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In the Dark: S1 E2 The Circle

If this is your first time listening to In the Dark, stop, go back, and start at the first episode. It'll make a lot more sense. Last time on In the Dark.

Some of their boys went down to Tom Thumb to pick up a movie. And on their way back, someone stopped them.

When you ran, did you look back?

Yeah, once we got way down there.

What did you see?

Nothing. He wasn't there anymore.

The 11-year-old boy went missing in 1989, and it has been a mystery since.

Finally, we know. We know what the Wetterling family and all of Minnesota have longed to know since that awful night in 1989. We know the truth.

Are there things you would have done differently now looking back on it?

You always think about that, but no. I think, the people that worked on that case did truly 110% every day that we're there. And I don't know. I don't know that there's anything we could have done differently.

We're here today because of the perseverance of investigative team; the commitment to aggressively follow up on every single lead, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant; and the absolute belief that if we continue to press, we would eventually solve this case.

Listen. Can you hear the sound? Hearts beating, all the world around.

Five days after 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was abducted, radio stations across Minnesota all played one of Jacob's favorite songs, Listen by Red Grammer, along with a message for Jacob from his mom, Patty.

I just want Jacob to know that this song is for him to hear. The heartbeat of humanity is beating for him. I know it will give him strength. If there's an ounce of compassion in the man who's holding him, he will let him go safely. Listen, Jacob. Can you hear our prayers? We love you.

Radio station employees and passersby joined in holding hands. Some in the media were even crying. The emotions are growing with the search right now.

I'm hoping that he would know that we're out the snow looking for him, that we didn't give up.

The people in the town of St. Joseph seemed driven by the belief that by brute force of will, they could bring Jacob back. They made fliers with Jacob's photo, and put them everywhere, on telephone poles, on shop windows, on doors and parked cars. Everywhere you went, you'd see people with white ribbons pinned to their shirts to symbolize hope for Jacob. Thousands of people even lined up in a human chain shivering in the cold and crying.

The chain began on the main highway just near the Del-Win Ballroom.

The chain stretched for three miles. 3500 schoolchildren were bussed in. Even two baseball players from the Minnesota Twins showed up, wearing blue warm-up jackets embroidered with Jacob's initials.

People of all ages and walks of life came out to keep the hope alive, hope that 11-year-old Jacob will return home safely.

Jacob's abduction fell neatly into two typical television news narratives, small town pulling together, and heroic investigators doing all they can.

Police and volunteers in the sky and on the ground hunt frantically for a little boy kidnapped at gunpoint.

Within days, dozens of law enforcement officers started arriving in town.

Search teams are combing the area just west of St. Cloud for any trace of the 11-year-old boy.

By the end of the week, there are almost a hundred officers working the case. They came from all over. There were sheriffs deputies, FBI agents, state investigators, and local officers from across Minnesota. The governor even called out the National Guard.

Five helicopters scanned the 30-square-mile area, while searchers below comb the area on foot without finding a trace.

Searchers were working 18-hour days.

Search crews, helicopters, and bloodhounds could not find any clue as to Jacob Wetterling's whereabouts today, but his family has not given up hope.

This search was massive. It was unlike anything Minnesota had seen before. In fact, it was one of the largest searches for any single missing person in the history of the United States. People just assumed every square inch of the region have been scoured, and every person who might have seen something had been interviewed, but that wasn't true.

This is In the Dark, an investigative podcast from APM Reports. In this series, we're looking at what went wrong in the case of Jacob Wetterling, an 11-year-old who was kidnapped in Central Minnesota in 1989, and whose remains were found just last week.

Today, we're going to take a closer look at what happened the night Jacob was kidnapped. We're going to find out how the decisions of law enforcement in this critical first few hours would allow the man who took Jacob to get away unpunished for 27 years.

Just today, a man named Danny Heinrich appeared in a Minneapolis courtroom. I was there, along with what seemed like every other reporter in Minnesota. There were so many people, I couldn't even get into the main courtroom, so I went into one of the two overflow rooms to watch on a video feed. And pretty soon, those rooms filled up too.

Danny Heinrich came into the courtroom wearing a light-colored shirt and dark pants. He's a short guy, 5'5", stocky, with white hair. He walked up to face the judge with an attorney on either side and stood with his back to us. We all leaned in to make sure we heard what happened next. The federal prosecutor asked the question, "On October 22nd 1989, did you kidnap, sexually assault, and murder Jacob Wetterling?" "Yes I did," Heinrich said. A loud gasp went through the courtroom, so loud it was picked up on the video feed. Finally, there would be answers to the most notorious crime in Minnesota history.

The way the kidnapping of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was always talked about was as a kind of epic mystery that there was this heroic law enforcement effort that, somehow, the man who took Jacob slipped through their fingers. There was nothing else they could have done. Jacob just vanished.

And then, Danny Heinrich began to describe what actually happened. He seemed resigned to it, like he was forcing himself to get through it. He sighed a lot. Heinrich told the judge that on the night of October 22nd, 1989, for reasons he didn't explain, he got in his car, a blue 1982 Ford EXP, and drove half an hour from his apartment in the small town of Paynesville to St. Joseph. Inside his car was a scanner he used to pick up police dispatch and a .38 revolver.

Sometime after 8:00 p.m., Heinrich turned onto the dead-end road that led to the Wetterling's house. He saw three kids biking up toward town. He parked his blue Ford in a long gravel driveway across from a cornfield. And then, he waited.

When the boys biked back, Heinrich got out of his car, put on a mask, and walked onto the road. He ordered the boys into the ditch and grabbed Jacob. Heinrich took Jacob back to his car, handcuffed him, and put him in the front passenger seat. Heinrich said, "Jacob asked him a question, 'What did I do wrong?'" Heinrich drove Jacob around for a while, long enough that he started to hear police activity on a scanner. He told Jacob to lean forward in the seat and duck down, so no one would see him. Once they made it out of the town of St. Joseph, Heinrich told Jacob he could sit back up.

He kept driving around for a long time. Eventually, he took Jacob back to his own town, Paynesville, about 25 miles from where he'd kidnapped Jacob. He pulled off onto a side road near a gravel pit. Heinrich took the handcuffs off Jacob, and walked him over to a row of trees. He told Jacob to take off his clothes. Heinrich also undressed. He touched Jacob and had Jacob touch him. Then, he told Jacob to masturbate in front of him.

The assault went on for about 20 minutes. And then, Jacob told Heinrich that he was cold, so Heinrich told him he could get dressed. Jacob asked Heinrich to take him home, and Heinrich said he couldn't. Jacob started to cry. Heinrich told him to stop.

I noticed that Heinrich's seemed to have trouble telling this part of the story in the courtroom. It sounded like he had trouble breathing, like it was hard to get the words out. Heinrich said he saw a patrol car come down the road, and he panicked. He loaded his gun, and shot, and killed Jacob. Then, Heinrich got in his blue car, left Jacob's body, and drove home.

He spent a couple of hours at his apartment. Then, he headed back out on foot carrying a shovel, and walked a little over a mile back to where Jacob's body was. He started digging a hole, but the shovel was too small. So, he walked over to a construction company close by and stole a Bobcat. He started it up, and turned the lights on, and drove it back to the site.

By then, it was sometime after midnight, at least three hours since Jacob had been kidnapped. Heinrich used the Bobcat to dig the grave, and he put Jacob in it, and filled it in. Heinrich returned the Bobcat, and then came back to the grave, and tried to cover it up a bit more with grass and brush. Then, he realized he'd forgotten to bury Jacob's shoes. So, he walked for a few minutes down the road, and threw them into a ravine. And then, Heinrich walked home.

It was one of the worst stories I've ever heard told in a courtroom. Even some veteran reporters were crying. Heinrich's story was awful, but it wasn't just his brutality that shocked me. This did not seem like a perfect crime, not by a long shot. It involved hours of driving, of walking down a main road carrying a shovel, stealing a Bobcat in the middle of the night with the lights on to dig a grave. All of this in the first few critical hours of what had always been described as a massive and thorough investigation.

I wanted to know what law enforcement should have been doing in those critical first few hours. To find out, I needed to start with the basics, Policing 101. So, I reached out to a guy named Patrick Zirpoli to help me understand how an investigation like this is supposed to go. Zirpoli is one of the top consultants in the country on child abduction cases. He used to coordinate the Amber Alert program in Pennsylvania. Zirpoli told me there are two things you need to do right away when you arrive at a crime scene. They're both pretty basic. First, secure the scene, then — and this is the one he stressed the most — talk to the neighbors.

So, we always say, you know, start close and work your way out. You know, start from their home, start doing interviews, knocking on doors. And we always tell people, you wanna interview over, and over, and over. You want to interview people multiple times, not just one time. You know, if a case drags on for more than a day, and goes in the second and third day, you want to re-interview everyone again.

I called a couple of other experts to confirm that this immediate repeated interviewing of neighbors is standard procedure. I talked to a man named Vernon Geberth. He trains law enforcement officers all over the country. He's one of the best known trainers in the US. He's also worked in the New York Police Department as a lieutenant in a homicide unit in the Bronx.

I have taught over 72,000 people the art and science of homicides since 1980. Author of Practical Homicide Investigation, considered the bible, author of Sex-Related Homicide and Death Investigation, author of Autoerotic Death Investigation, author of the Checklist and Field Guide Second and Third … First and Second Edition, et cetera, which proves I have no life.

Geberth didn't want to comment specifically on this case because he hasn't seen the investigative file, but he told me it's hard to overstate how important it is to talk to the neighbors.

I can tell you that every major case that I was in charge of in the City of New York that resulted in a successful conclusion was based on a good neighborhood canvass, where people were asked to report anything. Even though they didn't think it was important, it turned out to be important.

Geberth says these people who don't realize they've seen something important are called unknowing witnesses.

Yeah, the unwilling witnesses is a term that we use when we do a canvass of the area where the event is taking place. And you never ask someone, "Did you see anything strange?" You ask them, "Did you see anything?" "Okay. I see a guy sticking a mic in my mouth right now." Okay. That unknowing witness, that piece of information could be paramount to the investigation.

And like, what would be an example of something that people just don't pick up on as important?

Somebody walking down the street, parking a car. Why would that be important? Well, it would be important if later on, that car was parked at the same time the murder took place.

Right. How soon do you start talking to other people?

Immediately. Immediately because time is your biggest enemy in an investigation. People have short memories. They don't remember everything correctly. You got to get out there, and talk to people, and find out what the hell is going on. You have to reconstruct the time and the events going back, the dynamics of what was taking place in that area at the time.

How long of have law enforcement known about the basic techniques for solving cases?

Probably forever. Sherlock Holmes. Yeah, okay.

So, knock on doors, talk to everyone, and do it right away. Basic stuff. And the agency that was responsible for doing this in the Jacob Wetterling case was the Stearnes County Sheriff's Office. Here's how the investigation worked. The Stearnes County Sheriff was in charge. It was sheriff's deputies who were on the scene that night. They were the ones at the Wetterling's house and the ones who organized all that searching that night.

The sheriff did ask for help from the FBI and other agencies, and they arrived the next morning, but the sheriff stayed in charge of the investigation. So, I started calling some of the investigators from back then to ask them whether the sheriff and his deputies had done this policing 101 stuff, knocking on doors, asking people what they saw. And everyone was kind of dismissive when I asked them about this like, "Of course, we did that." Here's retired FBI agent Al Garber.

I'm not sure, but I would assume yes. Detectives ask those questions.

And Jeff Jamal, also, from the FBI.

I think, if the neighborhood was looked at very quickly and very broadly.

And former Stearnes County Detective Steve Mund.

I'm sure I did. I'm just going through the logical steps for doing investigation.

But no one I talked to actually remembered going around and knocking on doors that night. That seemed a little odd. So, I asked another reporter I worked with, Curtis Gilbert, to call everyone he could find who'd lived on the dead-end road that Jacob, Trevor, and Aaron would have biked along the night of October 22nd 1989, and ask them a simple question, "When did law enforcement first talk to you?"


We are recording?


Oh okay.

So, you're here to give me the latest?

I can give you the breakdown. I actually did … I made even like a little chart here.

Curtis managed to dig up some old city directories at a local archive, and he used those to figure out who lived on the dead-end street the boys biked down on October 22nd, 1989. It was nearly a hundred people. Some of them have since died, but Curtis tried to find as many as he could. He was able to reach 26.

Let me pull up my spreadsheet. I call this when they were first interviewed by police.

So, did law enforcement talk to everybody in the neighborhood that night?

That night, no way. Did you want to … I brought a little tape because I thought there's a few interesting things.

Yeah, that'd be great.

Curtis played me some audio from the people he talked to. And keep in mind, it's been 27 years, so some people's memories aren't great.

No, we didn't hear anything, you know. Isn't that weird? But they didn't really … They didn't come to the door that night, but they-

Oh, about two or three weeks later, the FBI came in. They knocked on the door.

But it was a couple of weeks, and they interviewed.

Did the police ever come knocking at your door since you lived in the neighborhood? Did you ever have to talk to the cops about it or?



They never did.

They never did? Okay.

Okay. So, people who are sure they were talked to that night of the 26, two. Two people were sure they were talked to that night.

Remember, we're not talking about everyone on the dead-end road, just the 26 people Curtis was able to reach.

Four people thought they were talked to the next day or maybe it was that night.

So, two people for sure that night. And then, another four people who think they were talked to the next day, but say it's possible it was really the first night. So, giving law enforcement the benefit of the doubt that six people on the dead-end road who were talked to by law enforcement that night out of the people Curtis talked to. As for the rest of the people, some of them said they weren't interviewed at all. Some said they were talked to the next day. Others say they were eventually interviewed a few days or even a few weeks later, but not by local law enforcement. They remember being interviewed by the FBI because it kind of creeped them out.

It was two agents. Everyone said they were talked to by two agents. Multiple people described those interviews this way, "There's two. There's two agents there. One of them asked you the questions, and the other one just watches you, watches your facial expressions." That's multiple people-


… who described exactly in those terms.

So, did law enforcement talk to everyone in the neighborhood that night? No. Did they go back to all the people they did interview, and talk to them over and over, like the experts say you should? No. And this failure to canvass the neighborhood thoroughly that night was a big deal. It meant that law enforcement didn't get all the information right away when it was most important in those critical first few hours. Those hours matter because, most of the time, if a child is going to be killed by an abductor, it happens in the first five hours. You can't go back the next day, and just redo the investigation. Most of the time, it's too late.

When I had pictured the kidnapping of Jacob Wetterling, I focused on the isolation that it didn't matter if anyone talked to the neighbors because no one in the neighborhood saw anything anyway. The boys were alone on that bike ride home. The street was deserted. It was just the three boys, Jacob, Aaron, and Trevor, and the abductor waiting for them in the dark. But that's not at all what was going on that night. It turns out that the whole way people have been picturing this crime is just wrong.

Lots of people saw that.

Wait. What?

Yeah, lots of people saw them coming. I mean-

Are you serious?

Yeah. People were out and kids were out. And I talked to multiple families who saw them coming and going.

Would you remember where you were when you first heard about the abduction?

Well, actually, I heard the boys going by me.

Curtis talked to one guy named Jim Kline. In 1989, he lived on the dead-end road, a bit closer to town. And on the evening of October 22nd, he was out in his garage working on a car.

Yeah,they were just walking with their … Coming back from the convenience store or whatever, and just walked right outside my garage. I just happened to be walking outside while they were going by and, you know, recognized who it was, but that was it.

Crazy. So, you probably saw them like around 9:00 that night or something, right?

Yeah, helps me out at the house.

You're probably like one of the last people to see him.

Yeah, possibly.


Jim Klein says he wasn't talked to by law enforcement until a week or two later, and he, actually, wasn't the last person to see the boys that night.

We were outside, and him and I were the only two out there. Maybe the other kids had gone in.

Yeah, because that's how the lady got in.

And we talked to them just briefly.

I talked to a brother and sister named Adam and Erica Sundquist who lived very close to the abduction site, about a two-minute walk down the road. They were 12 and 9 at the time. And that night, they were out playing what everyone on the block just called "night games."

Kicked the can. It goes in the graveyard. Just weird games we came up with.


I remember kick the can was the most probably.

Do you remember what we were doing?

We're throwing corn in there, where they kick of-

You what?

We had corn. We had corn from the field. We're shelling it, and throwing it in the air.

So, Adam and Erica are out in the yard throwing corn, and they see Jacob, and Trevor, and Aaron on their way back from the Tom Thumb. They said the boys were going pretty slow. They even threw some corn at them as a joke.

It was literally within a minute that they biked by our house that they were stopped up that hill. It was within a minute because it only takes about a minute to bike that distance, right?

Yeah, a minute or two, which was kind of spooky.

A few minutes after the boys passed their house, Erica and Adam remember seeing a burgundy car, with the kind of jacked up back, drive past heading south on the road in the same direction as the boys.

It's going up the hill towards where they went, pass us. So, I don't know. I mean, there is no road to turn off of. If you're going to get down the hill, there's two cul de sacs. And then, you had to come back through.

Yeah, there was no exit that way. You had to come back by our house to get out, you know, from back there.


Then, we went in the house. We've never seen anyone drive back through.

Erica and Adam say they don't remember any law enforcement officers knocking on their door that night. They don't remember ever talking to investigators, but they assume they must have, at some point. I do know their story matches what they were saying back then because they found a 15-second interview they did with a local TV news reporter back in 1989, just a day or so after Jacob was abducted.

They were going that way. And then, we see that car going really fast go by here, and he was going the same way.

I wasn't sure how seriously investigators would take this kind of information from a couple of kids. Is this the sort of thing that you'd elevate or just shrug off because, you know, 10-year-olds. But Patrick Zirpoli, the child abduction expert, told me that not only should you take these kinds of stories seriously, you should actually seek them out because kids notice things adults don't.

I've always said you want to look for that person who, not the parents think is odd, but other children in the neighborhood may say that this person is odd. "You know, he has been at the school bus before, the school bus stop before. He has talked to us in the park." Those are those individuals that you want to start looking for immediately because, you know, if they're in that area, you know, you want to identify them, identify their whereabouts as soon as you can.

Some of the neighbors who lived the closest to the abduction site suspected back then that something was off about the investigation. And some of the reasons they felt that way are striking. And frankly, in some cases, a little strange. Let me tell you about a family called the Klaphakes. They lived on the dead-end road. And their story about how they first encountered the investigators starts out in a kind of odd and kind of dark way. Curtis played me part of the conversation he had with Jerry Klaphake, the father of the family.

So, the Klaphakes, on the day of the abduction, they had been visiting relatives in the Twin Cities. They came back. Their car broke down like half an hour outside of town. They had to get that fixed. They went home. They went to bed. The next day, lots of police cars and media swarming the neighborhood, and their dog got hit by a car. So, he had … So, Jerry Klaphake had his neighbor with him, and he described burying the dog in their backyard.

And my neighbor, my next-door neighbor, was with me. I had just tilled up my garden, and I thought that's probably a good place to bury the dog. And so, I remember, at night, we're out there, and digging this hole, putting my dog in it, and then covering it up. Yeah, I told my neighbor. I said. "You're my witness. This is my dog down here," because I was convinced that, you know, it's a fresh grave. Basically, you know, dirt dug up. And they just had a ton of people doing a search in the woods behind our house. They were within probably 15 feet off my garden. And I was all surprised that they didn't catch that. And if they miss that, you know, what else did they miss. You know, that's what I thought at that time.

Jerry Klaphake told Curtis, the person he should really talk to is his son, Adam.

Could you just introduce yourself or say your name, so I can make sure you're being recorded okay?

Yeah. My name is Adam Klaphake.

And how old are you, Adam?

I am now 41.

Back in 1989, Adam was 14. He was friends with Jacob Wetterling. He would go over to the Wetterlings' house for sleepovers. And people in the neighborhood would even talk about how the boys looked alike. Adam said, first of all, there were other weird things that had happened on that dead-end road, including this one thing that happened about five or six years before Jacob was kidnapped.

I was probably 9 or 8, 9 or 10 years old, somewhere in those times.

Adam and some other kids were playing kickball out in the yard. It was around dusk.

And somebody kicked the ball over the hedge, and it had gone over the road, gone in the ditch. So, I jumped. I remember jumping to the hedge, running across the road to go grab the ball. I grabbed the ball. And as I'm grabbing it, somebody picked me up. I couldn't see the face after that. You know, I had my back to him. He had me like in a bear hug, or a bear hold, or whatever. And the person had glasses. I remember that, and kind of a dark, raspy voice. And then, as he's holding me up, he holds me pretty tight. My sister had opened the door and yelled for us that I needed to come in. And the guy says to me, 'You're lucky your sister called you," and he threw me down. And I never saw him.

Adam told Curtis he remembers telling his dad, but they didn't call the police. A few years pass, and then another strange thing happens to Adam on that same dead-end road in 1989, just a month or two before Jacob was kidnapped.

A couple of months before the abduction, he and his friend, Brandon, have been walking back from the Tom Thumb.

I was 14 at the time. Brandon was 12. We would go down to the Tom Thumb every night practically. We did that quite a bit that summer. And it was dark. It was after 10:00 at night.

And they were chased by a car-.


… down that same road.

The dead-end road, where just a month or two later, a man would grab Jacob and put him in his car.

And so, they jumped into the ditch.

He was right … He was he was real close, just behind us. And so, we just hit the ditch. And by then, he was like right there.

Oh my god.

And very freaked out, and they ran to Brandon's house, which is like three doors down from the Klaphakes.

The boys ran in to Brandon's parents garage.

So, we just went as fast as we could into his garage. And the car pulled into his driveway, and then backed up. And then, he just put it in park, and put it on brakes. And he just stared on us.

And they say they sort of have a staring contest with this car and the guy in the car for what Adam describes as a couple of minutes.


And then, they ran inside.

Did they see who the person was in the car?


Did they recognize him?


And what did they think this person was doing?

Being creepy.

Okay, but to get back-

But anyway-

… to it. So, what kind of car was it?

It was a blue car.

A blue car.


Not just any blue car.

My friend's mother had a Pontiac 6000. And we compared it to that. I think, they said it was a blue car that looks similar to a Pontiac 6000.

A blue Pontiac 6000. Here's what stopped me short about that, the car that Danny Heinrich was driving the night he kidnapped Jacob was a blue Ford EXP, but that car, that blue Ford looks a whole lot like a Pontiac 6000. Both are kind of boxy, low to the ground, would be easy to mistake one car for the other.

Adam and his dad say no one came and knocked on their door the night Jacob was kidnapped. No one came by that night to ask if they'd seen anything. No one asked Adam that night if he'd ever seen anyone creepy in the neighborhood.

I remember waking up the next morning because we didn't even know what had happened that night. And the dogs were barking in my bedroom window, and, you know, the police going through our yard and everything like that. That's how I woke up.

Adam said, still, no one from law enforcement came to him asking if he saw anything. So, he asked his dad to drive them to the command center a few days later. And Adam said both he and his friend, Brandon, described the car to investigators. Adam said, he told the same story to the FBI a few days later.

The authorities never spoke to me again after the FBI came to our house, and I kind of forgot about it.

He's never asked to look at any pictures or?

You know, I kind of thought that maybe they would press me a little more and maybe, you know, ask me some more questions about it. Who knows. Maybe even try to hypnotize me or something like that. But, you know, I said I'd do anything to help, and they don't want to have anything to do with it.

Years past, but Adam couldn't get the story out of his mind. Maybe the guy in the car was the same guy who'd kidnapped Jacob. It, certainly, seems similar, same road, a couple of kids, Adam even looked like Jacob.

Okay. So, in 2004, Adam Klaphake takes the day off of work to go talk to the sheriff again. He wants to tell the story again. You know, he doesn't remember it nearly as well. You know, it's what?

15 years later.

15 years later. And he offers to take them on a drive through the neighborhood. "I'll show you where this happened, and where we were chased from, and the route we would always take to go to the Tom Thumb." And he said that the police did not seem or the sheriff detective, who is the same detective who had interviewed him 15 years earlier, he didn't seem interested.

I remember leaving out of there just so angry because they weren't listening to anything that I had to say.

Adam said, for a long time, he figured the reason that investigators didn't seem interested was because maybe his details back then weren't great. Maybe his account was totally different from his friend, Brandon's. Maybe the whole thing was so vague that it was just useless. But about a year ago, Adam got curious, and asked a sheriff's deputy if he could look at his old statement, that statement he gave to law enforcement as a kid.

When I got the transcripts, my jaw dropped because I don't remember being able to identify the guy. That blew me away. Again, I thought my friend and I had disagreed upon the color of car, and that's why it was never brought up again. But that wasn't the case. We did agree on the color of the car, and we did agree on the description of the man, shorter hair, kind of a stocky build. There were probably a few other details that I don't remember, but we both said that we could identify him in a lineup.

And, you know, of course, like, then, you wonder, you know, "Okay, lineups aren't great," but you do wonder if they had put a bunch of photos in front of these two kids in separate rooms in October of 1989, what they would have said.

Yeah, we'll never know.

In the whole time, you know, you got two guys, a quarter of a mile from the abduction site that could possibly have identified him and no one ever asked. You know, like it totally slipped through the cracks. And now, it's too late. Now, it's too late, you know.

And here's the thing, Adam wasn't the first person to tell law enforcement about a creepy man in a blue car. Nine months before Jacob was kidnapped, there was another kid in the same county who was walking on a road one night when a man pulled up in a blue car and grabbed him.

Next time on In the Dark.

New evidence tonight leaves the FBI to believe that Jacob Wetterling's kidnapper may have struck before.

How many of these types of psychopathic pedophiles can exist in this 15 to 20-mile radius? I mean, was it more than one? Was there something bigger going on?

If they ever come close to finding me, I'll find you and kill you. Yeah.

There was a fear of God that was put into all of us, and that worry, and that fear, and that stress, or that … It just kind of festered and grew like a sliver. If you get a sliver in your finger, if you don't remove the sliver, it festers, and it grows, and then just infects the wound.

Nobody's ever asked me a single question about this or any of you guys. I've never been interviewed by police. I've never been talked to by any law enforcement ever, not one person.

In the Dark is produced by Samara Freemark. The associate producer is Natalie Jablonski. This episode was reported with significant help from reporter, Curtis Gilbert. In the Dark is edited by Catherine Winter with help from Hans Buetow. The editor in chief of APM Reports is Chris Worthington. Web editors are Dave Peters and Andy Kruse. The videographer is Jeff Thompson. Additional reporting by Jennifer Vogel, Will Craft, Emily Haavik, and Tom Scheck. Our theme music was composed by Gary Meister.

Go to InTheDarkPodcast.org to read more about Danny Heinrich, and to watch a video of Patty Wetterling talking about the search for Jacob, and to listen to audio from Curtis's interviews with the neighbors. And keep checking in, we'll be posting more information each week.

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In the Dark: S1 E1 The Crime

A quick note before we start the first episode of In the Dark, we were planning to put this out next week, but just today, there was a big development in the case that's at the center of this podcast. So, we're getting started early.

Today, October 12th, I'm five feet tall. My whole name is Jacob Erwin Wetterling. My favorite food is steak. My favorite color is blue. My favorite … I don't really have a favorite song. My favorite game is clue. My favorite thing to do most is watch football. My favorite sport is football.

On October 12, 1989, a sixth grader named Jacob Wetterling made this recording as part of a school project. Ten days later, he was kidnapped while riding his bike on a country road in a small town in Central Minnesota.

It's a case that defied logic then and now.

It is a crime that has both captivated and frustrated Minnesotans for the past 25 years.

On the outskirts of his hometown of St. Joseph, a young boy's missing.

It's the most feared type of abduction, one by a complete stranger. No ransom note, no contact.

What happened to Jacob Wetterling?

I've been hearing the name Jacob Wetterling ever since I moved to Minnesota 12 years ago. Jacob's kidnapping was a huge deal here. It changed the way people parented their children. It made kids afraid to go outside at night. And it even led to a federal law that requires all states to maintain registries of sex offenders.

This one case, this kidnapping of one 11-year-old boy changed the lives of millions of Americans. The case went unsolved for almost 27 years, until today when authorities announced that a man named Danny Heinrich had confessed to the crime, and had led officers to Jacob's remains.

Finally, we know. We know what the Wetterling family and all of Minnesota have longed to know since that awful night in 1989. We know the truth.

I went to the press conference this afternoon. The back of the room was a forest of cameras. And up in front behind the podium and wrapping all the way around to the sides of the room, there were more than 20 men and women in suits and uniforms. The US Attorney, the Stearns County Sheriff, agents from the FBI, and the State Crime Bureau, they took turns at the microphone, and offered their condolences to Jacob's parents, who are sitting a few feet away. And then, they thanked each other and praised each other for never giving up.

27 years is a very long time for an investigation to remain open and active. We are here today because of the perseverance of the investigative team; the commitment to aggressively follow up on every single lead no matter how small or seemingly insignificant; and the absolute belief that if we continued to press, we would, eventually, solve this case.

We got the truth. The Wetterling family can bring him home. And it's time for all of us to have closure and the peace that we're hoping can come next. Thank you.

But when a case takes 27 years to solve, we should stop and ask some tough questions of law enforcement, especially in a case like Jacob's, a case that's had devastating consequences far beyond the small town where this 11-year-old boy disappeared.

I'm Madeleine Baran, and I'm an investigative reporter at American Public Media, and I spent the past nine months looking into the Jacob Wetterling case. And from the beginning, there are things about this case that stood out to me. Jacob was kidnapped on a dead-end road in a town of just 3000 people. There were witnesses. Law enforcement got there right away. It seemed like the kind of case that could have been solved that night, while there was still a chance to find Jacob alive. So, what went wrong?

This is In the Dark, a new podcast from APM Reports. And over the next eight episodes, this is what we're going to do. We're going to look at the Jacob Wetterling case in a way that it hasn't been looked at before. We're going to find out why it took law enforcement 27 years to find the man who took Jacob; when all along, he was right in front of them. We're going to look at what law enforcement did and, also, what they didn't do. And we're going to see how those decisions would come to damage the lives of so many people in ways that no one talks about.

But before we get into what went wrong in this case, we need to talk about what happened that night. So, let's go back to where it all began, St. Joseph, Minnesota.

Good morning. Good morning.


Smoked morning, I guess.

I went out to meet Jacob's parents, Patty and Jerry, earlier this year, months before they knew what had happened to their son. They're in their 60s now. They still live on the outskirts of St. Joseph. It's a small town, mostly Catholic, mostly white, and mostly surrounded by farmland. Patty and Jerry still live in the same cozy brown house on the edge of town. On the front of the house, there was a string of lights that spelled out the word "hope."

There's so many people in and out of this house.

Patty is this tiny woman, barely five feet, blond hair, blue eyes. Jerry is tall, with a short white beard, and he has the look of a college professor or maybe a therapist.

Would you like some coffee?

I'm good.


Jerry is a chiropractor. He works out of an old house downtown that's been converted into an office. Back when Jacob was kidnapped, Patty was a stay-at-home mom to their four children: Amy, Trevor, Carmen, and Jacob.

I wonder if we, you know, if we can talk to a little bit about Jacob.

Jacob was our second child, and he was a very large baby. I understood labor when he was born. He was big. He was a happy kid.

Jacob was very passionate. What he would do, he would do 100 percent, and really be into it. That's really cool.

He wanted to be a veterinarian. He loved animals. He loved … We got Marcus, our puppy when Jacob broke his arm, and he just knew it wouldn't hurt if he had a puppy. I was a pushover. So, we got Marcus. And he would lay on the floor and, you know, and drink water out of the bowl to show this dog how to do it. He was … He loved animals. Yeah. He was a good spirit.

That was Jacob as his parents remembered him the last time they saw him, October 22nd, 1989, when he was 11.

Should we … Can we just start with that day?

I don't know. I can't seem to forget that day.


Yeah, it was a hockey weekend. Our kids were in … The boys were in hockey.

It was a Sunday, but the kids had off school the next day. By late October, this part of Minnesota is usually well on its way to winter. But this Sunday was warmer, in the '70s even. And there are lots of kids out, running around, wearing shorts, and tossing footballs. There was a polka festival in town. That morning, Jacob and his dad, Jerry, went fishing. They came back home, and everyone gathered around the TV to watch the Minnesota Vikings play the Detroit Lions. Later that afternoon, they went skating at an indoor ice rink.

That night, Jacob's parents headed out to a gathering at a friend's house. Jacob stayed home with his brother, Trevor, and his sister, Carmen. His best friend, Aaron Larson came over for a sleepover. They ate a pizza for dinner, hung out for a while. And at some point, the boys decide they want to rent a movie from a nearby store called Tom Thumb. Specifically and please stand by for quintessential '80s moment, they wanted to rent Major League, this goofy baseball comedy.

We'd love for you to come to spring training for a shot at this year's club.

But Major League was rated R, so they called up a 14-year-old girl who lived next door,Rochelle Jerzak. And the boys asked Rochelle, for such a sixth grader in the '80s, favor.

They wanted me to call Tom Thumb to get them to rent a movie that was R because they thought maybe my voice sounded older.

So, did you call over to Tom Thumb?

I didn't.

You're like, "I'm not. No. Nice try."

No. Yeah, I don't know. That kind of stuff makes me nervous, like I'm gonna get busted. I mean, thinking about it now, like "What would the worker at Tom Thumb do?" But, nonetheless, that was my mode of thinking at the time.

So, a big no to Major League. So, they figured, "We'll just rent a different movie." So, they called their parents.

Trevor called, and asked if they could ride their bikes to the store, and rent a video. And I said no. They hadn't really done that before. It's a mile just down the hill, but, you know, that's cornfield. It's dark. There's nothing in between. They've never done it at night. And Trevor said, "Well, let me talk to dad." And it was funny. And I remember calling him like, "Your son would like to talk to you." Jerry went to the phone.

My whole concern was the car hitting them, you know. And so, being seen at dark, that was my only concern.

Trevor told his dad that he would carry a flashlight and Jacob would wear a reflective vest.

And you said it should be okay?

And so, the girl next door, Rochelle came over to watch Jacob's youngest sister, Carmen.

I mean, I remember them putting on this reflective vest. And then, at least, one or maybe both of the other boys had flashlights.

And then, that was kind of it?

The boys head out. It's about 8:30 at night. Jacob and Trevor are on bikes. Aaron's on a scooter. The route the boys took that night was pretty simple. The Tom Thumb store was just a 15-minute or so bike ride into town, mostly on one street. This long dead-end country road that leads from the cul de sac, where the Wetterlings live, right into town. There's not much in between, just some cornfields, some woods. And then closer to town, a few blocks of houses.

As they biked up the road, the boys passed a long gravel driveway. And somewhere close to that driveway, Jacob's younger brother, Trevor, heard a rustling sound in the corn, but he didn't say anything. They kept on biking. They got to the Tom Thumb, and they rented a movie, The Naked Gun, and they bought some snacks. Then, they headed back home. They were just sort of taking their time, walking their bikes for a bit, just kind of messing around.

They passed the few blocks of houses. The lights of the town faded away. They kept going. They went pass woods and fields. It got darker. There were no sidewalks, and no street lights, not even the moon was out. The only light came from a flashlight that Jacob's brother, Trevor, flashed in front of them. They kept going.

They approached the long gravel driveway, the spot where there had been that rustling sound earlier. They were almost home. All of a sudden, a man appeared on the road. He was walking toward them. He was dressed all in black. His face was covered with something dark. It was hard to tell what.

When he told us he had a gun, and he told us to turn around, and go over into this ditch, and get our bikes, and then lay down.

Aaron talked to a TV reporter back then.

I thought it was some kid pulling a prank on us or something, but there wasn't any. He looked at Trevor, and he told Trevor to turn off his flashlight.

The man asked Trevor his age. "10," Trevor said.

He told Trevor to run as fast as he could into the woods, or else he'd shoot.

Then, the man turned to Aaron. The man paused. He asked him as age. "11," Aaron said. The man looked at Aaron, and the man grabbed him in the crotch.

Then, he looked at me, and then he grabbed me. And told me to run as fast as I could in the woods or he'd shoot.

Did Jacob say anything to the man?

Uh-uh. Just his age.

"11," Jacob said.

When you ran, did you look back?

Yeah, once we get way down there.

What did you see?

Nothing. He wasn't there anymore.

It was about 9:20 on the night of October 22nd, 1989. Here's how I think about that first night. I think about the spot on the side of the road where Jacob was taken, and I draw a circle around it, around Jacob and the abductor. At that moment, the moment Jacob was kidnapped, the circle was still small. Jacob was right there. But then, I picture that circle, that circle of where Jacob and the man could be slowly expanding as the man and Jacob get farther and farther away, as the seconds and minutes tick by.

If law enforcement was going to find Jacob, they needed to act quickly before the circle got too big. And here's why. The best study on child abduction cases found that if a child is going to be killed, most of the time, it happens within the first five hours, 85% of the time, in fact. And by the end of the first 24 hours, in almost every case, the child has been killed.

Rochelle was watching TV at the Wetterling house with Jacob's younger sister when Jacob's brother, Trevor, and his friend, Aaron, ran in screaming.

"Rochelle, someone took Jacob. Someone took Jacob. There was a man with a gun, and he took Jacob." And I was like, "What?", you know, because it was so out of the realm of anything I could have ever imagined that it took me a minute to really understand it.

Rochelle called her dad, Merle. He came over and called Jacob's parents, Jerry and Patty Wetterling, right away.

Jerry took it, and it was Rochelle's dad, Merle, telling us that-

He asked for me. He didn't want to tell you. He asked for me, and said, "Come straight home. Aaron and Trevor came back, but Jacob didn't come back. And you come straight home," and he would call 911.

911, emergency.

This is Merlyn Jerzak calling from St. Jo.


I'm right now next door at my neighbors, the Jerry Wetterling family.

It was 9:32 p.m., about 15 minutes or so since Jacob had been abducted.

Some of their boys went down to Tom Thumb to pick up a movie. And on their way back, someone stopped them. We believe that they have one of the boys because one of the boys did not come back with them.

And they don't know where the other friend is at?

They don't know where their brother and friend is at. I think that maybe my best bet is to let Trevor get on the phone, and he can describe to you-


… what he saw and this type of thing.

Okay, I'm ready.

Okay. I'll put Trevor on.


And he can answer your questions. We've got him pretty well calmed down here.




This … you're talking to the Sheriff's Office. I want you to give me anything you can recall about this male party that approached you guys.

Well, he was … He was like sort of … He was like a man, sort of big.


He had like a … It looked-

Here's what Trevor told 911, a man had stepped out of the darkness. The boys didn't recognize him, and they didn't see or hear a car anywhere. The man's face was covered with something dark, maybe black nylons. He sounded like he had a cold. In the dark, that was all the boys could make out.

Meanwhile Jacob's parents, Patty and Jerry Wetterling, were on their way back home.

We were driving home absolutely confused. "What's going on?" It seemed like we were going so slow. In my mind, he was driving like 10 miles an hour, and I'm like, "Speed. Hurry up." And he said he didn't want to get stopped by the police. And I said, "Well, we'd have a police escort. Just drive."

How far away were you?

We were near Clearwater. So, it was a good 20-25 minutes.

Okay. We're you talking to each other?

A little. We didn't talk a lot. In my memory, it was just like, "What do you say? What's going on?"


I was so confused. And then, I said something really mean. It's like, "Oh, who told them they could go to the store?" And Jerry said, "I did. So, if you want to be mad at somebody, be mad at me."

Stearns County Sheriff's Deputy Bruce Bechtold was in a squad car just a few miles away when the dispatcher called him.

It was over the squad radio. There was a call on the radio. When they called an abduction of a child, well, you don't think that happens here. So, my initial thought was somebody panicked. It's really not an abduction. Somebody's kid ran away. Somebody's playing a game. So, I started going that way. And the more information the dispatcher gave, the more serious I realized it was, and that there was a gun involved, and then it became real.

Deputy Bechtold was the first to arrive at the Wetterling house. He got there at 9:38 p.m. It had only been 20 minutes or so since Jacob had been abducted. The man who took him couldn't be very far away. Deputy Bechtold wanted Trevor and Aaron to show him the spot where Jacob was kidnapped. Rochelle, the babysitter, says the boys were still terrified. They didn't want to go back out into the dark. So, her dad, Merle, offered to go with them. Rochelle says that left her and Jacob's younger sister alone in the house.

And I just remember them saying, "Okay, lock all the doors and don't open the doors." So, that's what we did. And we sat in the corner huddled like this because in that corner, there's no windows, so, no one could see us. But we were just terrified. I mean, we were terrified. And then, I remember a few minutes later, hearing a knock at the door. And I'm like, "I'm not answering that door."

What were you thinking?

I was thinking it's the man that took Jacob, and that he was going to come take us. And then, a few more minutes went by, and maybe it was even seconds, but it felt like hours, the phone rang. And it was the sheriff saying, "We're at the door. Open the door for us."

Stearns County Sheriff Charlie Grafft had just turned on the 10:00 news at his home that night when he saw a deputy's car race down the street.

When I called in the office to find out what was going on, and they said that a boy had been abducted, kidnapped by a man with a gun out near St. Jo.

Sheriff Grafft died in 2003. This is from a TV interview he did shortly after the abduction.

So, I immediately got in my squad, drove out there, and started questioning the boys as to what happened, try to get something going.

And they sat down here at the table, and they kept asking the boys, you know, first, "What happened?" And then, they asked some questions like, "Are you sure you guys weren't, you know, playing with a gun, and Jacob got hurt, and you're afraid to tell?", or "Are you sure Jacob didn't just run away, and you're, you know, trying to buy him some time until he gets where he's going or something?" And they're like, "No," you know. They were really, really clear.

By about 10 45 p.m., about an hour and a half after Jacob was kidnapped, investigators had fanned out with flashlights to search the area near the abduction site. The Sheriff, Charlie Grafft, called in volunteer firefighters to help with the search.

Charlie said they were going to comb the woods. And he said, "You know, it's not a bad thing. Maybe he's tied to a tree or something. We're hoping that we're going to find him. And then, that's why we're searching." You know, he was trying to reassure. And I wanted to … There's a part of me that wanted to go out and search. And then, he told me that we needed to stay here, "What if Jacob calls or comes home? You know you need to be home."

The sheriff called the state patrol and asked for them to come right away with a helicopter.

I got up in a helicopter with them, and we searched the area with a spotlight they had underneath the helicopter. And we're right down on top of the power line almost. And we searched for about an hour and a half up there in the air, and plus what we have on the ground.

The helicopter search found nothing, but investigators searching on the ground did find something in the gravel driveway across the street from the abduction site, some tire tracks and some shoe prints. They didn't know what to make of them. The boys hadn't seen a car, and it's not like it's unusual to find tire tracks in a driveway. So, investigators weren't sure whether the tire tracks even had anything to do with the abduction.

I talked to another officer who was at the scene that night, Stearns County Detective Steve Mund. He's since left the sheriff's office. And he told me the way he saw it that night, there had to be a car. It was the only theory that made sense.

I mean, it was not like you're in the inner city with, you know, apartment buildings and something where you couldn't take someone, and be gone in five blocks, and then have 5000 places to hide. How could you get away from there with someone and not have a car, you know, connected to it?

Right. Because, otherwise, he should just be right there, right?

Well, yeah. I mean, either … Yeah, you're either going to have to be in a house that's right there or something like that, but how would that occur, I'm not sure, so.

The long gravel driveway across from the spot where Jacob was abducted curbs around and leads down to a white farmhouse with a clothesline out front, a chicken coop, and a grain silo. Inside the farmhouse that night was a 34-year-old man named Dan Rassier. He was home alone.

And around 9 p.m., Dan was upstairs in his bedroom organizing his record collection when his dog barked. Dan peered outside and saw a car coming down the driveway.

I could hear the car coming down the hill, and it turns around.

It was small and dark, and the headlights were close together. Dan didn't get a good look at the driver. The car turned all the way around in front of the house, and then headed back out toward the road.

And then, I go. I go to bed. I'm sleeping because I remember waking to the dog. The dog keeps barking.

It was around 10:45 that night when Dan woke up.

And I looked out at one of the windows, and I see, you know, all these flashlights around the woodpile.

Dan thought maybe some guys were trying to steal his firewood.

And I stepped out the door. And at that point, I remember my heart rate going up, and realizing I can't go out there. I can take care of maybe a couple of them, but not like 10 of them. And I just immediately called 911. They said a child was taken, and I go "Oh, okay." So, I went right up there.

Dan went outside. He saw the helicopter overhead. And as he walked up his driveway, he ran into Bruce Bechtold, the sheriff's deputy. Dan and the deputy say they talked briefly, and that was pretty much it. No one paid any more attention to Dan that night.

So, no one came and knocked on your door that night?


And nobody came and searched your house that night?


And nobody searched any of, as far as you know, the buildings, the farm buildings that are right around her house?

No. I remember saying, "I'm going to … I'll look down here," and that was a mistake.

Why was it a mistake?

Because it's like if only I would have just said, "You guys got to come down here now and look everywhere. Go through my room. Go anywhere you like." That's what I should have done.

All the things that law enforcement didn't do that night at the Rassier Farm would come to matter a great deal years later, and would change Dan's life in a way that could never be undone. But we'll get to that later.

Patty waited up for Jacob all night. And she remembers sitting there wanting the whole world to be looking for her son.

And I remember asking because we had turned the radio on, and there was a report that this child was lost in the woods. And I called WJON, and said, "He wasn't lost. He was kidnapped." And they said, "Well, we can only report what the police are telling us." And so, I remember asking Charlie Grafft, the sheriff, "Would it hurt to get the right story out in the media?"

What was it? It was … Nothing was done until Charlie said it was okay, and that was like 5:00 a.m. That's when WJON was first called. And I don't know what you're talking about as far as a lost boy.

I heard it on the radio.

Okay. I don't know. What were you doing listen to the radio at 3:00 in the morning?

It's been 27 years since Jacob was abducted. So, it's not surprising that Patty and Jerry don't agree on every last detail of what happened. But it's not as simple as that. When something awful happens to your family, you assume you'll never forget it, and that no one else in your family will either, that the story will remain the same. So, when you realize that your stories have changed, that you no longer agree on the most basic parts of what happened, that can be pretty unsettling.

A lot of stuff gets confused.

Yeah, it's-

But I don't know. I don't know.

It's so-

Well, where were you? Okay. And this is crazy. Where were you at 3:00 in the morning? I don't remember. I was in shock. My-

I tried to sleep for an hour.

I didnt.

I was trying to escape.

I didn't sleep for days. I remember hearing it on the radio, and I remember calling WJON. So, you can tell me that that didn't happen, and I'll believe you, but that's my memory of it.

Time out.


You see, this is stressful to do.


We're fighting.

We're not fighting.

I know, but it's just to go back there, it's very painful.

The search that night was a failure. No Jacob, no abductor, no clothing left behind, no car. And at 3:00 a.m., less than six hours since Jacob had been kidnapped, investigators made a big decision. They called off the search. One of the detectives at the scene, Steve Mund, told me there was no point in continuing to search in the dark.

Just that, you know, working under flashlights and stuff, you might miss certain trace evidence. So, it's important that we did it in daylight hours.

As the hours ticked by in the late, late evening and early morning, the circle that started out so small on that road where Jacob was taken expanded many times over. Eventually, the circle would expand to include most of Central Minnesota, then all of Minnesota, then the Midwest, Canada, the entire United States, the world.

Are there things he would have done differently now looking back on it?

You have done differently, I know, you always think about that, but no. I think, the people that worked on that case did truly 110% every day that we're there. And I don't know. I don't know that there's anything we could have done differently.

What detective Mund just said that he doesn't know that there is anything they could have done differently, I heard this so many times while reporting on this case. And every time, I was startled by it because here's a case that had gone on for 27 years without being solved.

The Jacob Wetterling case is, by any reasonable measure, a failure. But what went wrong is hard to figure out because for 27 years, the investigative file on the Jacob Wetterling case, that stack of documents that tell you what the crime scene looks like, what witnesses said, what physical evidence was found, and generally everything that law enforcement did and didn't do, all of that has been closed to the public. It's still closed.

This is pretty standard for unsolved cases. It's meant to protect the investigation and to protect the witnesses and the suspects, but it also protects law enforcement. It means we aren't allowed to know what law enforcement is doing in some of the most serious criminal investigations in this country. We're just supposed to trust them.

Coming up over the next few weeks on In the Dark.

Stearns County Sheriff's Office has quite a reputation for horrendous investigations, false accusations, leaving families in the dark. I mean, what's going on down there? Why is everything such a secret?

This is what happens when you talk. And he said it twice to me now. This is what happens when you talk.

All these evidence that people have, and nothing is being done. 50,000 leads, and what got checked out?

But there has to be an element in there to have accountability. And when accountability is not there, disastrous things happen.

I'm not going to dwell on things that that could have been done, should have been done differently because that's not helpful. Do I wish some things would have been done differently? Sure. Can I talk about that in this particular case? No.

By enacting this law, we're sending a clear message across the country, those who prey on our children will be caught, prosecuted, and punished to the fullest extent of the law.

How many of these types of psychopathic pedophiles can exist in this 15 to 20-mile radius?

Just like, "What? We lived here the whole time, and he's just down the damn road all those years?", you know. And it's like, "What?"

I got to believe that authorities did their job. So, if it's Danny, why would you allow him to be free the last 25 years?

In the Dark is produced by Samara Freemark. The associate producer is Natalie Jablonski. It's edited by Catherine Winter, with help from Hans Buetow. The editor in chief of APM Reports is Chris Worthington. Web editors are Dave Peters and Andy Kruse. The videographer is Jeff Thompson. Additional reporting by Curtis Gilbert, Jennifer Vogel, Will Craft, Tom Scheck, and Emily Haavik. Our theme music is composed by Gary Meister.

Go to InTheDarkPodcast.org for a more detailed look at the night of the abduction and to hear the recording of the original 911 call. And keep checking in, we'll be posting more information on our website each week.

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Intro of capturing great audio

My name is Pete Combs and I'm a reporter for K O M O KOMO radio in Seattle. I've been doing this for about 40 years and my life has basically revolved around gathering audio and putting it on the air.

The gathering audio part is what I want to talk to about because there's a lot you can do to make your audio presentations sound great and to improve the quality of audio for the purpose of transcription. For instance when you're doing phone audio you want to record that on a landline if possible.

Levels and cadence of speech

Speak slowly and make sure that there are no glitches in that landline connection. If there are, do them over again. It doesn't hurt and it could make the transcription a lot more clear.

If you're doing it in person, the one thing I tell you, is make sure your levels aren't too high. In the digital world you can certainly boost levels all day long but when you try to deal with levels that have gone too high and they distort, there's nothing much you can do. The audio will just remain terrible. So if you have any doubt about the volume of your recording go low and you can adjust later.

Volume of recording and exact leveling

I usually do my recordings at 4,400 hertz or 44.1, and I use 64 bit audio when I do an MP3. For radio use I usually record MP3s at 44.1 kilohertz and I use a bit depth of 64 kilobytes per second. That's pretty clear. And again the volume is the key here. You don't want to get too loud.

Summary of capturing great audio

Try those as you're making recordings for transcript and if you have any problems remember this: Slow down. The slower you go the easier it is for the computer to figure out what you're saying. I'm Pete Combs. Good luck and happy recording.

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Popular Transcripts How To Upload A Podcast To iTunes

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Full Transcript by Sonix: How To Upload A Podcast To iTunes – Set Sail Podcast


So, today, we are going to talk about how to upload your podcast to iTunes. And I know what you're thinking, maybe, is that you don't actually upload your podcast to iTunes. Well, not the actual MP3 files. And if you didn't know that, now, you do.

Submitting your podcast RSS feed to iTunes

You submit your podcast RSS feed to iTunes. And then, they will read that file, and basically display that file points to where your audio files are located, which will be on a podcast host, like I mentioned in the last episode. And then, people will play them from iTunes or any other podcast app. And it will actually play the files that are stored on the podcast host. I hope that makes some sense.

So, I actually created a post called How to Upload a Podcast to iTunes or Any Other Directory. And that's what we are going to be talking about here because that's what I have done recently, and I feel like it's a good starting point.

Adding title and description

So, you'll need to upload your MP3 that you've created to a podcast host. And in the article, I referenced Buzzsprout. So, we'll just use them as an example. You'll upload. They have a big upload button. You click that. And after that is done, you'll add a title, and some description, any notes you want to add. If you have a different author, you can put that in.

And then, keep in mind that you only have to do the submission one time. After that, it will automatically happen in the background for you every time you upload a new episode. So, you will add in your show notes, and your title, and description, and all that info. And then, you can embed a player.

Instructions when using WordPress

If you're using a third-party website like WordPress, the next step is to submit your RSS feed to iTunes. And there are some things that you'll need to make sure are set up before you do that. You will need, one, an Apple ID. And it's free. You'll need a title, description, artwork with a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels.

You'll need to choose a category, but I actually recommend choosing three different categories, so that you can be found in three different places. And then, you'll need to choose a language, and explicit or not explicit. So, the cursing, if that's included or not in your podcast.

And then, if we're using Buzzsprout, they have a little tab to click on iTunes. Copy your RSS feed. Then, you'll hop over to Podcasts Connect with your new Apple ID, if you didn't have one already. And you'll put in your RSS feed URL. You will click validate.

And if everything is set up correctly, and you put in all the info that is required, you'll see a little status that says, "Prepare for submission" with a green light. If it's red, and it says that anything is missing, it will highlight what you are missing from your feed. And just make sure you go in and update that to comply with their guidelines. And then, you will click submit.

How long does it take?

And I know Apple says that it can take a few days to a few weeks to approve your podcast. But when I submitted this podcast you're listening to, it took 31 minutes for them after I clicked submit for them to, basically, make it live. And it took me another day for it to be searchable.

So, be prepared for it to happen quickly if you've done everything correctly, so that you can hop in and start promoting your podcast. I would just be ready. I was planning on having an extra day, at least, to kind of prepare some images and stuff for the launch, but I did not. So, that's life.

Recommendation on other podcast directories

And then, after you submit to iTunes, I highly recommend submitting to some other podcast directories. And some big ones are Google Play, they have their own separate portal, and you'll submit, basically, the same way as iTunes, and Stitcher, and Tunein, or a couple of others.

And you'll see on this post that you can find at SetSailPodcast.com/3, at the bottom, there'll be a link to a list of other podcasts directories. And then, from there, there'll be links to those different directories to submit to. So, check that out.

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Popular Transcripts Best USB microphones for podcasting

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Full Transcript by Sonix: Best USB Microphones For Podcasting – Set Sail Podcast

Ross: Hey and welcome to Episode 5 of the Set Sail podcast. My name is Ross Kaplan Wynn and I'm glad you could join me today.

Ross: So today we we're going to talk about microphones specifically we're going to talk about USB microphones and worry about the other types in a future episode. And for USB the microphones what's great about them is that they're really easy to use compatible with literally every computer.

Ross: So you just plug them in and make sure that you have selected it as your input device in your computer and then you can open up any program you want. Garage Band or Audacity or Audition. There's a million million other programs if you if you want.

Ross: And start recording and it's really so that simple. You'll want to make sure that you have adjusted the input settings so the gain levels don't peek into the red. You know so you don't you don't want your voice to be cut off of you if you end up talking too loudly.

Ross: And besides that yeah there really is a use and there's really only a handful of quality USB microphones that that are recommended for for podcasting and recording recording your audio or your voice. Sure there's a bunch of other like kind of cheaper USB mics that work fine for Skype calls and you know business kind of meeting stuff.

Ross: But you probably want a little just a tiny bit higher quality one for podcasting but that doesn't mean they need to spend a ton. And all of USB microphones as far as I'm aware that are out there are all under 200 dollars.

Ross: And most are actually under under about 150 and some are a lot less closer to the 50 dollar range. So let's let's dive into it here and I'll highlight some of the best.

Ross: So the first one is the Blue Yeti and this one is extremely popular just because so many people use it and it has a ton of cool features so for one it has a headphone jack which is really important and actually that's one thing I want to recommend.

Ross: If you get a USB mic look for one that has a headphone jack so that you can monitor your audio without any delay. So if you plug in your headphone jack into your computer separate from your microphone there can be a slight a slight delay until you hear an echo as a recording and it just it doesn't it doesn't make it easy to listen to and or makes it difficult to record.

Ross: So that's one feature that I use strongly suggest looking at over over most of the others for USB mics and so that the Blue Yeti has four different settings on it. It has for how it picks up sound so it has cardiod which is a front facing nut's like your standard vocal recording setting.

Ross: It has omni directional which means the records are picks up sound equally from all sides which is great for that like a conference table or if you have a group of people kind of sitting around. That's an option.

Ross: It has a left and right option so it's just kind of stereo recording and it has bi directional which is front and back. So if you're doing an in person interview and you only have the Blue Yeti mic that would be a good option to use that.

Ross: And place it equally spaced in between you and then it should get both of your voices without picking up sounds from the side. So it's kind of cool that it has all those options. If you're going to use them and that's the the big if. The Blue Yeti was my first mic that I got and I thought oh sure I'll use all these features but I've only ever used it in the cardiod kind of a front facing setting.

Ross: So just something to think about because you do pay a little bit extra for that feature and then it also has gain control so you can control how sensitive the microphone is which is really cool because you don't have to set that in your software.

Ross: So that's a nice feature and then also has a volume control for your headphone right onboard so you can set that appropriately. And lastly it has a mute button which is really cool that not a lot of the not the other USB mics don't have.

Ross: So you can you can get mute mic or you know if you're need to cough or if you just want to make sure it's not recording. You can hit that button and it has a nice red light that that flashes when it's muted.

Ross: And so Blue actually discounts this mic a few times a year. So I've got it. Normally it's around 120 130 dollars but during Amazon Prime Day Black Friday Cyber Monday those type of special holiday sale days. I have found it for 80 to 90 dollars so just if you don't need it right away those are great times to get it.

Ross: But either way it's a it's an awesome deal for for the price. And they offer it in like 10 different colors. So there's black silver platinum white blue gray say white a different kind of white satin reds slate. So a bunch of stuff.

Ross: And then they also have a Yeti Pro model that includes the USB connection but it also includes an XLR connection so you can hook it up to a USB interface or mixer. And kind of gives you a lot more flexibility but that one comes at a higher higher cost.

Ross: So just something to be aware of that you have another option there. And I guess the only downside with the Yeti is that it's a it's a really large microphone. Because it has to have the audio digital to analog converter built in. And has all those different settings and a headphone amp and all the stuff.

Ross: So it's big and heavy which means that you need if you want to hook it up to boom arm or stand you'll need a really solid sturdy mic stand in order to use it with the Yeti. And especially if you add on there their Blue Radius 2 shock mount. That one is pretty heavy as well so this the weight starts to add add up and it will it will cripple some of the smaller boom arms just something to be aware of.

Ross: I personally use the Heil PL2T boom arm and it can hold it just fine. So but that one costs around 100 dollars. And I think the Rode has one as well that's a comparable price and quality. I would try to avoid some of the some of the knockoff options if you're going with the Blue Yeti.

Ross: And next up we have the Audio-Technica 802020USB Plus and just want start off by saying that there's a big difference between the USB and USB plus versions. So with the Plus model you get that headphone jack that I said is so important.

Ross: And with the volume control and you get a mix dial that allows you to blend your computer audio with your voice. So you can kind of do some cool things with that feature. And it's great for gaming and streaming if you do that as well.

Ross: So just the headphone jack alone is a must have feature. For USB mic. So just be aware that there's some different different models and you want the Plus model of that. And let's see here we have they make a ton of them. The standard XLR version of the 802020 is a staple in the voiceover industry broadcasting industry all audio voice recording stuff. They're relatively cheap work well sturdy.

Ross: So great option. And I think thing that runs about a hundred and fifty dollars. Yep yep 150. So pretty good pretty good price. It's a it's a cardiod front front facing only. So Yah it's an awesome awesome option. You want to look into where mic stand or boom arm to go with that though.

Ross: And the next we have the Audio-Technica ATR2100 USB. And this one is a really popular podcasting mic and I think even Tim Ferriss used this mic for a while when he started out. I know he's since upgraded to something much much fancier but.

Ross: What's great about the ATR2100 is that it has both USB and XLR connections. And you can use them both at the same time. So what's cool about that is let's say you want to record with USB to your computer. You can also connect the XLR cable to a digital audio recorder so that you can kind of save a backup version in case maybe your computer crashes while you're recording.

Ross: You'll have you'll have a backup saved for it. That's just one kind of scenario where that can be useful or if you just end up upgrading down the line and so you just use the USB version to start with and then later maybe you add cohosts and you want to get another one and then you need to get a mixer.

Ross: You can just start using the XLR connections and just skip the USB stuff altogether. So a lot a lot of flexibility it's small handheld and comes with a little stand still. It's nice like travel mic too and I think it runs about 70 dollars so cool. Great great option to get started with.

Ross: I've seen some comparisons from between it and some other more expensive 400 dollar mics and it's almost as good. So you would you would be hard pressed to notice the difference so I highly recommend that one. If you don't mind kind of the handheld design in a mic.

Ross: And to round out my top recommendations is the Rode NT USB. And this is pretty awesome little little kit. It comes with a pop filter. And so what that does is helps the mic from picking up those kind of p hard p sounds. So if you put your hand in front of your face and say plank or something you'll you'll feel the air push into your hand.

Ross: And that also will push into the mic. So you want to avoid that by not not only with mic placement by placing the mic kind of at an angle off to the side but also by having a screen or filter cover that helps kind of diffuse that air coming out of your mouth. So it comes with one of those.

Ross: It comes with a zero latency headphone jack for monitoring your audio. Awesome. It comes with mix control kind of like the AT2020 USB Plus to mix your voice and your computer audio together.

Ross: And then it comes with a little stand and a storage pouch so nice little package. And you can also use it with the iPad if you have the camera connection kit. So if you want to record with an iPad that's cool. I think that will work with an iPhone as well.

Ross: So Rode is well-known for just making quality audio equipment. I have two Rode mics I'm recording on their Procaster right now which is not a USB mic.

Ross: But actually one there is one more. There's the Rode Podcaster which is a USB mic by a Rode. So you can also check out that one too. There are some some other popular USB mics but I just want to mention them because I don't recommend them at all. I'll tell you why.

Ross: So the first one is Apogee mic 96K and I think it's just a little a little overpriced and it doesn't include a headphone jack. So that's the main reason it doesn't have a headphone jack. I'd try to avoid it.

Ross: And the next is the Razer Seiren and it's basically the same kind of setup and design as the Blue Yeti. But because Razer hasn't really been in the audio industry for very long at all. There are more more well known for computer gaming accessories keyboards mice headphones that type of stuff.

Ross: I would just know if you're going to spend it's the same price as the Yeti or maybe even a little more. If you're going to get if you're thinking about getting that I would just get the Blue Yeti over the Razer. So that's the only reason there and I've seen some reviews that just say it doesn't. It's just not up to the same. Same level of quality.

Ross: So I'm moving on. Those are those are all makes above the hundred dollar range. There are a few few more here under a hundred dollars.

Ross: And the first is the Blue Snowball. So it's basically the Yeti's little brother or little sister. And it includes two microphone capsule's which allow you to switch between cardiod and omni directional. So it kind of gives you nice little option there if you want to record you know just you or maybe your your whole little table or something.

Ross: And it has an adjustable stand and so you know there's also a Snowball Ice which is the cheaper version it doesn't have the adjustable stand it doesn't have that you pick up patterns. So it's it's a it's a bit different. But the name is is so similar that I wanted to make sure you're aware of the difference there. It does not have a headphone jack though so that's where I am. I'm not the biggest fan.

Ross: But a similar kind of level mic is the Samson Meteor mic. And it does have a headphone jack. Works with an iPad if you have the camera connection adapter. It has a a mute button headphone volume dial. The legs are built in to make it stand so kind of a nice little package.

Ross: Another great travel mic if you want something as maybe a backup. That's an awesome option as well. Looks like a little little rocket ship so really cool nice sub 100 dollar mic. Let me pull up the price right now at 67 dollars so its a nice comparison with the ATR2100 USB. I think are exactly the same price.

Ross: And then another nice travel mic is the Blue Snowflake. It's a cardiod mic. USB make as well. And it's tiny. It can clip to the top of your laptop screen. It kind of folds and packs tightly together. So it looks looks really nice. Check that one out. Blue snowflake. If you want a travel mic or do something some a lot cheaper.

Ross: And in that same vein Samson has a Go mic that folds up. Also clipped to the top of your screen. So has a headphone jack. And perfect for perfect for travel or just a great mic if you want something that's 20 times better than your built-in laptops microphone. And I mentioned the Ice before.

Ross: And then to round out options there's the Samson Meteorite which is a tiny little on. And I think it's it's it's about 40 dollars. That's more than I remember being.

Ross: So I would I'd probably try to go with those ones that have headphone jacks. You don't need to spend a ton. And know that when you buy a microphone they last forever so you know it can last years 2 3 4 5 years so it's really in the long term it's not not a big investment.

Ross: So if you want to check out some more details on this you can go to Set Sail podcast.com/5 and check them all out. Pick one up and you can get started podcasting.

Ross: And just so you know in the next episode I'm going to talk about some accessories that work really well for the Blue Yeti and really make it a much better microphone. Much better audio quality and will just help you help you record.

Ross: I kind of highlighted one earlier but we'll get into a lot more detail in the next episode so stay tuned for that and we'll see you in episode 6.

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Popular Transcripts Best interview microphones for radio, broadcast, and podcasting

Sonix is an automated transcription service. We transcribe audio and video files for storytellers all over the world. We are not associated with the Set Sail podcast. Making transcripts available for listeners and those that are hearing-impaired is just something we like to do. If you are interested in automated transcription, click here for 30 free minutes.

To listen and watch the transcript playback in real-time ?, just click the player below.

Full Transcript by Sonix: Best Interview Microphones – Set Sail Podcast

Ross: Hey and welcome to Episode 11 of the Set Sail podcast. My name is Ross. And today we are going to be talking about interview microphones.

Ross: And what that means is there’s kind of different kinds of handheld there is shotgun microphones that are typically used in like a video kind of a talking head type of shot. There’s lavalier microphones.

Ross: So will highlight some of the different options mostly focused on the handheld type but we’ll go through all of them for you and you will know what the best interview microphones are for your podcast probably but for lots purposes if you want to create YouTube videos or just other marketing material where you need to record great audio.

Ross: These are awesome options. So there’s a few different there’s lots of different ways to record interviews so you can be outside or inside. You can be sitting standing you can be spur of the moment you’ll be walking around at a conference like Podcast Movement and you know just need to get it quick quick thought or interview of someone that you see.

Ross: That would require different gear then something whereas you know you’re sitting down and you have it all set up. So just just something to think about. It’s different equipment for different different uses. And that kind of makes all all the difference. So we’re gonna start with those handheld interview microphones and this kind of things you see on TV a lot of reporters will use.

Ross: So let’s get into it. There’s a number. There’s different kinds so there’s different kinds of pickup patterns there’s omni-directional so it picks up from all sides. And that that makes it easier for someone to not be in like the exact perfect position while they’re interviewing someone.

Ross: But they are more susceptible to picking up background noise. So you have to be a little more careful there. There’s also dynamic hand-held interview microphones and those are great because.

Ross: I’m comparing two different things but there’s there’s no dynamic mics and they don’t need a battery or Fensom power which is which is nice. You don’t have to worry about those running out. And then going back step here there’s also cardiod directional pickup patterns. So those you’ll have to make sure are pointed right at someone’s mouth when you’re your recording or interviewing.

Ross: And then you’ll need to make sure you know if you have one microphone really makes the point back at your mouth when you’re talking. So there can be some they drop off easily if you’re not pointing them in the exact right spot. But they’re less they’re less susceptible to picking up that that background sound so just some some trade-offs there.

Ross: Now we can go into some of the options here. The first one is the Rode Reporter. Got a nice long long handle. It’s an omni directional dynamic mic. And it includes a mic flag so you can put your brand or podcast right on it. It’s kind of cool. So it was a non reflective matte finish so it won’t be really distracting on camera I don’t pick up a lot of that glare.

Ross: Which is actually really important because you want people to be focused on the message or the person maybe you’re interviewing and not not a microphone that’s like blinding them so little little things to think about if your going to be on camera that might not be so obvious.

Ross: Another popular one here is the Electro-Voice RE50/B. And it is an omni directional dynamic mic as well. It has an internal shock mount. It’s very durable. And they also have another model with the RE50 ND. And it’s a little more sensitive so it has a higher higher output level there. Uses different different magnets inside of it.

Ross: Next is the Sennheiser MD46 and this one is a cardiod dynamic mic. So it has that directional pickup pattern. And it does really well for reducing all that background sound. It has really low handling noise. It’s made all metal. And has a double layered grill to prevent plosives and you know those kind of sharp air sound go from sneaking into the microphone element. So that’s pretty nice there.

Ross: A popular one also is the Beyerdynamic M58. It’s an omni directional dynamic mic. Nice long handle.

Ross:  Electro-voice 635NDB is another omni directional mic. It uses a neo dimium might a might have butchered that magnet for higher output levels. And this mic is designed for high humidity and extreme temperatures. So it’s really good for interviewing outdoors because microphones can be really susceptible to either messing up or just completely failing in some of those more extreme conditions.

Ross: Imagine you’re out interviewing someone in a hurricane or something. Or just even even parts of the country or world that just have high high humidity or high no real high or low temperatures not great for microphones. So getting something that can handle those is important. Something to think about ahead of time.

Ross: And here’s another cool one. It is a real long handled microphone. So great to be able to reach those basketball players that you’re interviewing or just someone where you want to give them a little space. It’s the Audio-technica AT8004L. L is for that long handle. It’s nine, basically nine and a half inches long and has an omni directional pick up pattern. And yeah usually runs are just over a hundred dollars for that. It’s a nice balance of price and quality I think.

Ross: Another one is the Shure VP64A. And it’s a great value. Under 100 dollars. It’s omni directional dynamic. That neodymium magnet. And has a water resistant grill which is nice nice touch as well. So that’s kind of the rundown of the handheld interview mics.

Ross: And be sure to go to Setsailpodcast.com/11 to see pictures of these and links to go pick one up for yourself if you are going to be doing lots of interviewing and want something like that and you’ll also see the rest of the day mics I’m about to mention. So Setsailpodcast.com/11.

Ross: Next we have the hand-held interview mic accessories. So these are kind of add ons or ways to make them be used with different different devices.

Ross: The first is the Rodelink NewsShooter Kit. And it basically turns your XLR microphone into a wireless version. So it has a little receiver or transmitter. One of those sticks into the bottom of the mic and then you pair it with another piece and that that piece can be connected into a digital audio recorder.

Ross: It can be hooked into a DSLR or basically any video camera. Or it can be hooked into a field recorder. Basically any any system you can kind of make it wireless. So it’s really cool and highly recommendeded way to just make things much easier on you if you’re going to be doing a lot of interviewing.

Ross: Another cool accessory from Rode is the IXLR. So it plugs in to the interview mics just like just like the NewsShooter Kit. But it has a lightning connection on the other end so it’s meant to be used with an iPhone. And it has a couple different options. It has headphone jack for monitoring.

Ross: It has a headphone volume control. It even has a pad switch so that will lower the input by 20 decibels and yeah kind of all the conversion stuff to make your iPhone a mobile digital audio recorder which is really cool.

Ross: So it’s highly recommend. It’s not cheap. I think it’s around 150 dollars if I remember correctly. Yep. But you know if you have plenty of space on your phone or you know what you have on you. So you only need one. You know one small little accessory and a microphone and you can you can record anything you want which is which is awesome.

Ross: So avoid little note here avoid the kind of cheaper XLR to mini jack converters because they they just don’t work. Just to just sort of keep it keep it at that. You want something that does the the conversion in a proper way. So check that out if that sounds cool.

Ross: Another couple options here. Now we’re moving on to some different types of microphones and specifically Shotgun interview microphones.

Ross: And these are these are used on camera a lot. So there’s the first one is the Sennheiser MKH416. And this microphone is widely used in professional film broadcast settings. And it’s really meant to excel in noisier environments but it reduces all that extra noise because it’s directional points. You know it it just records what it’s pointing at for the most part.

Ross: It’s not not cheap. For sure it’s see it’s about a thousand dollars. But you know you pay for you pay for quality. So check that out.

Ross: Another cheaper option is the Rode NTG4 Plus. I like I really like this one Rode Rode seems to come up a lot in this topic. And let me look up the price on this one real quick. It runs four hundred dollars. But really cool it has some buttons right on it so you can control some cutoff levels and high pass filter pad. Some of that stuff right on on top of it.

Ross: It’s not it’s not too big. It’s kind of a good a good balance in size. And the the buttons are kind of indented so you won’t accidentally press them too. The battery last for a long time. I don’t know I think it looks cool. So that would be would be a good option I think for kind of a starter shotgun mic. Maybe maybe not the cheapest starter option but it’s not not the most expensive either.

Ross: And this one is not technically a shotgun mic it’s a hyper cardiod microphone. It’s the Audio-Technica 804053B. And I really like this one so I shotgun mics tend to sound echo-y or boom-y when used indoors and kind of places with lots of lots of reflection. So these hyper cardoid microphones are directional and they don’t they don’t really pick up all that. Those sound waves bouncing off off the walls so they’re perfect to use indoors.

Ross: And this Audio-Technica 804053. It comes with a hyper cardoid capsule. But you can actually change it to give the purchase purchase them separately. But you can change it to cardiod or omni directional so you gonna get some nice flexibility of pickup patterns depending on depending on what you’re doing what your space is like.

Ross: So I like the flexibility. This one I pull it up for you. It is 600 dollars so not not cheap but definitely definitely kind of an industry standard it’s excellent for recording voice and that’s what it’s designed for.

Ross: It has a 80 Hertz hipass filter a 10 decibel pad. It’s yeah it’s a great option for now to kind of sit down sit down interviews where you know you’ll have it mounted to something. So if you have something planned it’s an awesome awesome option.

Ross: We have some more accessories I listed a stand actually I have it sitting sitting right next to me here. It’s called the Gator Framework’s Tripod microphone stand with boom arm. So it has a removable turn over here and look at it is removable boom arm. You can use it handheld if you want. You can use it with a tripod.

Ross: I actually have a studio mic hooked up to it. And it’s awesome has a ton of little kind of secure latch points. It has mic routing clips kind of red tipped feet so people see it don’t trip over it which definitely happens. So there a little little touches really add up to make it a really high quality stand.

Ross: And you might need to get some sandbags to kind of put on the feet if you use some heavier microphones because it can it can tip over a Rode NT1 hooked up to it. And if it’s if it’s standing up too high it will get top heavy. So just a thought there was spill my coffee.

Ross: Next is kind of a hand-held pistol grip. So it’s the Rode PG2-R and just so you know shotgun mics are really susceptible to handling noise. So you want them you don’t want to hold them in your hand you want them to be attached to a shock mount so that they only pick up what they’re supposed to pick up.

Ross: And this is an awesome accessory. You just kind of clip your shotgun mic in there and you can attach you to hold it in your hand or you can attach it to a boom pole like I mentioned before. Those two options are are endless as far as as far as that goes. And then if you’re outside or you’re going to be moving the microphone around or you have an like someone who’s going to move for you. You are going to want a windscreen.

Ross: So I list a couple as Rode makes a couple of high quality ones here. The WS6 and WS7 for different lengths of Shotgun mics. And they also make the Rode Blimp which is a is a pistol grip. And like a big enclosing thing you’ve probably see him all the time in a professional level recording because they really reduce that that movement wind sound all that stuff.

Ross: So you’ll even see them on like racetracks things like that where there’s a lot of a lot of wind. So not cheap. Let me look this one up. This is 300 dollars for the kit. But high quality. It will last and it’ll keep that wind any sound you don’t want it’ll keep it out. So worth it if you’re doing a lot of that.

Ross: And then I have some other other options some on camera shotgun mics that are great for a run and gun video recording. But you can also what’s really cool is you can you can mount them separately to a to a boom pole. If you’re doing kind of a sit down interview mics.

Ross: So you can get the instead of mounting the microphone to your camera you can mount it to boom pull closer to your subject just out of the frame and you’ll you’ll just needed an extension cable to plug into your camera or to an audio recorder or something like that.

Ross: And it can be used as a boom. Kind of a separate boom mic so I like the flexibility of these so-called on camera shotgun mics but they can be used off camera as well.

Ross: So that the newest one they just came out a few months ago I think is the Rode VideoMic Pro Plus. This is their best model. They kind of tweaked a lot of things. It uses a rechargeable battery but you can also put in AA batteries. It has a safety track so it will record a different level that’s that’s lower in case you someone clips which is really nice.

Ross: It has auto power on and off. Controls are easy to access. It’s it’s awesome. It’s 300 dollars so not cheap. But the versatility and the functionality really makes it just top notch.

Ross: And kind of the closest competitor to that is the Shure VP83F Lenshopper. And this one can be used without a camera or an audio recorder because it has a micro SD card so you can actually use it separately which is pretty cool.

Ross: And it has a really fine gain control in one decibel increments so you can you can nail down the perfect levels that you need which is awesome as well. So those are the kind of two best options there.

Ross: And then we’re going to move down to lavalier mics. There’s a ton of these. So just kind of run through them.

Ross: Sony ECM77B is really popular. Industry standard mic for interviewing connects with an XLR cable. And can use AA batteries or phantom power for that omni directional condenser mic.

Ross: The Rode Smartlab is a headphone jack plugs a TRRS. And it’s meant to be used with a smartphone even though most of those are losing their headphone jacks. You can always use the adapters into the lightning to headphone adapter or whatever phone you have. Usually comes with those.

Ross: Or you can even get an adapter from that size the TRRS headphone jack into a TRS jack which is used in other devices like cameras and audio recorders. So just because it’s meant for smartphone doesn’t mean you can’t use it with other devices.

Ross: And then a cheaper one. And I actually like this one. It’s about 30 dollars. The Audio-Technica ATR3350IS. And it comes with a little adapter so you can use it with a smartphone or with an audio recorder. It let’s you use both sides. It uses a battery so you’ll you’ll probably want to pick up some extra extra batteries when you if you get this.

Ross: It comes the clip. I think that sounds sounds pretty good for a 30 dollar lavalier mic. Lots of functionality flexibility so pretty cool I know a lot of people who just pick up like 3 or 4 of these just to have have backups.

Ross: And then rounding out the options here is kind of similar to what I mentioned before. It’s the Rodelink Filmmaker kit instead of the NewsShooter kit. And this one comes the lavalier microphone instead of the connection that goes into that interview microphone. So basically the same idea you can plug it into camera audio recorder or a field recorder. Something like that.

Ross: And then someone will have a little a little belt clip that the lavalier microphone goes into. And so you’ll have someone who can be recorded wirelessly. Awesome awesome little kit for four hundred dollars. I think the microphone itself normally runs almost that much so I think that’s one of the best values and kind of the wireless lavalier mic world.

Ross: I highly recommend those those kits and you can you can get a couple of them too if you want. You just need to make sure you have no one receiver and one transmitter. They go together. So if you get two devices you’ll need two transmitters and two receivers.

Ross: So that rounds out our interview microphone’s couple options are there maybe maybe more than a couple but hopefully that was useful to you. And do you want to check out more details. Be sure to go to Setsailpodcast.com/11 and you’ll be able to check all these out.

Ross: And lastly if you haven’t done so already I would love if you would leave a rating in review on iTunes or whatever you listen to this podcast and other podcasts. So it will be awesome it’ll help us reach more people get more visibility and I will get the feedback is very useful as well. And if you leave your name and maybe your podcast or website I can give you a shout out in a future episode. So I will thank you. Thank you in advance for that and all I’ll see you in episode 12.

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Education How to add captions & subtitles to your Facebook videos

More and more people are watching videos without sound. Having the subtitles that play along with the video keeps people that don’t have the volume turned up more engaged. Subtitles and captions also makes them more accessible for those that are hearing-impaired. It’s really easy to add captions and subtitles to your Facebook videos once you have the automated transcript from Sonix.

Below are the steps:

In Sonix follow these steps:

1. Upload a file (if you aren’t already subscribed, click here to try Sonix for free with 30 free transcription minutes)
2. Upload the video you are going to post to Facebook.
3. You’ll get an email when the video is transcribed.
4. Click EXPORT and select SubRip subtitle file (*.srt)

In Facebook follow these steps:

1. Click Photo/Video in your timeline or News Feed.
2. Click Upload Photos/Video and choose a video from your computer, then click Post.
3. Facebook will notify you when your video is ready to view. Click the notification or the gray date and time at the top of the post on your News Feed or timeline.
4. Hover over the video, click Options at the bottom and select Edit this video.
5. Click Choose File below Upload SRT files and select the .srt file you exported from Sonix (Note: you need to rename the file to filename.en_US.srt).
6. Click Save.

That’s it!

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