• Sarah Turney

My First Episode and What's Going On With Episode Two

Let’s talk about episode one, “Father, Can You Hear Me?” as well as what’s taking so long to get episode 2 out. 

My first episode, wow, still so weird to write that. So weird to see myself as a podcaster, so I’m just going to gloss over that until I get used to the title and responsibility that comes with it all. I want to be honest, my initial intention with this podcast was to start it after I had gotten justice for Alissa and not to feature Alissa at all. I wanted to feature other stories in which there is someone like me, someone who needed help because they are fighting, kicking, and screaming for justice because they have exhausted traditional channels. 

But then I got scared and I started panicking, what if I don’t actually get this thing to court, what if I do and we don’t win? Can I even help people if that happens? If I don’t win this thing, I will be a loser and hide in a hole never to talk about this thing again. Then as I discussed my aspirations and fears with friends I kept hearing the same suggestion to cover Alissa’s case, that I've already won, that people were interested in my side of things. That people cared about hearing the story from me. Then, panic turned into excitement. I’d done so many interviews, why not just sit down and go over everything once and for all. I was ready to tell Alissa’s story in my words, from start to finish. After all, I already knew the story right?  I’m starting to think I will never not be naive… 

So, I created a trailer. I mashed together some audio from old and new interviews and before I knew it, I got tagged on Twitter by Levi Page that Voices for Justice was on Apple Podcasts New & Noteworthy list. I was shocked and immediately started crying. Here I was, barely able to use my editing software and Alissa was on New & Noteworthy. Then the pressure was on to get the first episode out.

I wanted to start the podcast in real time. My last call with my father. This was a very difficult decision for me; I was so torn. Not so much the structure of beginning with today but beginning with this call. That’s because it is not nearly as dynamic or shocking as my original talk with my father when he was released from prison. I knew that I needed to grab people’s attention and that my first episode acts somewhat as a first impression. So, do I start with the most dynamic, craziest, call in which my father states two near confessions because I know people will go crazy over it? Or do I begin with this somewhat less dynamic call in an effort to keep a consistent story line and not over dramatize this thing? 

As you know, I went with the less dynamic, more honest route. I knew this might lose me some listeners in the beginning, but I’m playing the long game with this thing. I’ve got a lot to say and I want it to make sense. I can shock you all day with the outrageous things my father has said to me, but I want this to be a fair rendition of this story, not an all-out witch hunt. To the extent to which I am actually planning an episode to discuss possible alternative outcomes. The truth is, this story does not need any extra dramatization. So, I stuck with the course of start with today and then go back to the beginning. Easy enough right? 

Well, the first episode seemed that way. Sure, I fumbled my way through learning how to use my recording system, how to edit, how to use music, and how to upload the thing. With some help from friends in podcasting, I finally got it ready. I did a brief overview of Alissa’s story and then inserted the call with my father and ended it with a preview of some interviews I had conducted. Bam! I had a podcast. I was so excited. Then it hit the top 200 of Society & Culture in Apple Podcasts. I could not believe it. New & Noteworthy, top 200… my friends weren’t lying. People do care. I got right to work on episode 2. I wanted to start with my and Alissa’s parents, see the roots of this story. But, it immediately became complicated. 

I began doing interviews, my Aunts, my friends, my cousins, anyone I could think of that knew my father personally. I even got in contact with my father’s brother, the one I’m supposed to be afraid of and “know better” than to talk to. And in every interview, I found things that I’d never heard before. Things I need to try to confirm the validity of. Connections to powerful people in Arizona politics, claims of my father crippling a man, quicksand, rape, drugging, more murders, more affairs; the list goes on for what seems like forever. 

Currently, I am deep in the rabbit hole on this one. I have over 40 hours of interview audio, I am traveling to visit the sites in which Alissa’s body could have been disposed of, I've received an estimated 5,000 pages of public records related to Alissa, I signed up for an subscription, a newspaper archive subscription, and reached out to practical strangers on Facebook to gather information. I am in the thick of it. And what I’ve found so far is that I know almost nothing about this case or my family.

So, that’s where I stand. Not knowing nearly as much as I thought I did, at the top of a pile of documents, evidence, and interviews eager to present you guys with the most complete, truthful, rendition of this crazy story. This next episode is the foundation of the entire podcast, of Alissa’s entire story. I will get it right. The story is confusing enough without going back and forth in the timeline to make corrections. So please stay patient and stay tuned because this thing is already insane with a 100% chance of getting even crazier. Right now, I am shooting for episode 2 to be released in early September along with the announcement of a regular posting schedule. 

Thank you for your ongoing support, you guys keep me going and I promise I will make this thing amazing for you all and for Alissa. 

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