Let’s face it, there are A LOT of podcasts out there. Discover Pods does its best job to highlight some underrepresented podcasts and spotlight new podcasts that deserve attention. In doing so, I’ve heard a wide-range of podcast ideas and premises. Some are fairly unoriginal, but then occasionally, there will be something that’ll make me say “wow.” The Cleaning of John Doe fits into the latter group.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve listened to at least one true crime podcast. They’re among some of the most popular podcasts out there. The Cleaning of John Doe, however, takes a wholly unique take on the true crime genre by presenting from the side of the people who clean up the crime scenes. Think Criminal mixed with CSI.
Together with her husband, host Vanessa Phearson, dives into the crime scenes themselves and what’s left behind after some of the most horrendous and violent acts out there. To remove themselves from the crime itself — and likely to separate their work from personal lives — they refer to the victims with the anonymous pseudonym, John Doe. If you’re a fan of true crime podcasts and have a general sense of crime curiosity, give The Cleaning of John Doe a shot.
I got a chance to meet Vanessa and talk to her about the podcast and her job in general. Take a look below for our Q&A.
Discover Pods: What’s your podcast about?
Vanessa: My husband & I do crime scene cleaning. So we started a podcast about true stories.
DP: How did you and your husband get into podcasting?
Vanessa: As strange as it may seem, people are fascinated by our job. We’re constantly asked the same questions when people find out what we do. One of those is, “What’s the worst thing you’ve cleaned up?” When the idea to podcast came to mind, we knew that people would be interested in it. It was actually shocking to discover that no one else had a show like it. Also, we hear all the time that people didn’t even know about the industry at all. So, when I decided to podcast about, I thought it would be perfect to not only give people some insight to what we do, but also to educate people that there are good, honest companies out there that can help if ever they need someone like us.
DP: The cleaning of crime scenes seem to be underrepresented in a lot of mainstream media. Besides tiresome and likely occasionally gross, what else should the general public know about your job?
Vanessa: We, as a company, have always sought to educate people on the industry because, as I said earlier, most people don’t even know about us! So, we just want people to know that, God forbid they ever find themselves with a crime or death scene, there are people like us to clean it up. I mean, if a pipe bursts and floods your house, you call a water damage specialist. If your kitchen burns down, you call a fire restoration specialist. If there’s blood or some other biological fluids in your home, you call us. Obviously, we aim to be the best and the most well known company in our industry, but ultimately we care about people and we just want the industry as a whole to be known about.
DP: Why do you think true crime, as a genre, lends itself to podcasts so well?
Vanessa: Any crime subject whether it’s forensics, cold cases, unsolved murders, missing persons, etc. has a major draw. I mean, anyone can rattle off at least 3-5 shows on the subject, whether fact or fiction. I think podcasting allows people to get their true crime “fix” when they’re away from their TVs, which is, for most working class people, the majority of the day. Whether you’re in your car, out on a jog or cleaning the house, you can listen to a podcast.
DP: I was discussing this the other day with some friends, why are true crime podcasts, above all others, more susceptible to word-of-mouth and going viral?
Vanessa: It’s a fascinating subject matter, for sure. I would say that people are amazed at the depths that people are capable of sinking to and the inner workings of the mind of such an individual. For better or worse, our society today virtually turns serial killers into celebrities. Charles Manson, Jeffery Dahmer, Ted Bundy, the Unibomber… These were real killers who killed real people. People who weren’t even alive when these guys were on the loose know who they are. So, when you have a podcast that anyone can access at any time that talks about any sort of similar subject matter, I think it gets people talking.
DP: Besides Serial and S-Town, are there other true crime podcasts out there you aim to model The Cleaning of John Doe after?
Vanessa: I would have to say that I wanted a polished podcast. I’m not an actor, I’m a real life crime scene cleaner. I’ve got stories to tell, but in my own mind I worried that I would get boring. I found In the Dark, Someone Knows Something and I realized that they were produced so well, as much as I love and respect the indie vibe, I couldn’t see that working for my show long term, unfortunately. I wanted polished to keep my listeners interest. I tried my hand at it and failed miserably! Eventually I found Resonate Recordings and discovered they worked on Up and Vanished and Sworn. That was exactly what my show needed.
DP: What are your top five favorite podcasts?
Vanessa: This is a tough one for me. There are so many great ones and knowing now how much actually goes into making a podcast I hate to leave anyone out haha – I do shout outs of podcasts I really enjoy on my Twitter @JohnDoePodcast. But my top 5 right now:
1. The Missing Minority Project. This is a new podcast, it has a bit of controversial edge to it but that’s not what it’s about for me. These are lesser known cases that really need attention. It’s so well done and it’s bringing light to cases that could possibly be solved just by putting them out there in a way they haven’t been.
2. Cold Traces which is a true crime podcast that gives a voice to family members, advocates, and others fighting for justice and resolution in cold cases.
3. Gone Cold podcast explores unsolved murders and missing persons cases throughout the state of Texas.
4. This Week in True Crime History – Joel Micah Harris uncovers the real events that took place… This Week in True Crime History
5. True Crime Story Time bringing you all things true crime, because every story has a message
DP: Anything else you’d like to add?
Vanessa: We’ve been podcasting for less than a month and in all honestly I’m so overwhelmed by the support from the podcasting community (listeners and podcasters alike). All the love is almost addicting, not from an ego aspect – but just how kind and wonderful people are! You don’t realize what is missing in your life until it’s staring you in the face. With podcasting I have such an abundance of it, I want to hug strangers and get stupid giddy about it (I’m not a hugger and I’m not giddy). I want people to know how much I genuinely appreciate them and how much their kindness and generosity means to me – it actually makes my soul smile! Thanks for being awesome – I’m your biggest fan! xoxo
DP: Where can listeners find you?