: We were the second female true crime podcast and then suddenly a huge thing opened up: They’re copying it! Did anyone ever say that to “Mixed Hack” because there was already “Firm and Fluffy”? The podcast industry is full of men – How awesome is it that true crime podcasts are dominated by women for once?!

Today you two are on the Forbes 30 under 30 list. Do you have any advice for other women who are passionate about something and are just starting out?

Leo: If you have an idea and others doubt it, do it anyway. You can upload a podcast very easily, it’s just one click. You have to do the research and define quality standards just for yourself and if they suit you, then you are your own bosses.

People come forward who have experienced bad things themselves and say: I feel heard for the first time.

How do you deal with the dichotomy in true crime between having respect for the suffering and making entertainment at the same time?

Linn: A true crime podcast is also an entertainment medium, you don’t have to talk about it. This is a topic we discuss a lot. We have started to give a voice, especially to those affected. It gives me a lot when people contact us who have experienced bad things themselves and say: I feel heard for the first time.

We talked in an episode about how when women are raped they often feel ashamed of it. This is complete bullshit: something terrible was done to them and they are not to blame. We said that we had had bad experiences and then a young woman wrote to us and said that she then told her parents for the first time about what had happened to her. Then we noticed: We can have an influence, but we also have a responsibility.

Leo: In the last episode “Murder on Ex” we talked about the AfD and the shift to the right in Germany. We knew that we would lose listeners. But you can use the reach you have for something. We were at the demos and had goosebumps, then we thought: If we have a million listeners, let’s try to find a story in which we use our influence. So we spoke to an ex-neo-Nazi. By the way, we gained followers, the episode clicked well.

Linn: That showed us again: It’s worth taking a stand. Which brings us back to the beginning: It’s important that we stay true to ourselves. Even if there is headwind.

Thank you for the interview!


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