Popular Transcripts Full Transcript: How to scale a podcast to 1 million downloads – Eric Siu

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Full Transcript: How to scale a podcast to 1 million downloads – Eric Siu

Today we are going to talk about how you can scale a podcast to one million downloads and beyond. If you like entrepreneurial and marketing content, just keep watching the video and hopefully subscribe.

So let's talk about it. A lot of people are talking about podcasts more and more and the fact of the matter is podcasting is great because you get to have a 100 percent of the listener's attention. For the most part. Unless you're like you're really ADD like me, sometimes you start to, you know, you just, sometimes you start to think about other things.

With Growth Everywhere which is my first podcast I've been doing that one for over four years. You know, we broke one million downloads, you know, over four years. But the other podcast that I'm doing, Marketing School, we broke 1 million downloads in about four months or so. Okay. And it's been about a year or so, I think we've broke about 5, maybe 5.5 million downloads. So you know, we've gone over to seven figure mark and these are some of the lessons I want to talk to you about in terms of how you can actually get a podcast to that seven figure mark and beyond. Because if you're able to do so, you can make a lot of money advertising, pushing your own product, whatever it is. You're building that audience and you're building the audience of people that like you.

So here's how you can do it.

Number one: make sure that you're consistent. You have to be consistent. It's like watching a TV show, right. You know when a TV show is going to pop up your favorite show. Game of Thrones for example. All the people that go crazy about Game of Thrones. "OH MY GOD IT'S SUNDAY. GAME OF THRONES." Right? So you want to be consistent like that. Game of Thrones. You have to be predictable. You can't just release one show and then wait two months and release another one, right? It doesn't work like that. If you're going to do weekly, do weekly. If you're gonna do daily, do daily. But the secret is being consistent. That's number one secret. It's not really a secret at all but just people don't want to put in the work, right? Number one: be consistent.

Number two: make sure that the… that you have a unique spin on what you're doing. So what do I mean by that? So for example the Marketing School podcast that I do, I do it with my co-host Neil Patel and it's both of us at the same time and we do it every single day. And that is a freaking grind. Most people aren't willing to do it every single day. That's going to set us apart. And the fact of the matter is both with his travel schedule mixed with mine, it's a nightmare when it comes to planning. But guess what. We make it happen. We don't cry about it. Right. So that's one way to go about it. That's a unique spin. John Lee Dumas, Entrepreneur on Fire does it every single day. The way he does it, he batches seven interviews on a Tuesday. Man he's blasted by the end of a Tuesday. But guess what? He gets it done, doesn't cry about it, right.

So just think about a unique spin that you can put out. There's so many different shows that I listen to out there and I listen to them because they have a unique spin or the content that they're talking about is really unique. So think about what you can do. Just, you know, it's not because you… it's not because people particularly like you, it's because they like the content that you're putting out. So I don't want to be a Debbie Downer but just think about how you can add value for the person, just like the fact that you're watching this right now. It's what are you going to get out of it. Right.

The audio quality makes a big difference because it's just like watching a video like this. Nowadays people can get, can do good video. Like your camera can do a good job with video. People are getting the, you know, these DSLRs. Video is table stakes for a platform like this, right. But look at this. I'm wearing a, I'm wearing a mic right now because I know that not a lot of people are going to invest in having a good mic, good sound quality. You have that good sound quality, you're going to be above, you know, a ton of people.

Now with podcasting, you should have good sound quality. Now what I'll say is this. With growth everywhere, over the first four years, we, you know, we have fast the sound quality. Okay. We kind of just plug in a Blue Yeti into a USB kind of plug. But now we have a mixer to, you know, make things sound better. Now, you know, with Marketing School as well, we… Actually last Saturday we went into a recording studio, we cranked out 40 episodes. 8:30 to 12:30. My God we just went through it. And you know, that's what it takes. You have to figure out how you can make yourself stand apart from other people.

Okay. Promotion is really important and here's an easy way to do it. When you are hosting your podcast. If you host them on the host that we host on which is called Libsyn. That's L I B S Y N. Libsyn will allow you to publish to your Twitter, your YouTube, your LinkedIn, your SoundCloud, your YouTube at the same time. You can publish a bunch of your other channels at the same time.

I'll tell you, our YouTube channel, now we're starting to do videos but the fact that we've got to 4000 subscribers without really having much video content, it's because of the audio content we kept pushing out, right. So that got us in the… that got us kickstarted and it's just good to be on different platforms out there, you know. I'm sure you have followers on Twitter. I'm sure you have some on Facebook as well. Make sure that you're pushing out there.

Now the fifth tip that I'll give you. The fifth and final tip for right now is make sure that you have some kind of shownotes going on too, right. Shownotes are strong because people can see what you're talking about. Don't be lazy about the shownotes. In fact when I did Growth Everywhere for the first year, I did all the shownotes myself. Each podcast took me six hours. I went through it, right. If you don't want to do it, you can hire, you can hire shownotes people. There is a ton of shownotes people out there. I think there's a guy called The Show Notes Guy. Right. So if you want to invest the money, you don't have time for it, pay for that time. That's the highest leverage thing that you can do.

So those five things should help you, put you on the path to getting seven figure downloads and beyond. And I certainly don't think I've done anything special. I think it's just because I stuck with these five rules that got me to one billion downloads and beyond and I think you can do it too. So if you like videos like this just hit subscribe and we'll see you in the next one.

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Popular Transcripts Full Transcript: Podcast Hosting & Submission Made Simple (iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play) – Pat Flynn

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Full Transcript: Podcast Hosting & Submission Made Simple (iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play) – Pat Flynn

Hey guys. It's Pat here, and I'm really excited because you are very close to finally getting your podcast ready for launch which is really exciting, but there's a few missing pieces which we're going to go over in this video. At this point, you likely have recorded an episode or maybe a few. You've exported them, you've tagged them properly and now it's an MP3 file that's ready for the world. So where do you go from here?

So in this video, I'm going to show you how to set up your podcast host. This is your media host, where you actually upload your files to. That's going to give you what's called your Podcast Feed Link. That is what then you will give to iTunes, and Stitcher, and Google Play. And then after a certain period of time, you're going to be approved and then you're going to be ready to get and share your podcast. Now you can also place your podcast on your website and have show notes. We'll talk about all those things in this video. But for right now, I'm going to show you the podcasting host that I recommend and we'll get it set up and I'll show you how it works.

All right, in terms of podcast hosting companies, meaning this is where you upload your audio files so that when a person calls for that file, this is where it's being downloaded from. It makes it very easy for you to manage all this versus having these audio files uploaded onto your own servers. You do not want that. That'll eat your bandwidth. That will cost you lots of money. This is why these services exist. So the top two that I would recommend are Libsyn and also Buzzsprout. They're both great. I've used them both. There are some slight advantages to each, but for this demonstration I'm going to use Libsyn. It's the one I use for the Smart Passive Income podcast and we're just going to show you how to get set up with Libsyn from here.

I'm not going to get into detail about account creation but I do want to share some of these plans really quick. There are a number of plans that you can get. I don't want you to be super confused. Really what most people get is the $15.00 a month plan which allows for 250 megabytes per month to be uploaded, which is sufficient for one or two episodes per week. And then it also gives you access to stats. If you do not get the S15.00 one, you get the $5.00 one, you don't get access to stats. So $15.00 per month for doing what they're doing is a huge deal and a great price. So that's the one I would recommend. But you can look at the details here if you want to go further.

Okay, so for right now, I'm going to log into a test account that I used to set up a podcast for demonstration purposes and it's already set up, but I'm gonna show you the bits and pieces that you need to know and how to set those things up so that you can get your podcast up and running, too. So I'll see you in there.

Okay so here we are in the back end of Libsyn and this is for a podcast called ChangED, with a capital "ED". This is related to education. I will be doing education related podcasts later down the road. But, again, this was just a test episode. However, it is live on iTunes right now if you wanted to check it out. What you need to do here is when you set it up, you're gonna register for a new show and if you haven't done that yet, you click up here on the triangle icon and click 'Register New Show'. After that, you then have to start to set up your show properly.

So first of all before we do anything with our MP3 file – those are the episodes – we need to set up our show first. So to do that, let's click out of that and click on 'Settings' and let's go to 'Edit Show Settings.' Here's where you want to include the things that you should already know, such as your show title for example; your show description, which is here; the website address where you want this show to live. So this is where people on iTunes can click over to when they are discovering your show.

And then here you can click episodic in terms of show type or serial. Serial would mean it's more like a storytelling type when, almost like a book with chapters, you don't start a book in chapter five, you start with chapter one. If you have a more episodic one where each episode can live individually on its own, then click episodic. Then you want to include some tags and keywords. Just try to think about the items that a potential listener would type in to potentially discover a show like yours. Then you want to have your public contact email and then you want to make sure that Libsyn Classic Feed is selected. You can even include a lot of these other things here that I have blank, but they aren't necessary at this moment. This is mainly stuff that's going to live on a page that Libsyn will give you that we don't really do anything with, but we do need a lot of these things for iTunes as well. So don't worry about all these other things. Just have this – what you see here – filled out especially the show title and the show description for sure, the tags and keywords, and those kinds of things.

Now when you go down here, you are also going to upload your artwork too. You can see the artwork for ChangED here, which is like a pencil on you know like notepad paper kind of thing. You can upload it just simply by using the tabs here. And then after that, you just hit 'Save' and you are ready to go with your show. Now that your show is successfully saved, now we need to go into where we can get our feed and we need to adjust our feed settings too. So to do that, you're going to go to 'Destinations' and then go to 'Edit' or 'View Existing'. Now when you scroll down, you're going to see something called the Libsyn Classic Feed. You're going to edit this right now by clicking on 'Edit'. Now here is where you select a lot of the items that are going to be really important for how you are viewed and where you are viewed in iTunes. So iTunes categories, you want to select a primary category. The number one category that you want to be found in and ranked in. And yes these can change over time but pick the best one that suits you, and you can pick two subcategories underneath that. Then you're gonna use an iTunes summary and this is similar to the description that you put earlier. The owner name, this is you; this is the contact host and then the owner e-mail and then iTunes Store Basics, the author, this is going to be also similar to the owner name and just make that the host name, obviously.

Subtitles – subtitles aren't used very often but when they are it's just, again, something that's nice to know. There may be a change in iTunes later down the road where they do use the subtitles so you want to make sure you include that just in case. We're clicking the same thing: episodic, show type. Language, English. You can select the content rating here: clean or explicit. Explicit, you can read some details related to what defines that there. Keywords, just copy and paste these keywords from before. Here in this section which is 'Episode Item' or 'Settings' you can actually create different podcasts artwork for individual episodes but that takes a lot of work and it's something that most people don't need to do. So if you just want, when a person plays an episode to be the same artwork as what is in your podcast, in general, your show, just click on this button – I have that on – and then you're good from there. Advanced options, you don't really need to worry about, so just hit save and then you are good to go.

Now the most important part of this whole process, you will be introduced to your feed. This is a link, a really important link that when you click on you're probably not going to know what it means. But iTunes and any other directories, that's what they use to understand what episodes are available, what MP3 files to serve and so forth. Whenever you upload a new MP3 file to this host, that feed will update. Any changes you make will update this feed and therefore those directories will be updated too. You do not actually upload individual episodes to iTunes or to Stitcher or to Google Play. They all read this feed so any changes you make, any episodes that you upload, it's all done here in your podcast host and that's the beauty of this. You just set it up once and iTunes and all those other directories, they kind of work automatically from there.

So let's go find your feed here. They've given it to me here since I just saved it. But it's also here as well. I'm going to copy this because that's really important. As you can see here, it's changed.libsyn.com/RSS. All right, a couple of things. Now that we have our show information ready, now that we have our feed ready, we have that link, tattoo that on your forehead. Don't literally do that, but you know what I mean like keep track of that link. That's really important. That's what you're going to give to the directory. So save that right now and you also know where to get it, it's in the Destination folder here in Libsyn.

Now we need to talk about your episodes. We're going to upload an episode and I'll show you exactly how to do that. Now to do that, all you have to do is go to 'Content' and then go to 'Add New Episode'. And here you can add that media file, the one that you saved. So I'm actually going to do that with our test episode that we did earlier and I'll show you how this works. I'm going to click on 'Add Media File', 'Upload From Hard Drive', and then I'm gonna click on remember the one that says 'final' on it because that's the final one that we want. We're gonna click 'Open'. It's going to take a moment to upload.

Okay so now that that file is uploaded as we can see here, we're going to go down to go to 'Details' and this is where we put again the title of that particular podcast episode, that's a subtitle for a description. Again, this is just best practice to copy and paste and add all these things here anyway. And then scrolling down, you can change some of these things so you can optimize your iTunes title. You can change the iTunes summary for this particular episode if you wanted to. And then you can even add episode numbers and season numbers. If you wanted to remove the episode number from the title of the podcast itself, you can just include that here and then just, again, any spot that is required it's always best to do it even though sometimes it pulls from one or another just because different directories pull from different places. It's always best just to have it all in there.

So after that's done you can go to artwork. Now, again, remember the artwork is already embedded into that file, but you can add new ones if you wanted to and then go to scheduling. You can schedule when this episode comes out. And then finally, you can hit either 'Publish' or 'Schedule'. Now if I were to hit 'Publish' right now, the feed on iTunes would then, within 24 hours – iTunes and other directories often take anywhere between 12 and 24 hours, sometimes sooner. Sometimes it's really quick, but give it 12 to 24 hours before it checks your RSS feed. It doesn't check instantly; it just checks every once in a while and then it goes, it says, "Oh there's some new stuff in there, let's add that to the mix." If it were to do that, it would take time, but it would eventually show up in there automatically. So it doesn't happen right away, you're gonna have to be patient, but that's how it works.

All right, so we have our podcast host set up. We have our show ready to go. We have our first episode on there and now we have also our RSS feed that, remember, we tattooed on our face. What do we do with it? Well now we have to let iTunes and the other directories know that this show exists. Now really quick I need to tell you because some of you might be like, "Wait, I'm going to tell iTunes now, I'm not ready yet. I just have one episode. I want to get more episodes up there," which is recommended actually. What do I do here? Why would I go and put my thing on iTunes right now? Can I wait till later? You can; however, I would recommend making sure to get up on iTunes right now. Yes, even with one episode. Not everybody is going to find it; it doesn't really matter. This is like the difference between building your house and your housewarming party. You're just making sure the house is stable and everything's connected. In case there's an error, you can fix it and then your housewarming party is like your launch party. When you make a big deal, you send everybody to the podcast. It's okay. So having that one episode in your hosting account is fine. And then you upload it just like we did and then you connect it to iTunes like I'm about to show you. And that way you know everything is set up and then you can tweak and change things, add new things, and then get ready for that big launch day like you will.

All right. So what do we do? Well to connect to iTunes, like with the other directories like Stitcher and also Google Play – I'll add instructions for those two underneath this video for you because I don't want to waste your time. It's basically the same thing for each one. But iTunes obviously is the big one. You're going to have to have an iTunes account in order to get access to this. If you don't have one, just set one up really quick. Then again go to PodcastsConnect.apple.com and then you're going to be prompted with setting up a new show. And to do that, all you have to do is include your RSS feed. As you can see here, we are in iTunes Connect. I connected my account and all you have to do is paste that URL, the RSS feed, into this space. And now to test it, first we want to hit 'Validate' and this just makes sure that the podcast is set up properly. It pulls in the right artwork; it pulls in the right description and it's actually going to tell us what's wrong, if anything.

Now already you can see there's something wrong and the thing that's wrong is this feed has already been submitted. Other than that, everything else is okay and this is what you're going to see. If it's ready to submit, you will see that this Submit button is highlighted. Everything else will be okay. It will say 'Ready for Publication' or something like that. You'll even see the episodes that you have in there in your feed already. Again this pulls this in from Libsyn. If I were to add another episode in here and hit 'Publish; on that other one, it would automatically show here because it is actively calling for what is in that feed. So actually I wonder if I could do that right now just for fun. But let's go in here and click 'Publish'. Oh well, I can't do that because I haven't filled out all the details but that's okay. But you get the idea. If I were to do that and spend time filling out all the details for that test episode here in Podcast Connect, you would see it here as another episode here. Now if you're ready, you just hit submit and then you wait.

Now you can wait anywhere between four hours, eight hours, to sometimes a few days. It depends on the human beings over there at Apple who literally check this out and make sure it's okay and legit. So that's how it is and that's how you submit your show. Once it's ready, you will get an e-mail. You'll get an e-mail and it'll say, "Hey your podcast is ready and it will be up on the stores very soon," and then you can go find it using your keywords or just, you know, typing it in. Or you might get an e-mail that says, "Sorry, something is wrong," and thankfully they've been a lot better lately at telling you what is wrong so you can go in there and fix it. Sometimes it's a swear word in your description. Other times, it's something to do with the size or the quality of your artwork. They'll tell you what's up and they'll be able to help you fix it. So that's how you submit to Apple and iTunes. And it's basically the same thing for Stitcher and Google Play and like I said we'll have the links for those right below this video for you too.

Now one question I always get is do I need a website to actually host my podcast. Well for hosting your podcast, no. I just showed you how to host your podcast. You can even submit it without a website. But I would highly recommend having a website for your podcast because that's a place where you want people to come back, where people can discover new things, where you can have call to actions like subscribe to your email list and all sorts of things. You could potentially even sell products on your website, too, for your podcast listeners and you can have show notes. Show notes are detailed notes about each individual episode. Each episode would have its own essentially blog post where you can include a player and I'll show you really quick in just a moment how in Libsyn you can grab a player for each individual episode and just plop it right into that particular blog post. Super simple.

I actually have a blog, obviously Smart Passive Income, where I use a custom player that I built called the Smart Podcast Player at SmartPodcastPlayer.com if you wanted to check that out. Once you get up and running, you can totally do that, but this is a player that we created and this is what hosts the podcast on the website and you'll be surprised. There's actually a lot of people who actually listen to your podcasts not on iTunes or Stitcher or Google Play, but actually on your website. Especially those who are finding you for the first time. So you want to make sure they're able to listen to a podcast and obviously within your podcast, you want them to be inclined to subscribe so they can get it automatically downloaded onto their device later. So I'll show you really quick how to get a player from Libsyn and where the code is that you can plop into your website.

Okay, and over time you're going to see your stats increase, and again, remember this is a test episode so that's why I'm only getting a couple downloads a day, if that. But once your podcast is up and running, it's really cool. You're gonna see these stats grow. Over time, you'll see that when you publish a new episode, you're going to get a giant spike from all your subscribers. It's going to go back down again, but not down as far as it was and then you're gonna get an even bigger spike and that's kind of the sequence of events that happens as you begin to get consistent with your show. It's really fun.

Now to go to your older episodes here, you just go to 'Content' and you go to 'Previously Published'. Here are the three previously published episodes for this test podcast and I'm just going to go and click right here where it says 'Link and Embed'. So I'm going to click on that and this will give you a number of different players styles if you scroll down below. So I can get for example the standard one or I can get the legacy one. I can get this custom one. Typically the standard one works out pretty well, but you can do the custom one with its own image, too, if you wanted to. Either one it's all good. What you do is you set these parameters for the embed code and then you hit 'Preview' 'Get Embed Code' and that will give you the link and you can get a preview for it up there. As you can see, it just automatically pulled in my artwork. And this is what you include in your WordPress or your Squarespace blog post so that you can actually play your episodes within your content, too.

And then in terms of the written content that goes along with your podcast episodes, you can be as detailed and summarize as much as you want. Remember a lot of people are coming to your website to see this and the more detailed it is, perhaps the better impression it will make. You can even make it very useful saying, "I talk about this at this timestamp", "I talk about this topic during this part of the podcast". You can even have information and links related to your podcast, which is really the big benefit there for us. Any links and resources that you mention on the show you can say, "Hey, by the way, all these links and resources are mentioned on the show notes over at my blog. You can go there by going here," and that way even sometimes those are affiliate links or product links so that you can even begin to start making sales and monetize your podcast too. So that's how you can get your podcast connected to your website and how show notes work.

Okay so sequence of events one more time: you get set up with your hosting company. You can try Libsyn or Buzzsprout; then you can get your show settings all correct. Collect your RSS feed. That's, again, what you submit to iTunes and Stitcher and Google Play. You also want to make sure you upload your first episode, put in all the details there and that way, there is an episode that lives on your feed. Actually, if you were to submit your feed without an episode already in it, you will be denied. So you will have to have at least one episode to get approved and then you kind of wait a little bit until you get that email from Apple and the other directories to say, "Yes, your podcast is live." Then you can go out there and share it with the world in whatever way that you want.

Wow! We covered so much across the last three videos here. I'm so proud of you for getting this far and getting your show just ready for launch. Now, obviously, there's a lot more to this podcasting thing than getting your podcast up and running and you're essentially there. But there's so much more to this. For example, the launch of your podcasts, how do you make sure that there are listeners there on the other end the day you launch. What about over time, how do you keep growing it. How do you get more exposure for the podcast. How do you connect with other guests who are going to share this. There's so much more to this. What about monetization and sponsorships and advertising, selling your own products. What about tactics for helping listeners stay and listen on further through that episode that you create. There's so much more to this, which is why I created my course Power-Up Podcasting for those of you who want to go all in with me on this. You kind of get a gist of the style of my teaching. If this is something you like and you want to get everything you need to know in a way that allows you to do it and execute and get results from it like the hundreds of other students who have taken this course, I highly recommend at this point you upgrade to my course, Power-Up Podcasting. In addition to that content, you're also going to get access to me in office hours and access to a community with all of those other students, alumni, and current students who are all there to help motivate and support each other.

So if that's something that sounds interesting to you, all you have to do is go to PowerUpPodcasting.com. You can check it out right there. If not, that's okay. Perhaps you're just ready to go and that's totally fine, too. I'm just super thankful that you are taking action here and that you are committing to podcasting and Power-Up Podcasting will always be available to you if you change your mind in the future. For those of you watching this on YouTube right now, best of luck to you. I am so thankful and I'm excited to see your show up on iTunes and the other directories very soon. Good luck!

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Popular Transcripts Full Transcript: School of Podcasting – Switching Podcast Hosting Companies

Sonix is an automated transcription service. We transcribe audio and video files for storytellers all over the world. We are not associated with the School of Podcasting. 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: School of Podcasting – Switching Podcast Hosting Companies

Today, on episode number 602, we're gonna talk about podcast media hosting, and, if you've ever thought of moving to a new host, when you should, why you should, when you shouldn't. We're gonna talk about that. I'm gonna share a story about a new media host that was really one of the worst experiences I've ever had. Speaking of bad experiences, I tried something, and it didn't work at all the way I thought it would, and I'm so happy I did it. Hit it, ladies!

The School of Podcasting with Dave Jackson.

Podcasting since 2005, I am your very own personal podcast coach, Dave Jackson, thanking you so much for tuning in. If you are new to this award-winning podcast, here's what we do. I'm gonna help you massage your message. I'm gonna help you tackle the technology. Today, we're talking a lot about technology. We're gonna get our geek on. I help you face your fears.

I help you flatten that learning curve, and get you on the road, not just to just podcasting, because look you can go out to YouTube, right now, and watch a lot of really old, outdated YouTube videos. and it's gonna get you going in the wrong direction. Today, I'm gonna stop you from going in the wrong direction. Wait til you hear about the fun I've had.

Our website is SchoolofPodcasting.com. Use the coupon code "LISTENER," that's L-I-S-T-E-N-E-R, and, by the way, that coupon code is not on the website. I'm giving it to you because you took the time to click on play. It's my way of saying thank you.

Now, what we're gonna talk about today is moving either your podcast media hosting … You're gonna go from company A to company B, or maybe, you've been self-hosting, and you think you should start using a podcast media hosting company. We're gonna talk about that. We're gonna talk about should I move my webhost, and how do I do that, and why would I wanna do either one of those? I'm also gonna tell you one of the absolute worst experiences I've had with any podcast company ever.

That is coming up, right after I get done telling you about what I'm doing July 24th through the 26th, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. That is, of course, Podcast Movement 2018. This is where you're gonna have over 2,000 podcasters from around the world converge on Philadelphia, PA.

I was thinking about this today. I have met so many cool people at Podcast Movement. One was Seth Ressler. I met him at Podcast Movement. He's a guy that's kind of coming from the radio side. He's a really cool bridge guy. He talks radio, and he talks podcasting. There was a really big article that went out a couple weeks ago about is there a discovery problem in podcasting. Seth was the guy behind that, and I was included in that article. Why? Because I met him at Podcast Movement.

There is everybody there from … If you're a brand-new podcaster, starting out, if you're a seasoned podcaster, and you're having fun, but you'd like to maybe take your podcast, and start maybe monetizing it, things like that. This is a place where you wanna be.

Again, over 2,000 podcasters from around the world; over a hundred sessions on topics, ranging from the technical aspects of setting up your equipment, and the audio production, as well as the marketing, cuz it's not enough just to make it, you gotta market it. If you're into it, if you wanna monetize your podcast, there's gonna be some resources there for that, as well.

When you venture into the Expo Hall, you're looking at over 60 podcast service, and equipment providers. Whether you're in the mood for a new microphone, or you're trying to figure out which host is best for you … We're gonna talk about hosting today. You can do this face to face at Podcast Movement.

Again, it's in Philadelphia PA, July 24th through the 26th. Check it out – PodcastMovement.com; use the coupon code "SOP," when you go over, and sign up. Thank you, Podcast Movement, so much for sponsoring The School of Podcasting.

All right, let's get intimate, shall we? That sounds funny. I wanna share a story. I have a course, it's called Podcasting in Six Weeks. If you're a regular listener, you've heard me promoting this. I did it about five years ago; it went gangbusters. In fact, I had two sessions of it. It was really cool. Kinda took it off the market, cuz I had to work on my marriage, at the time. I was a little overbooked.

Now that I am divorced – apparently, that wasn't the problem – I've brought it back, and I maybe didn't give myself enough time to promote it. Maybe coulda worked on the sales page a little bit, but can I … Since it's just me and you, can I tell you something? I only have one student. That's right. One person signed up.

I always tell you, you can't improve what you don't launch. Some of us wanna launch the perfect podcast, and I … You've heard me say this – if you're a new listener, it's one of my favorite – Your podcast is not a statue, it's a recipe, and here's what is so cool about this. I did something, and, in a way, some might say it was a … Could you give me air quotes? "A mistake." It wasn't, because, number one, this is my top-dollar program. It's not cheap. It's 1,499. Six weeks in a row, we get together; we plan your podcast. It's me and you, working side by side.

It was supposed to be group coaching, but here's the cool thing: I have one person sign up, and what I'm able to do is tailor this class. We didn't change it a whole lot, but I'll give you an example. He'd already recorded a podcast in the past, so, he didn't need the whole microphone thing, and some of the other things, but he was thinking of having an online course. I'm like, "Well, I can help you with that." We customized the class for him, and I was like, "Ooh, this is cool. This is actually making a difference in this person's life. This is changing … Okay, cool.".

Then, when I was doing this, I had probably, I don't know, a dozen people contact me; had a few of them on the phone, and they're like, "Ooh, I wanna do this. Oh, I wanna work with you. Oh, this is gonna …" but there was one thing – there was a schedule. The schedule. Oh, yeah … Soccer practice, whatever it is. I was like, "Okay, well … Hmm, okay."

So, here's what I'm going to do, and there's no sales page for this now. I'm just throwing this idea out there. If you're the kinda person that wants me to get in the mud with you, work side by side, I love this, because I am doing all the things that I do: help you find influencers, help you find places to shape your content, and work with you on equipment, and things like that.

I wanna test this a little more. If you're interested in this, just e-mail me, and put in the subject line: Podcast Mentorship, because what I'm … This is what I'm thinking, you buy six hours of podcast consulting, just like Podcasting in Six Weeks. You get a year's subscription to The School of Podcasting. Then, instead of me going, "Here's when we're gonna meet," what you do is you look at my schedule, and you tell me, you tell me, when we're gonna meet. You wanna do this in six-hour things? Great. You wanna do it in 12 half-hour things? Cool. You wanna do it in 30 15-segments. Fine. You have 12 months, from the minute you order it, to use your six hours.

I am not a phone company. I don't wanna get into the fun joy of tracking how much time you have left. I like that idea. Some of you, we may do a traditional Podcasting in Six Weeks. We'll go from zero to hero. We'll go through planning, and everything else, but some of you may just want that mentorship to, "Hey, Dave, can we really get into you listening to my show, and helping me improve it?" or whatever it's going to be.

Again, I like this idea. I like working in groups, but it's, to me … I remember when I was working in a corporate scenario, and we would have people come in, and I was teaching computer stuff. I helped three people get their GED. They came in with their GED, the paperwork, and just gave me a big hug, and said, "You know, I couldn't'a done this without you …" I remember one person … This one person could not do math. I just kept saying, "You got this. You can do this. Just a little practice. Breathe." I really helped her through … She had serious test anxiety.

There is something of working one on one, too, that is … For me, it scratches an itch. Let's just put it that way. It's something that I'm like, "Oh, wow, I made a difference in that person's life." I kinda like this idea, too, of getting down the mud with you, and working with you, together, as a team. If you're interested in that, simply email me: [email protected]

Again, I wanna go back to my main point. I threw this out there. Wasn't sure if it was gonna work. I got feedback from my audience. I'm listening to that feedback, and now I'm coming out with my new recipe, and saying, "Hey, for those of you …" and I hate the phrase 'handholding.' Some people say that, "I just want you to hold my hand," but for those of you that want a little more personalized approach, and you've got the budget for it, what do you think of this recipe? I'm putting the pie back on your table, going, "Take a taste of that." Does that sound … Does this taste more like what you're looking for?

You can do the same thing with your podcast, but you can't … There's only one way to know if your podcast is good or not, and that is you have to launch. In my case, I was like, "Mm, not sure if Podcasting in Six Weeks is gonna work. It worked five years ago. Let's throw it out there," and it works. It's working great for one person, but I had a buncha people that said, "Mm, like the idea. Can we switch the schedule?" Here's my recipe, let me know what you think – [email protected]

"Hey, let's talk about the elephant in the room, shall we? That is, for almost two years now … I was hired, in February of 2016, to work at Libsyn – L-I-B-S-Y-N.com – It's a podcast media hosting company. You can get a free month there, using the coupon code, "SOPFREE." That's "SOPFREE," all one word.

Today, I'm gonna be talking about media hosting companies, and a lotta times, people go, "Oh, Dave, it's just gonna be a show for Libsyn." If you go to SchoolofPodcasting.com/602, you'll see where there are a lotta things; that I have lots of screenshots today. I'm really trying to keep my School of Podcasting hat on, and just talk about facts.

There are times when people think about moving from one company to the other, and I wanna talk about what's involved with that. I wanna talk about what I look for in a media hosting company, and we'll kinda go from there. Behind the scenes, this is the third time I've recorded this. I have notes in front of me, and it's just really long, so I'm kinda trying to do a Reader's Digest version, without leaving out all the good stuff.

Here's my criteria, and this comes from me being a teacher for so many years. I think that's where [inaudible] here's the criteria. This makes it really easy to determine if I like a podcast host, or not. I've actually updated this.

The first thing is don't mess with my file name. There's an asterisk next to that one, and I'll explain why, here, in a second. Number two, don't mess with my file format. Don't change my bit rate. Don't mess with my ID3 tags. Number three, give me the ability to have an unlimited back catalog, so, unlimited storage. Number four, don't limit my audience size; meaning unlimited bandwidth. Number five, don't control my feed, and make it easy to leave, if I choose to do so. I need to be able to put in a 301 redirect.

Number seven, charge me for your service, so you can stay in business. I know some people are like, "Wait, don't you want it for free?" No, cuz free companies go out of business. I've seen it happen three times. Number eight, give me stats, so I can see what's working, and it would be nice if they were accurate. Number nine, this is new, support the iTunes serial-episodic season, and episode numbers. Those are the new fields that came out last year.

Then, number 10, be IAB-compliant. Now, please note, as I record this, on January 2018, nobody's compliant. We're all in line to be certified, but the certification process hasn't been unveiled yet. In the future, that's gonna be part of it. When you can be certified, I want you to be certified, so that I know my stats are normal.

The very first one – don't mess with my file name … I know that some media hosts offer the ability to inject MP3 files with an advertisement. In those instances, you get a pass, cuz I really don't expect you to take my file, split it in two, throw an ad in the middle, stitch back together, and not change the filename. If I'm not doing any kind of advertising, don't mess with my filename, doggonit.

Here are the media hosts I looked at: Amazon S3, Buzzsprout, Podomatic, Libsyn, Blubrry, Podbean, Spreaker, SoundCloud, Simplecast, Podmio, Pinecast, and Whooshkaa. Applying that 10 criteria, realizing that nobody can do number 10, yet, here's who made the cut: Libsyn, Blubrry, and Podbean. You're like, "But, Dave, don't you like Spreaker?" I do like Spreaker, but only in certain circumstances. They don't allow you to have an unlimited back catalog, but if I was a band, wanting to do live podcasts on the road, or record a podcast with my phone, Spreaker would definitely be in that conversation.

Why would you move your podcast to a new media host? In some cases, maybe you don't have an old media host. Maybe you were hosting your files on your web host. You go, "But Dave, my web host has unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage." It's not a problem with the bandwidth, or the storage. It's the matter that all the sudden, hundreds of people, maybe thousands of people, are grabbing that one MP3 file at the same time, and their servers go [gasping], and they can't handle it. You will get a thing, "You're using up too many of our resources," and they will politely ask you to move, or leave.

In some cases, maybe you're using … Now, everybody knows, if you're a regular listener of the show, SoundCloud is a music company that does podcasting poorly. Squarespace is a website company that does podcasting poorly. In the case of SoundCloud, they came out with two improvements, like two updates, like, "Here's what's coming in at SoundCloud." Two of them, last year. Neither one had a single update to their podcast system. Meanwhile, Apple has thrown out these new fields – the serial, the episode numbers. Not even a mention of it at SoundCloud. They're really not a podcast hosting company, in my book. We could also throw on top of that, they've lost hundreds of millions of dollars. So that would be one reason to leave.

Maybe you're just not happy with somebody's service. Maybe you're not happy with their support. Whatever it is … Maybe, in some cases, they sold you certain features that you find out later that aren't entirely accurate. We'll talk about that a little later. Maybe you decide that you, just for whatever reason, you hear about a bright, shiny thing, and you wanna try the new thing. Well, that's what I kind of wanna talk about here.

Let's talk about what moving to a new media host will not do for you. This is one of those … It's kind of a gray area, but, if you're thinking moving my show from … Let's say you're self-hosted. Let's go that route. Let's do a specific example. I'm self-hosted, and I decide to move to Libsyn, using the coupon code, "SOPFREE."

Is that going to bring me more audience? Because, I'm already on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn, and Stitcher. Is it gonna bring me more audience? No, probably not. Why? Because you're already listed in all the directories. What you won't have, now, is your web host going, "Hey, you need to move." What might happen is your website might – key point, there – might speed up, because you can use the Libsyn feed, now. Might … Maybe.

That would be something I wanna point out. If your podcast is not bringing value to your listeners, the fact that you have a new media host hosting those files is not going to grow your audience. Now, I realize that some podcast hosts have more opportunities to promote your show, on things like Spotify, and iHeart, and things like that, but let's just go … Let's kinda forget that for a second, and just say, look, media host to media host, that's not gonna grow your audience. I see people that think that. "Oh, if I move to somebody else, They're a more popular host. They're a more popular media host. No. It's really about your content. That's what's gonna grow your audience.

What is the process of moving from one media host to the next, cuz I just did this, twice, and I'm here to tell you it's not a lot of fun. Now, on the other hand, it's not that hard, but there is one step that's really, really not fun.

Here's the typical process. Number one, you take your feed … Well, let's go right there, cuz if you're new to podcasting, you're like, "Dave, what's a feed?" Let's use the analogy of radio. If you're a regular listener of the show, you've heard this before. Hang with me. That is, with radio, you have a frequency. Here in Ohio, I have a 100.7, and I can have different radios – a Panasonic, and a Sony – both tuned into that that station, that frequency. When I put on a new record, that new record is then going out to those radios.

Well, with podcasting, instead of having a frequency, you have a feed, and instead of radios, instead of a Sony, and a Panasonic, you have Apple Podcasts, and Stitcher. When you put out a new episode, it is syndicated out to those apps.

What we're gonna do here, is we're gonna take your feed that has all your information, your artwork, and all your MP3 files, and you're going to give it to your new host, and they're going to import it. In fact, a better way of looking at it, they're going to clone your feed. It's gonna look exactly like it. All the information, all the artwork, all the MP3 files – everything is there.

Then, you go to your current- you go to your new host, and you wanna put in a thing called a New Feed tag. It's just a little bit of code, you copy and paste it in there. This is per Apple, by the way. That step is from Apple, saying you need to do this. Step three is, then, you basically redirect your old feed. This is like saying, "Hey, we're no longer on 100.7," and when you tune into that station, it says, "Hey, we've moved to 97.5." That's basically … The techie term for that is 301 Redirect.

If we follow that, now … Let's say I'm a listener of your podcast. I fire up my phone. I fire up my app. It goes to your feed, to say, "Hey, is there any new episodes out?" Instead, your feed goes, "Hey, we moved. We're over here on this new media host." Your app follows the address, goes over to the new media host, and the new media host says, "Hey, check it out. We're new. We're brand new. Could you do me a favor, and update the app, and in the future, don't look at the old host. Just look at me, and I'll let you know if there are any new episodes." The app goes. "Okay," and it updates. This all happens behind the scenes. That's the cool thing; that's what happens, and that part is easy.

That is something … Again, you've gotta be very careful with this, because if you mess that up, and let's say you put in a redirect that says, "We moved over to 97.5," and put in 97.6. That could be bad. You just told people … You just sent people to … Let's say it's a house. You just sent … Instead of giving them the correct address, you gave them the wrong address. Be careful with this, when you're messing with your feed. If you're not sure, find somebody who understands podcasting. That could be me, or whoever, and they can walk you through this, cuz it's one of the things that's easy, but you don't wanna just like, "Meh, whatever …" and blow your way through it, cuz you can really shoot yourself in the foot.

The fourth step of this process is the one that nobody wants to hear. In my case, I had a hundred episodes, and I switched my feeds, because I was playing. Basically, me, as a podcast consultant, I like to play with a lot of different toys. I had to take all the episodes, and replace them on my website. If I wanna track all of my downloads, the feed thing gets all my subscribers, but what about the people coming to my website?

I had to replace all the old episodes on my website with the new files. It sounds much harder than it is. For me, it took about 15-20 minutes, having multiple tabs open – a lotta copy-paste-copy-paste-save-copy-paste-save-copy-paste-save.

Now, the other thing is Apple recommends that you leave that redirect, that kind of change of address … They want you to leave it there for four weeks. Why is that? That's because not everybody fires up their favorite podcast app, every day. If they fired up every two weeks, and you only left it in there for two days, they're gonna miss the note that said, "Hey, we moved," and they're gonna keep looking at your old … They're gonna keep tuning into your old radio station, when you move to the new radio station. They're gonna keep looking at the old feed, when you have a new feed.

Now, in some cases, Google Play Music, and TuneIn, you might have to contact them manually, to update your feed. You can go into Stitcher.com, and update that yourself. You just go to the Partner Portal. In general, you go to all the places you went, where you submitted your show to these directories. You go to the exact same place. That's either a) where you can update it, or b) contact people to say, "Hey, can you put in here that I moved?" That's pretty cool.

Now, this whole redirect thing sounds kinda geeky, like how do I … 301-huh? In some cases, if your podcast is on your website, you can contact your web host and say "Hey, can you put in …" and that's the phrase you wanna use, a 301 Redirect … If somebody comes to my old feed, yada-yada-yada/feed/podcast, I want them to go to yada-yada- yada/newfeed/whatever-whatever. Your media host may do that.

Now, there's also a really cool, free WordPress plugin, and it's creatively named, you guessed it, Redirection. You can find it at Redirection.me. It's from John Godley, who actually worked for Automatic, which is the company behind WordPress. Basically, you install this plugin, and I've got screenshots, and directions – SchoolofPodcasting.com/602.

You put this in, and you save it, and your redirections should be in place almost immediately. How do you test that? You simply put the address of your old feed into your address bar. In English, you kind of go, like it's a website … You go to your old feed address, and you should see it switch to your new feed address, whatever that is. Now, if you're doing this in Chrome, you're probably gonna get a face full of code, and that's normal. We don't really care about that. What we wanna do is look at the top, at the address, and if that address is your new feed, then it's working.

What will happen, again, your app will fire up, and your audience will fire up their app. They'll go to the old feed. The old feed'll say "Hey, go to the new feed." The new feed will say, "Hey, I'm new. Update the app," and everything is cool. Then, again, you just have to replace your files on your website with the files from your new media host, and that's all you have to do.

Just keep in mind, again, that a) this may not help you grow your audience at all. In the end, it's your content that really gets your podcast going up the charts, and things like that, because you're inspiring word of mouth. Keep that in mind. If you are thinking of doing this, but you're like, "Dave, most of that just went right over my head," well, again, you can go out to SchoolofPodcasting.com/602, or just contact me: [email protected], and I can answer your questions on this.

Since I'm going to be talking podcast media hosting, I am gonna stick to the facts. That's how I do this, because obviously, I work for the competition. If I'm gonna do this objectively, here's what happened to me, in my case. This also stops me from getting sued.

The company I'm talking about is Podmio, and to pull back the curtain, I wasn't gonna review them at all, because I didn't wanna give them any exposure at all. They did something, recently, that I'm like, "Okay …" and this sounds weird, but I feel somewhat responsible for you. Like, if for some reason, two months from now, you joined them, and they turned out to be awful, I would feel bad that I didn't say "Hey, here's the experience I had with them.".

I'll tell you the final straw that I was, "Ahh, I gotta talk about these people." Here's the thing. They came out, and on their website, it says … Well, first of all, they contacted me. They contacted me, and so maybe that's rule number one: know who you're talking to. They have a statement on their website, "Podmio is the world's number-one podcasting platform that has everything you need for a podcaster of any level, at any affordable price.".

I interacted with a person via email; wanted to know if I wanted a demo. I'm like, "I really don't have time for this." On December 23, he came on Ask the Podcast Coach, which is a show I do every Saturday, with Jim Collison, from The Average Guy.tv. He gave us a little demo, and we kind of called him out on that particular thing, and this is what it sounded like.

Go ahead.

You have the world's number-one podcasting platform?


Okay, cuz I'm like I'm thinking there might be-

Can you qualify that?

We are … When I show the features, and the services we have, you will realize that no one even comes close to what we do. I'm not going to name anybody on this [crosstalk] demo, but I will highlight some points for you.


Listen, you can't do this, Dave, but I can. I mean, it is a little … "The world's number-one podcasting platform" is a little misleading, because why. I guess, if you guys are gonna have your own definition [crosstalk]

Thinking of it this way … As a podcaster, who actually comes to the website, on sales pages, we have to convince them.

That's the reason they have that. He's trying to convince you that they're number one. I asked him how long they've been around. They've been around, he said, for two months, for the back end, and publicly, for two weeks. This was back in December, again. Let me just, cuz the first time I tried to tell the story, it took me like an hour.

Here's what happened. I jumped in. I wanted to test them. The first thing I saw is I went to import one of my old feed. This is where, again, and we talked about this at the beginning of the show, you want your new host to clone your old feed. Well, the first thing I see is, "Hey, thanks for your feed. It'll be imported in the next 24 hours." Now, again, from my chair, and I'm sure Blubrry can say this. I know I know Spreaker … I've done it on Spreaker. It doesn't take 24 hours. I've imported people from SoundCloud, and if you're on SoundCloud you can import your feed for free on Libsyn. Doesn't matter how many back catalog you have. I've imported people with hundreds of episodes, in 15 minutes, if that. The fact that I had to wait 24 hours, I'm like, "Mm, okay."

Then, it didn't have all my info, when it did import. Now, they said that wasn't their problem. It was the feed I was importing from, but they did fix it, so, let's talk about the bad, and the good. They did fix it, and they re-imported it. When I went to say, "Hey, this doesn't have all my information," they sent me to a ticketing system that didn't work. I went back to my original contact, and said, "Hey, your ticketing system doesn't work," to which he sent me to another ticketing system, and I'm not making this up, it didn't work. Screenshots at SchoolofPodcasting.com/602.

They were saying, "We're innovative, and we have all these new things." Well, the one thing they have is a thing, and it used to say this on their website … They use the phrase 'ad insertion,' and they have since updated this, which is good on them, because ad insertion, to most people, means that you're going to take my file, and somewhere in the middle, or end, or the beginning, or something, you're going to insert an ad. It's called dynamic ad insertion.

I noticed they just updated their website to 'interchangeable advertisements.' What this is, is this has nothing to do with your subscribers. Their ad system only works on their website. Now, it is kinda cool, because you specify an image, you upload an MP3 file that has your ad, and you have a link. When people click play on your website – that's a key point here – this little thing pops up. They have to watch the ad. It's a little bit like YouTube, where you have to watch an ad, before you can listen to the thing. That's cool, to a certain extent. Then, it dawned on me, "Oh, that's right. About 80 percent of people listen to podcasts on a portable device, not on a website." I was like, "Hmm, okay …" There are no stats on how many times the ad is played, or things like that. Again, they're new.

The thing that, for me, I was like, "Wait a minute, you said, 'dynamic ad insertion,' and this is not …" It's dynamic ad insertion on your website, with their player. Wherever you embed their player, this little thing pops up. I was kinda like, "That's not dynamic ad insertion, at least not in the traditional thing." That, again, is where you'll see where I kinda go, "I don't think they get podcasting.".

This innovative, number-one podcasting platform, when I logged in – this, again, is in December – did not have the new iTunes tags. Now, they have them now, thanks to me, because I went, "Hey, where's the iTunes tags?" I'm talking about serial episodic … Episode numbers, serial numbers. Once they put them in, it messed up my show. It put that my show was season one. I don't have seasons for this particular show. When I went to delete the number one, it caused an error message. Back to the help desk, and again, they fix it. I'm doing Q&A for what is essentially a competitor of mine, and I'm not getting paid for it. I was, at this point, a little leery. I'm like, "Okay, I don't think I'm gonna actually use these guys.".

I thought, "Let's kill two birds with one stone." There's a new service called PodcastMirror.com. This is from Blubrry. If you've been around long enough to remember FeedBurner, it's FeedBurner with a different name. You basically put your source feed into PodcastMirror, and instead of submitting your source feed to iTunes, and Stitcher, you submit the PodcastMirror feed, and then later, if you wanna switch media hosts, you just change it in PodcastMirror, and it updates every place else.

I get it. It's time for my opinion. You ready? This is my opinion. I try to keep the technology between me, and my audience to only things that are essential. In this case, I was no longer really trusting the media host I was working with, and I had a feeling I was gonna move, so I moved to PodcastMirror. That was kinda weird. When I went to PodcastMirror, and put in the feed – again, screenshots, SchoolofPodcasting.com/602 – it said "Hey, this applied URL is not a podcast feed." I went, "Well, that's odd, because I did go to CastFeedValidator.com, and it said it was valid."

I reached out to the lovely folks at Blubrry, who replied very quickly, and said, "Well, there's a couple of things. The iTunes category in your feed doesn't match what's in iTunes. The duration for the episode was in the wrong format." Again, this just led to me not feeling comfortable with their knowledge of the podcasting space. At that point, I went, "Okay, I'm done. I think I'm just gonna leave these guys," because, again, I'm kinda tired of doing Q&A. At that point, I quit telling them what the problems were, because quite frankly, I'm not getting paid to do Q&A. You guys figure out your own bugs.

They have a thing in there, where you can do a 301 Redirect. This was the one that I went, "Oh, okay. This has to go public." You typically put in this redirect … This is that change-of-address thing I was talking about before. After two days, it wasn't updated in Apple to show the new feed.

I went to my new host, and I said, "Hey, where do I put this new feed tag, because Apple says I should put that in the new feed, and you don't have a place for it?" In this case, this was Pinecast. I was gonna test them, as well. Kudos to Matt, from Pinecast, because he went above and beyond, and said, "Hey, I went back and looked at the Podmio feed that you were redirecting, and instead of being a permanent 301 Redirect, [we're gonna get kind of geeky here] it's a temporary 302 Redirect, and because Apple knows that's temporary, and not permanent, Apple isn't going to update." He says, "I've emailed the people at Podmio to let them know."

All right, that was on Thursday. Friday night, so it's been 24-hours-plus, I go into Apple. I find my podcast source, and it's still looking at Podmio. I emailed, again, the help desk at Podmio, with a screenshot from Matt, and said, "Hey, you guys are using a 302 Redirect, and I actually …" Plus, for the record, Matt had sent that to me on Thursday. It's Friday. I went out to Redirect-Checker.org and got the same result. Two different people, two different results. They're using the wrong redirect.

I emailed them, and – screenshots at SchoolofPodcasting.com.602 – I got a reply that says, "The redirect type we use is also fine." No, it's not, not for a permanent redirect; not to have apps update. Then, they said this, "You can also update your new feed, directly from iTunes, as well." That's when I went, "Okay, that's just horrible advice." In fact, right now, if you go to their website, on their support page, they say this again. "All you have to do to update your feed in Apple is to go to Podcast Connect, and update your feed." You ready for this? I'm trying to stay calm, but this … It makes me mad. That's how you lose your audience. You will lose all of your audience …

Picture this, let me walk you through this … You're on podcast host A, and Apple is looking at podcast host A. You put in a redirect, and it doesn't work. Apple is still looking at podcast host A, and so is … All your subscribers are looking at podcast host A. You go to Apple, and you say, "Hey, Apple, you look at podcast host B." Well, that's great for anybody who subscribes today, going forward, but your old audience – all those people, all the months, and years that you've worked on getting that audience – they're still looking at podcast host A, and there's nothing there to say, "Hey, you need to go look at podcast host B." Consequently, you just drained the swamp of your entire audience, not that your audience is a swamp, but you know what I mean.

To say that publicly … I was like, "Hold on a second …" because, and again, for me, this, again, diminished my confidence in their knowledge. I've, since then, went to their support, and said, "How do I cancel my account?" To their credit, to their credit, they did refund my first month, because I found their bug in their import feature.

They are doing some things that are different. Let's point out the good things they're doing, things that they're trying that are new. They have a way to capture email addresses, right there on their player. Now, again, not really new. It's new that a podcast media hosting company is trying that, but if you have a Hani Simple Podcast Press, or Pat Flynn Smart Podcast Player, both of those players have the ability, now, to capture email addresses. They also have a way, if you use Stripe.com, a way that, right on the player, you can accept donations. Again, somewhat new that a podcast media host will do that, but Podbean has been doing that with their player, and most podcasts, now, either have a PayPal button – that's not new, at all – or they're using Patreon. Again, not really new.

For me, let's inject some opinion here, now, when it comes to … Cuz you can actually capture email addresses, and then, use them as your email list. That's new. For me – this is where I'm gonna inject my opinion – when I use an email-list provider, I don't wanna email-list provider that is also a etc., etc. I want an email-list provider that does one thing, and that's make sure that my email is delivered.

If we go back 10 years ago, there were times when it was hard to get your email delivered, and that's why you went to these lists, because if somebody on your network was a giant spammer, the whole network would not get their email delivered, or it would be much more hard to get it delivered. That's my only worry. That's my opinion about using somebody who is not an email provider to provide my email list. That's the only thing I have worried about that, but I will give them credit, that's new.

They also had something … It was a little controversial, that when you use their Donate feature, there is no fee to move your money to your bank, like a bank-transfer charge. When they were on the Ask the Podcast Coach, there were people in my chat room that said that is not true. Any time you transfer money to a bank, cuz there's a bank involved, they're gonna charge you for it. On their website, they're saying they can do that without a charge. So, all in all, it's not a …

The other thing that got me about this is … Let's go back to the facts, okay? The facts: their import feature is slower than others. You got to wait a day. Their advertising feature does not inject ads into the MP3 file. Now, again, they have changed their wording. They had bugs to work through. Whether or not it was a few, or a lot, there were bugs to work through, and those have been repaired. Again, end result, there are less bugs. Their feeds, based on the PodcastMirror example, are questionable. I'm sure, when they hear this episode, they'll go over, and fix it. They actually do change your file name. The original criteria that I sent to my original contact, I said, "Do you guys do this?" and they said, "Yep," and they don't. They changed the file name. If I'd known that, I wouldn't even looked at them in the first place. Again, to their credit, they did refund my first month, due to the fact that I ran into so many bugs.

Now, let me talk about my opinion. I do not feel, based on their advice of things like, "Change the feed in iTunes," or, "3O2 Redirects are fine …" Based on those statements, I don't feel their staff has a deep understanding of the podcasting space, or how RSS syndication works, in general. My opinion is their support was not bad. In fact, it was pretty speedy. It was just sad that I had to use them all the time, and about every other day, I was finding some sort of issue. Now, to their credit, when I pointed out the issues, they were resolved. Another opinion, I feel their statement of 'the number-one podcasting platform,' I think that claim … I agree with Jim. That's misleading. I also, in my opinion, would never, at this point, in January 2018, recommend them as a host.

Keep in mind, when you're gonna try one of these new … Like, "Hey, here's somebody new on the scene …" If you are a new podcaster, this really might've taken you out of the game, and said, "Look, it's going wrong …" For me, when they added the seasons, and my entire listing in Apple just went kablooey … It was still there, but it was all jumbled, and people were like, "Where's the latest episode?" I'm like, "Ahh …" Again, to their credit, when I pointed it out, they changed it, but I do not recommend them as a media host, especially now, until they get all their bugs worked out. Because I'm leaving, they're gonna have to have another new guinea pig to do this.

I am done testing media hosts. Here's the cool thing about this, because I have people like you, and you're out there in the podcast world, and because there are Facebook groups, and because there are all these other awesome podcast … If somebody comes along that truly is doing something new, because the whole thing about having an ad pop up on your website, that's not new.

Spreaker's been doing that. Right now, if you have ads in Spreaker, if you're using Spreaker … Now, granted, you're gonna get … When I was using it, it was .000. That's three zeros … Two cents per download. It would pop up a little thing, and say, "Hey, click here to go to the Home Depot," or whatever.

They've also had pre-rolls. If you listen on the Spreaker website, I actually have a pre-roll that says. "Hey, Spreaker listeners, thanks for listening. SchoolofPodcasting.com, blah-blah-blah." That's not new. The whole getting payments on a website … Todd Cochrane's been doing that since 2004, with PayPal. That's not new.

Keep that in mind, sometimes, that sometimes the marketing can make it sound like they're really the bee's knees, but, in reality, they're not really doing anything new. That's my facts, that's my opinion, and that's why I don't recommend them.

Just keep in mind, when you're moving to these new platforms, it's gonna be hard to compete with Blubrry, with Libsyn, with Podbean, with Spreaker. Some of these companies have been doing it … Libsyn, since 2004; we're looking at 14 years. It's gonna be hard to really ramp up, and come up with something that's going to beat that. Be careful, when you're looking at hosts. That's why I have my criteria. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

What are you doing in February? I will be at Podfest. Check out Podfest.us. I'll be celebrating my birthday by having my closest friends rip me to shreds. Yes, it's gonna be a lot of fun. I will be roasted at Podfest, as well as I'll be doing a presentation there. That's in Orlando, Florida, February 8th through the 10th.

Then, on February 28th, through March 2nd, I will be at Social Media Marketing World. This is in lovely San Diego. I've never been to San Diego; never been to Social Media Marketing World. I know the opening night is on an aircraft carrier. This is a really great … Both these are great places to go, but I've never been to Social Media Marketing World. I'm really excited about that, and the fact that people are gonna rip me to shreds.

If you're interested in these, go out to SchoolofPodcasting.com/602. I've got links to both in the show notes.

I was making radio shows for fun. If everybody does it … Everybody I know … Shut up!

Speaking of fun radio shows, if you missed episode number 601, go to SchoolofPodcasting.com/601. We were talking about how to be a guest, and how to find guests for your podcast. In the future, I'm gonna be reviewing the … This is a great piece of equipment, I hope … The PreSonus AR12 mixer. It is a USB mixer. It's got two auxiliary sends, and it's got a built-in SD recorder. I'm looking forward to that.

Today, we talked about moving your podcast media host. I found a really cool tool for web hosts. We'll save that for another episode. I'm going to be talking about … I found a theme for WordPress. In the past, I recommended Appendipity. I've have been playing with a theme. I really like it. We're gonna be talking about that in the future.

To get an episode the minute it's available, all you have to do go to SchoolofPodcasting.com/subscribe, and I've got every kind of way to subscribe. [Inaudible] there if you're an Apple, or a Stitcher, or whatever, simply go to SchoolofPodcasting.com/subscribe, and get the content, the minute it's available online, all for free.

That is gonna do it for this episode of the School of Podcasting. Remember, you can't improve what you don't launch. You may find out that by just throwing that podcast out there, that your audience may go, "This is good. Have you ever thought of doing this?"

I would love to help you with that. Simply go to SchoolofPodcasting.com/start, use the coupon code, "LISTENER." You can sign up for a monthly membership, or a yearly membership. Again, if you're looking for podcast mentorship, email me: [email protected] Put in the subject line: Mentorship, and I can answer any questions that you might have about that. I really look forward to working with you, no matter what format you choose. Thanks so much for spending your time with me. I deeply appreciate it. Until next week, class is dismissed. Take care, and God bless.

If you like what you hear, then, go tell somebody. If you like what you hear, go tell someone …

I'm not making this up. In the Podmio support, they have a section – How to Migrate Your Existing Subscribers. If you're moving from Libsyn … Now, here's the fun thing, you can go to Libsyn's support page, and get the exact step-by-steps. Instead, they say, "Put the iTunes new feed tag into your Libsyn box." That's absolutely incorrect. Proving, once again, that I feel that these guys do not have an actual understanding of how podcasting works. The thing that blows my mind is the directions are on the Libsyn page.

If you like what you hear, then, go tell somebody. Go tell somebody. Yeah, go tell someone.

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Full Transcript: School of Podcasting – Your Podcast Website

Today, on episode number 603 of the School of Podcasting, last week, we talked about media hosts. This week, we're talking about website hosts. Do you need a website in the first place? How do you start one? What if you hate the one you're on, how do you move? Also, it's the new year. We had that whole resolution to add the whole iTunes episodes. How do I go about, and do that again? "I actually wanna do it now, Dave." Hit it, ladies!

The School of Podcasting, with Dave Jackson.

Podcasting since 2005, I am your award-winning personal podcast coach, Dave Jackson, thanking you so much for tuning in. If you're new to the show, I help you massage your message for maximum impact. I help you tackle that technology. I help you face your fears, flatten that learning curve, and I just get you podcasting, cuz, look, you can go watch a bunch'a old outdated YouTube videos, and do that. Have fun with that. No, I help you get going in the right direction.

The website I want you to go to right now, SchoolofPodcasting.com/start. Use the coupon code, LISTENER. That coupon code is not available online. It's my way of saying thanks for listening to the show. The coupon code is LISTENER, L-I-S-T-E-N-E-R, and that'll save you when you sign up for a month, or a year, If you want, at the SchoolofPodcasting.com.

Thinking of starting a podcast? Since we're on that topic, let me talk about my sponsor and that is Podcast Movement. This is the largest podcast event that is solely geared towards podcasting. Being a podcaster is a great way to grow your network, and if that's- and that is absolutely true, well, think about this. gonna a podcasting event is like dumping gasoline on that, because you are face to face with the people you wanna meet. It's really cool.

Let me give you an example. I was there a couple of years ago. I've been there every year, by the way. I'm standing at one of the events that they do, cuz you have all these … Well, they have a hundred sessions on topics there, ranging from the technical aspects of setting up your equipment, to the audio production, as well as marketing, and monetizing your show, and your future, really, when you think about that.

Those go on during the days. At night, they have all these cool networking parties. I'm standing there, and Marc Maron walks in. He's got his shorts on, some flip flops. I'm like, "Oh, hey, Marc, what's up?" He's like, "Hey, man, what's up?" I shook his hand, and I'm like, "Hey, you remember when you were in Cleveland, and the morning show had this weird leaf blower thing that backfired, and threw puke on the ceiling?" He was like, "Yeah." I'm like, "We're not all morons in Cleveland." Really cool. Where else are you gonna go, and just hang out with great podcasters? It was awesome.

Some other things about this. If you're a brand-new podcaster, or if you're a veteran, it's a great place to show up. There's gonna be over 2,000 podcasters from around the world. It's in Philadelphia. You wanna check out the Liberty Bell? You wanna go see Rocky's statue, and go, "ADRIAN!!" and run up the steps? Philadelphia is an awesome place. July 23rd through the 26th, three days of workshops, panels, parties, and more. The Expo Hall is gonna have over 60 vendors, including Libsyn, so, I'll be in the booth. Come look me up. If you're in the mood for a microphone, or any kinda service, there's gonna be people there to help you out. Again, it's July 23rd through the 26th, Philadelphia PA. Their website is PodcastMovement.com. Use the coupon code, SOP, and you will get $50 off any registration. Thanks to Podcast Movement for being a sponsor.

I'll take websites again, for 300, Alex, please? Thank you. We're talking about your podcast website. Last week, we talked about media hosts, and what happens if you ever wanna move, and what you should look for in one.

This week, we're talking about websites, and you might even ask yourself … I've seen people do this, "Can I just get SoundCloud, and use Facebook?" The answer is, "Can you? Sure. Nobody's gonna stop you." I always say the question, "Can you paint with peanut butter? You can. It's not really recommended, but, you know, have fun with that." Would you buy a car, let's say … Would you buy a car from a guy that's selling it out of a tent? Would you feel really comfortable with somebody who didn't have enough money to have an actual dealership?

It just, it depends, really, on what you're doing. If it's just you, and "I wanna talk to my best friend, we're gonna record them, and put them out as a podcast," by all means, use Soundcloud, and Facebook your face off. What happens, often, is later you go, "Well, now we wanna treat it more seriously." You've got all this back catalog to just mess with, so it's not something I recommend.

The other thing is, to go back to that original question, "Do I need a website?" If you ever plan on telling people where to find something, you kinda need a website. Think about this: somebody goes, "Oh, you have a podcast? Where can I get it?" "Oh, just find me on iTunes." We'll talk about how that's one of the worst things you can say to somebody.

The other thing … Let's talk about that now. If you are a real estate podcaster, that's one of the worst things you can say, inaudible "Oh, just find me in Apple Podcast," because you have a very good chance of not being found, not because the search tool is bad; although, it has room for improvement. They've improved it. For a while, you got like 8 to 10 results. I think that has since changed. Because there are so many real-estate shows, because there are so many fantasy-football shows, because there are so many golf shows … There are a ton of shows that are called Thinking Outside the Box. I think the last time I checked, there were seven. Not to mention all the 'Preneur' shows.

When you say, "Find me in Apple Podcast," it's not a great thing to say, cuz there's a really good chance that you're not going to be found. In fact, saying, "Find me in whatever app," is really not a good way to do that, but if you say, "Hey, go out to my website, SchoolofPodcasting.com/subscribe," and you actually have a tutorial there to walk people through the process, that is worth the $5 to $12 a month you're paying in web hosting.

Do you need a website? Need, meaning can I live without it? You can live without it. Do I? You know, you need water, you need food. Do you need shelter? Well, you can live without it. It's just not very fun, especially in Ohio, in the winter. Something to keep in mind, if you're a school, or again, if it's just you, and your buddy, and you kinda wanna just … You wanna try on podcasting. "I don't wanna have to spend so much money to start one," and this makes sense to a certain extent.

When I started playing the guitar, when I was a little kid, I had this beat-up, old, crappy guitar. Later, I saved my money with my paper route. I spent $300 on a Gibson SG, only to turn on the very first day of MTV, because I'm old, to watch Pete Townsend, of The Who, smash it, and I was like, "What?" I didn't start off with a $300 guitar, so I can understand you wanting to kinda inch your way into it.

If all you need is a place for people to listen, and subscribe to your show, then Libsyn.com, Blubrry.com, and Podbean.com are all media hosts that have some sort of – keyword, here – basic website that comes with your plan. Well, how basic is basic? Again, if you just need people to subscribe, and listen, done. You don't need a fancy-schmancy website.

Now, if later, you go, "Well, I wanna have a funnel, where I add products, or newsletters, or I'm gonna have some sort of JavaScript that puts this cool little flashy thing," no. No JavaScript, in most cases.

There are some ways you can get around that, though. For example, let's say I wanna have MailChimp … MailChimp as a newsletter service. It's free. It starts off free. Again, you're trying to do this on the inexpensive route; wanna stick your toe in the water. There is a way, in MailChimp, that instead of grabbing the code to put on your website, you can grab a link, because with all these websites, you can do HTML, so you can do links, and images, and things of that nature. You could put an image that says Newsletter, and then link it to MailChimp, and on MailChimp's website, they have your form.

Often, there are ways to get around this. It's when you start into, "Well, I wanna have product sales, and I wanna have this page, and that page, and a page about the history …" No, that's … Now you're getting outside the bounds of, "I need people to listen, and subscribe." When you get to that point, you just basically copy and paste a whole bunch'a stuff, and you can move to another website. We talked about that last week, how to move your show, or, today, we're gonna talk about how do you move your website?

Keep in mind that, in some cases, you can actually get away without buying an actual web host, and use your media host for both. Now, some people think, "Well, why don't I do the opposite? Why don't I use my web host, my GoDaddy, my Bluehost …" and for the record, today, I did. I'm changing my mind on something, and you're gonna hear about who my new favorite web host is.

You don't use a web host as a media host. You can use your media host as a web host. Again, asterisk, as long as it's basic, but you don't wanna use your web host as a media host. You go, "Well, why is that?" Because it says right there on the front page that they have unlimited bandwidth, unlimited storage. I've talked to Bluehost, and I've talked to HostGator about this, and it's not a bandwidth … It's not a storage issue.

It's the fact that when … If you think about it, when they say 'element of bandwidth' … When you access a website, like an actual page, it's maybe, maybe ,and I'm pulling this number out of my … I'm gonna say 50 kilobytes, maybe 500 kilobytes, if that. It's small. It's tiny, let's go that route. When you pull a single MP3 file, it might be 46 megs-50 megs. One is kilobytes, one is megabytes, and that's a difference.

What happens is now, when you have hundreds, maybe thousands of people pulling your MP3 file, it's not storage, it's not bandwidth, it's your tying up what are called resources on that server, and basically that server is going [heavy breathing] and it can't do it. That's why you don't wanna use your web host as a media host. I know a few people that can say, "Dave, hey, I'm not having a problem," but I can also point you to about five people that go, "I've been asked to move.".

So, now, let's talk about, "Okay, Dave, I need a little more than a basic website. What do I … What should I have," on your podcast website? Here are the four things I recommend, minimum. Number one, a play button. Number two, an About page. Number three, a Contact page. Number four, a Subscribe page.

Why do I need a play button? Think about it like this, when you go to the mall, don't you love it, when you see the person standing there with a tray of some sort of free something? Because, usually, it's pretty good. There's some sort of chicken place at the mall, and there's always a guy out there with a bunch of toothpicks, and you go, and you eat one, and then you go to the restroom. Then, you come out of the restroom, and you just happen to walk by the guy again, and you get a second one. What are they doing? They're giving you something for free, hoping that you will then go buy one.

A play button on your website is kinda like saying, "Here, have a free sample." It's super-easy. You don't even have to pull out your wallet, just do that. That is what having a play button on your website … I've seen people do this. They'll only have links to iTunes. I've seen that, or Apple Podcasts. Now, you've added "Click on That." Oops, you don't have iTunes, or Apple podcasts? Now, you gotta download the software. Now, you've gotta go back, and click … That's not gonna work. Or, they'll Click Here to listen on something. Okay … Why not just have it right there, because you're asking somebody to buy your podcast, shall we say, without actually sampling it. That's just not gonna work. Keep that in mind, when you're doing a Play button.

Here's another thing to think about, and this is like, "What, are you crazy?" Not … I know. I know it's 2018. Not everyone has a smartphone. I know it's crazy. What? Yeah, there's still people flipping the phone, and those people might wanna listen to your show. By having a Play button on your website, they can listen to it right there, so you need a Play button.

The other thing you need is an About page. I used a tool called Crazy Egg, and I think you can actually use it for free. It shows you a little more than Google Analytics, in terms of ease of use. It shows me this thing called a heat map, and it shows where people were scrolling down, and it showed what people were clicking on. The word 'About' on my website was just peppered, where people had clicked on it. For me, the About page was one of the most important ones.

If somebody comes to your website, and they're like, "What's this?" They're gonna click on that About page. This should explain a little bit about your show. For me, it should explain how your show is going to benefit them. Why? Because, who doesn't wanna benefit? Think about this: your target listener is right in front of you, and they're looking at your listing. What are you going to say to convince that person to go back, and click the Play button, or even better, click on the Subscribe button?

I recently looked at the description I have in Apple Podcast for the School of Podcasting, and it needs work, and that's the beauty of all this stuff. If you're a regular listener of the show, you're gonna probably vomit when I say this, cuz I say it about every episode – your podcast is not a statue, it's a recipe, so, you can change all this stuff.

I looked at it, like, "Mm-kay, I see what I was going for, but that's not really gonna work." Like, for example, in the first sentence of my description, I mentioned that I've been podcasting since 2005, and I say that … I often introduce myself that way, because it speaks to my experience. Not many people can say that, but I'm not sure that's the first thing I should lead with. I'm actually thinking of redoing my intro, in some ways, because, in general, most people don't care how the sausage is made. They just wanna know, "How good is it gonna taste in my mouth?"

Explain to people what they're gonna get in the podcast, how they're gonna benefit, how they're gonna feel, whatever the benefits are of listening to your show. Again, keep in mind you can always change this later. The tough part is … This is where things get tough, and this is where every podcast question typically ends in the phrase, "Um, it depends." Some consultants have a website for their consulting, and then they add a podcast. Some people have a podcast, and their website's about their podcast, in hopes that they will then do consulting.

Do I have a paragraph about the show? Do I have a podcast about the host? Do I have a podcast about my services? The answer is yes. The hard question is which one is first? That one, I can't answer for you. If your website's more about your services, well, then, maybe you should have that paragraph first, and then say, "Also, you might wanna listen to our podcast, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah …" but I think you should have all those in one place. Not an About the Host page, an About the Podcast page, and About Our … Just have it all in one place. Keep it easy for people to find.

You have a Play button. You have an About page. You have a Contact page. Yes, you don't make people contact you via Twitter, you give that information right there, on your website. I, and this is how I do it … Doesn't mean this is how you have to do it, but I think it's a good strategy. I put every way you can contact me on one page, and that page is called Contact. It's not called Buy Me Coffee. It's not called Do a Hang with Dave, or some other fun little way to say, "Eeee, let's hang!" No. People were looking for a button that says Contact.

So, there, if you go over there, I have email, I have voicemail from PodcastVoicemail.com, I've got my social media. That way, if somebody wants to contact me, they don't have to say, "Oh, I don't … I didn't see …" No, it's right there. You only need to look one place. If you're using some sort of form … Let's say you're using a plug-in, Gravity Forms, or Contact 7, or whatever it is, that's fine. Just make sure that works. Go to that form, pretend you're a listener, put in the information, and make sure that you get that information, because I hear so many people that a) say, "I'm not getting any feedback." Then, I go out to their website, I put it in there, and go, "Did you get my email?" They're like, "No." I go, "Your form's not working." "Oh, I see where it's sending it to [email protected]" Yeah, you need to update that to point to your email.

Double-check all your contact … Make sure that if somebody's leaving you voicemail, that the voice, the email that is associated with your voicemail account is getting that message to you, cuz you might have a bunch of voicemails, but they're notifying the wrong voicemail. Go through all the ways that a listener can contact you, and make sure those work.

Again, you've got a Play button, an About page, a Contact page, and a Subscribe page. I've kinda already talked about this, but as more, and more podcasts are added to these different directories, telling your audience to, "Find me at Overcast," is probably not a good way to handle this. As more new podcast listeners get involved, we need to kinda quit telling them to subscribe, because they might not have a clue what that means, cuz they're thinking, "Well, I have a subscription to Reader's Digest. How do I … Where is the subscription form?" No. Instead make a page that shows people how to subscribe to your show, with links directly to your show, so they don't have to go to Apple, and do a search. You just click this button, and boom, and then, click on this button, and click Subscribe.

The other thing it's really cool … Did you know this? Let me find … Where's my phone? Have you heard this yet? Let me think of a podcast. Hey, Siri, subscribe me to the RED podcast.

Just to confirm, would you like to subscribe to the podcast, Red Eye Radio?

We see where it's not that simple. No. Hey, Siri, subscribe me to The School of Podcasting.

Just to confirm, would you like to subscribe to the podcast, School of Podcasting – Learn to plan, start, and grow your podcast, by Dave Jackson, podcast consultant, and coach?

Yes … She's thinking about it.

You are already subscribed to School of Podcasting crosstalk.

Okay. That's cool. You can just tell people … You could do a Facebook video to do that. However, what about those Android people? You gotta keep that in mind. You also wanna be on TuneIn. You wanna be on Stitcher. You wanna be on Google Play Music. You wanna be on Apple iTunes. You wanna lead people by the hand …

Back in the day … When I was a teenager, I worked in a grocery store, and we were getting killed by these big giant chains that were moving in, and we had to stand out. One of the things that we did to stand out was we offered just like kick-butt customer service. If somebody came by and said, "Sonny, where is the whatever?" I would stop whatever I was doing, and lead them to whatever the heck they were looking for, and point them at it. If they were short, I would say, "Would you like me to get that for you? Is there anything else I can help you find?" I always think about this now. We need to stop what we're doing, and lead our audience right to our podcast, and go, "Here," and put it in the cart for them, and go, "Is there anything else we can help you find?"

Those are the things I think you need, minimum. A Play button, an About page, a Contact page that actually works, and a Subscribe page. Those are what you need on your website.

"All right, Dave, you talked me into it. I'm gonna build a website. Who should I use?" Well, in the past, I've used HostGator. I was even a HostGator reseller, and for whatever reason, their support just went down the tubes. I heard so many people talk about Bluehost that I went over, and tried them, and for the record, I've never had really great luck with them. I had a friend of mine tell me about GoDaddy, and I remember in the early days of GoDaddy, they weren't great. They kinda were weird. I gotta tell you, I had great luck with GoDaddy, to the point where I became a GoDaddy reseller. If you go to CoolerWebsites.com, and order over there, I get a very small percentage, but basically, it's GoDaddy that's doing all the service for me.

I've seen this new breed of websites that came onboard. In the past, you had what was just called web hosting, and behind the scenes, it was like UNIX. Now, they have these specially geared web-hosting packages for people that are running WordPress. If you're new to this, WordPress is a very popular free software that you can use to create your website. If you've ever used things like Microsoft Word, it looks a lot like Microsoft Word. It's not that easy, but it's not as hard as you probably think. .

I tried a few websites using this WordPress-kinda-formatted hosting, and I did see an increase in speed. Then, I put … I didn't think it was that huge. I'm like, "Okay, it's a little faster." Then, I put WordPress on a website that was just … Shall we just call it the traditional web hosting? I went, "Oh, yeah, this is noticeable. It's … Wow, it's noticeable." The fees are typically a little higher, usually a few dollars more a month, not a ton, but the speed is definitely higher. As Google ranks things, now, partly based on how fast the page loads, that's something you might wanna think about. So, that's the good news, it's faster, and it's not that much more expensive.

The bad news is most of these WordPress-hosting packages came with no e-mail address. For instance, I decided to use WP Engine. This is one of the first ones that came out, and again, it was faster. It was solid, but I didn't get @SchoolofPodcasting.com. I ended up going through Google at the price of $5 per month, per email. I had [email protected], and I had [email protected], and it was charging me $10 a month.

WP Engine is a fine company. Their support was great, but to make a long story short, if you get any kind of major traffic to your website, I ended up paying through the nose. At one point, I was paying between $50 to $70 a month for just the web hosting. Then, another 10 bucks for the email addresses. While I like GoDaddy's WordPress hosting, it's around $10 a month, and that's for 400,000 visitors. For most people, that's gonna be fine. Again, I've been using them, as a reseller, and I would recommend … That's why I've been recommending people, "Hey, just go to CoolerWebsites.com, and sign up, and get the WordPress hosting.

Well, then a friend, and this is one of the cool things about being a podcaster … Your audience kinda goes, "Hey, that's cool. Did you know there's something better?" That is a website called SiteGround. For the record, I have an affiliate program for them, so if you plan on checking them out, can you do me a favor? It doesn't cost you an extra dime. Just go to SchoolofPodcasting.com/site ground. That's S-I-T-E-ground. They have WordPress design packages, and … But, wait, there's more! They offer email addresses, as well. I was like, "All right …" I moved a couple sites over there; put my toe in the water.

Again, I noticed a speed increase with my pages. I talked to them, and I said, "Look, I'm thinking about moving The School of Podcasting," when another large bill came in from my buddies over at WP Engine. I said, "Can you guys handle this? They said, "Uh, yeah." The cool thing is they moved it for free. When you sign up at SiteGround, at SchoolofPodcasting.com/siteground, they will move one website for you, for free.

And, I got email addresses with it. In fact, I have unlimited email addresses, and their support is awesome. In fact, I'm kinda worried about telling you, because I don't want them to turn into HostGator, where they get so many customers that they can't keep up. I'm assuming they're gonna keep up, but they're awesome, and …

Oh, yeah, "What's the price, Dave?" Their largest package, which is what I'm using for The School of Podcasting, just to be safe, is $12 a month. I canceled my email accounts on Google. There's $10 in my pocket, and I'm not getting a $50 hosting bill. Instead, I'm getting a $12 hosting bill. So, to say I'm very happy … Oh, and, and, I swear the website's faster. Even though WP Engine is not slow, I swear theirs is faster, and that's just from an eyeball of, like, I went to my website,and went, "BAM!" And I went, "Wow, that was fast."

You're like, "Okay, Dave, I'm on an old shared hosting." That's usually what it used to be called, shared web hosting. "I'm paying $3 a month, and I'm willing to pay 10, if it's that much faster …" The other thing is it's kinda geared towards WordPress, and I think they keep things … It's not gonna keep you completely safe. We'll talk about that in just a second, but I think it keeps you safer.

So, how did you move your site? Well, number one, like I said, SiteGround. They moved The School of Podcasting for free. If you just have one site, you don't have to worry about that. I have multiple sites that I decided to move over there, and what I did … For me, it was I moved a bunch of websites that are kinda half-dead, just to test the water.

Normally, they charge you $30, after your first free one, to move a website over. Here's what I did, and I'm gonna tell you about one of my favorite WordPress/website tools. That is Manage WP. Here again, they have an affiliate link, even though it's free, but, if you don't mind, SchoolofPodcasting.com/manageWP.

Let me tell you what this does. You basically install a free plug-in on your website. For me, when I have multiple websites, so, website one, website two, website three, website four … When I log in, we all know the good things about WordPress is it's constantly updating, and having new features. We know the bad side of WordPress is, hey, it's constantly updating, and adding new features.

You've gotta go, and upgrade, and all this stuff, if you wanna keep your website safe. If you don't upgrade your website, you're leaving the door open. You're putting a big giant sign on your back that says, "Please hack me." I installed the free plug-in on my website site, and I can go in, I can trash all my spam messages in one place. I just … If you go out to SchoolofPodcasting.com/603, I'll have a video, and you can see where I upgraded a bunch of plug-ins, a bunch of themes, with like three clicks. It's really, really cool.

How did I use this to move my website? Well, and this is … Before we get into this, I realize all the IT people are gonna go vomit when I say this, right now. My goal here is how to explain how to move a website, without learning any kind of admin, with databases. No FTP. How do I move it, without learning any code? I realize there are lots of better ways of doing this, than what I'm gonna describe. This one uses no code, and no back-end nothing, okay? That's why I chose this method, so just save your hate mail. I realize there are better ways to do this, but this is how I did it.

I installed this WordPress plug-in, and what's great about WP, or managed WP, is you can choose what to pay, and what to not pay for. I can have it back up my website for free, once a month. Well, I need to back up right now. It was, are you ready for this? $2. Yeah, I said, "Can you back up my website?" $2 for the backup, and if I leave that on, it's $2 every month. It backed up my website that I wanted to move, so I had this cool file that has everything on my website is now on Manage WP.

I then went over, and this is the squirrely part … I went to SiteGround, and installed WordPress on the same account that I had my other file on, my other website. I now have two websites. Installed WordPress, but my domain is still pointing at my old host. This is what … It's a little different in the hosting world. I always use the analogy of your house. With your house, you always thought your house had an address. It didn't. The land that your house sits on has an address. For me, it was 535 Stevens Road, and I always thought that pertained to the house. Nope. If you rip down the house, that plot of land is still 535 Stevens Road.

In the internet world, you can have one address, and pointed it at a different plot of land. In this case, the plots of land are your web host. Let's say you're hosted on HostGator, and you wanna move to SiteGround. You go over, and right now, your domain, yourdomain.com, is pointing at HostGator. You go into your domain manager, so that's whoever, GoDaddy, and you say, "Hey, quit looking over there. Would you please look over there, at the new host?"

When they do, they're gonna see the WordPress that you just installed, but there's nothing there. This is where the IT people are gonna go, "No, you just do …" Okay, I realize … It's a blank WordPress site. I just sat there, cuz this usually takes anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes to a couple hours, and I was just like, it's … Again, most of these websites are fairly, "Meh …" They're half-baked. I just kept hitting F5, every now and then, and sure enough, I saw the blank website come up. I went right into Managed WP, and I said, "Restore this website." I put in the new log-in name, and password to my new website. It took all of maybe 45 seconds, and it pushed all those files over to the new host and, voila, there was my website. Super-easy.

The only downside was, for, who knows, maybe five minutes, my website was down, but I put … I put a post right on the front page, and said, "Hey, we're gonna go, and do some maintenance, so if you see the website go away, it'll be back in a minute." It was very easy. No coding involved. I clicked one button that said, "Back up," changed my domain name, clicked another button that said, "Restore." Done.

That is how I moved a site, and I've done this a couple time. It's really not that big a deal. Now, how many, then … "Dave, you said you have more than one website, on one plan?" Yes, I do. I asked SiteGround about this. I said, "Hey, how many websites can I have on one plan? I like this idea." They said, "It all depends, again, on how much resources you use."

Right now, I have the PodcastReviewShow.com, BetterDave.com, DavesBlankSite.com, FeedingMyFaith.com, PodcastingResources.com, PowerofPodcasting.com, all on one plan. Most of those, Feeding My Faith, Dave's Blank Site, BetterDave.com, Power of Podcasting … Don't get a huge amount of traffic. Kind of my second-string podcasts. Podcast Review Show gets a fair amount.

If you go out to SchoolofPodcasting.com/603, you can see where I may be using 25 percent of my resources. Now, keep in mind, I'm using websites that don't get that much traffic, so don't go dumping 10 websites on one plan. Keep that in mind, and just … You do this by going into the C-Panel. Just realize that if you're like, "Ooh, I can't pay $10 a month for all of my websites," you might be able to put some of your websites under one account. That's the good news.

It does take a leap of faith, because I've done this before with HostGator. When you have all of your websites under one plan, and there's a problem with that host, all of your websites go down. Keep that in mind, but that's how I moved my host. This kinda goes back to you can pay people in money, or time, because you might say, "Well, Dave, all you have to do is go into the C-Panel, make a backup of the database, go into the C-Panel of the new place, and do that … or I could just pay them $30 to move it for me." That's fine, but for me, I didn't mind having my website down for just a little bit, and I didn't mind … I saved myself 30 bucks.

Now, depending on your budget, $30 may be a no-brainer. For me, I was like, "Nah, I'm a little frugal. I'm gonna pay $2 for the back up, and I will restore it myself." My big thing now is I'm a big fan of SiteGround, and you're going, "But, Dave, aren't you a GoDaddy reseller? Shouldn't you be telling people to go to CoolerWebsites.com?" I'm like, "Not with a clear conscience, I can."

I will keep using CoolerWebsites, because I get a discount on hosting there, but as you've seen, I've started to move a fair amount of people over to SiteGround. I think, over the years, I will slowly move all my stuff over to SiteGround. I have multiple plans, and because … The big difference here is you get email addresses, and, to me, I like that I can send email from [email protected], instead of [email protected] To me, it just looks a little more professional.

Last, this question came in from a School of Podcasting member, and you may have noticed that the calendar's changed, and it's 2018, and you're like, "Hey, those Apple-episode thingies, how do you do that, because, I know, I should probably update my Apple episode numbers. Can you tell me a little bit more about those?"

We talked about this a little bit last year, but Apple rolled out these new ways of categorizing your shows. One is it a serial, or episodic? Serial means it's a story. I have a podcast idea … I kept a diary, when I was in a band, called Six Shooter. I wanna take that diary, and put it out as a podcast, sometime this year, in my free time, of course. If I do, that will be out as a serial podcast, where I want you to listen to episode one, and two, then three, then four. If it's just one that you can listen to it in whatever fashion you want, that's episodic.

Then, what you wanna do is, no matter how you're doing it, serial or episodic, you wanna put in what episode number it is. That's the fun part, because some of us, who've been podcasting for a while, have 600 episodes to put their stuff in. How important is this? Well, we just heard where you can now ask your phone to subscribe to your podcast. There are rumors that, in the future, you'll be able to ask your phone – you know, that woman in the Apple phone – "Hey, why don't you play episode number such-and-such of the such-and-such podcast?" Well, that will only work if your episode numbers are in there.

Again, let me clarify, that is a rumor, but I could see that happening, cuz after all, why would you have us put that in there, besides the fact that it's pretty? You might as well use that. I know if you, right now, and we'll talk about this in a second … Amazon Skills are kinda like Apple apps. Right now, I'm a beta tester for Libsyn. To have the ability for you to say to the woman in the tube … I now call her Lexi, so I don't set off your device … You can ask Lexi to install the School of Podcasting. Not yet. Or the Alexa Cast, not yet, but that's something. I believe – again, this is all beta – you'll be able to play episodes, based on the episode number, if it's in there.

"Okay, Dave, well, how do I do this?" If you're on Libsyn, you wanna contact my buddy, Rob Walch, the vice president of podcast relations. You can email him, [email protected], and say, "Hey, I wanna update my podcast numbers. Give me the secret link," and he will teach you the secret handshake, and give you the link.

Why it's not available to the public yet, you'll have to ask Rob. To be honest with you, I think it has something to do with having a bunch of people use it at one time. It's a new tool that we just designed. I will tell you that I put in all the episode numbers for the Alexa Cast, and I only had like 36, something like that, in the matter of minutes. It was cool. School of Podcasting, not so much. School of Podcasting has over 600 episodes, and a whole bunch of stuff that I used to do, back in the day, for the students only. In other words, podcasts that weren't available to the public, except now, some of them were, because I clicked the wrong button.

I also went into my feed, and said, "Hey, you know what? Let's just give everybody every episode …" StargatePioneer, buddy, sorry. If you're using an old device, like a Nano Pod, or whatever those things were called … iPad Nano, or an iPod … Those are set to download everything this person has, and all the sudden, I give you a whole bunch more, it's gonna download them all. Yeah, so enjoy those great podcasts from 2007.

I have heard reports of somebody saying, "Dave, I'm using Overcast. It's not an iPod, and I'm getting some of that stuff." That is part of me trying to figure out … All I can say, and this is not a Libsyn thing, for the record, this is not a Libsyn problem, this is a Dave-2006-poorly-organized problem.

I'm not gonna go into the details, because it's very visual, but it's just the School of Podcasting's backend, on Libsyn, is a little bit of a mess, because I haven't always used the Libsyn feed. For a while, I was using PowerPress. Nothing wrong with using PowerPress, by the way, but I don't have the information there that makes it easy, when I'm trying to put in my episode numbers.

If you're on Libsyn, ask Rob for the for the secret handshake, and the secret link. If you have a normal show, with no weird, non-public things, it's a piece of cake. It really is a piece of cake. "Okay, Dave, I'm not on Libsyn. I'm using PowerPress." If you go into WordPress, go into Posts, and you'll have a list of all your episodes there. What you wanna do, this is a way you can speed this up, because you have to do it one at a time, to the best of my knowledge …

I got an email over to the gentlemen, and ladies at Blubrry to say, "Is there any way to do this in bulk?" I don't think there is at least not yet, and that is you just go into an episode, and PowerPress, along with Libsyn, along with Podbean, they are all updated. They were ready for this episode number, and season number, pretty much the minute it came out. If you're not using seasons, you just ignore that, but you'll see a thing in there, which says iTunes Episode, and you just put in, "Okay, this is episode number six," and then click on … In PowerPress, I think you click on Save, and that will then update that, and you just … What I recommend is instead of clicking on Edit, which will replace your list of episodes with the one episode you're editing, right-click on the Edit button.

Again, let's go back from the beginning. I go into WordPress. I click on Posts. There's a list of all my posts. Right-click on Edit, and choose to open a new tab. Now, you've got the original tab, with all of your posts, and then you've got one tab with that one episode that you need to edit. That way, when you put in the episode number, click on Save … You can close that tab, and you're right back where you were. It'll save you a little bit of a headache that way.

Where do you start? I would say start with your latest episode, and just work backwards, because your older episodes are not going to get as much traffic. Do you have to do this stuff? If we go back to the original part of this episode, do I need a website? Well, technically, no, but do I need to put these iTunes stuff in there? Do I need to put these Apple episodes? Well, technically, no, but we tend to believe that Apple put them there for a reason, and they might be used in the future, and no time like the present to go back and update your stuff. Not a lotta fun, especially when you have 600 episodes, but thank you for that question.

I was gonna talk, today, about the PreSonus StudioLive AR12 USB mixer. This thing is the cat's meow for me. It's got sliders, instead of knobs. It's got mute buttons. It's got an on/off-button switch. It's got inserts. It's got two auxilliary sense, plus effects, and – this is the one that really got me – it's got a built-in recorder right there in the mixer. I was like, "Oh, that's it. We are buying this bad boy." It's much smaller than the mixer I had before.

I do a live show on Saturday morning, called Ask the Podcast Coach. If you ever have podcast questions, you don't feel like paying for consulting, come on over. AskthePodcastCoach.com/live. I was using it. I had a phone line tied in. I was doing all sorts of crazy stuff. Got done with it, and I'm using it right now …

Here's what's really cool, if I wanted to, I could have an iPad plugged into this thing. I could have my … If I had a cohost on Skype, I could have them in another channel, and I could have everybody on its own individual channel. All the techies are like, "Ooh, you have my attention." It's really cool. When I record directly into my computer, not a problem.

There's a little bit of a problem, and this is a general pet peeve I have about USB mixers … I'm not quite loud enough. I would like to add another … If you could just put up your fingers, like that much more volume into the software, but it's doable. I could do that, but, again, I like to record to a external … Usually an external recorder, into an SD card. I don't like to rely on a computer. Just in my travels, about every 200 episodes, 300 episodes, it eats one. I like to have two, and I thought, "This'd be great!" I'll have the SD card. That'll be my main one, and then, I will have my computer, if I want to, as a backup.

Awesome, except one thing. When I record on the SD card, it has a high-pitched, ever-ever-ever-so-faint noise. When you go to troubleshoot, first thing I did: tried a new cord. Nope. Tried a different mic. Nope. Muted all the channels, except the microphone. Nope. Unplugged the microphone, so I was basically recording nothing. Nope. Still there. Okay, fine. Unplugged it from the computer. No USB connection, nothing plugged into it. Hit Record, still there. I have an email into the lovely people at PreSonus, saying, "What's the deal with this, and how do we go about repairing this?".

If you heard me talk about this on Ask the Podcast Coach, and the fact that I had bought this, just slow your roll just a second. It's a very … It's such a podcast problem. I mean, you have to be in a quiet room, smashing your headphones into your head to hear it, but nonetheless, because it's a high-pitched whine … It's one of the things that you don't know that you're hearing it, until it stops, and you go, "Oh, wait. What was that weird thing in the background?" I will be reporting on this in the future.

Speaking of the future, if you haven't got your tickets yet, you're gonna miss a really cool event. In fact, I just bought some special clothes. I did. I'm telling you to go to Podfest. If you go to Podfest.us … This is another podcast event, in Orlando, Florida, happening February 8th, which happens to be my birthday. February 8th through the 10th, in Orlando, Florida. I will be speaking there, a little bit, about Alexa. Couple of things I'm speaking on there. The last night, we're kicking it off, they're going to roast me. How fun is that going to be?

If that's not enough … But wait, there's more. Also, in February, I will be going to Social Media Marketing World. This is February 28th through March 2nd, in San Diego, California. This is a huge event that is not just about podcasting; it's about social media. We're talking Facebook, Twitter, the other thing … Face Match, Book Lot. Insta-book. Face the Gram, whatever. It's all there. The first night, they have an opening party on an aircraft carrier. That, I'm looking … I'm looking forward just to sunshine, which, of course, I can also get in Florida.

Podfest. Is it Podfest.us? If you go out to SchoolofPodcasting.com, I've got to link right there on the front page to Social Media Marketing World. I look forward to meeting everyone there. .

Another way that you can meet me is by joining the School of Podcasting. If you go out to SchoolofPodcasting.com/start, an d use the coupon code, LISTENER, you can sign up, and join me there.

Anyway, "Dave, you know, I just have a couple questions. Can I pick your brain?" I call that consulting. I would love to have you pick my brain. Just go over to SchoolofPodcasting.com/schedule, and you can schedule 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or an hour. If you don't wanna join The School of Podcasting, or you just need some tweaking your podcast, I can definitely help you that way, as well.

Thanks so much for tuning in. We'll see you again next week, with another episode. Until then, class is dismissed. Take care, and God bless.

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Full Transcript: School of Podcasting – The Best Sounding Audio For Your Budget

Today, on episode number 611, hold on to your hat. We have a cool Because of My Podcast story, thanks to Jim Harold. Then, we're gonna get into audio quality, and audio formats. Which sounds better, Fraunhofer or Lane? Should I use 64, 128, 32, etc., etc. Then, we're gonna talk about Skype calls – how I can save you $20 a month and how I saved $44 a month, and I ended up with faster internet. It's pretty cool. Hit it, ladies!

The School of Podcasting, with Dave Jackson.

Podcasting since 2005, I am your award-winning podcast coach, Dave Jackson, thanking you so much for tuning in. If you're new to this show, welcome aboard. I'm gonna help you massage your message. I'm gonna help you face your fears, tackle that technology, and get you going in the right direction, when it comes to podcasting.

My website is SchoolofPodcasting.com. If you go to SchoolofPodcasting.com/start, and use the coupon code – write this down, it's L-I-S-T-E-N-E-R; better known as "LISTENER" – that will save you when you sign up for either a month, or a yearly subscription.

I always like to start off the show with a Because of My Podcast story. Today, it's from Northeast Ohio's own Jim Harold. You can find him at JimHarold.com.

He is The Paranormal Podcast guy. He's been podcasting since, you guessed it, 2005. If you wanna see a guy that has a lot of podcasts, a lot of books, and a lot of things going on, and yet, his website is well-organized, check out JimHarold.com, and check out what Jim has been up to.

Hey, Dave, Jim Harold here, and I have a great Because of My Podcast story, at least I think it is. If you don't know me, I podcast on the paranormal, and you can find my shows at JimHarold.com, and everywhere fine podcasts are heard. Been doing that since 2005.

I just made my eighth appearance on a radio program, called Coast to Coast AM. If you don't know what that show is, it is the most-popular radio show for overnights in the United States, and it's on over 600 radio stations.

Now, do you think I would have had that opportunity to be on two hours, speaking to the people who love my kind of content, the supernatural, and the paranormal? Do you think I woulda had that chance had I not had a podcast? I don't think so.

So, what are you waiting for? Talk to Dave. You should start your podcast as soon as possible. Don't think about it, go ahead and do it, because you'll have your own Because of my Podcast story. Thanks, Dave.

Thank you, Jim. You don't have to plug The School of Podcasting. I really appreciate that, but if you can answer that question, Because of My Podcast ___, do what Jim did – record it, and send it on over. I deeply, deeply appreciate those. They actually kind of inspire me. Again, you can find Jim over at im Harold.com.

You know what would be really spooky? Not going to Podcast Movement. I would cry. I would be so afraid, I tell you what, because I would be missing out on having over 2,000 podcasters from around the world to network with.

You're like, "Well, where is this happening at?" It's in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, don't you know? July 23rd through the 26th. It's three days of workshops, panels, and parties, and there's gonna be over a hundred sessions, of which will be myself, and Jeff Brown. That's right, I'm speaking a Podcast Movement. The topics are gonna range from the super-technical stuff to the equipment, and audio production, marketing, monetization. Anything you need, it's gonna be there, [plus]. That's right.

But wait, there's more! Over 60 podcast service, and equipment providers. I will be there, as well, at the Libsyn booth. Stop by, and say hi. Whether you're in the market for a microphone, or you're trying to figure out which host is better. (Libsyn!) It's super-easy. You can go there.

Anyone who matters is gonna be at Podcast Movement. That, again, is July 23rd through the 26th, in Philadelphia, PA. That will be here sooner than later. Get your tickets now, and when you go to buy your tickets, at PodcastMovement.com, use the coupon code "SOP," and you'll get $50 off any level of registration. Again, that's PodcastMovement.com, coupon code – "SOP." Thank you, Podcast Movement, for sponsoring The School of Podcasting.

Hey, check it out. I am way over here, in your left headphone, because today, we're gonna talk about audio. One of the things we have to get a grip on is what the heck is stereo? Stereo is when you have sound coming out from the left side, but you can also have things coming out of the right side. This is typically heard, when you do things with, like, music. Just to get the full stereo sound, let's do this: Left, right, center … Nothing better than two-and-a-half-part harmonies.

Where you can really hear this is in music, so let me … I found some music that I think is very stereo-esque. Now, we're gonna go a little crazy with audio today, but not too deep. For all you super-duper audiophiles, this is gonna drive you nuts, but this is one style of audio that a lot of people use. If you're going to use stereo, it is called 128 kilobits per second.

We'll get into what the heck that means in a second, but really all that is, is it is like this: I've got 64 kilobits per second audio, in the left channel, and I've got another 64 kilobits per second, over here in the right channel. When you add those up, you get 128 kilobits per second.

What you need to know about this is this sort of audio takes up about one megabyte per minute; roughly one megabyte per minute. If you're gonna do an hour-long show, that's 60 minutes, and you're gonna do it weekly, that's four weeks, that 60 minutes times four weeks is 240 minutes. We said 128 kilobits per second is one meg per minute, so you're gonna need 240 megabytes per month to host your file.

I was afraid of this. Everybody's mind was blown. Yeah, too much jargon, I realize. I'm gonna try to … This is where the audiophile people are going to send me nasty letters, but we're gonna try to put this into something that we can all understand. That is, if you've ever had to paint, isn't it fun?! All the taping, and the … I admire people that love to paint. I'm not one of them. If you've ever done it, we're gonna talk podcasting to painting, here. When you have …

First of all, you always want to record in the best possible format you can. On a PC, that is in a WAV format. That pretty much means what you hear is what you get. There's no loss of the audio. On a Mac, it's AAC. That's the good news. The bad news is these files are huge, like gigantic, and by that, I mean they're big.

What we're gonna do, then, is you take that giant file, cuz you can't send that to your audience … They're gonna be like, "Dude, you took up all the room on my phone! I hate you!" Hence, enter the world of MP3s. The sound isn't as pristine as it was, but it's also like a tenth of the size of a WAV file, maybe. I don't know, but it's much, much smaller.

We're gonna talk about now … I have an original painting. I'm going to now draw a new copy of that painting. Let's go at it that way. We're gonna use paint. If you paint in stereo, it is like painting with two paint brushes. Now, if you're painting with two paint brushes, what's gonna happen? You're gonna use twice as much paint – one for the left side, and one for the right side.

That's why a stereo file, at 128 kilobits per second … You're like, "Dave, quit saying that! What is 128 kilobits per second?" Here's the thing we need to know about this. The bigger the number, the more paint on your brush.

I think it's GarageBand, or iTunes that occasionally … The desktop version, of course, because if I was talking about the app, I'd be saying Apple Podcasts, but the desktop version. I believe if you convert audio files there, I believe the default is 192 kilobits per second.

Now, going back to the painting analogy, have you ever tried to paint with too much paint on your brush? What happens? It runs, and then you're like … If you let the run dry, it's like, "Oh, it was perfect, except there's this big drippy thing in the middle." Too much paint can be bad.

Well, 192 kilobits per second – warning, this is an opinion – is way too much. Now, today, I'm actually going to export at 192, because I'm gonna give you an example of 32 kilobits per second, 64 kilobits per second, 96, and 128. These are gonna be very short, but I want you to hear the difference, because, in the end, it's up to you to vote with your ears.

That number, the kilobits per second, that's how much paint you're putting on your brush. The more paint, of course, we know that, especially if you're trying to paint over something, the more paint, the better the coat. The better the coat, the less you have to paint again. If you're painting in stereo, you're painting with two brushes. You're using up twice as much paint, and in some cases, you don't need that much paint.

For example, let me play you that stereo file we played a second … Let me play you that clip again. Now, did you notice anything? My guess is you didn't, unless you've got really good ears. The first part of that was in stereo. The second part was in mono. I'm gonna play this again, and when we switch from stereo to mono, I'm gonna put a little beep so you know that we switched.

Now, how can you tell which one is better? Here's the word that doesn't … One of these things doesn't belong here. The word 'better' does not work here, because it's really, and I mean really up to you. What you can do is you can go into your software, whether it be Audition, or iTunes, or Hindenburg Journalist, or whatever you're using, and you can export it as stereo, and then, you can export it as mono, and then vote with your ears, and pick the one that you like best.

Just realize that when you're in stereo, your file is going to be twice as big. Then, the bigger the number, the bigger the file; the bigger the file, the more hosting you need; the more hosting you need, the more expensive podcasting becomes.

Now, let's talk about what does a voice sound like? This is me being recorded as a WAV file, right now, and I will say, ohm let's use the good-old standard, Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow. Now, just to prove my point, I'm going to play that file, now, mono. Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

Now, you might be saying yourself, "Dave, that didn't sound a bit different," and that's the whole point of that exercise. There is no difference. There's no stereo separation with a voice. You're listening to me in the middle of your headphones. Now, what I'm going to do is export that same little 'Mary had a little lamb' thing at different bit rates, so we can hear what they sound like.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

If you're like me, you're saying, "Dave, that sounded like crap!" You are correct. That is 32-kilobits-per-second stereo. Now, ooh, you ready for the braintease? If it's 32-kilobits-per-second stereo, what is in each speaker? What's in each headphone, right now? You got it? 16. 32 is 16 on one side, and 16 in the other, which means it sounds horrible, and that did. What does 32 kilobits per second sound like in mono?

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

Not bad. Listenable? Yeah. Great? Eh … The upper frequencies, where your S's, and your T's are – a little wonky. Let's listen to what 64, which most of us consider high mono, because, again, 128 kilobits per second is kind of FM-stereo-CD quality. Now, let's listen to … What I'll do is I'll play the 32 mono, and then I'll have it right followed by the 64 mono, so we can hear them, back to back.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

This sounds better. Why? There's more paint on the brush, so it covers better. It covers the audio frequencies better. This is why a lot of people … You can get by with producing a file at 64 kilobits per second mono, and it will be fine, because technically, it is that CD-quality/FM-stereo quality, but there's no stereo separation.

Just for giggles, let's go up one higher. Now, we're gonna compare 64 mono to 96-kilobits-per-second mono.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

I dunno about you … My opinion, I didn't hear a whole lotta difference. There was definitely a difference between 32, and 64, but 64 to 96, now we're talking about icing. We're talking about do I need more icing on my cake? No. I think that's listenable, without being distracting, at all. That's just my personal opinion. Then, the question has to be … Remember the music we heard earlier? What really takes a beating, when you go mono, is music, because you go from stereo to mono. Let's do that one more time.

The School of Podcasting with Dave Jackson …

The School of Podcasting with Dave Jackson …

Now, if I start talking over that, is it really a big deal that it's not in stereo? That, again, is up to you to decide. Let's kill that. This is when you can then decide, because, again, the bigger the bit rate, the bigger the file; the bigger the file, the more hosting you need from your media host.

Yes, you need a media host. Use the coupon code, SOPFREE, when you sign up at Libsyn. That's L-I-B-S-Y-N-dot-com. Full disclosure, I work there, and that's my preferred media host. There are others. Blubrry, B-L-U-B-R-R-Y-dot-com. Also use the coupon code, SOPFREE, to get there …

The bigger your file, the more media host you need; the more media hosting you need, the more money you have to put out. It's up to you. It's a balance between your ears, and your wallet, but there's also other considerations. This is where you have to look at your target market, cuz you might say, "But, Dave, I think you publish in stereo, don't you?"

Here's my thought. If you're living someplace where you don't have a lot of bandwidth that it's gonna take forever to download my file, you are not my target audience. You're gonna have a hard time creating a podcast without a decent internet connection. We'll talk about that in a second. Now, some of you may say, "Hey, hold on! I've got poor bandwidth! Don't go peein' in my Cheerios!" Well, that's my thought, at least, and my shows aren't six hours long. They don't take up a huge amount of space. Sometimes, I actually still do publish them at 64-kilobits-per-second mono, if it's extra-long.

Now there's one other thing. Remember how we say the answer in podcasting is it depends? There is no one size fits all. Can you say that with me? There is no one size fits all. When somebody tells you something, please consider the source, and I mean consider it coming from me, because I have another reason why I podcast in stereo. I have an online streaming channel. I use a service called Abovecast. I spend $12 a month. I get maybe – I haven't looked in a long time – not very many listeners on this. This is something that's in … Just like there are podcast directories, there are also streaming-channel directories. Not nearly as popular as podcasting, but I'll put out the 12 bucks for that, and the way I have my channel set up, it wants – you guessed it – 128-kilobits-per-second stereo. So that's the other reason I do it, cuz otherwise, I gotta convert the file again.

My target audience, I think, has the bandwidth to handle it. I think they have enough space on their phone. If I was doing a show for moms, though … If I was doing a show for moms, I would definitely do it at 64-kilobits-per-second mono. Why? Because moms' phones are full of pictures and movies. This is something to think about. There is no wrong answer here. It's really up to you.

The final part of this, and then, we're gonna get into more fun things with the internet, is when you go to figure out how much space you need, we said you need to know how many episodes you're putting out a month, how many minutes those episodes are gonna be, and then your bit rate, cuz we said … Here's the thing, 64-kilobits-per-second mono, which is just a little bit of … It's one brush with a decent amount of paint on it. It's a half a meg a minute.

If I was doing a 20-minute podcast, it would be 10 megs. If I was doing that once a week, I would need 40 megs, so there's that. If it's 128-kilobits-per-second stereo … Remember, that's the same thing as 64 mono, except now, you have a left, and right channel, so your music's gonna sound better. That is double the size, one meg. These are roughly, don't hold me, roughly 1 meg per minute, so if I was doing a 20-minute podcast, a 20-minute podcast would take 20 megs of space. Times that by once a week, that's 80 megs of space. Now, I'm probably more into the $15 range of media hosting, versus the five-dollar, or seven-dollar range. Then, the more minutes you do, the more episodes you do, it just adds up.

I just wanted to let you hear that, but now, now … Ooh, the final … We're gonna pop a myth here. I've been exporting these in Hindenburg Journalist, and you may not know this … I didn't really know this until a while ago, when I looked it up, Hindenburg Journalist uses the Lame encoder, and the official MP3 encoder is from Hasenpfeffer … No, that's Bugs Bunny. Duesendorfer? It's something very German-sounding. I will look it up here in a second, when I go into iTunes, but I'm now gonna take a WAV file, that 'Mary had a little lamb,' and I'm going to convert it to 64 mono, using Lame encoder, which we've kind of already heard, and one using the one in iTunes, and we're gonna see if there's any difference.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

For me there's not a giant difference. One more time.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

Mary had a little lamb, its fleece was white as snow.

Now, think about listening to this in the car; think about listening to this at the gym, walking a dog. Think about listening to this, not like I am, in a quiet room, with my headphones smashed into my head, because I'm really … I'm like, "Okay …" Now, for the record, the first one was the Fraunhofer. It's not Hasenpfeffer. Bring me my Hasenpfeffer! I couldn't remember that. The second one was the Lame, and listening to it four times, I finally went, "Yeah, the Lame is a little …" Just like, if you could put your fingers … It's that much worse in the upper end, barely.

This is the thing that people obsess over, and that drives me bonkers, that we're like … We're sitting in a room, smashing our headphones in, listening to think … Nobody's listening to your stuff, five times, going, "Wait a minute, did he say rents or rent?" No. Nobody's caring about that. So, my point here is, really, all you have to decide, in my opinion …

If somebody asked me, as a podcast consultant, "Dave, what should I export as?" I'd go, "Here, it's really easy." Go in, record your file, recording everything as a WAV file, an AAC file, if you're on a Mac, so you can get the best quality recorded. When everything's ready, and all your music's in place, and everything else, export that once, as a 64-kilobits-per-second-mono file, then go right back in, and name it something like Episode 1-Mono 64. Then go right back to that same software … Everything's still in place. Go file, export Episode 1-128 stereo, and go back and listen.

Again, you have to do the math. How many times am I gonna publish? How long is my episode gonna be? How much hosting do I need, based on whether it's mono or stereo? Then look at your wallet. It's really that simple, but I wanted you to hear the difference, because there is a difference. Definitely, when you get down to 32, 32 is not good, in my opinion. That's like, "Ehh, it's a little …" Oh, I don't wanna be mean, but there are other media hosts that use things with the phone that sound pretty horrible, and that's what it kinda sounded like to me. It's, for me, 64 or 128, and again, that is just my opinion.

I just see people all the time, they'll upload a file. Not at 128, not at 192 … 256 kilobits – double the high. They'll upload it to their media host, and go, "Hey, why am I out of space already?" Because you're using a twice as much paint as you need, and it's not really … It's not benefitting the wall you're painting on any more. In fact, you're kind of running … You have runs in your paint now, and all it's doing is taking longer to download, and taking up more space on people's phone.

This next topic came to me, and I was like, "Well, that's a really good point," from my buddy, Troy Heinritz. You can find his podcast, The Blacklist Exposed, at, you guessed it, TheBlacklistExposed.com. Shockingly enough, The Blacklist Exposed is about the TV show, The Blacklist. See how that works? He's smart like that. Then he, and my buddy, Wayne Henderson, do the Packers Fan Podcast, which, you guessed it, is about the Packers.

He sent me a note, and I was like, "You know, this really makes a lotta sense." I'm playing with SquadCast, right now, and there's Ringer, there's Zencastr. I've yet to play with Discord. I know a lot of gamers use that. He made a great point, and I'm just gonna paraphrase his email. "If you have crappy internet, none of these is gonna work. It's not …"

Let me tell you a little story about a man named Jed. Well, first, let's go back a second. Let's talk about Skype. I use Skype, and I'm one of these weird people … I rarely have a problem with Skype. I have one example of somebody who … I was doing an interview. They were interviewing me, and they said, "Look, I live in Africa. I have crappy internet. It's gonna drop about six or seven times. I will call you right back. We'll pick up where we left off," and we did. He did. He fixed it in the edit, and everything was fine.

I went over to Skype, and I'm like, "What requirements do you need on your PC?" On the PC, you need at least one gigahertz, it said, with 512 megabytes, and it's … Basically, I always tell people … When I used to teach software, I used to teach a lot of Microsoft Word, and Excel, and QuickBooks, and things like that. We used to laugh when they'd come out with a new version of the software, with their recommended hardware, because it was always like, "Okay, you need to like triple that."

I'll give you an example. Zencastr, on their website, states you need at least 1.5 down, but then, they say, but really, it'd be cool if you had five. That is your typical … Like, well, you can, you can … On a Mac with Skype, you need at least one gigahertz, which probably means, again, about two or three … A core-two duo, and at least one gig of ram, which means, again, about three.

Then, how much bandwidth does Skype need? If you go out to the website, at SchoolofPodcasting.com/611, you'll see a screenshot I took. Again, I laugh when I see this. They say the minimum download/upload speed is 30 kilobits per second, and it says recommended download/upload speed – a hundred kilobits per second, which is kind of …

Can I tell you something? We're gonna get into talking about cable, today. I live in Akron, Ohio. I had Time Warner Cable. They got bought by Spectrum. I cannot go to their website, and find a different internet packages. The cable company needs to realize they need to make things easy. We want a la carte, and we wanna look at a page, and go, "How much is that, and what do I get?" They do not do that.

Anyway, I did see, for $29 a month, as long as I bundle it with a bunch of other crap I don't want, I could get a 100 kilobits per second up, or down, and they have other things. Now, if you have multiple people, right, if you have more people, and especially if you're doing video, you're doing a video, and you're doing that, now, that goes from 30 up to 128. In reality, again, it's probably 300, which is pretty fast internet.

Again, I went over, I just did a quick speed test at, I believe, it was SpeedTest.net? He said, looking at his website. Yeah. Right now, I have 162 down, megabytes per second, and 23.78 up. I might get a new modem, because I just … Well, here's what I did. I just saved myself 44 bucks a month. Before I get off of Troy's point, here … So, I have okay internet. Then, I realized not everybody does. Please don't call that white privilege. I don't know I am sorry I have the internet, but I do. I don't golf, I don't bowl, and that is my main hobby.

I spend … Well, we'll get into what I spend, here in a minute, but here's the thing. Let's say I'm having a problem with Skype, so I try SquadCast, I try Zencastr, I try TryCast, I try … There's a billion of these things now. If I'm getting an audio glitch on Skype, there's a good chance maybe that when I'm connected to my guest, I'm still going to hear a glitch. Now, the fun part of things like SquadCast, dotFM, and Zencastr is, in theory, they don't record the glitch, because they're recording locally. They're recording your side of the conversation on your computer, your guest's side of the conversation on their computer, so I get that. Again, Zencastr states you need at least 1.5 down. They've recommended five megabytes per second.

To kind of tie this in with the story, that sometimes you're just gonna have to change something, or, in some cases, you are out o' luck. I saw my cable bill came in the other day, and it was over $200, and I was like, "inaudible." I had had HBO, ShowTime, and those were free for a year, and they bundled it in. It was the Triple Play. It was the phone, which has been sitting on the floor gathering dust; it was my internet, and the TV, and I had a decent TV package, and I had a DVR, and all this other stuff.

Well, I was like, "No, no, no, I don't watch enough TV. I watch The Profit. I watch Shark Tank. I cry every Tuesday, when I watch This Is Us, and that's about it. I tape Jimmy Fallon, and I watch him in the morning, while I'm eating my breakfast. Other than that, and really, I don't need that … Bar Rescue is another show that I like. I tried, I heard of these people … "Oh, man, just get a free antenna. If all you want is the local channels, just get a HD TV antenna."

When I lived in Cleveland, where I could almost see where the TV was coming from, I had one of these things, and I still could not get … All I wanted was the four major networks here in the U.S. – NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox, and then any kind of local channels, where they play … Why don't we just call it the dead channel, because everybody … It was like old black-and-white stuff; it was like here's more dead people. I see dead people …

I'm in Cleveland, and I cannot pick up all the channels. Now, I've moved 50 miles, 60 miles, maybe, south from Cleveland. I went to the Wal-Mart, and bought this … It was pretty cool. This little tube that, according to the box, picked up TV signals in every kind of direction there is. As long as I stood by the window, and held it about 12 feet in the air, it picked up almost everything. It was just kind of inconvenient if I wanted to take a shower, or, I don't know, do something else. So I was somewhat like, "Oh, maybe there's hope for this.".

I went back to Wal-Mart, and took it back. Went to Amazon, bought this one that said, "Look, 80-mile radius," and I'm like, "Hey, that's me." Put it by the window. Did the thing. Picked up seven channels. Now, the great thing about this, by the way, the seven channels that you're gonna get are all about like Home Shopping, something else shopping, blah, blah, blah, Jesus, more Jesus. In some cases, selling Jesus, or shopping with Jesus. I don't know, but it was all the channels, you're like, "Nope, nope, nope," you know, and so, I was not … I have nothing … I'm actually a fan of Jesus. One of the things I'm gonna ask him, when I get to heaven, is like, "Dude, what was up with letting people with purple hair, who point at the sky when they sing, represent you? What is up with that? But anyway, so I was like, "All right, that didn't work either."

It'd come to me. I talked to my brother, because I know, for a while, he was like, "Yeah, I've tried like five of those things. None of them will let you get the four major networks. We just …" If I lived in a metropolitan area, maybe, but I'm in the suburbs-ish.

Here's what's interesting. You wanna start a podcast, right? I bet there's about 80 million podcasts about this. I know there's a bunch of YouTube stuff. I totally went down this rabbit hole … Michael Delaney heard me go down the rabbit hole, from Baby Mountain Radio, which is actually a show about caregiving for dementia; links out in the show notes, of course.

He let me know about SiliconDust. This is a company that makes HDHomeRun, which is only 66 bucks. What's cool is you plug this thing in, and you can like take your HD antenna, and stream it to any device, and in some cases, multiple-multiple devices. Well, that's cool, except for one thing. It starts with an HD antenna, and we just … We've been there, done that. Dave can't get all the channels he wants. Even though that's a really cool product, and you can actually have a DVR for about … You can have like a recording of stuff for like 35 bucks a year. For Michael, he is like, "I love this thing." I think if you're in the right spot, you got it going on.

StargatePioneer, and I just mentioned this … I mean, this episode hasn't even been published yet. StargatePioneer. You might know him from Better Podcasting, or he also does the Agents of SHIELD podcast over at the GonnaGeek Network. He told me about Tablo, which is this cool Wi-Fi kind of DVR thing. It's, I think, close to 200 bucks, and it works great with, you guessed it, an HDTV antenna. They do make … I watched some guy on YouTube, Modern Dad, somebody like that, and he explained how – he's doing all sorts of cool stuff. – if you have an outdoor HDTV antenna, but I don't. I live in an apartment. I can't go pound one on the roof here. I might …

At any rate, here's the thing. In the same way that there are people that are going from Skype to TryCast, to SquadCast … If you have crappy internet, you have crappy internet, and I don't really think that's gonna … It's like saying, "Hey, my bed is too short. Can you give me a new blanket?" Okay, here, use the red blanket. "My bed's still short. All right, give me the blue blanket …" It's not gonna fix the problem.

Here's what I did, and how I ended up with faster internet, and I saved myself 44 bucks a month. Again, my bill was 200 bucks, and so, I was like, "No, I don't think so." Well, that got my bill down to 176, and I'm like, "I still don't think so." I contacted my cable company, which was formerly Time Warner Cable – they got purchased by Spectrum – and found out that, while I was on the fastest internet for Time Warner Cable, now that they were Spectrum, I was not on the fast internet. I'm like, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, what's up with that? I need me some fast internet." I said, "Here's what I …" They're throwing bundles at me, and I'm like, " I don't want a phone. I really don't want a phone I don't wanna … Look, this is what I want. Tell me how much it is for the fastest internet you have, and for the smallest TV package you have. They go, "110 bucks," and I go, "Done! That's what I'm looking for. It's like 300 megs I think is the fastest they have. Like I said, I might need to buy a new modem if I'm gonna really get up to 300, but I downloaded that and it's a much faster internet.

I was using a SquadCast, and I interviewed JJ Virgin, and when it was done … I used to kinda watch the progress bar. Again, it's not a SquadCast thing. I was watching the progress bar as it uploaded inaudible and I was like, "All right," and the call was done and … It was done. That was cool.

Originally, it was over $200. I was down to 106. Now I'm down to 109, but their basic-basic-free-cable thing a) did not have a DVR. Well, you know us podcasters, we love to time shift, so I was like, "All right …" Plus, again, the TV selection was like … I finally had the four main channels, and M*A*S*H. That was it. Then, of course, Jesus, and the Shopping Network, which I believe was the band back in the 70s. Ladies and gentlemen, Jesus and the Shopping Network, coming to the show right now … All right, so anyway, and then, later, Jesus went solo, and he did just drop the Shopping Network, and depending on … Oh, never mind. Inaudible.

Now, I looked at … This is what's gonna be really interesting to watch in the future, cuz this is slowly … I don't have a PlayStation. I kinda looked at PlayStation as option. YouTube Live, I believe is what they're calling it now, I looked at them, and you could use your Chromecast and … I'm a big Amazon guy. I have a Fire TV. I looked at Sling. I looked at Hulu. I still like the thing that Michael told me about, the SiliconDust thing. I might call them, and say, "Look …" cuz here's the thing that's stupid about them. These people sell these things that stream what comes from an antenna, but they don't sell the antenna. How dumb is that?

Anyway, I look to YouTube Live. I looked at Sling. I looked at Hulu. I already had Hulu. To make a long story short, cuz I realize you're going, "Dave, this has nothing to do with podcasting." I did YouTube … YouTube … I did Hulu Live, which adds a whole bunch'a channels for 44 bucks. Now, my cable's 153, but come Monday, I'm cutting my basic cable. I'm basically cutting all of it down, and then it's gonna end up to 133. So, I went from 176 to 133. So far, it's OK. It takes a little bit for Hulu to figure out that you're now this live-streaming dude. It's a little clunky, but again, I don't watch a lotta TV. I really don't.

My point here is, again, going back to Troy's original point, is if you have crappy internet, and this does not mean you need a gazillion megabytes up, but if you're going to be doing Skype calls, you might need something more than you have now. Instead of spending $20 on, and I'm sorry, SquadCast, and I'm sorry, Zencastr, but instead of spending $20 on these guys, why not see what is better at your cable company? There might be a way that you can spend that $20, and just get faster internet. Then, you don't need SquadCast, and Zencastr, cuz, I'm gonna demonstrate this, you can actually …

If you want somebody in a split track, where you get separate tracks for each one, I'm gonna show you how to do this. Now, I'm using a mixer right now. My microphone is plugged into one channel, and my computer is plugged into the other one. What I can do is pan this so that I'm going to be all the way left, and the color … This is another thing, if you ever wanna test your Skype, you can do that. It's super-duper easy.

I'm gonna do this live. Here I am. I'm in both speakers, and now, I'm going to go all the way over here, to the left channel. There is a woman called Echo, just E-C-H-O. You'll see her. It says Echo Sound Testing Service, and she's from Britain, right? So, I'm gonna give her a call, here; give her a little chin-wag.

Hello, welcome to Skype Call-Testing Service. After the beep, please record a message.

Now she's in the right channel.

Afterwards, your message will be played back to you-.

I'm gonna talk over her, here, and this is me testing my microphone. Hello, right, you. Cup of tea? Chin-wag. All that kind of stuff. Pip, pip, Guvnor. This is me testing my microphone. Right, you, cup of tea, chin-wag, all that kind of stuff, pip, pip. Now I'm gonna talk over her.

If you're able to hear your own voice, then you have configured Skype correctly. If you hear this message, but not your own voice, then something is wrong with your audio-recording settings. Please check your microphone, and microphone settings, or visit Skype.com for more help. Thank you for using Skype Call-Testing Service. Goodbye.

This is an example of why you'd want to have people in separate channels so that I can cut me out, here. Right. You can call her as many times as you want. Again, in Skype, just search for the user Echo, E-C-H-O, and you'll see her, Echo Skype Testing Service.

I mentioned how I was gonna talk over her, so I could do that. Here's the fun part, I now have that track. I can go into Audacity, and split that track, and when I'm talking over her, I can now just mute me, and then export that as mono. Let me do just a quick second of this, just to show you what I'm talking about. Okay, now I'm gonna talk over her-.

If you're able to hear your own voice-

This is an example of why you would want to have-

-then you have configured Skype correctly. If you hear this message, but not your own voice-

-people on separate channels. Now, in Audacity, you can say split that track into … It's one file, but split the left and right of that file. You can also do this in Hindenburg Journalist Pro, and say split that into two separate tracks, so it sounds like this. Okay, now I'm gonna talk over her-

If you're able to hear your own voice crosstalk

-this is an example of why you would wanna have people in separate channels. Now, I simply take me out, and we're left with this.

If you are able to hear your own voice, then you have configured Skype correctly. If you hear this message, but not your own voice-.

If you have a mixer, and a portable recorder, or something to record into, you can basically pan you all the way left, and somebody else all the way right, and save yourself 20 bucks. Again, sorry to my friends at Zencastr, and SquadCast, but if that's really the goal, you can do that, and save yourself 20 bucks.

Now, a couple other quick things here on sounding good. Number one, I wanna give a shout out to my buddy, Kim, from Toastmasters101.net. She gave me this tip, and that is what if somebody doesn't have great internet, or what if they don't have a great microphone? This would be a better example of that … What if somebody doesn't have a good microphone. They're gonna use their built-in microphone. What you can do, and I'm gonna add in my spin to this … Her spin is have them use Skype on their phone. That's a great suggestion. I say let's take that one point further, and this is where I think this is cool. You can make a Skype account for free. You just need a free email. Go to Gmail, and make up [email protected], go over to Skype, and sign up for a free Skype account, and then, all you have to do is say, "Hey, can you install an app in there?" I'm like, "Yeah, I know how to install an app." I'm like, "Okay, good. Install Skype. Are you on Wi-Fi at the moment?" "Yes, I'm on Wi-Fi." "Okay, install Skype on your phone, and just log in with [email protected] The password is: Don't forget the password." "Okay, got it. Don't forget the password." "Type that in, and I will call you in two seconds.".

You're recording on your end. They're calling on their phone, which actually sounds pretty decent, using your log-in name and password, and when it's over, just have them delete the app. I really, really doubt they're gonna remember your log-in name, and password, and if they do, well, shame on them, but it doesn't really matter. There's no credit card information, I believe, with that. It's a free account, so that's another thing.

Now, the other thing you wanna do is mic technique, and that is you want to avoid popping Ps. Right now, I'm talking directly into the microphone. I'm using a Electro-Voice RE320. If I say something like peanut butter, yeah that was pretty bad … I'm trying really hard to make 'plosives. Those are awful, and you want a pop filter. What you actually wanna do … Here's an easy way to remember this, and I'm gonna move my mic here. I'm pointing the microphone at the corner of my mouth. I'm not talking directly into it. If the microphone is 12:00, I'm looking at basically 2:00, and this is pointed at the corner of my mouth. Now, the other thing you wanna do is make sure you understand how to use your equipment. Right now, I'm gonna say the dreaded words, that's right, you heard it, Blue Yeti.

So, this is me on a poorly placed Blue Yeti. Hear all the room noise? Yay. There are a couple of settings here, and what you wanna do is … Here is one, I think it's picking up the front. Hello, this is me in the front. This is me in the back. Hello. Can you hear me? Im the one doing the British accent. Listen to all the popping Ps. Isn't that a little bit annoying? I think so. This one, yeah, I think just picks up in the front. This is the setting you want with a Blue Yeti, where you want things in the front. Also notice this, if I touch anything on my desk … This is why this microphone isn't … If I had this in a stand, where it wasn't connected to the desk, it might not be bad.

My buddy, Rob Walch, who is the vice president of podcast relations at Libsyn, uses one of these. Sounds great. So does Ravi, from SubscribeMe. It's not a horrible microphone. Not my favorite, but you have to know how to use this. Right now, I'm not using a pop filter, which is really unheard of, so just be careful with this, if you're gonna buy one. I don't recommend them, unless … I just think there are better things, cuz it's … They're kind of a pain in the butt to get in a stand; they're kind of a pain in the butt to get a pop filter, depending on if you wanna get the specialized one, just for the Blue Yeti. I recommend the Audio-Technica ATR2100, but this is an example of not great sounding … If we go back to the original one, where I've got it picking up everybody, and I've got the game cranked up, and yeah, and now, if I tap the desk … Yeah, bad audio.

Aright, And as we now … Again, that was … I was surprised, that … I think that's my lamp. Not sure what that thing is picking up. Did have one other tip for making you sound good, today, because we're talking about audio quality, helping you pick that. This has nothing to do about kilobits per second. My buddy, and I, Erik K. Johnson … You might know him as the Podcast Talent Coach, or PodcastTalentCoach.com. We do a show called Podcast Review Show, where we basically … You give us an episode, and we go over, and we look over every rock. We go through it with a fine-toothed comb, and we were … If you go over Monday, you'll hear us review a show called A Modeler's Life. It's about male railroads … Male railroads … It's about model railroads, both female and male railroads. One of the tips we had for the person was he didn't really set up the show. They just kinda started in. I was making all my notes, like wow, they're really taking a lot of tangents. They're not just talking about … Why do I wanna keep saying male railroads? Model railroads. I was really like, "Wow, this is not a great podcast." Then, I went back, and I read their description in Apple podcasts, and it says talking to people about model railroading, and the lives of those that like the hobby, or something of that nature. I went, "Oh …

An easy way to make your stuff sound better is to let people know what to expect, because I can see people tuning into this episode, going, "I don't know, I tuned in to hear about podcasting, and the guy started talking about cutting the cord." Well, okay, that was about how to save money, and the fact that it doesn't make any sense if you don't have a good internet connection, and you're trying to interview four people over Skype. It's not gonna work …

You want to frame your podcasts so that people know what to expect. Then, check this out, when you give them what they expect, they're like, "Wow, that was really cool." So that's my last little tip: How do you make yourself sound good? Let people know what's coming, and then give them what you told them you were going to give them, and they will appreciate it. If you tell them what's coming, and they tune out, they like that, too, because you just saved them 20 minutes.

These are the kinda tips, and the strategies, and things like that, that you will find at TheSchoolofPodcasting.com. I realize we got kind of technical today, but I built this episode on feedback that I get from people at Libsyn – I do tech support at Libsyn.com. Libsyn is L-I-B-S-Y-N-dot-com. use the coupon code, SOPFREE – A lotta times, they don't know how much storage do I need, and they don't understand kilobits per second, and things like that. I will have a video, as well, out at SchoolofPodcasting.com/611.

Remember, the bigger the number, the bigger the file. Think of it like adding more paint on your brush, and the more paint, the better recovers, but if you get too much paint, it's just a waste of paint. In the same way, having too high a bit rate is just gonna cost you money in the long run.

Thank you so much for tuning in. If you'd like to work with me., it's really easy. Go over to SchoolofPodcasting.com/workwithme, and we can do one-on-one consulting. You can sign up at The School of Podcasting, using the coupon code LISTENER. All sorts of ways you can contact me there. Everything you need. SchoolofPodcasting.com. Thanks so much for tuning in. Until next week, class is dismissed.

If you like what you hear, then, go tell somebody. If you like what you hear, go tell someone …

You can find him at TheBlacklistExposed.com. He also does the Packers Fan Podcast with my buddy … Uh-huh, my buddy, Wayne Henderson. Total brain fart.

If you like what you hear, then go tell somebody. Go tell somebody. Yeah, go tell someone.

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Full Transcript: Up and Vanished – S1 E6 – Suicide

Previously on Up and Vanished.

On Friday, October 14th at 6:43 a.m., Tara sent Marcus Harper's mother an e-mail.

If I did not give a crap about Marcus, you all and his feelings, I would not be in this state. If this were all about me, I would not want Marcus. Just remind Marcus what I said about something happening to me or even him. He leaves it as this and something may happen to me.

Like I said though, the night of the Sweet Potato Pageant, she knew something was going to happen. She was not her normal self and everybody can tell you that she was but I know that she was not acting normal.

The second piece of evidence was a business card found in Tara's front door. The card belonged to a friend of Tara's family, a police officer from a nearby town called Perry.

Detective Heath Dykes, Perry Police Department.

Late Sunday night on October 23rd, Tara's mom was concerned because she wasn't responding so she asked this family friend to go check on her. So he drove there with the sole intent of checking on Tara?

Oh, yeah.

Do you think it's odd that Heath Dykes didn't see the glove on the ground?

I think it's unusual. You're dealing with a veteran detective.

The only thing that the dogs showed any indication to was a burnt house. We determined that they were responding to some septic lines or sewage.

Basically, are you telling me that somebody other than the folks who lived there owned it?

A guy named Michael Lankford owned the vehicle. The homeowner did not own that.

Why was his vehicle there is what I'm getting at now.

He saw a black truck parked in the yard. He said that there was individual in there and that individual said something to him. GBI went to talk to them so they clammed up and never discussed anything about the black truck, no kind of composite. They never got anything close to that.

According to Marcus, they rode around together in the cop car that night and made several stops in reference to a man named Benny Merritt. If there's no reports on Benny Merritt, then where was Marcus Harper?

All we have is one report on him. The report date was actually 10-27-2005.

Any other report on Benny Merritt?

No, sir. That's the only one we got on him.

If that's true, then somebody's told a bold-faced lie.

Ten years ago today marked the last time anybody reported seeing or talking to Tara Grinstead.

Officially, police are calling this a missing person's case.

GBI officials say investigators…

Latex glove found in…

An $80,000 reward is being offered for information.

Where is Tara Grinstead?

From Tenderfoot TV in Atlanta, this is Up and Vanished, the investigation of Tara Grinstead. I'm your host, Payne Lindsey.

Hey guys, before I get started, I have some good news for you. I originally plan on breaking this into two seasons and the next episode was supposed to come out in January but my plans have changed. Up and Vanished will now resume with Episode 7 on November 21st. We've recently had a huge surge of new listeners and I want to welcome everyone who is just now joining us. Unlike other podcasts, this investigation is pretty much happening in real time. So the content of the episodes is always changing last minute. The reason for the break in the first place was to kind of catch up on my investigation and organize everything into episodes. But with the great support you guys are giving me, I've decided to do this every week up until Episode 12. The podcast will resume with Episode 7 on November 21st.

Tara Faye Grinstead, first question. What is your greatest fear in life?

I really don't have a great fear in life. Whenever I have a hard time, whenever I feel like I'm down or I'm gonna stumble I just pray. And I know that the Lord is gonna see me through.

You're on the phone line, I don't know who you are. You could be the one that killed her, for all I know. I want to help you, don't get me wrong. And I want this case solved. I'm playing it close to my chest. Yes, my dog had interest at the building. Whoever burned the house knew that this was going to destroy evidence. Have you ever known, on a criminal case, them to lay all the cards on the table? They always keep so many back.

So you think police found evidence at the Snapdragon Road fire but didn't tell anybody?

Oh, I know they did because I gave it to them.

What was it?

I cannot say. The GBI's got it and the FBI's got it. That's all I'm saying about that.

That's the voice of Jim Handey, the man who led the search with all the cadaver dogs. When I first called him a few weeks back, he was pretty reserved with me, but for good reason. His experience with this case really hit home for him. And at first, he was pretty skeptical of who I was and why I was calling.

In our first conversation, he told me that his dogs alerted for cadaver at the house fire on Snapdragon Road. But the second time we talked, he opened up a little bit. And he told me that they found evidence there. What it was, he couldn't tell me or at least didn't want to.

Whoever burned the house knew that this was going to destroy evidence. Have you ever known, on a criminal case, them to lay all the cards on the table? They always keep so many back so that if somebody comes up and says, "Oh, she was wearing a blue dress." Well, that wasn't out in the police report, you're guilty or the knowledge that you're sharing is credible.

So you think police found evidence at the Snapdragon Road fire but didn't tell anybody?

Oh, I know they did because I gave it to them.

What was it?

I cannot say. The GBI's got it and the FBI's got it. That's all I'm saying about that.

Can you not say legally or you just don't want to say?

You've got to understand, you're asking me questions that if I don't know you and there's not a police officer beside you saying, "Yes, I can tell you this", I can't tell you that. It's an active case. I can't do that. The power's to be that have it and again, it gets to that thing of cards on the table. Okay?

Anything that you're allowed to say would be truly helpful for everybody, not just me.

I understand where you want, and I want this case solved more than you do. I guaran-damn-tee you. I'm going to give you one thing. All of the sudden we have a laid out plan. We're going to go to — today we're going to search A, B and C and tomorrow we're going to search B, C and F. And all of the sudden in the middle of the night, they get a clue, we're going to go search D which was out by Snapdragon Road, right. Everybody knew that this meeting the night before where we were going. And all of the sudden, "Oh, we saw a guy with her and it's over here.".

So then they send everybody up there to search and they never got back to Snapdragon Road. Somebody was leading that part of the information astray. If you don't want them search B, send them to Z. You know what I mean? "Oh, I don't want them to go there. I'm going to call in a tip and have them go here, give them false information and send them to Z.".

One of the things I would want to know, the Ford Expedition that was at that house, I would be asking him, at this time in your life, is there anything different you wanna say about that car? As the days go by, people get a little freer. Ten years down the road, he may be a little freer with what, where and how.

Obviously after hearing that, my mind was racing. What did he find? He didn't tell me but I definitely planned on finding out. I started my investigation in early 2016 and it hasn't stopped since. Literally each week before I release a new episode, I'm still learning new information. I had some theories of my own going into this thing but since then they've changed over and over again. On the surface based on certain information, this case in a way can seem pretty simple. It was easy for me to start pointing the finger at someone right away just based on a few suspicious facts. But as you dig a little deeper, you find other people who after a thorough examination look pretty suspicious too.

The bottom line is not everyone in this case is guilty. It's possible there was more than one party involved but there's only one culprit here. And the tough thing is these are all real people with real lives and careers and reputations at stake. My intent has always been to respect that. There's been several TV specials about this case over the years and they all seem to just skim the surface, reciting the same old narrative over and over.

I knew from day one that if I wanted this podcast and my documentary to actually help solve this that I couldn't leave anything out. So with that being said, I'm going to present all the facts and if doing that makes someone look guilty, then by all means please come clear your name. I don't have a dog in this hunt. This case is unsolved because of silence. The fear of blame.

Tara Grinstead was a prominent figure in Ocilla. She was beautiful, outgoing. She was only 30-years-old. Someone with a long, bright future ahead of them but somebody took that away from her. It's been 11 years now. Right now, it's time to dust off the cobwebs. No more silence, no more small town secrets and no more fear of what someone else may think. If somebody does know something, then I'm trying to find out.

About midnight Sunday, Tara Grinstead's mother, Faye Grinstead, called Tara's neighbor Joe adn Myrtle Portier to ask if they had heard from her daughter. "Normally, we saw her on an everyday basis," Joe Portier said. "I told Faye we had not seen her and her mother sounded concerned." After talking to Joe Portier, Faye phoned Heath Dykes, a Perry police detective and a close family friend of Tara's and her family and asked him to go and check on Tara. The drive from Perry to Ocilla is one hour and 15 minutes. After midnight Sunday, Heath arrived at Tara's house. Dykes left his business card wedged in Tara's front door.

Agent Rothwell would later say, "It was certainly a piece of evidence that we're interested in. I mean it's a business card stuck in the front door of a person that's now missing." The investigators later learned that Heath Dykes had talked to Tara around 10:20 p.m. while she was at the barbecue. He also phoned Tara more than 10 times, leaving messages on her answering machine. Agent Rothwell later said, "He was calling her all day Sunday." In a brief telephone interview with Crime Library in 2006, Heath said he had last seen Tara Grinstead weeks prior to her going missing.

She went over to the barbecue. While she was there now, she received numerous phone calls on her cell phone. She received one from a girl named Megan Evans. Megan was at a bar which is where Marcus Harper had dropped in to see some of his friends play in a band there. Megan talked to her but she talked to Heath Dykes too. He made about 20 phone calls to Tara's cell phone and her landline and left messages. And he was longtime friends with Tara's family.

Sunday night, see her momma, Faye, she couldn't get hold of Tara late Sunday night. She called Heath. She didn't call the police, she called Heath and asked Heath to go and drive to Ocilla and check on Tara and he drove down there. So he was standing in her yard about 12:30 to quarter one Sunday night.

You're a detective of all these years, that was the worst welfare check I've ever seen done by anyone on somebody at her house because he didn't do anything. The only thing he did is left his business card on the front screen door but I know Joe next door had a key. Nobody ever went inside the house and her car was there.

What I was interested in, and I've never been able to find out in 10 years, is when did he make the phone calls? He didn't make any of the phone calls before Faye called him. The thing is, if the phone calls were made before let's say, midnight Sunday night, then something's major wrong. Why would he become concerned about where Tara's at? Why would he call that many times before Faye called him? He knew when he was standing in front of that house Sunday night, he knew that she wasn't in the house.

If you retrace Tara's last steps, Heath Dykes immediately comes into the picture. We know she was last seen leaving the barbecue Saturday night, around 11 p.m. and from there, we don't really know what happened. What we do know for sure is that Heath Dykes was standing at Tara's doorsteps on Sunday night around midnight. He was supposedly sent there by Tara's mother to check on her. He didn't see anything suspicious so he placed his business card in the front door and left.

But the thing is, he's a police officer and to me, the setting at Tara's house that night did seem a little suspicious. Her car was in her driveway, her front door was locked and she hadn't been heard from in over 24 hours. But I'm not the only one who thought that was a little odd. In the weeks following Tara's disappearance, the national media took interest in this to.

On November 14th, 2005, three weeks after Tara's disappearance, the National Enquirer released an article about the case with some bombshell information. The article was titled, Cop is Quizzed Over Missing Beauty Queen. Was Tara having an affair with a married officer? This is how the article read, "A married policeman bombarded missing beauty queen, Tara Grinstead, with more than 20 frantic phone calls on the day of her disappearance. Authorities have already spoken to him and his wife. He may have been having a relationship with Tara. Investigators believe he told Tara he was going to leave his wife but backed out on the promise. A lawyer who has spoken to investigating officers said they had told him numerous messages were left on Tara's answering machine. The calls are from a married man and he's a cop.

So I think the glove is like there's a finite amount of possibilities why that could be there. It's not like it's infinite reasons a glove would be there. You know what I mean? What to you are those things?

It's only there to stage what happened in that house or to cleanup.

That's my friend Donald. He's been helping me with the podcast behind the scenes a little bit. And I call him up a lot just to talk about the case.

That's why you would go in with gloves, come out, take the gloves off so you're not outside with some damn latex gloves on with you. But I don't think you're wearing gloves to abduct her if she knows you especially because she's voluntarily probably going with you. I think your glove come into play when you go back to clean up. You come out the door, close the door and lock it, take them gloves off and put it in your pocket, one falls on the ground, you leave. I don't even know what other scenarios I can think of where that would happen.

He was there at her house Sunday night at 12:30. He's probably gone by one. Here's the thing is that at 9 a.m. on Monday morning, you know, basically nine hours later, because he was there 12:30 at night, that glove was in the yard. So it most likely was there when he was there. The chances of it not being there are very slim. That would mean that somebody between the time he left between like one in the morning and like six in the morning, somebody put it there or it was already there.


The business card to me is strange because it's so formal for somebody who was so close to somebody.

Yeah, I'm just trying to understand the mentality of it but all that stuff just doesn't add up.


Twenty calls, some frantic voicemails, talking to the mom but if he called the mom, that means he knows the mom personally. If she called him, she knows him personally. It was such a personal relationship across the board, why leave a business card? It makes it look formal like no one's going to ever know that I was sleeping with this woman. I can't look like the crazy boyfriend, I got to look like the detective trying to help.

This is another weird scenario in this case but the question is does it actually mean anything. How did a police detective who was friends with Tara's family drive an hour and 15 minutes to Ocilla in the middle of the night and not see this glove on the ground? Was it not there yet? Was it just too dark? Possibly, but it wasn't really sold on that. To me, this needed further investigation.

At the end of episode five, I called the Irwin County Sheriff's Department to see if they had any reports on Benny Merritt. To refresh your memory, Benny Merritt was supposed to have been the subject of numerous police calls on the night of Tara's disappearance that both Marcus Harper and his buddy Shawn Fletcher responded to. These reports on Benny Merritt didn't exist at Ocilla PD and they didn't exist at the county either. But there was actually one more place I had to check, the dispatch logs from that night.

Whenever an officer is on duty, they radio in to the dispatcher each time there's an incident or whenever they're responding to a 911 call. All this information is then logged by the dispatcher with times and names of the responding officers. So basically if these Benny Merritt incidents happened, they would have to be in these dispatch logs.

The report was actually 10-27-2005.

Any other report on Benny Merritt?

No, sir. That's the only one we got on him.

Okay. This is probably a harder one for you to get but how do I go about getting dispatch logs?

I don't know if dispatch logs fall on open records or not.

They're supposed to.

Okay. I guess you would have to put the days that you were looking for in their request and then send it in. Let me get you to our secretary. She deals with all the open record stuff. Just hold on just a second.


The two that handle that are not here. Are you just wanting the dispatch logs?

Yes ma'am.

You can just fax it and put down what day you need.


All right.

Awesome. Thank you very much.


Awesome. I can just fax in my request with my fax machine. Thank god there's an app for that now. But still I was pretty surprised by how easy it was to get these records. Well, not so fast.

Irwin County dispatch.

County Sheriff's Department.

Irwin County dispatch.

Irwin County dispatch.

Irwin County Sheriff's office, can I help you?

This is Payne Lindsey again calling about the dispatch logs.

I will get them together but it's probably not going to be today.

It's Payne again about the dispatch logs.

Okay, she's on a 911 call right now. Do you want to hold or call back?

Dispatch logs I was trying to get.

The director, she will be back this afternoon around six or so.

This is Payne Lindsey again calling about the dispatch logs.

Oh, she mentioned them but I don't know if they were done cause she got called out.

Dispatch logs.

I've got to go through them but I'm having to work the radio tonight.

Dispatch logs.

I have them. I have them ready but the thing is you're gonna have to have a certain size paper to be able to receive this.

Okay. So it wasn't that easy. The lady in charge will be sending them this week, fingers crossed. But this leads me into a bigger issue with this case and for any case in the state of Georgia, under the Georgia Open Records Act, all public records can be made available to citizens. That sounds great, right? Well, not exactly.

In the written law, there's a couple exemptions to this request. One of them being "pending investigations". That means any case like this that is unsolved. Now, it doesn't mean that they can't give them to you, it just means they don't have to and they probably won't.

And that brings up a bigger issue. Who is policing the police? The answer is no one. As a citizen, we're supposed to trust the government with this information even after 11 years and no arrest. So that means stuff like Tara's cell phone records, a real list of people they've swabbed DNA for, any of that is just a big secret to the public. My argument here is how can law enforcement claim that this particular investigation is still in fact pending. From where I'm standing, it doesn't appear that this case is very active and in the eye of the public, it doesn't seem like they're any closer to solving it than they were 11 years ago.

But just so we're clear, I'm in no way trying to disparage the work of the GBI or the Ocilla PD in this case but it's been 11 years now. And obviously whatever they've been doing isn't working. The Georgia Open Records Act actually declares in the first paragraph that the state is in favor of open government and that public access to records is not only our right, but in their words, it's encouraged. So I can still submit a request for these case files but good luck getting them. In the recent history, submitting this request has often backfired on people.

Thomason says he and his lawyer were arrested because a Fanning County judge didn't like the questions he was asking. He says it all started last year when he got a tip that officials in the Fanning County courtroom used the N word to describe a black witness. Using George's open records law, Thomason says he requested the transcript and the audio recording from court and it led the court reporter to sue him for $1.6 million claiming defamation for implying her written transcript was inaccurate. Thomason says the court reporter then wanted him to reimburse her for the legal bills that resulted more than $16,000.

Thomason says he continued to dig and found evidence suggesting those attorneys' fees had already been paid from a taxpayer funded account managed by Superior Court Judge, Brenda Weaver. Thomason filed an open records request with Judge Weaver for copies of the checks but she refused saying judges are not subject to the open records law. Next thing he knew, he and his lawyer Russell Stookey were being arrested for identity fraud, attempt to commit identity fraud and making a false statement in an open records request. He was jailed and forced to take several drug tests and his ability to cover other stories on the court fee was limited. All because he says he dared to ask tough questions.

Well, you see, I've been on this case for 11, almost 11 years. Can you imagine doing a podcast for 10 and a half, 11 years?

I'd feel terrible.

See the last year and a half, you know I've been dealing with cancer so — but here's the thing. There's just too many wanna be web sleuths out there. And so here's the thing. What I wanna do is this, I'm going to work one lead. I've had this lead for a good while. And I wanna just do it til it just looks like I can't go any further. And then after that, I'm going to just quit the case for my health reasons, the psychology of everything. Unless the killer, the culprit is someone totally off the radar, I think I've laid enough ground in 10 and a half years of a case to be made about my involvement in moving toward a resolution.

But I'm gonna tell you something now. In 2010, this individual, he drove to Knoxville, Tennessee and he got into praying position and he shot himself in the head and killed himself. The question is, what does this have to do with Tara case?

He wrote a letter. He said that he could not live with himself anymore that he knew what happened to Tara. He was threatened and he saw something that he shouldn't have seen. There's something to this. You're not going to meet your maker on a lie. In the letter, he listed 12 individuals names. Each one of these individuals need to be talked to. I'm gonna work this lead and when I've taken as far as I can take it, then I'm quitting the case.

Thank you guys for listening to Episode 6 of Up and Vanished. There will be a new case evidence episode next Monday and this season will resume with Episode 7 on November 21st. If you're enjoying this podcast and you want to support, you can go to upandvanished.com/donate and send a donation of any size. They all go straight into the production of this podcast.

Later this season on Up and Vanished.

His first question was have you seen or heard from Tara. She didn't show up at work this morning. Then I get a call while I'm in my meeting from her phone.

She took me there one day and then like four strands of this long strand of dark hair.

Come on. I mean really, they don't use evidence tape unless they got something.

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Popular Transcripts Full Transcript: Up and Vanished – S1 E5 – The Black Truck

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Full Transcript: Up and Vanished – S1 E5 – The Black Truck

Previously on Up and Vanished.

The one person who has been vetted the most is her ex-boyfriend, Marcus Harper. He was absolutely tired of her.

She was crying and was upset about something. She was very irrational and she told me that if she found out I was dating someone, she would commit suicide.

On Friday, October 14th at 6:43 a.m., Tara sent Marcus Harper's mother an e-mail.

If I did not give a crap about Marcus, you all and his feelings, I would not be in this state. If this were all about me, I would not want Marcus. Just remind Marcus what I said about something happening to me or even him. He leaves it as this and something may happen to me.

Like I said though, the night of the Sweet Potato Pageant, she knew something was going to happen. She just was not her normal self and everybody can tell you that she was but I know she was not acting normal.

The second piece of evidence was a business card found in Tara's front door. The card belonged to a friend of Tara's family, a police officer from a nearby town called Perry.

Detective Heath Dykes, Perry Police Department.

Late Sunday night on October 23rd, Tara's mom was concerned because she wasn't responding so she asked his family friend to go check on her. So he drove there with the sole intent of checking on Tara?

Oh yeah.

Do you think it's odd that Heath Dykes didn't see the glove on the ground?

I think it's unusual. You're dealing with a veteran detective.

The only thing that the dogs showed any indication to was a burned house. We determined that they were responding to some septic lines or sewage.

The residence was completely destroyed. Also destroyed by the fire was a 2000 Ford Expedition. The vehicle belonged to Michael Lankford. The fire marshal report that I have right here says the cause of the fire is unknown.

It was completely burnt.

Did you ever remember seeing the owner of the vehicle? Did he ever come up there when you guys were there?

Basically, are you telling me that somebody other than the folks who lived there own that?

A guy named Michael Lankford owned the vehicle. The homeowner did not own that.

Why was his vehicle there is what I'm getting at now. I don't remember nobody talking about, "We're gonna interview this guy." I can't believe nobody didn't say nothing like that.

Was Marcus and Michael friends or what?

Marcus Harper and Michael Lankford worked at the Ocilla PD together. They are friends, yes.

Ten years ago today marked the last time anybody reported seeing or talking to Tara Grinstead.

Officially, police are calling this a missing person's case.

GBI officials are saying investigators…

Latex glove found in…

$80,000 reward is being offered for information.

Where is Tara Grinstead?

From Tenderfoot TV in Atlanta, this is Up and Vanished, the investigation of Tara Grinstead. I'm your host, Payne Lindsey.

The first thing I want to jump into in this episode is the fire on Snapdragon Road. If you missed last week's episode of Case Evidence, I'm going to fill you in real quick. Let's start with the basics. Why is this fire suspicious to me? One, it's the only place in the entire 200 square miles they searched that the cadaver dogs made a hit on, and it wasn't just one dog, it was several dogs.

Number two, behind the house there was a Ford Expedition that was completely burned too but it didn't belong to the homeowner. It belonged to a man named Michael Lankford. And Michael Lankford had actually worked at Ocilla Police Department at the same time Tara's ex-boyfriend Marcus Harper did and they were friends.

Number three, on top of all that, the fire marshal couldn't determine what caused the fire. And it's still undetermined to this day. I spoke to a man last week named Jim Hanley, who also had one of his search dogs hit on the house.

I went down there with my search dogs and I brought another one in. They spent many hours sifting the debris. I mean, like about 10 hours. First of all, if they didn't feel there was something there, are they going to do that, spend that much time and work? Yes, my dog had interest at the building. Was it Tara? I cannot prove it. That's it — that's DNA and that. My dogs been — was — she — I just put her down after 14 1/2 years but she'd been tested and tested and tested. Her nose was parts per quadrillion tested to. That's as high as you can get.

A dog is not like a person. A dog just does what it's trained to do. To my knowledge, which is best as I can do, she never false indicated. Now you can. There is some chemical compositions that will trigger as the same as cadaverine which is what the dog is searching for. What she did at that house, I am 95 percent sure that it was cadaver. I believe that place, in my heart, has everything involved. I mean it has everything to do with this case. Everything.

You're on the right track. Was she there when the house burned? No. I'll guarantee you that not. Was she there beforehand? Yeah. The body leaks, you know, bloats, in 80 degree weather. They can't clean it up. There'd be a spot there from hell. "Okay, let's burn it." There was bushes in between the house and the car that didn't burn.

He told me there was no trail of fire between the house and the car and the bushes in between them were never burned. This suggested that the car and the house were burned separately and that would mean arson, not an accident. Jim also told me that before he came down with his dogs, he was talking in a chat room with some people about the case and when he said he was going to Ocilla, somebody threatened him.

I kind of knew we must have ruffled some feathers on, I'm thinking the one involved because we were on the internet, you know, and in a chat room and discussing what could be happening and what should be done. And, you know, the plans were made and we're making it work for this big search.

You know, I got on there and they were asking me about canines and what you do and how you do it, you know, it's just a normal chat room. All of a sudden, this guy gets on there and nobody's antagonistic in this whole deal. And somebody writes, "You come down here, we're going to punch you in the face and kick your dog." Why would somebody say that? It was somebody involved and they didn't want somebody searching a certain spot.

I met up with Dr. Godwin in person and he told me about a big lead he was chasing back in 2006.

I found a kid who lived right around the corner from Tara's house on Ash Street. He told me that he was riding his bike around the area Sunday and he saw a black truck parked in the yard. He said that there was individual in there and that individual said something to him. Like a nasty comment.

They came to interview this kid again when GBI went to talk with them, they actually searched their mama's truck and they also searched her house. So they clammed up and never discussed anything about the black truck because it felt like they were being treated as suspects and no kind of composite. They never got anything close to that.

Then I found another witness. From their porch, you can see Tara's driveway and they saw a black truck. First at 7:30 Sunday at evening, parked in the driveway. The same person at 6:00 a.m. that morning, that person's husband, who want to get milk saw the truck there at the house again.

So who do you speculate that truck belonged to?

I have no idea. GBI's response, there's hundreds of black trucks in Irwin County.

So you think the black truck is important to this case?

Oh, I think so. Too many people seen it. Here's another thing. A year ago, I got a, information about another report of a black truck incident. This was that Saturday night. The lady was backing up out of her driveway into the road and the car pulled the stop light and liked to hit her but it was a black truck but that was it. See, at the time, you could have done something. You could have done a DMV on it, The Department of Motor Vehicle, trucks in the area but it's way too late now.

According to Maurice, a lot of people saw this black truck that weekend, driving by Tara's house or even parked in the yard next to it. And he's convinced that the truck is related to Tara. Too many people have seen it but where are these people now? I spend a solid two months trying to find the kid who saw the truck. He claimed that he actually saw the man driving and that the man cursed at him when he drove by. If this kid really saw the man, then maybe he could remember what he looks like and maybe a sketch artist could do a composite. But this kid was really off the map. I mean I tried everything to find this kid but no luck. So I moved on to other witnesses.

I remember the night that she went missing because me and my best friend was on the phone to. My house, when you go to Ocilla, you turn on the right on Paul Street and my property is down in the last block before you turn on Alder Street to go to her house. And her house was just on the next block on the right, a block away from me. Well, I remember, me and Kristy, the girl that was living in my house, we were on the phone because I was making the church bulletin for our church. I was having some complications and she said, "Don't worry, I'm on my way, I'm gonna come help you.".

We were still on the phone as she got in her car. You know, Ocilla is usually really quiet right where we all lived, you know. Right there where Tara lived and I lived, it was really quiet. You didn't have to worry about nothing. My friend said that she got in her car, all of a sudden she hollered. She said, "Dog, I'm about to back out of my driveway." And she said, "Here come this black truck like if you backed out of Tara's drive and came right up Alder Street.

She said that truck came around off Alder Street and turned on Paulk Street flying, about rear-ended her, about run her over. And this was around midnight. It was a black truck and she said it wasn't a new truck. She seen some lights coming up the road but, you know, she got in her car, was gonna, you know, back out anyway. They didn't even stop for the stop sign.

If you're looking at Tara's house, Alder runs down to the side where her carport is. When you come out of her driveway and come back to Alder, you wouldn't make a right that would go like to her backyard, you would make a left. When he came up that road or whoever it was, came to that stop sign on Alder and Paulk, that's my property. Well, they were coming up Alder that way and made a ride on to Paulk. So she said, "They never even stopped. They just made a right hand turn, come on Paulk Street." She had to slam on brakes to keep from hitting her. And she said, "Girl, I don't know who was driving that truck." She said, "But, you know, they could have hurt me because if I wouldn't have been paying attention and just backed on out, you know, they would have probably rear-end — I mean, you know, crashed our car pretty bad."

Do you know if it was a bigger or a smaller sized truck?

It was something like older Ford F150 or, you know what I'm saying? A black one, a real older one. Not a new truck. But I'm just saying, for it to come up that road, to come up from that way that late at night and the same night that she went missing, I don't know but it's scary.

In February 2009, a disturbing video surfaced on the internet. It featured a man with his face disguised and his voice digitally altered. He proclaimed to be a serial killer. He called himself the Catch Me Killer. In the video, he claimed to have killed 16 different females and one of these he described was determined by authorities to be Tara Grinstead. He said that he wanted to play a game and he would slowly release clues about his murders through a series of YouTube videos. He warned the viewers not to attempt in trying to discover his true identity and that his IP address could not be traced.

I've decided to confess a few things but in order to do so, I'm going to give everybody a clue, many clues. The first person to solve this first video, I'm gonna have you send me an e-mail. I'll post the address for the e-mail. This person out there that decides to play my game has a chance to become an actual hero. You have a chance to become something that I'm not. The only clues that I'm giving you are clues never released by the press or by police department.

The Catch Me Killer tells viewers, "Play my game and solve my puzzles and I'll lead you to 16 bodies one by one." He claimed one of his victims was a case we've covered heavily here on Issues, Tara Grinstead, a 30-year-old teacher and former beauty queen mysteriously vanished from Georgia three years ago.

The video sparked the attention of the media nationwide and the GBI launched an investigation to track down the man's identity. Though the man's face and voice are digitally obscured, police were eventually able to track down the man by his IP address. The man was 27-year-old Andrew Haley of Gainesville, Georgia. After a thorough police investigation, they were ultimately able to determine that the videos were part of a bizarre and elaborate hoax. Haley was eliminated as a substantial lead in Grinstead's disappearance and was later charged and convicted of tampering with police evidence.

This case seemed to be full of different false leads. Surprisingly, just this last week, another internet video surfaced. A man named James Rankin was hiking in the woods by his house in upstate New York when he stumbled upon something pretty creepy. Over two dozen trees all around him were covered with people's missing posters and one of the posters was Tara's. The video hit the internet just a few days ago and has since reached over 30 million views.

So I come down the hill. And remember, we're still in the woods, we're still in the woods, right. Okay. I was like, okay, these are probably no trespassing signs or maybe it's something for the wildlife or something." Anyway, I'll cut right to the chase because I might die. Look what these are. What the fuck is going on here? These are all different people. This is Utah, Florida, they're all different. This one's from Georgia. Now, look at this. Like look, where the fuck we are. Who the fuck does something like this?

Though the video was indeed pretty spooky, it was likely some sort of hoax once again. But for the sake of the podcast, I tracked down James himself so he could tell me the real deal about this video.

There is a park nearby, it got some hiking trails. I'm going through the actual park and I see that little side trail branching off the main trail and I follow it. I see the end of the trail is like a fire pit and some things hung to the trees. I go down to take a closer look because I figure it's either signs that say keep out. Some of the parks hang up signs with information about local plants and kind of animals you should be looking for. So I went down to check it out. So I get down there and it's all these missing persons posters which caught me completely off guard cause I — it's so incongruous to anything that I was expecting to see and anything I've ever seen before. It was alarming.

You know, I'm looking around at where exactly I'm situated and seemed like what I needed to do other than get the hell out of there was get some kind of documentation about what I found. And I jumped on Facebook first and, you know, I wanted to kind of sound a distress call. I mean the longer I spent down there, the more fishy it looked.

The minute I left, everybody that had seen this video, I got friends and people that I don't even know and they're all in complete agreement, "Take this to the police." So that's what I did. Told them what I found, I showed them the footage, you know, they were like, "Thank you for calling in. You did the right thing. Go home." The next morning they — somebody from the office, they left a voicemail. They investigated. They were told by the homeowners at the property said that these posters were hung up by them as decorations for an upcoming Halloween party.

A few episodes back, I talked briefly about Marcus Harper's alibi. According to Marcus he was at the White Horse Saloon to watch his friend's band. Then he left to met up with his friend Shawn Fletcher, an Ocilla police officer. They rode around together in the cop car that night and made several stops in reference to a man named Benny Merritt.

So I made a request with the Ocilla PD to get the reports on Benny Merritt because if this didn't add up, then Harper's alibi didn't add up either. When I got the reports back from Ocilla, none of them happened on Saturday night the 22nd. There was one that happened the night before and one on the 26th but not a single report for Benny Merritt on the 22nd.

This was a pretty big deal. If there's no reports on Benny Merritt, then maybe those stops didn't happen. And if those stops didn't happen, then where was Marcus Harper? But before I got ahead of myself, there was still one place I had to check, the Irwin County Sheriff's Department. It's possible that the reports weren't filed with Ocilla but instead with the county. So I gave them a call.

Can you give me one of the person's name?

Benny Merritt.





All right. Hold on just a second. This thing is gonna be slow.

It's all good.

M-E-R-R-I-T-T. I think that's how you spell it. All we have is one report on him. Let me see if I can see what it's about.

Okay. What date?

Incident date was 10/26/2005 to 10/27/2005. It was against a lady that lives on Fillmore Road. The report date was actually 10/27/2005.

Any other report on Benny Merritt?

No, sir. That's the only one we got on him.

I just got off the phone with the Irwin County Police Department. And I called them to see if they had any separate records about Benny Merritt, separate from Ocilla police. So he actually ended up looking it up on the phone when I was there and they only have one report on him and it's on October 26th. That's it.

If that's true, then somebody told a bold-faced lie. I mean I was a police officer. I know if there was no report, then that's highly suspicious. The dispatcher gets a phone call, she has to write on the log when it came in and she has to put what was the resolution of that. If none of that exists at all, they're just depending on the word of Marcus Harper.

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Popular Transcripts Full Transcript: Up and Vanished – S1 E4 – Snapdragon Road

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Full Transcript: Up and Vanished – S1 E4 – Snapdragon Road

Atlanta, Georgia, 1979.

Are you scared?

Yes, sir.

One by one kids are going missing with no explanation.

A black 15-year-old male who lived in the same area where three other children have disappeared …

There was a real life monster on the loose and the city of Atlanta demanded answers.

In a city kids get killed, unfortunately nobody cares.

By 1981 the FBI was involved in one of the largest manhunts in U.S. history and eventually they put one man behind bars. But nearly 40 years later, this case has left more questions than answers in what may be Atlanta's darkest secret.

I don't know today whether he's innocent or guilty.

From the producers of Up and Vanished and HowStuffWorks, we present an all new podcast, Atlanta Monster. Subscribe to Atlanta Monster right now on Apple podcast and be the first to hear it on January 5th.

Previously on Up and Vanished.

I had never heard that she went to a student's house in between the pageant and the barbecue.

I've heard that in the talk around town.

Is there any way to find out who that student was?

Good gracious, that's been 10 years or more ago.

They found full profile of white male DNA on the gloves and it's been entered into the Georgia DNA database and it's been entered into CODIS for like 10 years and there's never been a match.

You know, there was a side of Tara that I didn't know, very free with men and one of them was a student, Vickers, Anthony Vickers

Hey. Is Anthony there?

Hey man, this stuff is kind of a little funny to talk about.

Did you have any involvement in Tara's disappearance?


Was there someone else in Tara's house that day?

Oh, yeah. There was. Some guy from Perry, Detective Heath Dykes, Perry Police Department.

So he drove there with the sole intent of checking on Tara?

Oh, yes.

Do you think it's odd that Heath Dykes didn't see the glove on the ground?

I think it's unusual. You're dealing with a veteran detective.

Is there any chance she might have left under her own free will with someone that she knew?

I think that's how it started out and then something went very wrong after that. I really do feel like there is an abduction at this point.

The one person who has been vetted the most is her ex-boyfriend Marcus Harper. He was absolutely tired of her.

She was crying and was upset about something. She was very rational and she told me that if she found out I was dating someone, she would commit suicide.

The only thing that the dogs showed any indication to was a burned house that had burnt down actually when we were down there. In this situation, we determined that they were responding to some septic lines or sewage.

What I'm about to read you has never been released to the public, Tara's e-mails. On October 14th, Tara sent Marcus's mom an e-mail. Tara says this, "Just remind Marcus what I said about something happening to me or even him. He leaves it like this and something may happen to me.

Ten years ago today marked the last time anybody reported seeing or talking to Tara Grinstead.

Officially, police are calling this a missing person's case.

GBI officials say investigators …

Latex glove found in …

An $80,000 reward is being offered for information.

Where is Tara Grinstead?

From Tenderfoot TV in Atlanta, this is Up and Vanished, the investigation of Tara Grinstead. I'm your host, Payne Lindsey.

During the last six to eight months, I've had my fair share of white rabbits in this case. Dead end leads have sent me on countless tangents that would last for weeks before I realized there was nothing to it. It's made me live by the phrase, "If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.".

I think the hardest part about the whole thing is separating what could be important information from what is completely meaningless. To solve something, you have to follow every single lead regardless of your first impression. Sometimes a completely meaningless ends up meaning everything in a cold case.

A few weeks ago, the private investigator received a new tip which he shared with me. This was by far the biggest and likely the craziest tip I had heard yet. And as doubtful as it seemed in the beginning, it actually matched up with several accounts that I have received from separate people over the past couple of months.

The tip suggested that we search underneath the home in Ocilla. We had reason to believe that Tara's body was once there or maybe it still was. For now, I have to keep the details about the location confidential but I can assure you this place is very significant. This whole thing started with a phone call from Maurice just a few weeks ago.

I got a tip tonight. They do heat and air condition or stuff. The air conditioner went out on that house. He went under the house briefly. He had his flashlight and stuff like that. He said in the middle back, there was an oblong mound of dirt that was solid packed up and he said in the corner was a shovel.

To do the proper thing, you have to do a chemical analysis of the soil. The neighbor and the guy who owns the house, they're digging up three one gallon paper bags of large debris like I instructed.

Before they dig it up, tell them that I want to come down there.

That's gonna be arranged probably tomorrow.

Starting route to Ocilla.

I was preparing some air conditioning duct and I got under there and it looked like where something had been buried because the rest of the house is flat. The dirt isn't there and then there's that mound. Maybe they can figure it out with a soil sample.

I have my younger brother with me to help run the audio. I was filming with my camera. We were on our hands and knees inching our way through the crawlspace. Our goal was to fill several brown paper bags full of soil, then we would run forensic tests to see if a body had ever been there. A local from Ocilla helped us with the dig but he wished to remain anonymous.

A crawl space in general is pretty spooky but this one in particular was very eerie. It was dark and we could only see in front of us with our headlamps. In the back corner was a huge mound of soft dirt. This is why we came here. It's like a whole mound of dirt right here. It's pretty soft looking.


Is that normal or is that what kind of drew attention?

Yeah, that's what drew attention.

This area of dirt was about six to eight inches above the rest of the ground around it. And I kid you not, it looked like the exact dimensions of a human body, about six feet long, three feet wide. And the dirt was soft, so soft that your hand would sink down up to your elbow when you were digging in. Every second I feared I would see something that I would never be able to unsee. Definitely doesn't look natural.


We kept our flashlights aimed towards the shovel and we gather a few pounds of soil, sifting through it as we put it in the bags. This looks kind of white chalky.

That's what I was looking at.

That looks just like that other piece I found.

It's hard.

Like it's the inside thread of a shoe.

Where's the little pile you made?

Right here.

There's three paper bags under there.

After about 30 minutes, we filled the bags and I was ready to get the hell out of there. Once we were back in the sunlight, we were able to take a closer look at the soil. We kept finding these little pieces of white chalky material that was hard as a rock.

It ain't concrete.

What is that?

That's what I was thinking was lime when we went on there. I'm not sure but I think it's the heat process of decaying a body.

It did look a lot like lime based off pictures I saw on the internet. I called Maurice to tell the job was done.

Make sure they stay sealed. Send it with a return receipt for me to sign for it. That follows the chain of custody and see the bags allow the dirt to breathe. Make sure that the bags are taped and sealed and put Payne Lindsey across the tape to the bag. You have to maintain the chain of custody because if something becomes of this, the damn defensive lawyer will tear it off pieces.

I asked him about that white chalky stuff that looked like lime.

People put lime on bodies to make it decompose faster but the truth is the opposite occurs, it preserves them.

Interesting. Just two days after our search, the Irwin County Sheriff's Department caught wind of it and they sent their own search team to the same location. With the help of a local, we were able to get live updates on the search as it was happening and I literally couldn't believe what I was hearing.

He said they told the whole damn house. He said there's some people over there that found five bones and a pair of panties.

They found five bones and a pair of panties? How in the world did we miss that?

He said it's almost dark there and he said that they were putting on white suits or something and they were going back there. I mean I'm just telling you what he told me. That's all. He just sent me a message. He said that they were putting on like a white suit on and that's what they do, that's drawback.

A few hours later, two unmarked SUVs with government plates pulled up. It was the GBI.

They think it might be an animal bone. They're going to send it off. My experience is law enforcement don't send animal bones to a lab and they know the difference between an animal bone and a human bone. It's just odd that they said they're going to have this turned away for testing.

I don't see a body … anybody burying a deer or a dog under a house. Do you? Who would put a damn dog under a house? That's sort of morbid. If you hadn't been out there the other day, they would never been there. There's no doubt about it. I think they probably got a wind of what we were doing out there and they were just covering their butts. I guess we just have to wait and see. I'm surprised the media didn't pick it up.

He has a point. Where's the media? In 2015, the GBI drained a pond to search for evidence linked to Tara and they made a huge deal about it in the news but they found absolutely nothing. Now we have five bones and a pair of panties and there's nothing about it anywhere.

I had originally planned to keep this whole thing a secret but I was getting impatient. Then finally, almost three weeks later, the GBI made a statement to WSB TV Atlanta but only because I mentioned it to the news station myself and they were doing a story on the podcast.

An Atlanta filmmaker turned podcaster is on a mission to solve the 2005 disappearance of Tara Grinstead and his new project is getting a lot of people talking.

Lindsey says his new podcast Up and Vanished is generating new information. The GBI is the lead agency investigating the case but nearly 11 years later, no sign of Grinstead, her remains or an arrest. This is never before seen video of Lindsey recently searching underneath a home after receiving an anonymous tip. The GBI searched the same area and a source told Channel 2s mark when they found animal bones but Lindsey says he's doing some tests of his own that could provide a new lead.

So there it was, heard through the grapevine. The GBI determined they were animal bones. We still have our soil samples to get tested and we're currently waiting on the results. As crazy as this whole thing was, it was time to move on at least for the time being.

At the end of episode three, I mentioned that I obtained some of Tara's e-mails. Other than Tara's family and presumably the GBI, these have been held confidential for over a decade but today I'm going to share them with you.

These e-mails are one of the few things out there to provide a true insight into Tara's state of mind before her disappearance. Before we dive into that, I wanted Maurice to share his insight about Tara's emotional state.

She was very distraught, emotional. It was completely over Marcus Harper.

In the weeks prior to her disappearance, she endured a bad breakup with her boyfriend Marcus Harper and she wasn't taking it very well. Maurice described an emotional breakdown she had in her car, so bad that her friends and neighbors had to come calm her down.

She was on the way to school, Tara was, and she received a call from Marcus and he told her that their relationship was completely over with. She became very hysterical and emotional to the point that she can't drive. She had an emotional breakdown and on the way to school, she had to have someone go out and pick her up and she was not able to walk and stuff so she had to have Dr. Davis to get her in the house.

On Friday October 14th at 6:43 AM, Tara sent Marcus Harper's mother an e-mail.

If I did not give a crap about Marcus, you all and his feelings, I would not be in this state. If this were all about me, I would not want Marcus. I wouldn't want to see him. I would not even love him. He just truly does not believe anything I say and does not care.

I've tried to remain positive but at this point I cannot. Of course, Marcus obviously does not care and makes it worse. Since he has been ignoring me, all I can think of is the bad bad words he said to me in the past. Now I'm beginning to think he meant that.

I need to know what I did. People just do not hate folks for no reason. I need to know what I did to him or whoever. It hurts like hell to know in my heart and soul that I honestly do not think I did anything wrong and he hates me. So he has heard or think something that is not true.

I'm so depressed right now but Marcus is the lucky one. He has his shell to protect him like a crab. He's strong and tough while I become weaker. This does not mean I'm a bad person. It means I have to put it first in my life and I was happy having it that way. Just remind Marcus what I said about something happening to me or even him. He leaves it as this and something may happen to me.

This e-mail was sent just eight days before she went missing. It's very clear that Tara was an emotional wreck over Marcus. But according to almost everyone by the next Saturday at the pageant and the barbecue, she was perfectly normal but one girl who attended the pageant that night told me otherwise. She did not want to use her name in the podcast but we'll call her Mary.

My mom actually was judging pageant and Tara was one of the judges and I was involved in pageants and whatnot. So Tara introduced herself to me and she wanted to be my pageant coach. So we started off with that and she actually had a Relay for Life Pageant one year and I decided to enter it.

Well, I ended up winning and I was one of her queens and we went to all these events. And she's always just so bubbly and just gives so much and just had a attitude of, you know, being so welcome to everyone. It's just … she was a great person.

And the Sweet Potato Pageant, you obviously know about that. She was at it that night but unlike what everybody else is telling me from what I've heard so far, there was something about her that was different. She was not, you know, normal or anything like that that night.

She was acting really odd and that the reason I know that is just because she was always so bubbly and would talk to everybody. You know that night, she was just so to herself. I just remember it so vividly like she was just so out of it.

Did she seem more sad or more like?

It's really hard to describe. I mean it was just like she knew something was going to happen in my opinion.


It just wasn't, you know, normal. I mean that night, she was so distant, not really wanting talk to people and it may have changed after she left the pageant. It just … she just wasn't the same person that I figured that I've always known Tara.

That night, we actually walked Tara to her car from the Sweet Potato pageant. She was parked in front of the theater that it was at. And I asked her, you know, if there was anything wrong because like I said you could tell something was off about her especially if you spent any time with Tara, there was something off about her.

And she was like, "No, you know, I'm okay." And we were like, "Okay", you know, and I hugged her and that was the last time I've seen her. And she waved to my mom across the street, you know, got in her car, left and I haven't … I have no idea what she did after that.

Had you seen her in like the two weeks before that?

Yes. We actually had a parade. It was a Relay for Life in Irwin County that I had won, that was the pageant. And that was the … I think one of the last time that I saw her but she had a boyfriend there with her. I'm not sure what his name was. I can't remember. He was tall. I know she had a boyfriend that was in the armed forces or something like that and this was apparently a new boyfriend.

At this point, I had learned of a bunch of different men in Tara's life but who is this? She said she couldn't remember his name but if she ever did, she'd let me know.

You know, I didn't see him very much other than that. I mean I think that was the only time I saw him but her ex-boyfriend was very unhappy about it. The majority of people around here believe that her ex-boyfriend did something and that cops were involved in it. And that's why a lot of people can't put anything together is because somebody on the inside did something, especially since her ex-boyfriend had so many friends in that field and had a lot of knowledge with that.

Around here, it's so small, the town. Somebody would know something and somebody does and they're just not saying anything. Like I said though, the night of the Sweet Potato Pageant, she knew something was going to happen. I'm really positive about that. She knew something was going to happen. She just was not her normal self and everybody can tell you that she was but I know that she was not acting normal.

In the last episode, I interviewed a lady in charge of the cadaver dogs during the search for Tara. She told me that the dogs only hit once on a burned house near the area but it turned out to be a septic line. I started researching more into the fire and obtained a copy of the fire marshal report. Everything about it just seemed really suspicious.

On November 8th, 2005, an alarm was received by Irwin County Communications Center about a fire located at 425 Snapdragon Road, just outside of Ocilla. The name of the person that reported the fire is unknown. On November 8th, 2005 at the 0715 hour, the Irwin County Fire Department responded to the fire.

The fire occurred in a three bedroom, one bath wood construction single family residence. All utilities were connected at the time of the fire. The owner/occupant had not been living in the house. Also destroyed by the fire was a 2000 Ford Expedition which was parked behind and near the house.

The vehicle belonged to Michael Lankford. Michael Lankford claimed that he was looking after the property for the owner who lived out of state. Mr. Lankford lived on Snapdragon Road just down from where the house fire occurred.

Upon arrival by the fire investigator, the scene was not secured by local officials. Yellow crime scene tape had not been installed completely around the fire. The investigation involved an in-depth fire scene investigation. The residence was completely destroyed. The only remnants of the house with the brick pillars, a fireplace and chimney.

Due to the amount of damage to the house and SUV, the fire investigator was not able to determine if the fire originated at the residence or the vehicle. Accelerant detection canine examine the scene and made one indication on the ground beside the driver's side of the vehicle. However, it was determined to have likely come from the vehicle's gas line.

The cause of the fire was ruled undetermined and remains the same to date. To determine if the fire was connected to the disappearance of Tara Grinstead, different cadaver dogs were used on different occasions to examine the burnt house. The dogs hit in the front part of the house. The investigators determined that the dogs were hitting on a septic line at the house and not a dead body.

The fire marshal report that I have right here says the cause of the fire is unknown. The report was filed by a man named Vernon Singley, the fire marshal at the time of Tara's disappearance. I was lucky to get a hold of him last week. I wanted to know why they couldn't figure out what caused the fire.

Okay. Okay. Let me … yeah, I can tell you what may have … what led us to that determination because we ended up having to sift that thing out. We arrived at that scene, it wasn't nothing but one big black spot. It had … I remember it had one chimney standing in the middle of this house.


You put charcoal on the grill and, you know, you just let them burn out on your grill, charcoal like you're going to grill a steak. That's basically what we got. We didn't have that but coals. It was completely burnt, all structures, all memories in it. It was like a country home or a vacation home, you know, for some owners like in Florida.

Now, it did have electricity running through it but since there's no activity in it, it's kind of like a little suspicious. You know what I'm saying?. Just why all of the sudden would this house just catch fire? No bad weather, you know, no electrical problems and then we have a fire and the house is completely on the ground.

What we've decided to do, we brought in these dogs and they ran those through when the scene got cool enough with the dogs. I know they run the dogs through there, the dogs hit. I mean how … I thought we got something here, we got something. So what we eventually do is we girded this thing out, we sectioned this whole plan of and we got in there. We sifted those ashes, looking for any kind of remains such as bones, teeth, anything. We did find nothing.

Man, let me tell you some of the stuff they told us. One of the hottest places in the house that attracted the dogs the most was in front of the fireplace. They said, you know, somebody could have got cut, you know, cut their hand and bled on the floor in that particular area. And then I'm like, mhmm. There were so many different scenarios that they was telling us.

I talked to one of the ladies who had the dogs and she told me that the dogs hit on a septic line. Do you remember that?

I'll be honest with you, I don't know that. Did she say about somebody could have bled there or?

This is what she told me, she said that her dogs made a hit like you said by the fireplace for what could be human remains and she said that one of the GBI people or whoever was there said that it was probably a septic line.

The GBI was there. I don't know what they told them but I know I didn't tell them no sep … I heard nothing about no septic tank.

What do you make of that car that was found on the property?

Yeah, it was like a little … a Ford Explorer or something.

What do you make of that?

It was sitting close enough to it and to the fire. I mean, you know, I don't know. I don't …

Did you ever remember seeing the owner of the vehicle? Did he ever come up there when you guys were there?

Basically, are you telling me that somebody other than the folks in Florida owned that?

A guy named Michael Lankford owned the vehicle. It was not the … the homeowner did not own that.

And he didn't own the house? I don't remember that. I don't … and why … I mean, I'm gonna be honest with you. I don't remember nobody, nobody saying that … what you said about that. I can't bring somebody come up in the middle of the day and tell us that.

Why was his vehicle there? What I'm getting at now. I mean I don't remember nobody talking about we're going to interview this guy or, you know, ain't nobody with us that day. Ain't nobody say nothing about that. Now you got me curious. I hope somebody checked into it cause Vernon didn't.

Why did the fire marshal not know about the septic tank? Was that ever really a thing? And what about Michael Lankford? Why would they leave out the fact that the car belonged to him and not the homeowner? The fire marshal should know that. And why was his car really parked there in the first place? Okay. You there?


What do you know about this Michael Lankford guy?

A former police officer with Ocilla PD. He lived … when you turn on Snapdragon, he lived on the first house on the right. His SUV expedition was found very close within like seven feet, six feet from the back of the house. Marcus Harper and Michael Lankford worked at the Ocilla PD together.

Was Marcus and Michael friends or what?

Oh,yeah. They'll come working at Ocilla PD. All these guys know each other. They are friends, yes.

Thank you guys for listening to episode four of Up and Vanished. Starting next Monday, each week in between a new episode, I'm releasing a smaller episode called Case Evidence where I break down all the finer details about the case.

You can actually call in and leave a voicemail on a number we set up for the podcast. You can leave a question about the case and we'll answer it next week. The phone number is 770-545-6411. Again, 770-545-6411.

I've decided to make the Up and Vanished podcast a total of 12 episodes which will be split into two seasons with six episodes each. That means there's only two episodes left this season and the season one finale will premiere on October 24th.

Season two will premiere in January. Again, guys, thanks for listening and see you next week.

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Full Transcript: Up and Vanished – S1 E3 – The Alibi


Hey. Is Anthony there?

Yeah, this is him.

This is Payne Lindsey. I'm doing the documentary podcast on Tara Grinsted.

Oh, I understood, die.

Ten years ago today marked the last time anybody reported seeing or talking to Tara Grinstead.

Officially, police are calling this a missing person's case.

GBI officials say investigator …

Latex glove found in …

$80,000 reward is being offered.

Where is Tara Grinstead?

From Tenderfoot TV in Atlanta, this is Up and Vanished, the investigation of Tara Grinstead. I'm your host Paynee Lindsey.

Before I jump into my interview with Anthony Vickers, we need to go over some of the finer details in this case. There were two major pieces of evidence that investigators found at his home. The first and perhaps the biggest one was a single latex glove found in Tara's yard. Here's Maurice Godwin on the glove.

It was in front of the steps and it was laying there at the edge of the grass with some pinestraw. They collected it and they did analysis on it. They found full profile, a white male DNA on the gloves. And it's been entered into the Georgia DNA database and it's been entered into CODIS for like 10 years and there's never been a match.

How many people did they swab in this case?

Upwards to 200, students, anybody, any males or stuff that knew her. In Georgia, you have to be convicted of a felony to be swabbed.

So in Georgia you have to willingly give up a DNA swab? They can't make you do it.

They walk up to you, they ask you for it. If you volunteer, fine. If you don't, then they have to have enough probable cause to write a warrant and go back and get the swab.

My question about the glove is this, if you have got to somebody and you're struggling with that individual, why is the glove even off of the hand to be able to even fall to the ground?

Right. So you're saying, if you're going to wear latex gloves to commit a crime, why are they off your hands before you leave the scene?

I think it's a 50/50 chance that the glove was a plant.

The second piece of evidence was a business card found in Tara's front door. But as ominous as that seemed, there appeared to be a valid explanation for it. The car belonged to a friend of Tara's family, a police officer from a nearby town called Perry.

Late Sunday night on October 23rd before she was reported missing, Tara's mom was concerned because she wasn't responding so she asked his family friend to go check on her.

He was called by Faye, Tara's mother to go check on Tara. So he drove from Perry to Ocilla, probably arriving at probably 12:0 AM, it would be Monday morning.

So Sunday night, Monday morning?

Sunday night, Monday morning, yes. So he went to the house, knocked on the door, couldn't get anyone and left the business card wedged between the door and then left.

Now that we're a little more up to speed, here's my call with Anthony Vickers.

I really and truly didn't want to talk to you but, you know, you'd probably play nicer if I was nice to you. You know, when people just quit looking at you funny, then a day, another thing comes what. You know what I mean?

So tell me about your relationship with Tara.

Yeah. I mean we saw each other after high school and went on there for a year or two.

Okay. So this relationship you had with Tara, was it at all sexual?

Oh, yes.

Okay. So when you two would hang out, where'd you guys usually go?

Most of time, it was just at her house.

So was this a serious relationship or was it more like a fling or something?

Oh, it was kind of a little bit of both but it was so recent that I got out of school that we kind of kept it, you know, just kept it on the low.

Describe to me what it was like when Tara went missing.

I really didn't find nothing was wrong there when GBI came and talked to me, you know. They told me that she missed school or whatever that night. I think it was a Monday and they come and told me and you know I was kind of upset with them, you know.

They going through her house and all that, been gone two days and she ain't really got to report to nobody so I didn't really see … if I go off the grid for a couple of days and somebody's in my house, I'm gonna be upset.

So I didn't place it to be as her being missing til later on. I mean, you know, she's grown, single. I mean she can do what she wants to. I really didn't think too much about it, there until about, you know, four or five days in where she done missed a few days of work, you know, stuff like that wasn't like her.

A few weeks after Tara disappeared, Anthony received a mysterious phone call from an unknown number. All he could hear was a girl that was screaming and crying and he was convinced it was Tara. Here's what he said about it.

It sounded like her squalling on the phone to me, dude. I mean I really thought it was her. I mean I was watching my little cousin and I had somebody come and get him so I could go figure out what's going on. It wasn't really no overreaction. I really … I still think it was her.

And the story I got told is they researched it and it was a known drug dealer's house. That's what they told me. Well, how'd you all know that? I mean the feedback they gave me on it didn't make any sense.

So what went down when the GBI reached out to you?

Basically, they asked me if I would do like a DNA swab, would I be okay with that? A lie detector or some other thing.

So you did a DNA swab?

Yeah, I did all of that.

What were the results of your lie detector test?

Oh, they said that I was true there. They cleared me after that.

Did they search your property at all?

They went through my vehicle and through my dad's vehicle. When all this was going on, I didn't want to get involved. You know, one thing tells you how you're gonna figure out where she's at. And the other ones, you know, you see people arrested for stuff they didn't do and stuff all the time. And my thing got to be just cooperate with them, do everything you got to do and get out their way.

Do you remember when the last time you saw Tara was?

Right off hand, I really don't know. I really don't remember.

Did you have any involvement in Tara's disappearance?

Oh no.

Can you give me the rundown of what happened on March 30th of '05 when you got arrested at Tara's house?

She wouldn't answer her phone and I went over there and knocked on the door and she, you know … we were still kind of on the low. She didn't want, you know, a bunch of folks knowing that I was over there and we got into a little argument but the police station's only a block away.

So a neighbor called and only a block away and I was getting in the car. I was actually driving. I was actually driving, pulling out of her driveway. And they stopped and pulled me out of the car. I was trying to leave and trying to do right, you know. Saying what I needed to say. I was leaving and then I couldn't leave. Well, I only live like two blocks down the road so it wasn't like I made a 30 mile trip or nothing.

Before I called Anthony, I scoured every detail in this police report and I found something kind of interesting. It appeared that there was another man inside Tara's house that day and this man provided the statement to police. His name was blacked out in the reports I received but at the very bottom, the officer refers to him in the report with the initials H.D. Maybe Anthony could help clarify this.

Was there someone else in Tara's house that day?

Oh, yeah. there was. I don't know who he was or I think he's some guy from Perry, some cop from Perry.

What was he like?

You know, I don't … I don't know what it was. I don't know. You know, you can't judge a book by its cover but I didn't like his cover.

So this cop from Perry was inside Tara's house that day. It seemed a little strange to me. His initials were H.D. Remember the guy who left the business card? His name was …

Detective Heath Dykes, Perry Police Department.

Detective Heath Dykes, Perry Police Department, initials H.D. Just like the police report. So he drove there with the sole intent of checking on Tara, correct?

Oh yeah.

How far is Perry from Ocilla?

It's about an hour 15 minutes.

Do you think it's odd that Heath Dykes didn't see the glove on the ground?

I think it's unusual. Also you remember, you're not dealing with just a regular just civilian type individual. You're dealing with a veteran detective. Possibly, the argument would be that it was too dark but he needs to be asked that question.

It was odd that he was inside Tara's house that day when Anthony got arrested. But it was even more odd to me that a veteran detective who drove over an hour to check on Tara Sunday night wouldn't have seen that latex glove on the ground. You would think that there would be a little detective work but all he did was leave his business card.

From the beginning, I approached this thing with the certainty that there was foul play involved in Tara's disappearance. It just seemed impossible that she could walk away from her life and remain hidden for all these years but I guess there's always that possibility. I called a missing persons expert named Thomas Loth. He has over 20 years of experience in these sort of cases. I wanted him to weigh in.

I think there's a better way that she could have found to stage the scene if she wanted to go missing. The fact that that necklace is on the floor, I agree with the investigator. To me, that's very unusual especially if her apartment is nice and clean.

Now, and the latex glove outside to me is obviously a very important piece. I definitely think that foul play was involved. I rarely have seen maliciously missing women. It's just … it's a rarity. If they go missing, it's because someone has abducted them or murdered them but it does happen.

How often, you know, man or woman do you see somebody who is gone for 10 plus years with no trace at all and they turn up somewhere alive?

It's not common at all. But it's possible. It does happen but it's not because they turned up themselves, it's because someone informed law enforcement or the family that they saw them.

But it would be a case where a subject was missing, there was a police report filed but the circumstances of the disappearance showed them that there was a small amount of detail that would reveal that they went maliciously missing such as they were last seen walking, you know, walking away to somewhere. They went on a run and then went missing in the mountains. Something like that.

People go missing on their own accord if they're suffering from schizophrenia and usually the reason they're missing is because they have such paranoia. They choose to follow those conspiracies in their head.

It's typically a medical reason. Most people don't really understand that. They think, "Oh, they just went missing because their life got complicated." But really, a lot of adults go missing because they suffer from their first psychotic episode. They become transient and homeless on the streets.

I would definitely lean foul play on this case because all of the signs are there really that she had multiple boyfriends. One of them got jealous and she let them in the apartment for some reason to talk probably and their intent was different from, you know, what she obviously expected.

We dated for about five and a half years.

When you say dated, was it a serious or a casual relationship?

It was a commitment.

That's Tara's ex boyfriend Marcus Harper in his first televised interview with Greta Van Susteren in 2005, just weeks after Tara disappeared.

We did not date other people but I was honest with her when I said I had no intentions of marriage because of my career.

Did there come a time when this dating relationship ended?

Yes. She told me she felt like it was time for her to move on.

And you've been dumped essentially?

More or less.

Were you upset by that at all?

At first, we continued to remain friends but I felt a little rejected at first but I picked … brushed my shoulders off, went on and started dating other people. She asked several times about rekindling the relationship and I told her we could stay friends but I didn't want any kind of commitment.

So then you were rejecting her essentially at this point?

Pretty much.

Did she accept that?


How many times have you talked to the GBI?

Four, five times.

They've asked you for things and asked you to talk?


And you provided all of it?


When was the last time you actually saw her?

The 14th of October. It was on a Friday morning.

About what time?

Around 9:00.

And what were the circumstances?

She woke me by knocking on my windows.

Is that something common where she would knock on your windows or not? It's unusual?

No, it's not unusual but she was crying and was upset about something. She was very rational and she told me that if she found out I was dating someone, she would commit suicide.

The one person who has been vetted the most is her ex-boyfriend, Marcus Harper. He was absolutely tired of her. He had to hire a lawyer because … in the beginning because her sister, Anita, was going after him. Basically his timeline alibi basically clears him.

He was right. From day one, Marcus Harper had an alibi. And it was a good one. His alibi begins that Saturday night at the White Horse Saloon in Fitzgerald.

All right. We're live here in the Wild Horse. Final score of the Fitzgerald, Ocilla game, 56-19.


56-19 Fitzgerald.

I decided to pay this place a visit, maybe have a couple beers. I made some small talk with people at the bar. And best believe, they all had their own theory about Tara.

Basically, we were just all talking and he was like, "Yeah, you know, Tara Grinstead. I know what happened." I don't know if he was joking but all the other guys said that he was acting like really serious.

I heard a rumor she was out at boones, somebody followed her and I left. I believe it was all rumor and bullshit. Some people say the ex-boyfriend, some people say it's somebody who admire her.

So what was Marcus Harper's rock solid alibi?

October 22nd, 2005, the night of Tara's disappearance, Marcus Harper left the bar called the White Horse Saloon in Fitzgerald sometime after 1 AM and drove to Ocilla. He was looking for his friend Sergeant Shawn Fletcher, an Ocilla police officer.

Sean Fletcher had known both Marcus and Tara. In fact, he was one of the officers who responded to the call at Tara's house earlier that year when Anthony Vickers was arrested for disorderly conduct. At around 1:49 AM according to the account Sean gave to authorities, he received a call from the dispatcher telling him that Marcus was looking for him.

Sean contacted Marcus and the two joined up. In the course of the next hour, Sean had at least one conversation with another police officer. Shortly after 2:45 AM, Fletcher was summoned to a house on West 4th Street where a local man named Bennie Merritt who was known for his erratic behavior had allegedly walked inside someone's house and had refused to leave.

Marcus joined Sean on that call. By the time they arrived, Bennie Merritt was gone. A few minutes later, Sean and Marcus left the residence and searched for him. Authorities reported that the man appeared intoxicated and was later apprehended by a sheriff's deputy after he frightened the night clerk at a local gas station about a mile outside of Ocilla.

According to records reviewed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, both Sean and Marcus responded to this call at the gas station and by the time they were done, it was 4:28 AM. A few minutes later, Marcus claims he headed home to sleep. Marcus Harper's mother also vouched for his return home that night around 5 AM and said he went straight to bed.

I put in one more records request with Ocilla PD. I wanted the reports on Bennie Merritt, just to make sure all the times added up. It was pretty convenient to be with an Ocilla officer during the time Tara likely disappeared but I can't disprove that either. When all this was happening, investigators were pressed for answers. They started searching everywhere but they found nothing.

My grimness fueled by the frustration of searching nearly 400 square miles of alligator infested waters, sprawling farmland and tangled forest.

If she's in here, she likes to be on top.

To cover this whole county, it's probably gonna take us another 7 to 10 days. This county is like 380 square miles. We only got like 9000 people in here.

The Ocilla and Irwin County community undertook the most extensive search I've ever been associated with in my career.

We searched fields. We searched swamps. We searched abandoned buildings. This is actually a case where we don't even know where the haystack is to look for the needle.

Part of the initial search for Tara was a K9 unit, tons of dogs trained to sniff out Tara's scent. Tracy Underwood is the trainer that led this part of the investigation.

Dogs can be trained and are trained to find people both dead and alive. In this case, I had dogs that were trained to do both. So the initial response was of course, you know, unless we find evidence that tells us otherwise, we assume that the person we're looking for is alive.

Unfortunately, you know, being a week from the time she was last seen as far as tracking, after a week especially in, you know, this type of hot South Georgia weather with the sun and dry conditions that we had back then, if she did just walk away from her home, the scent for tracking dog after a week would be totally gone.

Oh, wow.

We just did what we call area searches. So we just took the dogs to an area and had them check the area. Not so much for a track but just an area to see if they could pick up any human scent.

The other thing that's important to note, Payne, about dogs is that the dogs always tell us two things. They'll tell us where something is but what is just as important and then sometimes even more important is that they tell us where something isn't.

We searched for over a year for this individual in North Georgia and we searched 28 different places over that year. And long story short, we winded up finding him on the 29th search.


The dogs were 100 percent correct. They told us in all those previous 28 times we searched,"Guys, I don't know where he is but he's not here.".


So that would certainly, and did apply to Tara's case, and would continue applying to her case if we do search for her again.

So what were the results of the initial search for Tara?

We've been asked to go down there over the years. I would dare say at least 20 or 30 times we've been down there searching in different places and we searched hundreds and hundreds of acres. I want to say 30 searches, that means 30 times we went down there and we may have searched, you know, 10 different places in one day.


With all of that, the only thing that the dogs showed any indication to was a burned house that had burnt down actually when we were down there. And they did alert there at the burnt remains there at the house.

When dogs do "alert" or indicate something, we have to look and investigate and say, "Hey. Is it something that's related to this case or is it totally unrelated to what we're looking for? Why did the dogs alert or indicate in this area at this spot? Is it related to our case?" In this situation, we determined that they were responding to some septic lines or sewage because it was an old house with exposed pipes and things like that.

Based on the searches you guys did, you know, throughout Ocilla and the Irwin County area, do you think that it's possible Tara's body is still there and it was missed or the right area wasn't searched?

Well, I will say this, Payne. You can't rule out any area 100 percent until you find the person. There's always that possibility, absolutely, but the search efforts and everything and all the resources that were used, is she there? The probability of that would be I think pretty low. But you can't clear an area 100 percent until the person has been found.

I've been doing this for about 25 years. I would say about 99 percent of these cases, they're pretty black and white. And I would say Tara's case is that rare exception. Can we definitively say she was kidnapped? Can we definitively say that she just walked away? Can we definitively say that she started a new life somewhere? That's a question that really can't be definitively answered.

Personal and professional opinion, do I think it's ever going to be solved? I do. You know, we all still have to have that hope. However long it takes, Payne, we're in it for the duration.

If the officials called me or the family called me today even after 11 years, I would get in the car, go down there with the dogs and do whatever I can. No family ever thinks that they're going to be living this nightmare and certainly not living it after 11 years.

I got my reports back from Ocilla PD on Bennie Merritt. I requested literally every report they have on him. I wanted to crosscheck the time of each incident that Marcus and Sean responded to that night.

I have four reports on Bennie Merritt but not a single one of these happened on Saturday night. None of them. What I'm about to read you has never been released to the public, Tara's e-mails.

On October 14th, Tara sent Marcus's mom an e-mail. On the bottom paragraph, Tara says this, "Just remind Marcus what I said about something happening to me or even him. He leaves it like this and something may happen to me."

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Is Sugar Slowly Killing Us – The Knowledge Project

Welcome to the Knowledge Project. I'm your host, Shane Parrish, the curator behind the Farnam Street blog, which is an online community focused on mastering the best of what other people have already figured out. The Knowledge Project is a podcast where we look at interesting people and uncover the frameworks they use to make better decisions, live life, and make an impact.

On this episode, I have the fascinating, Gary Taubes. Gary is an award-winning science journalist who has written Good Calories Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat. You're going to learn about the role sugar, carbohydrates, and fiber, how breakfast became the most important meal of the day, what science is, and the state of nutritional science, why he says wine is okay, his next book project, and so much more. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.

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Gary, I'm so happy to have you on The Knowledge Project.

Great. I am happy to be here.

One of the questions that I have when I think about you is I wonder what your daily diet looks like. Like, how do you think about the food that you consume?

Yeah, it's funny. When we talked about the things that I didn't want to talk about, one of the things I was thinking, "Can I say I don't want to talk about my daily diet?" Then, I thought I probably can't say that because it'll probably come up at some point in the interview.

Easiest way to think about it is I don't eat grains, and starches, and sugars anymore because I think they make me fat and unhealthy. And I replaced them, for the most part, with, you know, fat animal products. So, not good for the animals, but I think it's good for me physically. And I'm one of these people who have convinced myself that butter and bacon are health foods. And I hope I'm right.

Why you do think nutritional science is in such a poor state compared to other areas of medical science? Like, what is it about nutrition that's led to such vast misunderstandings?

Well, first of all, we don't know that it's actually better than other areas of medical science. One of the questions I'm always … We know what we see, right. So, I study nutrition science. I write about nutrition science. I know nutrition science is, to me, almost not a functional science, but I've never had the opportunity to put that out for investigation into other areas of medicine or other areas of science. You just hope they're better.

My take on this is sort of historical. The way I see it, science was sort of honed to a very fine edge of, you know, a methodology for establishing reliable knowledge. The universe, in Europe, it's by …. You know, it was at its height in Germany and Austria pre-World War II. And, sort of, these people really understood the rigor necessary to do good science, the skepticism necessary, this idea that Richard Feynman later encapsulated by saying, you know, the first principles of science is you must not fool yourself into the easiest person to fool.

And this culture of science began to evaporate with World War II. And it crossed the Atlantic in fields like physics because we embraced these European researchers, many of whom were Jews. And the leading scientists in the world, the leading physicists in the world post-World War II in the US tended to be these European emigres who are their students. And many of the key players in the Manhattan Project were European emigres.

And so, you had this very rigorous approach to science being done in fields like physics. And you could do it in fields like physics because if you think of science as hypotheses and tests, the tests were relatively simple, relatively simple to do. You could come up with an idea. You could build a small, you know, cyclotron like Lawrence did here at Berkeley. You could, then, test the ideas, and you know that other people are going to do the same all around the world. And if you're wrong, it's going to be very embarrassing. So, there was also, sort of, a relatively quick feedback between hypotheses and tests.

And in fields like nutrition and public health, not only did we not embrace the European emigres, and, in fact, in many cases, we wanted nothing to do with these people. The hypothesis and test, by definition, was much harder to do, or the testing aspect of the hypothesis was much harder to do.

So, now, instead of dealing with subatomic particles or every particle for all intents and purposes of the like, you know, you can do these experiments. Indeed, you're now dealing with these messy humans who think for themselves in chronic diseases that take decades to manifest themselves. Even if you could do the testing of the hypotheses, it takes a long time to do it. It's very expensive, and it's very difficult, if not impossible to do right.

And so, what the nutrition and public health research communities did is they just lowered their standards for what they would consider reliable knowledge. And this just became sort of inculcated throughout the entire community such that these people almost … To me, I feel like they almost forget what it takes to do reliable knowledge. And they say, they justify it or they say the issues are so important, people are dying out there; and therefore, we don't have time to dot the Is and cross the Ts, and make sure that we're right about our hypotheses. And, to me, the really scientific response is if we don't have time to dot the Is and cross the Ts, you have no idea whether you're right.


And, you know, we end up in a situation today where we have, you know, these massive unprecedented epidemics of obesity, and diabetes, and related diseases. And medical public health community has no idea, almost literally no idea what to do about it. And everyone insists that the science is good enough to answer these questions; and yet, clearly, if we were good enough to answer these questions, we never would have gotten into this situation, so.

What role do you think genetics plays in this?

In the obesity and diabetes epidemics or in obese-


I think, clearly, genetics … Well, we know that obesity runs in families. And that's been known for, you know, hundred … Body type runs in families, you know. Identical twins don't just have the same facial features, they have the same body types. Clearly, genetics plays a huge role in whether, you know, someone's going to be tall and thin, or short and squat, or some combination of the two. And if it's playing a role in obesity, it's going to play a role in diabetes as well. And I don't actually know the data for diabetes, but I'm sure there's a strong genetic component there as well.

But then the question is, and this is the question I addressed in my last book, The Case Against Sugar, we have these diabetes and obesity epidemic that manifest themselves pretty similarly worldwide, independent of the genetic, you know, the genotype, the genetic ancestry of the population.

So, you know, Inuits near the Arctic Circle, or Native Americans, our First Nations people, or, you know, African populations, or South Pacific Islanders, or Middle Eastern populations, or Southeast Asians, they all experience obesity and diabetes epidemics when their environment changes from their traditional diet and lifestyle to a Western diet and lifestyle. And they manifest these epidemics pretty similarly.

So, clearly, the underlying genetics are not the key factor there. You know, it doesn't matter what type of human, you know, where your ancestors came from. You get dumped in a modern western lifestyle, you're likely to become obese, and then diabetic. And so, the question I was asking in my book is, what is it about the Western diet and lifestyle that is the agent of these diseases?

So, what do you think about, like, the Mediterranean diet, the French diet, and all of this stuff? Like are there diets suited to cultures or types of people that grow up in a certain region, or?

The Mediterranean diet may or may not be healthier than, for instance, an Inuit diet. Like, if you took the Inuits and gave them the Mediterranean diet, they may do just as well as the Greeks do, or they may do more poorly because they haven't had time to adapt to, I don't know, olive oil, or a lot of green vegetables, or, you know, whatever the grains they're consuming in this diet. It's sort of … You know it's one of the ways people tend to confuse the fundamental issue.

So, to me, the really important issue, the critical issue is these epidemics. And the numbers are just out of … I mean, almost unimaginable. In the US, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, in the US, since the late 1950s, diabetes prevalence has increased 700%, okay. So, 1 in 11 Americans now have diabetes, when the number might have been closer to 1 in 1000 or 1 in 3000 at the beginning of the 20th century. That's almost incomprehensible.

And nobody really … I mean the fact that there aren't, sort of, teams of investigative scientists, you know, and task force on every street corner walking around with, you know, I don't know, detectors of some sort trying to figure out what the cause of this disorder is, you know, why we have this out-of-control epidemic is another question. But that's the question you have to keep on asking yourself, what's causing these epidemics because we're not going to be able to reverse or prevent them until we identify the fundamental cause.

And it gets confused with issues of, "Well, should we be eating the Mediterranean diet to prevent heart disease; or should we be eating the DASH diet to lower blood pressure; or should we be eating, you know, Ornish's diet to reduce risk of heart disease?", when the very first thing you want to know is like, "What's causing these epidemics, man, because this is crazy?"

The Director General of the UN, a woman named Margaret Chan, a year ago referred to them as slow motion disasters. And she predicted. This was fascinating. This was at a keynote address at the National Academy of Medicine in Washington. And she gave a number, a prediction for the likelihood that public health organizations will prevent these slow motion disasters from getting worse. And the likelihood of even preventing them from getting worse, she said, was virtually zero.

So, you've got the slow motion disasters worldwide. You've got the head of the greatest public health organization in the world predicting that they will fail to control them. And so, the question you want to ask is, "What's the cause?", not whether we should be eating a Mediterranean diet, or a French diet, or you know.

And then, maybe, you can further ask the question, is there something about the Mediterranean diet, or about the French diet, or about these Blue Zone diets that happens to shed light on this question of what's causing obesity, and diabetes, and the conditions that are associated with it?

Can you quickly walk listeners through your beliefs on what is causing this?

Okay. So, again, if you think of it as a criminal case, the first question is, what's the crime being committed? And in this case, like I said, it's obesity and diabetes epidemic showing up everywhere in the world after they transitioned to a western diet. And so, that's the crime. That's what we want. And we want to find out who the perpetrator is. We know what the age and what the vector is. The vector is the Western diet and lifestyle. You know, it's commercialism, and urbanism, and maybe it's processed food. These are all sort of factors of the disease. But what's the age, and then the vector?

And, you know, the point I make in my book is you can chart this. Go back in time. And, actually, what you would do, again, if we had a criminal case, you would want to know when the crime was committed, the earliest sign of the crime. And so, you could do this using hospital records in the medical literature. And you find out, for instance, in the US that diabetes rates were virtually non-existent. Even though it was a very relatively easy disease to diagnose, you saw very little sign of it pre-1850, and even for the most part, pre-1870s.

And then, the numbers in hospitals, and you could see this in hospital records in Boston, in Mass, and/or in Philadelphia, at Pennsylvania Hospital. The diabetes diagnoses in hospitals go from like literally zero a year. Remember, 1 in 11 Americans were considered to have diabetes, and the major city hospitals would see, in some years, zero cases. And then, you could see the numbers go to one, to two, to three a year, to five a year, to ten. And then, by the early years of the 20th century are in double digits. And then, they just shoot up from there.

And you could find experts back then, you know, the head of the New York City Department of Public Health saying it just detracts so closely with sugar consumption from population to population that we seriously have to consider that sugar is a cause. And you look at the industries that evolved in that period. And sugar. over the course of the 19th century, went from being a sort of expensive luxury in the beginning of the 19th century when Americans, for instance, probably consumed less than in the neighborhood of five pounds per person per year. So, that's the equivalent of maybe, you know, I don't know, four ounces of sugary beverage per day, probably less, to by the end of the 19th century, consumed in the neighborhood of maybe 80 or 90 pounds per person per year.


You know, in the neighborhood of a 20-fold increase. And in all the ways that we consume sugar today were virtually non-existent as industries in the early 19th century. So, in the 1840s, the candy industry is created, the chocolate industry is created, and the ice cream industry are all created. And then, in the 1870s and '80s, you see the soft drink industry with Dr. Pepper first, and then Coca-Cola, and Pepsi. And by the early 20th century, these foods have just exploded. And they're everywhere. And all the major food producers that we deal with today, the sugar purveyors that we deal with today are already sort of in place, and selling nationally, and marketing nationally, and, you know, sort of pioneering their marketing approaches.

At one point around 1905, a congressman asked the brother, I think, it was one of the founders of one of the main players in Coca-Cola, you know, if he could describe the items on which Coca-Cola was advertised. And he said, "The everyday items," and he said, "would be easier to describe the items on which it's not."

So, I mean, the goal of Coke, which Coca-Cola always was basically to make sure that everyone in the world, I mean everyone in the world has easy access to Coca-Cola, and is drinking it regularly. And at one point, the CEO of Coca-Cola even complains that the human body needs so many ounces of water, liquid a day, and only like 20% of it is coming from Coca-Cola, and that's just completely unacceptable.

So, anyway, you see this explode. The one industry that's now a major … But there's a few industries that are major purveyors of sugar that took a while longer to come about. So, the fruit juice industry doesn't really show up until the 1930s, and then explodes post World War II.

And the cereal industry, cereal was basically, you know, Kellogg, and Post, and those folks were health fanatics. And they were running sanitariums in, you know, Minnesota for dyspeptic wealthy people. And they were, for the most part, anti-sugar. So, cereal was a way to get fiber into the diet, and they didn't really want sugar in their products, and they had nutritionists working for these companies. They didn't want people eating sugar.

But post World War II, right around 1948, Post with, I think, it was Sugar Crisp finally breaks down the barrier and started selling a sugar coated cereal. And suddenly, every other, you know, cereal producer has to give in or go out of business. And you could see the struggles between their nutritionists and their marketing people. And in every case, the marketing people won.

And by the 1960s, you know, the American breakfast had been transformed into, basically, a dead desert with fiber or lack of, you know. So, we're drinking fruit juices. We're eating sugar-coated cereals. And then, when the low fat movement comes in in the 1960s, you know, you're adding sort of low fat or no fat yogurt with sugar and skim milk. And it's, you know, sugar from beginning to end.

So, the people, while this was happening, are arguing, "Look, you know, obesity and diabetes is exploding. Sugar consumption is exploding. Clearly, that's the prime suspect." And then, as we began to understand the physiology of how sugars metabolize, that clearly made sugar a prime suspect as well in actually causing type 2 diabetes and a condition called insulin resistance that we should probably talk about. So, there's-

Yeah, why don't you walk me through the physiology of sugar?


And the response it generates in our body?

Yeah. So, when we're talking about added sugars, particularly sucrose, which the white powdered stuff in high fructose corn syrup, these are simple carbohydrates that are combinations of two simpler carbs. So, glucose, which is the carb when we consume grains and starchy vegetables like potatoes, are broken down in our body into glucose. And the glucose is transported into the bloodstream. And when we talk about blood sugar, we're talking about glucose, blood glucose. So, the glucose gets into the bloodstream. The glucose level rises. So, your blood sugar rises. And that glucose is metabolized by every cell in the body.

And this is the glycemic index, kind of like the response?

When we talk about the glycemic index, exactly. That's the response of your blood sugar to the foods you're consuming. So, if you're consuming a food that's almost pure glucose, and it is easy to digest, like white bread, you will have a, sort of, quick rise in blood sugar. And it's one reason why white bread was usually considered sort of a standard by which you would then compare other foods to the glycemic index.

But there's another half`of the sugar molecule in the case of high fructose corn syrup and other, 55% of it, which is this molecule fructose. So, any molecule that ends in OSE is a carbohydrate. So, fructose is the sweetest of the carbohydrates. So, it's what makes sugar sweet. But the fructose is metabolized not by every cell in our body. It's transported through the portal vein to our liver. And some huge proportion of it is metabolized by liver cells.

And, you know, this stuff was worked out by biochemists back as early as the early 20th century. But biochemists weren't doctors, and they weren't studying treating diabetes or obese patients. And the doctors, even if they were getting biochemistry, might not have gotten this level of biochemistry. So, the physicians treating diabetes never really understood what sugar was or what made it different than other starches.

So, when you began to have debates about whether sugar was the cause of diabetes that diabetes specialists tended to say no, because they thought sugar is the same as rice, and they're all carbohydrates. And look, we know that the Japanese eat a lot of rice, and they have low levels of diabetes. Ergo, it's not about sugar or rice.

They also thought that once you start giving diabetics insulin, which begins in the early 1920s, it's hard to dose the insulin properly. So, the diabetics would often experience episodes of very low blood sugar where they could go into hypoglycemic shock and die, and they had to be rescued from these episodes. And the easiest way to do it was with candy. Ergo, sugar must be good for you. That's how they thought, and you could see this in the literature.

But physiology. So, when we're talking about diabetes, we're talking about particularly type 2 diabetes, which is the common form that associates with obesity and age. So-

That's the one you're not born with; that you develop later in life.

Well, you don't … Yeah, it's not the acute form that hits in childhood, which is type 1, or that typically appears in childhood, which is type 1. It's about 5% of all diabetes. And then, type 2, there are variations now. But for type 2, it's effectively about 95% of diabetes. When we're talking about the diabetes epidemic, it's type 2 diabetes we're talking about.

And because it associates so closely with excess weight, the assumption of the diabetes experts, going back to the 1920s, is it's caused by being fat. And you get fat because you eat too many calories, you don't exercise enough. And we'll probably talk about that shortly.

But by the early 1960s, once the scientists had a tool that allowed them to measure hormones in the blood accurately, they realized that type 2 diabetes was a disorder or what's called insulin resistance. So, with type 1 diabetes, you don't have enough insulin or no insulin at all, and you can't properly metabolize the carbohydrates you eat. And in effect, no matter how much you eat, you kind of starve to death because you can't use these fuels for food.

And the assumption was all diabetes was just sort of an insulin deficit, until the 1960s when they could really measure insulin levels in the bloodstream, and the research community realized that type 2 diabetics actually have both high insulin and high blood sugar. So, the insulin must not be working. So, they're resistant to the insulin they're secreting, or it's not working well enough, so they have to secrete more insulin.

So, since the early 1960s, we've been aware that type 2 diabetes is the disease of insulin resistance. And then, this went along with the observation that obese people also tended to be insulin-resistant. They had high blood sugar and high insulin levels.

And that there's a condition that's now known as metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of abnormalities that's sort of, basically, insulin resistance syndrome. So, this is, you know, elevated blood sugar with glucose intolerance, it's called. And, also, you know, you're getting heavier, or your waist size is increasing, so you're getting fatter. And you've got an elevated level of what are called triglycerides, which are a form that fat appears in the blood. And you've got low HDL cholesterol, which is the good cholesterol. And your blood pressure is elevated. So, it's this whole sort of cluster of metabolic abnormalities that, not only sort of include obesity and diabetes in them, but also associated with heart disease, and stroke, and all these other chronic diseases.

So, when you start thinking of this whole cluster of insulin-resistant conditions, and you're asking the question, whatever causes insulin resistance causes obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, cancer, or Alzheimer's, virtually every chronic disease has a link to insulin resistance. And the best research on what caused insulin resistance suggests that it starts in the liver, and it starts with the accumulation of fat in the liver.

And, in fact, there's another epidemic going on at the moment of now what's called non-alcoholic fatty liver. And it associates with obesity, and diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. So, everything is targeting the liver. And there, you've got the fructose. Now, I'm bringing it back to the case against sugar. Now, you've got the fructose component of sugar being metabolized in the liver.

And the liver didn't evolve to metabolize at the levels we see today. So, you know, throughout the last two million years, you would only see sugar in small quantities in fruit. It's what makes, you know, fructose in small quantities. It's what makes fruit sweet. And you'd see it in even smaller quantities in green vegetables. But nothing like the amount you would see in like a Coca-Cola, or a glass of apple juice, or a candy bar, or an ice cream cone, or any of those foods where you're really just dumping fructose on the liver. And by the 1960s, the biochemistry had pretty clearly worked out that when you dump fructose on the liver, it converts it to fat.

And on the other side, you'd have the insulin resistance researchers saying, "Hey, insulin resistance seems to be caused by the accumulation of fat in liver cells." And all I'm saying is, you know, that you've got 150 years a history of people saying when diabetes appears, it does so after sugar consumption goes up. And then, you've got all these biological mechanisms suggesting that sugar is literally at the scene of the crime in the human body when insulin resistance begins, from when insulin resistance begins. You know, you're on the road to this whole slew of chronic disorders that are now becoming epidemic or are already epidemic.

Why are we so attracted to sugar?

It's a good question. You know, if you ask that question about any drug of abuse or any addictive substance, nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, heroin, and cocaine, I mean, it's sort of the … On one level, the idea is we've become addicted to foods because there's an area of our brain called the nucleus accumbens or the reward center that rewards. It's there to reward behaviors that are good for the species.

So, when you have an orgasm during sex, the nucleus accumbens respond by like dosing your body with dopamine, and it feels great, and you want to repeat it. And when you eat foods, you know, which we have to do, to foods that taste good, also, it stimulates a dopamine response in the nucleus accumbens, so you want to continue eating, which means you'll continue to stay alive, and you'll continue to replicate.

And so drugs of abuse just happen to be things that, for whatever reason, just by chance, you know, over the course of human history, we sampled 10 million leaves, twigs, starches, you know, food animals. And lo and behold, there's a few things that happened to sort of overstimulate the nucleus accumbens and overstimulate dopamine. And those become addictive substances that we, then, want to repeat, and repeat, and repeat. And so, there is evidence that sugar stimulates dopamine secretion in the nucleus accumbens just like these other drugs of abuse.

And in animals, at least, so rats and mice, we can do these experiments. You could demonstrate that they will be more addicted to sugar than to cocaine or heroin. So, these experiments, some of them were done in France. They are sort of perversely fascinating. You basically addicted your lab rats to a daily bolus of cocaine or heroin. And then, you give it a choice between either sugar or the cocaine. And if it chooses sugar, it can't go back to the cocaine. It can't do both of them. You know, over the course of a couple of days, the rat will switch from cocaine to sugar. It takes a little longer before making the switch from heroin.

That's fascinating.

Yeah. I mean, clearly, you can't do these experiments with children, but if you have kids, you probably don't need to. So, there's a lot of … Clearly, sugar is a psychoactive substance. You know, we give it to newborns to when they get circumcisions. You know, a couple of drops of sugar water on the tongue, and you can remove the foreskin, and it doesn't bother them, at least, not in the short run.

You know, sugar has always been considered a painkiller. And, actually, entered Europe in the 13th to 14th century or 12th Post-Crusade, it's more as a medicinal and perceived as having medicinal uses than as a food or a spice.

But, you know, my favorite saying this is from Charles Mann, the journalist historian, who's a friend of mine, and somebody who just awes me with how good his work is. And he said in his book, 1493, he was discussing the sugar industry, and he said, "Scientists today debate amongst themselves whether or not sugar is an addictive substance or we just act like it is." And it's like, you know, clearly … Again, I think, I have kids, I don't need scientific research to tell me that this substance has power over my children that no other food does.

And, you know, even the sort of ardent defenders of sugar, and, you know, historians, and journalists would say, "Well, of course, parents still have the ration to their children's behavior." I mean, they're sugar-eating. You can't allow them to eat all the sugar they want. So, there's clearly … You know, whether it's this effect in the nucleus accumbens, or there's an interesting fact that might drive sugar consumption, also, in the liver, it's a little more technical. But I've always wondered how much role that play. But something about it, clearly, it just becomes something we like because it affects our brain and the body in a way that we want more of it. You know, we want to repeat the experience.

A lot of people seem to think it's just simply a matter of calories in, calories out. What do you say to that argument?

Gosh. No. This was … You know, I-

This is the most common thing I read, right.

So, when I started my research, okay, journalistic research on this subject, and if you go back the very first infamous New York Times Magazine cover story I had in 2002 that was called What If It's All A Big Fat Lie?, I had a line in there where I said … You know, I was speculating that dietary fat doesn't make people fat, and it's carbohydrates that do. And so I had elaborated. I said, "Clearly, it's excess calories that cause us to eat too much."

And then, I actually … You know, I get a big book advance. And I could spend five years of my life doing research. And the internet, at this point in time, made it possible for me to learn, you know, to … It's like a new technology had come along. And, suddenly, I can, you know, sit in my office, which was then in New York, and I can get every primary source on obesity, whether it's in the academic literature, or books, or conference proceedings, you know, going back to the 19th century. I mean, back then. Nowadays, you could virtually download them. Back then, 2002 to 2006, I had students all around the country whose job was to go to their local medical libraries and, you know, make copies of the 50 or 100 references I would send to them. And then, I would buy books.

So, I actually started doing my research, and I realized that this idea that excess calories is what makes us fat is the … And I'm embarrassed that I never thought of this. It's logically equivalent to saying, you know, excess money makes us rich, or I don't know, scoring access points in a football game will make you win. You know, it's almost incomprehensibly naive to me. And I, now, understand where it comes from because I've read all this literature. And to this day, I'm still sort of mystified.

So, I'm going to pet peeve time. You know, my sugar book came out. I got sort of almost universally wonderful reviews. And then, Jerome Groopman in the New Yorker condescendingly dismissed the book as the work of sort of, you know, wannabe investigative journalist on. And then, his review, he makes this statement that the one undeniable fact about nutrition research is the importance of calories. And, you know, excess calories makes you fat.

I thought, you know, if this was James Surowiecki writing about economics, and he said the one undeniable factor in the science of wealth is about the importance of dollars, you know, David Remnick or one of his crew would say, "Are you kidding us? Are you out of your mind? Like, of course, dollars, you know." I mean, if we were discussing wealth accumulation, I just kept telling you, you know, he said, Gary Weiss, you know, "Let's talk about why is Bill Gates so rich." And I said, "Well, because he makes more money than he spends." He began, "Why did I book this guy?".

And if we were talking about climate change, he said, "Why the atmosphere heating up?", assuming it's heating up, which I'm beginning to believe since we just had 100 degree weather here in Oakland a couple of weeks ago, and I said, "Well, clearly, atmosphere is heating up because it's taking in more energy than it's letting out." You know, I've just, in one sentence, sort of nullified billions of dollars worth of research into what it is about the atmosphere and various, you know, and greenhouse gases, and the wavelengths of light they reflect, or, you know, transmitted. I mean, all the intricacies of climate change science would be nullified by this statement that the atmosphere is heating up because it's taking more energy than it's letting out, which it has to be doing.

So, the point is nutrition science from the 1860s through the 1920s was completely dominated, as all sciences are, by what they could measure, the technologies available to make observations. And all they had were they had devices called calorimeters where they could measure the energy content of a food, and then they could measure the energy expended by humans by putting him in these room-sized calorimeters or dogs. And then, they could do experiments with animals where you, you know, give them vitamin or mineral deficiencies, and see what kind of diseases manifest still from there.

So, all of nutrition science was calorimetry, energy in and energy out, and vitamins, and minerals. And when people started talking about what the causes of obesity might be, it made absolutely perfect sense to think in terms of calories because that's all they could look at. That's all they had.

And so, by 1910-1920, they had this very simplistic idea with some, you know, $5 words attached to it to make it seem more complicated that said that people get fatter because they consume too many calories, or they don't expend enough. And it seemed to coincide with what we see in the environment, which is you're unlikely to see obese people running marathons or doing hard physical labor. So, you tend to think of them as sedentary or lazy.

And you often see obese people, and we have this sort of model of Falstaff and Shakespeare. You know, they're gone, even if they're not. Like you pay attention to them. You'll notice them when they are. And when you see an obese person sitting at a restaurant eating a tiny salad, you don't think it, it doesn't cross your consciousness, it's refuting your belief that they're gluttons. So, it seemed to go along with what seemed to be conventional wisdom. It was easy to believe.

And then, the weird thing is the research community just bought into it and locked into it in a way that, again, part of it can be explained by … So, not all the research community locked in, the German and Austrian clinicians. And in Germany and Austria, you know, these people were doing far and away the best medical science in the world at the time. And they pioneered all the fields of science relevant to obesity, some metabolism, genetics, endocrinology, the science of hormones, nutrition, all sort of came out of Germany and Austria. These Herr Professor Doktor types who would both see patients and theorize about what the cause of the disorders might be.

And they had concluded that obesity had to be a hormonal disorder. It had to be because there were all these manifestations. It's sort of hormonal regulatory disorder. You know, they would say things like, you know, look men and women fatten different. Therefore, sex hormones are involved with obesity. You know, we know when people are insulin deficient, they don't have insulin, they can't store body fat. So, insulin must play a role. And I mean these people get emaciated no matter how much you feed them, type 1 diabetics. So, insulin must play a role in storing body fat.

We know that there are, you know, tumors, fatty tumors called like lipomas that are independent of how much people are eating and exercising. If you have a lipoma, it could starve someone. The lipoma is not going to go away. It's still going to be this cluster of fat.

And there were even cases in the literature where people had skin grafts. You know, a graft of skin taken from their stomach, and put on, like, the back of their hand to cover a burn. And then, they get older, and they get obese. And one hand got no body fat on it. You know, if you look at the back of your hand, it's a place we just don't store or tend to store body fat. On the other hand, we have this huge tough fat on it. So, they would say there's clearly regulatory enzymes in the skin itself that are determining whether or not this area of the body will accumulate fat. And it's all got to be hormonally and may be regulated to the central nervous system as well.

And then, the German and Austrian School just evaporates with the Second World War, literally. You know, these people emigrate to the US, end up in … You know, one of the great endocrinologist from the University of Vienna ends up living in Los Angeles writing articles and working for the Hospital of Medical Evangelist, because nobody else wants to hire these European emigres, particularly the Jews.

And then, after the war, the European researchers have many things to think about more important than obesity. And in America, they just clammed onto this idea that it's all about how much you eat and exercise. You know, a lot of lean research. They didn't want to read the German literature anymore. So, the lingua-franca of medicine pre-World War II was German. The post World War II, you have a lot of young German doctors. I mean, excuse me, young American researchers who had fought in the war who have just naively, you know, justifiably have this natural antipathy to the Germans and Austrians. They're not going to read the literature. They don't cite the pre-World War II studies. And they just recreate the science of obesity as a gluttony and sloth disorder.

And by the 1960s, the major figures in the field are psychologists who are trying to change the behavior of the fat person and make them eat less. My favorite example was one idea where you would get the obese man's wife to withhold sex if he didn't lose weight that week. And it's just suddenly eating … Obesity becomes an eating disorder.

And then, later, it becomes sedentary behavior disorder by the 1970s. And none of these people … You know, if you've got psychologists studying it, well, their specialty is psychology. It's not endocrinology. It's not hormones. It's behavior. So, you get this sort of what you see is all there is phenomenon often coming in, and it never went away.

And even today, the great themes in obesity research are this idea that the obesity is caused by a highly palatable or rewarding foods. And the implication is there something about the brains of obese people. They can't control their appetite in the onslaught of all, you know, the bliss points created by salt and fat, as opposed to the simple idea that there's something about the foods we eat that trigger a hormonal response that tells the body either to store fat, or, you know, mobilize, and use it for fuel, and then bringing this all back to insulin resistance.

By the early 1960s, it was clear that insulin. the hormone insulin, was the primary regulator of fat accumulation in the human body. So, what it does is you secreted in response to the carbohydrate content. So, your blood sugar starts to go up, and the body puts insulin out to signal your lean tissue to take up the glucose from the blood, and burn it for fuel. The insulin facilitate the technical ways it facilitates the uptake of sugar, of glucose, but it also signals the fat tissue to hold on to any fat and to store whatever fat you've eaten.

So, it sort of partitioning the fuel use to say, "Look, the immediate problem is we have this rising tide of blood sugar, and high blood sugar is toxic. So, the way we're going to deal with that is we're going to store fat get that out of the way, and then we're going to burn the blood sugar as quickly as we can. And as blood sugar starts coming down, insulin starts coming down. And then, you could mobilize the fat you've stored and use that fat for fuel, which is how your body's supposed to work.

So, there's a term called metabolic flexibility where when blood sugar starts coming down, fat's coming up. You just switch over from burning glucose to burning fat. Your cells should be perfectly happy to do that. But if your insulin-resistant, your insulin stays high, and you never successfully make that switch. So, blood sugar comes down, but you continue to lock away fat. And sort of like a ratchet wrench. And day-to-day, it only goes in one direction. You just store fat, and that's all you do.

So, you know, that's the, again, long-winded way to say as long as people believe it's about calories, you're not even paying attention to the hormones and enzymes that regulate fat accumulation. And what stuns me, so that last February, there's an article in The New England Journal on the pathogenesis and mechanisms of obesity, and you can read that article. This is the premier medical journal in the world, and there's actually no discussion of the mechanisms other than an assumption that people eat too much. And so, you know that's the implicit.

And you can go to the leading textbook in the world, and the medical textbook, the most seminal textbook, and the Harrison's Principles of Medicine, I think, it's called. And the chapter on obesity is written by, you know, a very very smart researcher named Jeff Flier who just, until recently, was Dean of Harvard Medical School. And his wife, who's equally smart and talented, Terry Maratos-FLier. And they do research together.

And if you actually look for what it is that causes obesity, in that chapter, the assumption is that the overconsumption of calories. It's eating too much. It's a behavioral problem. And there's no discussion of what's been a very well worked-out science on the sort of hormonal regulatory system that controls both the use of fatty acids for fuel and the storage of fat in the fat cells.

And, to me, I don't see how that can be defended. And, like I said, it's almost mystifying. And I've spent 20 years trying to understand it. And I, kind of, understand every step along the way, how it happened, and when it happened. And I still want to say to people, you're talking about a disorder of excess fat accumulation. Don't you have to discuss the regulatory system that controls fat accumulation, the hormones and enzymes in the fat cells, on the fat cell membranes, elsewhere in the body, and in a very beautiful system worked out by millions of years to regulate this. And it's clearly dysregulated.

Well, one thing I haven't heard you mention that I'm curious about is what is the role of fiber.

That's a very good question. Again, it's interesting. I have to talk about these things historically, and I apologize. I think about them-

No, this is amazing.

Yeah. To understand the role, you have to know where it came from. So, in 1960s, several British researchers start focusing in on this idea that it's either sugar or sugar and refined grains that cause obesity, and diabetes, and heart disease.

And so, these two, one of them is John Yudkin, who is the leading British nutritionist, and the one is a fellow named Peter Cleave who was a British naval researcher. And Cleave had the advantage that as a navy man, he had traveled around the world, and he had seen that there are all these disparities in chronic disease rates all around the world wherever you go.

So, you know, urban, westernized, urban centers had high rates of obesity, and diabetes, and heart disease. But, you know, less westernized areas and non-urban areas had lower rates. So, the question is, what was driving that? He concluded it was the refinement of the grains we were consuming, including sugar. And so, by the 1960s, Yudkin was publishing in the medical journals, and Cleave had written a book called The Saccharine Disease, explaining that it was refined grains and sugars that cause this cluster of diseases.

And then, into this walks, a guy named Denis Burkitt who, was a missionary physician in Africa in … I forget. Where was ETM? In Uganda. Burkitt was famous for a medical investigation he did that led to the identification of the first virus that causes the cancer that's known as Burkett's Lymphoma, after Burkitt, So, he was a very well-known, very famous physician.

And ETM comes into power in Uganda. And as he flee back to the UK, and he's looking for things to do, and the leading British epidemiologist in the world named Sir Richard Doll who was famous for identifying cigarettes as a cause and lung cancer, Richard Doll gives him Cleave's book and says, "You should read this. I don't know how much is right, but there's a lot of it that's brilliant." And Burkitt reads it, and he thinks it's brilliant. But then, he kind of thinks we're never going to convince the world to give up sugar, and white bread, and beer. And he's also obsessed, being a Brit, with constipation. Completely obsessed with constipation.

So, he decides that the problem isn't the presence of the sugar in the white bread and the beer. It's the refinement of the fiber, the absence of the fiber. When you refine these products, so you take a wheat, then you refine it into a white bread, you get rid of all the fiber in the process. And he knows that fiber helps with constipation, and constipation is a disease that's often seen along with this cluster of western diseases.

So, by the 1970s, Burkitt start publishing articles with another former missionary physician from African named Hugh Trowell saying the problem is the absence of fiber, not the presence of sugar, and highly-refined, high-glycemic index grains. And you can reconcile this fiber hypothesis with the dietary fat idea that's growing along through the '60s as well. So, over the course of 1960s, the bulk of the heart disease nutrition community had decided dietary fat caused heart disease. And if it caused heart disease, it also caused obesity.

And then, you had Cleave saying, "No, no, no. It's not that." Cleave and Yudkin thing it's not dietary fat, it's sugar and refined grains. And these were seen as competing hypotheses that couldn't be resolved. In parts, if you told people eat less fat, the question is what were they going to eat, if not sugar and grains. So, those two hypotheses couldn't be reconciled.

But then, Burkitt comes along and said, "No, no, no. It's not a sugar and refined grain. It's the absence of fiber. So, they should eat low fat diets that are high in fiber," and everyone goes. "That's it." You know the bran muffin craze appears. Like bran muffin start appearing on the market, you know, a year after Burkitt's first publication. And that becomes the conventional wisdom ever since.

And the problem is these are hypotheses, right. And we've talked about how people do a lousy job of testing hypotheses. They're very hard to test. But by the early 2000s, it was pretty clear that both these hypotheses couldn't be confirmed in experiment. In fact, one of the things I talked to, I talked to Richard Doll a few years before he died for my research, and all said to me, "Yeah. it turns out the only thing fiber actually cures is constipation." And I said, "Well, could Cleave have been right all along?" And he said, "Yeah, that's a good point. Cleave really hit on something."

And all I did in my book is say, "Hey, it looks like Cleave and Yudkin were probably right all along. They're more right. And then, a few other peoples too, like Atkins. So, there, that's the story. You know, fiber, we're still obsessed about fiber. The idea that … So, you know, again, I said science progresses when new technologies come along that allow you to observe new things.

So, the obesity-diabetes science is completely botched. You know they made no progress. They can't explain it. Even an article that was recently review, an Endocrine Science Society review of obesity written by some of the leading figures in the field that was kind of a response to my work and that of others in which they said, you know, clearly, obesity is caused by eating excess calories, and a calorie is a calorie. And then, they kind of said, but we don't really know what makes people fat or how to make them thin. So, these people are clearly lost.

And I'm saying one of the reasons why they're lost is because the revolution in endocrinology was obesity, research nullified that, passed it by, never took advantage of it. That was 1960 there of science. So then, obesity becomes a kind of real science to the medical community. In 1993, when the hormone leptin is discovered, then it becomes a subdiscipline of molecular biology, and the genomics, and proteomics. But this 1960, endocrinology which kind of solved it has just left behind.

So, now, another new technology comes along. Now, you can suddenly sequence the genome of the bacteria in your gut. So, new technology, you get to see new things. And, now, you assume you could learn new things. And we're desperate for a theory of obesity, right, because we don't know what caused it or prevents it. So, the gut biome explodes. And people say, "Wow, clearly, westerners who are obese and diabetic have different gut biomes than, you know, hunter gatherer populations in Africa." What the difference? Well, the hunter gatherers eat more fiber. I don't know. So, then, you get this focus that goes back on fiber. And then there are people like me saying, "Wait a minute. What about this 1960s endocrinology? Remember that?"

So, you know, to me, I'm afraid of what happened in the 1970s. You add fiber, you can slow down the digestion of the carbohydrates. You could even slow down the digestion of the sugars. So, that would probably help, but you've paid attention to the wrong thing. It's not the absence of the fiber, it's the presence of those other foods. And you could help more by getting the right answer rather than coming up with another wrong answer.

What have you kind of changed your mind about, or where have your thoughts significantly shifted since you first started to develop your alternative hypotheses, I guess, of obesity, that carbohydrates promote insulin response, which promotes body fat? I mean, what surprised you the most as you dove into this?

Well, I mean, again, when I started this, I thought that excess calories caused obesity, so, you know. But we're assuming. You're asking basically after I shed myself of that belief. So, the question, is there anything that I used to believe that I'm not convinced it's wrong?

Yeah. yeah.

Put simply. Not substantially,no. I mean, we could talk about one of the things I did in all this. In the course of this is I co-founded this not-for-profit called the Nutrition Science Initiative.

NuSi, yeah.

Yeah. We call it NuSi. Well, it could be NuSi, I guess. So, NuSI, I co-founded it with Dr. Peter Attia, who's a very, you know, talented physician with also a business background. And our assumption was, particularly with this energy balance issue, with obesity and energy balance issue, is it a hormonal regulatory issue? And the implication is to factor in foods that cause obesity, the caloric content to the effect of those foods, on underlying hormonal state.

And, again, on some level, I think, you shouldn't have to do the experiments to demonstrate it because, you know, I find the energy balance thing now so naive, but we'll accept that I just talked about it too much, I've convinced myself that it's easy to see the naivety.

So, we thought if we can get the research community to do the experiments themselves, and to understand the competing hypotheses, and to understand, you know, our arguments, and then we could raise the money for them to do the research, this would have a profound effect on their thinking. And if anything, at this point in time, we have done more harm than good.

How so?

So, of the studies we funded, the first one was a pilot study with some very influential obesity researchers. And it was a learning experience for me also. So, in my first book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, I do discuss. The epilogue is, in part, a meditation on how I don't believe nutrition science is a functioning science; that it lacks many of the characteristics that a functioning science has to have, particularly the sort of critical rigorous back and forth between scientists where they're attacking each other's ideas, and being used by each other to understand how they might be fooling themselves.

You know, Robert Murden, a philosopher of science, said that this kind of critical back and forth in science makes some mother's, you know, parenting of her child look like child's play in comparison. You know, it's supposed to be sort of …

Francis Crick said a functioning collaboration doesn't work unless you can be rude to each other. You know, you have to critically attack. And what I've seen in these nutrition public health communities are it's too easy to attack each other's work, so they don't do it. And then, they just allow the substandard work to go by.

So, I discuss that in the epilogue of Good Calories, Bad Calories. It's one place that my editor really let me sort of express my dismay, but it was on a macro level. I had no idea how hard it was to do these experiments on a micro level. In fact, because I am not a scientist or an experimental scientist, and my only experience was with, you know, my first two books being sort of mentored by some of the great physicists in the world and seeing how they did their work. I wasn't aware of how easy it is to screw up an experiment, and how unintended consequences are, unintended phenomenon will appear that will make the interpretation of the experiment almost impossible.

And, again, if you're working in a world where, like, you know, you could do your cyclotron experiment on Monday, have results on Wednesday, and have your colleagues explain what you screwed up on Friday, and then you could repeat it on Monday, this isn't a huge problem.


And the history of science is full of those kinds of, you know, examples and discussions. But if you're working in a world where the experiment cost you five million bucks, and you're never going to get $5 million to do it again.

That's so tough, yeah.

That's difficult. And same kind of problems come on. It's not like the physicists are any better at this than the nutritionists because if you're doing something new that's never been done before, you have no idea how your equipment, or your subjects, or the purveyors of your diets, or whatever are going to screw it up. You can't plan for everything.

So, part of my revelation was on this micro level, not just how easily the science could be derailed by just bad luck or, you know, the unforeseen, what was it, you know, unknown unknowns. But the tendency among the researchers to pretend it didn't happen or to ignore it because if they actually confront it, they're basically saying, "Here's a paper I've just written that isn't worth reading. So, I'm going to pretend that it is. And the only way I can pretend that it is is by not mentioning all the ways that it isn't."

And you're supposed to publish negative data, but the truth is it's very hard to get it published. And nobody wants to put in the time to finally get an article published in some forthright journal because it's negative. So, a lot of issues came up actually getting to be involved. And I'm wondering, you know, how naive was I, and will we ever solve these problems?

What do you think it's going to take for, like, the nutritional research community to get a lot more rigorous? It seems like … I mean, the influence of the epidemiology makes this difficult. Such a large percentage of nutritional studies are based on correlative measures rather than causative ones, leading people to believe that, you know, just about every food either causes or prevents cancer. Like, how does this get fixed?

Well, that's the question. I'm involved now, I'm supposed to be coauthoring an article for the British Medical Journal on nutrition policy. They were running a series on nutrition policy. So, one of the article is on dietary fat. And I'm honored that they've taken up my work that they've asked me to be a co-author with two epidemiologists.

One of them is at Harvard, and has not liked my work for 10 years. And so, I wrote a New York Times magazine cover article about the science of epidemiology using the Harvard Cohort Study as a case study of a pseudoscience. So, I can understand why he would might be angry at me and disagree with my way of thinking.

So, the conflict in this article is that the nutrition community driven by these epidemiologists think in the context of saturated fat that if all of us out there in the lay population were to replace saturated fat with polyunsaturated fats, we'll live longer and be healthier. We'll have less heart disease, less diabetes, maybe less obesity, less insulin resistance.

So, this means, in effect, replacing … I don't know if they think this far into advance, but it means, in effect, replacing foods we've been consuming for millions of years as a species. You know, mostly animal fats with vegetable oils that a relatively new to the human diet, and particularly like soya oil, and canola oil, and corn oil.

And with the argument I've been making in e-mails, not successfully, is that if you're going, what you're assuming is that these vegetable oils are inherently healthy, that they're beneficial, they're the equivalent of statins. If we give vegetable oils to everyone,they will be healthier if they consume these things. And this is an idea that if it was a drug, you would never be able to do without long-term clinical trials to establish that you're not going to do more harm than good or, in fact, that you're not going to do any harm at all. It's not good enough to say 80% of the people are going to live longer if we find out that 20% are going to be killed or get diabetes.

You know, it's one thing for a doctor to say, "I think you should be on a statin. Here's the … You know, the pro side is, I think, we'll get your LDL down, and your inflammation down, and we're going to reduce your risk of heart disease. There is a small chance you'll become diabetic or have muscle aches, in which case, we'll discontinue the statin or switch to a different drug." It's another thing for public health organizations and governments to say the whole nation should be on statins, and not care if 1 out of 30 of the population gets diabetes because the other 29 might live longer.

So, these are two entirely different scenarios. And if the vegetable oils are supposed to be beneficial, we have to do those kind of tests. We just have to do them. And what I wrote in an email to the lead author is, you know, "You're telling me that if I cook my 11-year-old son's salmon in canola oil instead of butter, they will live longer, my 11-year-old son will live longer, and there will be no negative consequences? I need to know if you better evidence than you do before I accept that because canola oil scares me. Olive oil, maybe I'll give in. Canola oil, corn oil, soya oil, brand new foods to the human population."

So, their response, the Harvard response is we'll never get these studies done. What you're asking for are virtually impossible. They're very expensive, maybe half a billion dollars or $100 million. You're asking, what you need to test these is maybe 40,000 people that you can randomize to eat either canola oil, or butter, soya oil or coconut fat. Pick your…

And they're going to have to keep doing it for ten years. And they're going to have to comply pretty well because at the end of 10 years, we're going to want to be able to compare what are called hard endpoints on more heart disease or less. Not just risk factors, like cholesterol levels, but do they actually get more heart disease, you know, more cancers, more diabetes. Are they heavier? Do they have better or worse cognitive function?" I mean there's a whole slew of things that could happen if you feed people a completely new food.

And they're arguing, because it can't be done, we have to go with the evidence we have. It's just too hard to do this trial. It's too expensive, and the people aren't going to follow our advice, and the people we put on canola oil are going to get bored, and switch to butter. And the people we put on butter are going to get health conscious with the canola, and it's just going to … And we'll find out, as we have in the past, and we've spent half a billion dollars, and we either don't know the answer, or we don't like the answer. And so, we should go with what we have and the broken system.

So, let me just give you my counter of the counter, which is in physics, the physicists have decided en masse that they wanted to know whether the Higgs Boson existed, and they want to know if there is science behind the standard model. And the best way they know how to do that is to build a huge accelerator, which costs $10 billion. And then it costs a billion dollars a year to run. So, they did that. And then, society funded. We funded that because society thinks that's an important question, and more of a better society if we spend money trying to answer that than if we don't.

And then, they have collaborations of 1500 scientists on, you know, four detectors on this huge atom smasher, or 1500 scientists on each detector. The papers have lists of names that are longer than the papers itself. But that's what you do because you want to know the answer, you know, in nuclear fusion. So, we think, as a society, we're going to run into some serious energy problems with or without climate change involved, but we're just going to have to fuel the lives of ten billion people by 2050. That's going to take an enormous amount of energy.

Our, you know, fossil fuel reserves are going to run dry. Can't do it with renewables. It's just not practical. We need nuclear power and, ideally, nuclear fusion; as opposed to nuclear fission. And fusion power is hard to achieve. And so far, we've spent $50 billion on nuclear fusion research worldwide. It'll probably cost another 50 billion before we find out, either get to a, you know, working fusion reactor, and find out it's not possible, but we do it. We spend the money because we think it's important to our species and the survival of our species.

So, my counterargument is, I mean, these destroyers that ran into ships in the Sea of Japan, two of them in the past six months, those are billion-dollar ships. If we spend a billion dollars. Obesity and diabetes cost, the healthcare system in the US, the estimate is a billion dollars in direct medical costs in a day. If we spend one day's worth of medical cost, I think we could probably answer every one of these studies, but we have to be willing to do it, and we have to decide, as a society, that it's worth it, that epidemiologists and the public health people have to stop arguing that it's just too impractical, and it will never get done, and instead argue to do it.

And, you know, if people decide, it's all doable. You could even do these studies in a way. If they've actually tried, they could. They know how studies have screwed up in the past. You could figure out ways to do it that will give you the answers. And then, you have to have patience to get the answers.

You've taken a very public stand in, you know, what seems to be a somewhat heated debate. How do you strive to remain intellectually honest?

Intellectually honest is easy. I mean, you just do it. Although, my critics would probably argue that I don't.

Who is your harshest critic of your intellectual honesty?

I don't know. I mean, there are some bloggers out there who've … I mean, they may be behind. Do you have bloggers who hate you?

Oh, yeah. I get hate mail all the time.

Yeah, that's sort of, you know. I mean, the blogosphere just selects for people who … And the more … I mean, there are websites that exist, in part, to argue that I'm an idiot. And the more fiercely they argue that, you know, the more hits they get. In the community, at large, I'm still fighting this tendency to just … You know, it's easier to just ignore me, or where you see shifts, you know, to pay … You don't really have to pay attention to my work because, you know, it's published in books. And it's only a few peer-reviewed articles in the literature. So, it's easier to just ignore me than to confront the arguments.

And, again, one of the problems I feel with this field, nutrition epidemiology public health for 50 years, is they found it easier to just ignore skeptics, and to confront the issues, and see if the skeptics are right, and the critics are right, and what they have to do if it's possible to fix these problems. So, you know.

But I do have friends. I have an e-mail. I'm having an e-mail exchange with the head of the Department of Nutrition at Tufts, and he sent me an article that was written by Tom Frieden, the former head of the CDC, that was in the New England Journal of Medicine arguing that observational epidemiologic studies often have to be the base of decisions about public health, and medical public health recommendations, and medical treatment. And we can't hold clinical trials on this pedestal we do because the observational studies are clearly good enough in some cases. And he sent me that just to say that this sort of brilliant article put his position in words better than he could.

And so, I read the article. And I said, "Well, needless to say, I don't find it brilliant. And here are all the reasons why." And he responded with, "Well, you're cherry picking your data. You know, you're being intellectually dishonest." And it's an easy accusation to make. And if I have time, I will respond saying, "I'm not actually cherry picking my data. Look at the study you sent me. It doesn't actually make the point that you're using it to make. And I'm asking for evidence that does." So, it's sort of that kind of accusation is very easy to make.

When you do what I do, I mean, it's a problem. You know, you've got a journalist coming along and condemning an entire field, several entire fields of research that are staffed by very smart people who have done very well in their careers, have gotten enormous amount of positive feedback, who believe they're doing good for the world. Any one of them could have gone into, you know, the commercial sector and made more money.

I mean, these are really well-meaning people. And, you know, some journalists comes along, and says, "You know, missed it. You botched it. You did lousy science." Who's going to accept that? I mean, I couldn't do it. I can't expect them to do it. So, part of my job is to weather the criticism and just keep making the arguments as honestly as I can. And I do have one advantage that they don't have.

What's that?

So, you know, the implications are these chronic diseases are caused by the carbohydrates in the diet. And that's the context. And if you remove the carbs and replace it with fat, the chronic diseases won't go away, not for everybody, but for most people. So, this is, in effect, this argument that if, you know, people eat very low carb, high fat diets, the lowest carb, highest fat would be ketogenic, that's the extreme example, they'll get healthier.

And the world is now full of people who have done that and gotten healthier. And if there's one thing that I and others like me in the tight shelves have been able to accomplish is we've broken down the resistance to these diets as, on some level, fads, but also as deadly. So, the medical community thought they were deadly. So, now, you've got a whole world of people, diabetic, obese individuals, people with neurological disorders, you know, who go on these diets, and they get healthy.

And sure, you know, maybe they're raising their LDL cholesterol, and they're going to die earlier of heart disease, but this one woman put it in an Instagram post, you know, "I lost 100 pounds, and you're telling me that bacon is going to kill me. Like being 100 pounds lighter and eating bacon is worse than being the way I used to be." So, this sort of growing movement.

And the physicians do this as well because they have the same health problems and issues as the rest of us. So, if they do and it works, they become passionate about it, and they put their patients on it, and their patients become passionate about it if it works. If it doesn't, you just lose them. And unfortunately, that sort of cognitive bias with what I'm describing. But you've got this movement that people would like to talk about. It's a field, but it's basically fueled as a fad, but it's fueled by this very profound clinical phenomena, the clinical efficacy of these diets to reverse diabetes, or reverse obesity, or you know. And that's hard to stop.

I'm interviewing these practitioners for my next book, kind of, solipsistic exercise, but it's fascinating. And I was talking to a South African physician who's now working in British Columbia, who's just incredibly passionate about these low carb, high fat diet. And he communicates this to all his patients. And I said, "Why are you so passionate about it?" And he said, "It's because I can't unsee what I've seen. You know, I put that diabetic patient on this diet. I get them to follow. And this is a person, you know, he's on insulin, and overweight, and obese. The rest of his life, he eats the way he does, and the way the Diabetes Associations want them to eat. All we're doing is basically, you know, adding drugs and modulating his insulin injections. And you put him on this diet, and he becomes healthy."

And that's a low carb, high fat diet?

A low carb, high fat. And it's an easy diet because you're not hungry. It's not chewies in there. You're not getting deep doughnuts, and french fries, and cereal anymore. But he's replacing it with some pretty … So, that kind of clinical observation.

You know, there's a startup in San Francisco called Birdhealth that's doing this on a sort of on a larger scale with smartphones, and health coaches, and doctors. And, you know, until recently people believe that even type 2 diabetes was irreversible. Once on insulin always on insulin basically, until you get taken down by the side effects. And, now, people are showing that on these diet, and maybe others as well, but they're showing that this is a reversible disease. It's a disease that can be controlled without drugs. So, that alone is going to change the discussion, and I could see it already happening.

Do you think that the sugar industry will be eventually treated like akin to the tobacco industry in terms of how it's vilified?

On some level, that's already happening and much of the sugar industry's dismay. It's funny, I did a NPR thing a few weeks ago with Michael Moss, the author of Sugar, Salt, Fat or Fat, Salt, Sugar, whatever it's called. And the president of the Sugar Association, a young woman, former college basketball player named Courtney Peterson … No, Courtney, I forget her last name.

And, anyway, afterwards, I got it. Just yesterday, I got a nice card from Courtney thanking me for being on the show with her and discussing it. So, actually, it was really nice to do, but it's sort of like getting a nice card from the president of Tobacco Foundation. They are being vilified. They know it. They see the writing on the wall, you know, the soft drink industry, the purveyors of sugar rich foods.

On one level, they know they have a product that's going to continue to sell. So, they're not going to get rid of it because people are going to continue to consume it. It's just like some, I don't know, I think, 17% of Americans still smoke. So, the percentage has come way down, but there's some people. Kids are going to start doing it just like kids are going to continue consuming sugary beverages.

But they see the writing on the wall. They know where it's going, and they're diversifying. Like. man, you could see them diversifying. And, you know, they're in a bad position because, as I've argued in press, unlike the tobacco industry. So, the tobacco industry's job was to somehow try to convince the world that the research community was wrong, and to sow confusion about what the research community was saying.

What the sugar industry had to do was remind the research community that what they believed in general was true of sugar, in particular. So, the obesity researchers were saying a calorie is a calorie is a calorie when it comes to obesity. And if that's true, then sugar is harmless. You can't vilify a food for being too good to eat.

Yeah, yeah.

You know, it's all about calories. And then, the nutritionists and cardiologists were saying dietary fat causes heart disease. So, the sugar industry paid nutritionists and cardiologists to write articles saying, "We believe dietary fat causes heart disease because they did." And then, they had to remind people that the conventional wisdom is a calorie is a calorie.

So, you almost can't blame them. And I don't really blame them because had the nutritionists and the obesity researchers gotten it right, they would have put the sugar industry in a position where they had to change, rather than more all they had to do was argue that, "Hey, look, guys, we're harmless. The community says we're harmless. Don't blame us."

But, now, again, you know, once you have epidemics of obesity and diabetes, and it's clearly not being caused by dietary fat consumption, and, you know, sugar is the likely cause whether it's just because people consume too much of it, whatever that means, or because it's toxic, and it's a different world. So, now, when they fight back, people point out how they're fighting back, even if their fighting back is only a delaying tactic to give them time to diversify.

What practical tips would you offer somebody who wants to know like, "I want to do something about this. What's a step that I can take?"

You mean about the epidemics in general or about-

My health, my personal health.

Okay. And it's interesting, that's what I've spent the last two months talking to researchers about. So, you know, I clearly think that of all the … So, the problem is the carbohydrate content in the diet. And I think the fat content for the most part is benign, if not healthful.

And this is what I would tell my family, and my kids would tell you that I would tell it to them too much. So, worst of the carbohydrates is the sugars, and the worse of the sugars is the liquid sugars because we consume them and digest them so quickly. So, you get rid of sugary beverages, and ideally switch to non-sweetened beverages, which means, for the most part, water or red wine. And if you're going to drink it all day long, water's probably the better choice, or I'm a caffeine addict, so I'm fine with coffee whether I'm right or wrong.

I just want to go back there for a second. Wine is okay?

Wine is the one area or alcohol where I talk about where I think moderation is meaningful.


So, you know, life … This is one of the lessons I came away from the sugar books. In what I'm doing, and particularly when I go on to sugar, there's clearly a Grinch Who Stole Christmas aspect to it. I'm taking away people's joy, or I'm suggesting that their joy is killing them, and they should get rid of it themselves. You know, it was my wife who like she sees part of her job in life to sort of squelch my Grinch-like tendencies. And she may be right.

So, in doing the book, you know, one of the revelations was basically, like, the human existence is not all that great. It's getting better because television is getting better. But, you know, for the most part and for most people, it's hard, it's laborious, it's tiresome, and there isn't a lot of pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.

And so, for the great bulk of humanity, intoxicants, something we can do to intoxicate us makes it worthwhile, gets us through the day. And, you know, that's what addictive substances do. That's why, you know, when I was a smoker, I looked forward to my next cigarette. That literally carried me through the day. With the caffeine addiction, by about 6:00 at night, I'm thinking about the first cup of coffee in the morning, and how good that's going to taste. We need intoxicants.

The drugs of abuse, their side effects are too severe, and they occur too quickly for most people, and they create behavior that are also dangerous. You gotta have something. And if it's not, sugar. You know, a lot of us self-medicate with sugar. I mean, I'm depressed, I want a doughnut. Let's be serious. What do you do with that?

And then, the question is, you know, there are people who can tolerate it. There are people who are relatively healthy, who are not, you know, pre-diabetic, or diabetic, or overweight, or obese; and aren't going to get metabolic syndrome; and can eat, you know, cupcakes twice a day their whole life, and be absolutely fine and happy. And I think, they're the luckiest people on earth.

The problem is they don't know when they're eating the doughnuts. Like smokers don't know whether that cigarette is going to get lung cancer until it's too late. With sweets, you probably have time to reverse it with these strict diets.

But all that said, I would get rid of sugar. And because I'm an ex-smoker, I could say that when I was a smoker, I couldn't imagine life without cigarettes. And cigarettes, like I said, I lived for my next cigarette on some fundamental level. And you smoked after everything. You know, after a meal, after a workout, after sex. Like most of us don't eat dessert or have a lollipop after sex, but smoking after sex, was like that's what you did. It just made your life worth living.

And then, you give it up. For three months, you're miserable. For a year, you're unhappy. And you're hoping at the end of the year, you haven't lost all your friends because you overreact to everything because you have no cigarettes to, like, moderate your emotional responses. And then, after a couple three years, you get to the point you can't imagine why you ever smoked.

So, you can give up sugar, I believe. And I've gotten there where it's like I don't need sugar to make my life worth living. And I think that can be true for most people. But maybe I'm just lucky that I have a particularly challenging, interesting life. So, that's the first thing. Second thing is high glycemic index, grains, starchy vegetables.

What are the worst in terms of starchy vegetables?

Well, it's hard to say. And I don't really know. You know, there are people who would say wheat is clearly the worst grain because of the gluten and these other issues. Bill Davis describes in Wheat Belly that starchy vegetables are fine, that sweet potatoes are fine, or if you only eat potatoes and nothing else, you'll be healthy, and lean, and happy. And I don't know if any of that is true.

What's your take on gluten?

I don't know. I really don't know. It would be … The way I think is, I mean, I know a lot of people have gone gluten-free. People used to sort of make fun of my low carb lifestyle who are now gluten-free and proud of it, talk about it too much. But when they give up gluten, they end up giving up most carbs.


And then, you find out, they've given … You know, in Wheat Belly, where it recommends Grain Brain. They say give up wheat because of gluten. That's the prime problem, but don't eat sugar either. And other starches can be problematic because they stimulate insulin secretion. So, people who go gluten-free. So there are clearly people who get healthier, and there are clearly people who have gluten-related disorders, who when they don't eat gluten don't have those disorders. It's that simple. And that's supposedly about 5% of the population, if I'm remembering correctly.

But the these other people, have this sort of general issues. I don't know if they're getting better because they're giving up gluten, or giving up all carbs, or giving up sugar with the gluten or-

Well, often, when you give up gluten, you give up a whole bunch of packaged foods. I mean, your food selection just totally changes.

Yeah. Basically, you have to give up many processed foods.


So, it wouldn't be an easy experiment to do. That's the fascinating thing. And I know one very high level self-experimenter who did this who said he basically gave up wheat. 400 calories a day of wheat, and replaced it with 400 calories and rice, and got healthier. And I believe in his case, he did. So, the question is, what makes it a relatively easy nutrition experiment to do is you just have to replace gluten-rich foods with gluten-free versions of them.

So, say, 400k one, you take their thousand subjects, and 500 get, you know, regular wheat bread. And they're supposed to eat four slices a day, and the other get gluten-free bread, and they're supposed to eat four slices a day. And those are the only sources of gluten. And then, you run it out for a few years, and you see-

The effect on the-

The effect. So, you're not having to worry about it. One of the big problems with nutrition studies, if I want to study sugar, if I'm going to remove that 18% of our calories that come from sugar, I have to replace it with something. Do I replace it? I can't replace with diet soda because, then, I'm not getting the calories that the sugar has. I could replace with glucose, so I could replace it, you know, with starch. I can replace it with fat, I replace with protein. All of those will have a different effect, and you won't know if any benefit or detriment you see is caused by the absence of the sugar or the presence of whatever you replace it with. But gluten would be easy to do the study if anybody wanted to, just at which point I would have more confidence that I know what to believe.

Talk to me about fasting.

Fasting is another way to approach metabolic disorder that's come on the scene in the last three or four years driven by British clinician named Michael Mosley, and Jason Fung, a nephrologist in Toronto, and Valter Longo, I think, at UCLA. So, you know, it's interesting. The idea used to be if you're obese, breakfast was the most important meal of the day. The reason breakfast was the most important meal of the day was one of these typical sort of simplistic nutrition obesity thinking.

So, obesity researchers noticed that obese individuals tended to skip breakfast, and have most of their calories from early afternoon on into the evening. And they decided that if they skipped breakfast, and they're obese, maybe they're obese because they are skipping breakfast; and therefore, they should eat breakfast. So, we should all eat breakfast, mistaking an association for a causality and never really testing it.

So, somewhere along the line, and I have to read Jason Fung's work more closely. or Michael Moseley's, people start saying, "What if you actually do skip meals?" So, the idea mind that carbohydrate insulin hypothesis is that as long as you're keeping insulin levels low, you're mobilizing fat, using it for fuel. So, you're actually getting fat out of your fat tissue, which is literally what you want to do when you want to lose weight, and you're burning that fat for fuel.

So, if you extend the periods, you know, in the morning before breakfast, when you're fasting, that's when your insulin levels are lowest. And the reason you don't get up every three or four hours to eat during the night or every two hours is because your insulin levels have dropped, and you're living off the fat you stored. You're burning fatty acids for fuel at night. So, the idea is as long as you haven't eaten in the morning, your insulin will stay low. You'll continue to burn fat. You can extend the period between meals, and you'll burn more fat, you know, and it's got to be the fat that you've stored because you're not eating anything.

So, I don't know if that was the original logic. That's why I think it could work. But people found out that if they, you know, extend the period between meals from like 12 hours to, say, 18. So, you have dinner at 7:00 at night, you don't have any snack that night, you skip breakfast the next morning, and your first meal is at lunch at noon or 1:00, you might accelerate fat burning, to use a cliche. And it might not be that hard to do because as long as your insulin is low, you're going to be mobilizing fat and burning it.

And it does turn out to be relatively easy for people to do. And then, some people, particularly Jason Fung, have realized that, you know, not only can people on low carb diets pretty easily do 18 hour fast, they could actually pretty easily do three-day fast or even three-week fast. And, now, you know, whatever I mean by pretty easily is totally relative.

And this is a way to get diabetes under control to sort of rest the pancreas, so that when it does start dealing with food again, it's may be restocked. Some of them may have given the beta cells to create insulin time to, you know, get their biological act together. There's a lot of things we don't know, and a lot of things I would like to see clinical trials to document.

But, again, talking to these practitioners, clearly, a lot of them are embracing intermittent fasting as a way to get people, you know, who go on low carb diets, and they tend to lose a lot of weight to begin with, but then they plateau. You can use intermittent fasting or longer fasting as a way to break through plateaus or to accelerate fat burning. I worry that it's a fad, and that it will turn out that it's harder, you know, that people just get bored of doing it after a while. And if they get bored and go back to the way they used to eat, they're likely to go back to being obese and/or diabetic.


But there's no way to tell. I've actually been experimenting with it myself recently because just I've been talking to people about it so much, and it is remarkably easy. Yeah, I'm surprised at how easy it is to skip breakfast. And I was just going to say it's 12:40 here in California, and I haven't eaten since dinner last night, and I'm clearly energized talking to you.

That has more to do with me though, right?

It does, it does. And, also, that I clearly like talking about this stuff some of it is interesting.

You've written about the history of nutritional sciences, the alternative hypotheses of obesity, and why we get fat, about the harms of sugar, what's the next thing you're writing about?

Well, I have to write … Again, I'm interviewing practitioners around the world who, you know, have transitioned to using low carb, high fat, or paleo diets to prescribe to their patients for obesity, or diabetes, or other disorders. So, that's going to become a book; although, I have no idea, at the moment, how I'm going to write it. It's been fascinating talking to these people.

And I would also like to, if there are any listeners, I would like to talk to doctors who are prescribing being in a vegetarian diet now or Mediterranean diet to try and understand what they're seeing with their patients, and the feedback they're getting, and try to take care of the sort of selection bias of, you know, me interviewing people who follow my Twitter feed, that kind of stuff.

How can they get a hold of you after lunch?

My website. [email protected] I don't understand Twitter enough to know when people tweet at me. I don't see how people have time in their lives to pay attention to Twitter feeds or Facebook, even though I do tweet.

I would like to write a book, and you and I have talked about this, about how science should be done, sort of, functional trench science. So, there's a lot of books and a lot of courses on the philosophy of science over the millennia, literally. And they're fascinating, but all my books have been about this sort of idea that Richard Feynman capsulized what he said, the first principle of science is you must not fool yourself into the easiest person to fool. And I think we've gotten away from that. The incentives of science today are about, "Hey, fool yourself if you can fool other people and get funding," all that's, you know, that-

Yeah, it's so much about that.

To live in facetious way to phrase it, but you know. So, a lot of it is about the kinds of learning to recognize or being aware of the kind of cognitive biases that your blog posts are discussing, and how they manifest in science and scientific experiments.

And when I did my first book. So, I lived at CERN for ten months back in 1984-'85, and I was embedded with these physicists who discovered nonexistent elementary particles, and then had to realize how they had screwed up. And that became my obsession, this question of how easy it is to get the wrong answer in science, and how hard is to do it right. And that's the book I wanna write and interview, you know, experimental scientists who have thought about these issues their whole career. Theorists are a different species entirely, but, you know.

And from them, and the history, and the literature, I'm reading memoirs of scientists now, and, you know, how you have to think and how you have to approach this because I think a lot of the problems with modern science, when people talk about the reproducibility crisis, I think we're kind of putting band aids on the fundamental problem, which is that the research community really doesn't get the mentoring that they need to truly understand the nature of this scientific endeavor, and what it takes to get the right answer, and how you have to act and communicate steps along the way. So, that's the book I want to write.

Well, if it's half as good as the books you've already written, it's going to be phenomenal, and I look forward to reading it. Listen, Gary, this has been an excellent conversation. I want to thank you so much for taking the time.

Well, thank you, Shane. You know, I'm a fan of your website, and one of the few newsletters I still look forward to receiving.

That's generous of you. Thank you.

Hey, guys. This is Shane again. Just a few more things before we wrap up. You can find show notes at FarnamStreetBlog.com/podcast. That's F-A-R-N-A-M-S-T-R-E-E-T-B-L-O-G dot com slash podcast. You can also find information there on how to get a transcript. And if you'd like to receive a weekly email from me filled with all sorts of brain food, go to FarnamStreetBlog.com/newsletter. This is all the good stuff I found on the web that week that I've read and shared with close friends, books I'm reading, and so much more. Thank you for listening.

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