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Popular Transcripts Full Transcript: Up and Vanished – S1 E2 – White Rabbits

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Full Transcript: Up and Vanished – S1 E2 – White Rabbits

When I would talk to people, they will say, "They're never gonna find her because she's in some swamp or she's in some well." And those people were right because 10 years now and I mean, you always have hope that she'll be found and at this point, I'm really doubtful she ever will be found. I mean because this is basically swampland.

I can tell you, if you wanna solve this, that would be your ideal ending I'm sure. Unless this gets shook up and it's approached in a different way, it's not gonna, nothing's ever gonna happen and that's probably gonna be really hard to do.

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…

An $80,000 reward is being offered …

Where is Tara Grinstead?

From Tenderfoot TV in Atlanta, you are listening to Up and Vanished, the investigation of Tara Grinstead. I'm your host, Payne Lindsey.

The person talking in the first segment is Dusty Vassey, the lead reporter for the local newspaper called the Ocilla Star. He reached out to me and offered his help.

We're in.

He took me to an old office in downtown Ocilla. The door had no markings or signage and we entered a huge dim lit room. There were buckets on the ground full of water, catching the leaks from the ceiling. You could tell it was a place that didn't have very many guests. On the back wall was a shell full of hardbound newspaper archives. He was looking for 2005.

We keep them in these bound volumes.

You're still on the paper system?

Yeah, 2005, read that. Sweet Potato Festival missing. Wednesday.

Tara was reported missing at 8:50 a.m. on Monday, October 24th and by that Wednesday, she was already in the paper.

You could tell that people really were worried, people that worked with her and stuff. Like, there's a teacher that I knew that, I mean you could tell she was very concerned that this, it was more than just concern. It was like …


At that point, they realized something bad's happened, you know, and just she's gone off or whatever.

Dusty went to his desk for a minute and left me alone with the archives. As I was flipping through, I noticed a small piece of paper wedged between two pages. It looked like a makeshift bookmark.

When I pulled it out, I realized it was actually a piece of Tara's missing poster that had been cut into fours and the print date on the bottom was October 24th, the day she was reported missing. All the sudden I felt like I was in a movie scene and I had found some big clue. I was almost positive it was nothing but I called Dusty over anyways. What is that?

That says Tara's name on it. Probably nothing nefarious.


It's chopped up.



Probably nothing nefarious. But then we found a whole bunch of them, like a lot more.

Oh my goodness, there's all sorts of those.

It's kind of weird, right?

It is. It is. I'm a little, I mean cause I've looked through this before that … I mean they probably were here and I didn't pay any attention to it. The hairs on the back of your neck … what's going on?

Who are the people that could have done this?

My predecessor who … Kristy who used to … was the reporter. She's the Kristy Pruitt, something …

Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

On all these stories.

He called Kristy and it wasn't her.

My boss.

I mean it was probably nothing but still who would expect to find chopped up pieces of Tara's missing poster scattered throughout the 2005 archive. Kind of weird, right? We both agreed. Before I left, Dusty said he has a surprise for me.

Oh, front page. There's me. The podcast had made the front page of the latest paper. It's kind of weird actually seeing my name and Tara Grinstead's name on the front page of the Ocilla Star.

At this point, I can understand why.

Yeah, like I'm part of the narrative now or something.

The word was getting out and people were finally talking.

An investigative podcast about the disappearance of an Ocilla teacher is set to premiere Monday titled Up and Vanished. The story details the findings of Atlanta filmmaker, Payne Lindsey, as he makes a documentary on Tara Grinstead. The podcast will be released every other week as Lindsey works on the documentary. He says …

Let's pick up from the last episode. So my grandma's friend Melba told her that Tara went to her former student's house in Fitzgerald before going back to the barbecue that night in Ocilla. If this is true, it's a major discrepancy in Tara's timeline. Is there another person that we've just never known about? I wrote some questions down and I gave Melba a call.

My grandma said that you saw Tara that Saturday at the beauty pageant, correct?

I did. For several years, I emceed all the beauty pageants and I don't do that anymore. But I was directing the pageant, the afternoon that she disappeared that night but she always helped. She taught school and she always helped the girls in the pageants with their make up, their hair and choosing gowns and that sort of thing.

And as I was leaving, she and all the girls were there at the back as I was leaving. It was about 6 o'Γ§lock in the afternoon because I had a dinner date and I was leaving. And I stopped and spoke with them just a few minutes, just, you know, "How are you?" and that sort of thing. So I was really, really surprised when I heard the news on Monday that she was missing.

What did you guys talk about? When you talked to her, what did you guys say?

Just pass, you know, "How are you today? It's good to see you." And I didn't stay there more than five minutes I guess because I was on my way. And I certainly would have stayed long and talked more if I had known what was going to happen but nobody knew that, you know.

Where did she go after the pageant?

One of the students that she had taught in times past now lives in Fitzgerald. And my understand is she went to his house for just a short while just to visit and then left there and came to one of the principal's houses which is a couple of blocks from me for a cookout they were doing.

And I understand she left there probably around 10:30, 11 o'clock that night. And it was evident that she got home. Her car was there and I believe she had taken off some of her clothing and so forth.

So from all the stuff that I've read and from people I talked to, 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 that she went to the friend's house for just a short time.

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

I'm trying to think what his name was, one she had taught. Good gracious. That's been 10 years or more ago and I really don't recall who it was. In the meantime, I'll try to arrive at who she visited in Fitzgerald but right offhand, I don't recall.

Okay. If you think of it, please let me know.

His name will probably come to me but right offhand, I don't remember. But like I say, Payne, I hope you can can get some new information or come up with something cause I know her parents and I know how devastated they were and how devastated they still are.

We have no idea what happened to her. It's just one of the strangest things. You know, we always hear there's no perfect crime but evidently, this one is perfect so far because there's no indication of who it could be.

I wasn't really sure what to make of that. Melba seemed to think that Tara's visit to a student's house was just common knowledge but I couldn't find it anywhere. She said she heard it in the talk around town. Not the most reliable sounding source. Really, other than Melba just saying she heard this happened, I don't really have anything at all. It was time for a second opinion.

Well, when I first heard it, I just couldn't find any basis for the information at all. I guess you would call it chasing one of those white rabbits.

So you know that was a term I was about to get very familiar with.

Well, white rabbit is leads or information that in a criminal investigation that leads you down rabbit hole to nowhere. And I mean I'm not saying it was true and it still may be true but we just don't have any information to take that any further than it is right now.


So really you just have to set it aside and let it go because otherwise it'd just be a waste of time. Until you can get further information to say it's legitimate, you just have to refute it. But it would be very useful if it was true and we would have to know the name of the individual.

So pretty much without that name, I had nothing. Maurice also brought up another good point. If you remember Tara did make one more stop before the barbecue that was confirmed. She met her landlord's son, Rhett Roberts at the curb of the road only for about 15 minutes before heading over to the barbecue. Was Melba confusing this with some student in Fitzgerald?

It's very possible that she's talking about Rhett Roberts but he's not a former student.

Okay. So Rhett was not a former student of Tara's?

No, they were about the same age.

And she got to Rhett's around what time?

I would say around 20 minutes to eight, quarter to eight.

So you're saying that the time gap is pretty small for that to happen?

Yeah. In fact the whole timeline of this entire case is pretty narrow.

What's the earliest Tara could have left the pageant you think?

I would say 7:15.

So does Tara stopping at a student's house for a minute sound farfetched for the timeline or is it still possible?

Well in an unknown case, unsolved case as this, with the twists and turns in it? It's possible. Is it probable? No.

So really I was back to square one. Until I had that name, there was really no further way to verify this ever actually happened. And even if I could prove it was true, would it lead me to what happened to Tara? The term white rabbit was bouncing around my head for a couple days. And just like clockwork, white rabbits were falling in my lap.

I have been … it's really … it's regarding the revelations were made. I'm not gonna throw God at you, you know, shove God down your throat but there is a lot that's been going on. Her remains is within the park here in Ocilla, Cumbee Park. I have absolutely no doubt. It's called Cumbee Park.

The park was never searched 10 years ago. It was in such an obvious place. Everybody overlooked it. Nobody even thought nothing about it, not even I. I was shocked. I took all the information, like I said, to GBI. It all come about with me March of last year. I'm boldly, bravely, 100 percent. Like I said, God gave me a job to do and I'm going to do it. None of them gonna back me down, sit me down or shut me up.

I knew the investigator's first impression was that the whole student thing was probably a white rabbit. And as much as I believed them, the rookie investigative mind of mine just couldn't let it go. Besides the fact that we didn't have a name for this guy, he also said the timeline was really narrow for Tara to have gone anywhere else that night.

But before I just completely ruled it out, I had to test it myself. I decided to time the route that Tara most likely took that night. Either way, I figured it would be useful information. I started at the theater in Fitzgerald where Tara left the pageant from. I left the theater and started driving towards Ocilla.

Starting route to Ocilla.

My first stop was Rhett Roberts house which I found out was only a couple blocks from the barbecue. I actually had to drive past the house where the barbecue was held to get to Rhett's house.

The destination is on your right.

So Tara didn't just see Rhett at the curb of the road. It's likely that they had planned to meet there. It took 13 minutes and 7 seconds to get to Rhett's house from the theater, 1 minute and 22 seconds to get back to the barbecue.

All of this stuff was just a lot closer than I thought it was. So if Tara left the pageant at 7:15, drove straight to Rhett's house, stayed for 15 minutes then went to the barbecue, she would have easily arrived before 7:45.

Assuming that all accounts of her time are true, she would have at least 15 minutes to spare. Was it enough time for Tara to go somewhere else real quick? I think so. Was it likely? I don't know.

I decided to give the whole student theory a rest for now. There were some other prominent figures in this case that I really needed to focus on.

It's now been two weeks since a former beauty queen disappeared in Georgia. Thirty-year-old high school teacher Tara Grinstead was last seen at a dinner party with friends. Anita Gattis joins this morning. She's Tara's sister. Good morning.

Good morning, Hannah.

Anita, I'm sure this is just a terrible time for you and your family. Can you fill us in a bit on this story? Maybe our viewers will be able to help you out. The last time your sister was seen was about 11 p.m. on October 24th. What did police find when they went to her home?

Well, they didn't find a lot. The house was locked. Her cell phone was back in the charger. She always takes her cell phone with her everywhere she goes. Her purse and her keys were missing. The car was home but it was unlocked which is very unusual. Tara always kept her car locked.

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 don't know if it started out to be an abduction and she was just lured out of her home or she went with somebody and then something happened. I'm just not sure but I really do feel like it is an abduction at this point.

Authorities are really frustrated because they say they haven't come close yet to calling anyone a suspect but they have questioned a couple of key people, one of them being a former boyfriend of your sister. What can you tell us about him.

They broke up approximately nine months ago. He has been questioned many times at length. He has obtained an attorney. They had had a very bad argument. I've just found out several days before she went missing concerning an 18-year-old that he was dating.

And my sister did not think that her parents would approve of a 30-year-old dating an 18-year-old. I was told that she threatened to tell the parents and they had a very heated argument over this.

Shortly after Tara went missing, the first major person of interest in this case was her ex-boyfriend, Marcus Harper. To get you up to speed on Marcus, I'll have my friend Rob detail his background.

Marcus Harper was Tara's long term boyfriend of five years. They met in 1999 through a mutual friend named John David Anderson. Around that time, Marcus was an officer at the Ocilla Police Department.

Marcus joined the Army after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. He went on to become an Army Ranger and served in Iraq. In September of 2005, Marcus was still serving overseas but in October he returned home to Ocilla for three weeks. Marcus and Tara's relationship had become pretty rocky at that point.

And when Marcus arrived back home, he didn't tell Tara he was there. It was during those three weeks back at home in Ocilla that Tara disappeared. Marcus told Fox News commentator Greta Van Susteren that Tara had ended their relationship well before she went missing. He said he felt a little rejected at first but that we continued to be friends.

Harper and the televised interview with Fox described his relationship with Tara as a commitment. "We did not date other people", he said. "But I was honest with her when I said I had no intentions of marriage." After they broke up, Marcus said in the interview, that she was very irrational and she told me that if she found out I was dating someone, she would commit suicide.

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 the 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.

Right away, Marcus didn't look very good but despite everyone's suspicions, he was very open and cooperative with the investigation. He also did several nationally televised interviews. The biggest thing to me was the timing. He was gone overseas for several months. Then when he comes home to Ocilla for three weeks, Tara coincidentally disappears.

Marcus did have an alibi however. It checked out pretty flawlessly. But before we get into that, there was one more person that really struck the interest of investigators.

Also questioned is a man who apparently stalked your sister and was arrested a year ago. Is that right?

Well, actually I think it was more like four to six months ago. She had taught him when he was in the ninth grade. He had just recently graduated. I think maybe after her and the boyfriend broke up, he kinda saw a window of opportunity, although Tara would never ever date a former student. And he was arrested attempting to break in her house and she was at home at the time.

A former student that was stalking her, then arrested for trying to break in her house. Red flags were everywhere. This person's name is Anthony Vickers. He was the second person police were highly interested in. The whole student thing had me from the get go and I started researching as much as I could. To fill you in on his background, here's Rob again.

Anthony Vickers was a former student of Tara's who was engaged in some sort of relationship with her in the months prior to her disappearance. Shortly after Tara disappeared, Anthony was featured briefly on the Nancy Grace and discussed their relationship over the phone. This was the only interview Anthony has ever done.

He said, "Very few people knew about our relationship. There's probably only three or four people that actually knew and we knew that they would not talk at all. When we would see each other. I would usually go over to her house would be the easiest thing to do. She would pick me up and we would go over there and just hang out, you know, watch a movie or something. That's kind of how we did it. I would like to help but, you know, if you try to help a lot of times you just get scrutinized against.

On March 30th, 2005, about six months before Tara went missing, Ocilla police officers were dispatched to Tara's house for a disturbance call. They received a report that someone was trying to break down the owner's door. The individual was Anthony Vickers.

Based on the incident report, Anthony was very agitated. He started cussing and shouting at some of the neighbors who were watching. Vickers yelled so loud that the neighbor outside doing yard work about two blocks from Tara's house could hear him shouting. The officers asked Anthony to keep quiet but he refused to cooperate. He was then handcuffed and arrested and taken to the Irwin County Detention Center.

I made an open records request with the Ocilla police department to obtain a copy of Anthony's arrest report. With all the rumors flying around this town, I had to verify this incident myself. Chief Billy Hancock with the Ocilla PD was very helpful in getting this information.

In the report, Tara had made a handwritten statement to police. Some of which said this, Anthony's behavior was abnormal. He was very aggressive on this day. I was very scared for my well-being, as well as scared about Anthony. Anthony invaded my privacy in my home while doing so in a raging and out of control manner.

Anthony's written statement seemed to tell a different story. He claimed that he was actually getting in his car to leave when the police arrived and they screamed at him to step away from his vehicle. He also stated that an officer ran towards him and just bumped him, almost knocking him over and that he never once tried to resist arrest.

According to Tara's friends and family, Anthony's relationship with her was some sort of delusion or fantasy but I wondered if maybe there was some truth to it. I've reached out several times to Anthony for an interview but no luck. And the same for Marcus Harper, Tara's ex-boyfriend. These two are very tight lipped about this case and honestly I could totally see why.

In the meantime, I was able to get a hold of somebody. His name is Noah Griffin. He knew Tara for several years and worked very closely with her in all the pageants. I was just thankful somebody close to her was willing to talk to me.

Well, to sum it up, Tara was driven. She was very determined to succeed at whatever she's set out to do. I knew for a fact that she would never leave. Everybody's just, "Oh, she's gone. She's just run out. Da, da, da, da." And I said no, she wouldn't do that. I want to say … and I'm not good with time …


But I want to say like six months had passed before I was ever questioned by the GBI. I told the GBI and I said, "You know, I could have went to her house at 2 o'clock in the morning and knocked on her door and she'd have opened the door for me.".


You know, and why was I not a suspect from the get go? When the GBI talked to me, they wanted to know if anybody had videotaped that pageant that night. Somebody at the party that night that she went to, that cookout, said when she left that she was going home to watch the video of the pageant. And I still to this day don't know if there was a video or if that, you know. And it's just like one night it just hit me that a distant cousin of mine's stepdaughter was in the pageant and he was to the left of us up against the wall with a video camera.

Could this be the pageant tape that Tara was talking about? And if it is, does it actually help us at all? Regardless, if he still has it, I want a copy.

This is the sad thing, there has been so much small town gossip and lies told that the truth will never be known. I'm just … I've just been constantly racking my brain. There's not a day goes by that she doesn't run across my mind and I don't try to relive that day and that time and what could have happened to her. You know, there was a side of Tara that I didn't know.


Was very we'll hidden if it was in fact true. I try not to believe that it was. You know, I know how people talk and how they gossip. I've heard people say they've seen this and they've seen that. Well, I didn't see it. So if I didn't see it, I don't know it. You know what I'm saying?

What side are you talking about?

Very free with men and one of them was a student, Vickers, Anthony Vickers. I heard his mother casually say in a crowd one time that she caught her climbing out his bedroom window one night.


Hey. Is Anthony there?

Yeah, this is him.

Thank you guys for listening to episode 2 of Up and Vanished. The response from episode 1 was really awesome. I just want to thank everybody out there who's listening. As for my grandma's cowboy cookie contest, I'll be announcing the winner of that on my website, Just go to the site and click on the page called discussions on the top right.

And please if you haven't already, rate this podcast on iTunes and leave a review. It really helps a lot. And I would like to ask again that anybody who knows anything at all about Tara's disappearance to please come forward. Thank you and see you next time.

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Popular Transcripts Full Transcript: Up and Vanished – S1 E1 – Cold as Alaska

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

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Full Transcript: Up and Vanished – S1 E1 – Cold as Alaska

Tara Grinstead was a 30-year-old former beauty queen and local high school teacher living in the small town of Ocilla, Georgia.

She was a gorgeous brunette with a striking smile and someone her students and peers looked up to. On Saturday, October 22nd, 2005, Tara went to a local beauty pageant during the day.

After the pageant was over, Tara left around 8 P.M. and hung out at a friend's barbecue just eight blocks away from home. Around 11:00 P.M., Tara left the barbecue and went home to her house.

On Monday morning, October 24th, Tara didn't show up for work at the school. Concerned students and teachers called the local police. At around 8:45 A.M., Ocilla PD was dispatched to Tara's house.

Upon arrival, investigators found her car parked in the driveway, unlocked. And the front door to her house was locked shut. Detectives knocked on her door repeatedly but got no response. Police forced their way inside and searched the house entirely but there was no sign of Tara Grinstead.

To this day, there has never been a confirmed sighting of Tara Grinstead. If you have any information about the disappearance of Tara Grinstead, please contact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

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 official say investigator —

Latex glove found in —

An $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, Payne Lindsey.

Around six months ago, I was surfing the web. I was looking for cold cases and other unsolved mysteries. I'm actually a filmmaker and I was kind of digging around for a cool idea for a documentary film.

I think there's something about an unsolved case that intrigues everyone, this urge to solve the puzzle and reveal the truth. In this universal satisfaction, when we catch the bad guy, we all want an answer, an explanation for the unexplained.

Like a lot of people, I have been pretty obsessed with the podcast Serial and the Netflix series Making a Murderer. And I thought to myself, "What if I made one of those?" So I literally just went to Google and started searching.

I'm from Atlanta so I wanted to find a case that was local that I could actually investigate. I eventually ended up on the website for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and they have a top 10 list of unsolved crimes in Georgia. The first one I saw was a missing person's case, a girl named Tara Grinstead had been missing for over 10 years now. And they had no suspects and they had no leads.

Needless to say, I was instantly fascinated. So I read tons of articles about the case. And through my amateur internet investigation, I stumbled upon a new site called Websleuths where apparently other people like me pretend to be detectives and try to solve famous cases in front of their computer screens. Perfect.

So I found a forum on the Tara Grinstead case and made a post. "Hey, guys. I'm a filmmaker from Atlanta and I'm thinking about doing a documentary on Tara's case. Does anyone have any interesting theories?"

The forum on Tara's case hadn't been updated in quite a while and I honestly didn't expect to get a response. But to my surprise less than an hour later I had a voicemail on my phone from a number I didn't recognize. That's when this whole thing really started.

Payne, it's Dr. Maurice Godwin. I saw your post about the Tara Grinstead case on Websleuths. I worked this case from March of '06 to over past '09, 2009 for her family. And probably other than the GBI, there's no one who knows more about the Tara Grinstead case than myself.

So you know if you want to give me a call, I can give you a run down, the straight-up truth about what's happening or and everything about the case. I'm in North Carolina so I'm on East Coast time. Okay. You take care. Bye-bye.

Wait, am I actually doing this now? I thought I was just brainstorming but now I have an actual investigator who worked this case wanting to tell me everything that he knows.

It was time that I got my facts straight. Time to do some major research on this case to even know what to ask him, dates, times, people's names. I had to know it all.

I totally streamlined my plan for the documentary and decided to make a podcast to document my investigation. Mind you, I am not a podcaster and I'm definitely not an investigator but I was determined to tell Tara's story. And most of all, I wanted to know what happened to her. I bought some audio equipment and I called the investigator.

Hey. Is this Maurice Godwin?

Yes, it is.

Hey. This is Payne Lindsey. You called me yesterday.

Oh yes, Payne, I saw your post on Websleuths. I've been working the Tara Grinstead case since March of '06.

We talked for two hours. He told me more things than I could even remember. This case went deep. I mean really deep.

The largest case file in Georgia history is the Tara Grinstead case.

As much as I wanted to feel like I was making progress on the case, I was really just getting started. He gave me a lot of advice, where to start, who to talk to. He said he would help me out in any way he could. He left me with this piece of advice.

If you go to Ocilla, take somebody else with you now.

Okay. Why is that?

Well, it's a weird place.

If you go to Ocilla, a town where Tara lived and was last seen, make sure you bring somebody with you. Maybe I was reading into that too much. Either way, I planned on taking his advice.

It was time for me to start talking to people. I wanted insight from people who knew her, people who talked to her that weekend before she disappeared. I built up a long list of names and it was time to start cold-calling people.

We're sorry, you have reached a number that is no longer in service.

Your call has been forwarded to an automated voice —

The number you dialed is not a working number.

This number —

No one is available to take your call.

Okay. I had a pretty rough start. I was literally getting every type of non-working number message in existence. And when I finally reached some people, it went like this.

My name is Payne Lindsey. I wanted to talk to you about the Tara Grinstead case.

The Tara Grinstead case …

A podcast …

A documentary series …

If you don't mind …

Sorry to bother you …

I was hoping to talk to you about Tara Grinstead.

Nothing. Not a single person would talk to me. It was beginning to seem impossible. Everyone surrounding this case had their guard up. This small town in South Georgia had become this impenetrable community that just refused to rehash the old wounds or just plain too scared to talk.

But I was determined that somewhere in this network of people was the answer. The key to what happened to Tara but 10 years is a long time. Ten years of reporters and TV networks just exhausting these people for new clues and tips. We're just trying to get a juicy quote out of one of the locals.

And here comes me, this millennial podcaster, trying to solve the mystery. I probably tell myself to piss off too. One day I called a girl who was friends with Tara back in 2005. I don't feel comfortable saying her name right now so let's just call her Susan. Susan answered the phone and I introduced myself. Before I could even finish Tara's name, she had hung up on me.

Then about 10 minutes later, I got a call from a blocked number and I answered it. I was still trying to figure out my phone recorder at that point and unfortunately I was not able to record the call which I immediately regretted.

There was a stern man's voice on the other line when I answered. He said, "Why are you asking about Tara Grinstead?" It was almost like he was investigating me now. I told him about the podcast and the documentary and his tone changed a bit then he said, "Why did you call Susan?" I didn't really have an answer for him. Then he said, "Do not call her again." Click. Just like that.

I wish I had the audio to playback for you but there was just something really odd about that call. The person sounded like a police officer or someone in law enforcement trying to figure out what I knew. He didn't call me just to say don't call her again. The first thing he wanted to know was why I was calling that particular person.

Here she is, ladies and gentleman. I call her your Royal Highness because I think it is a very nice — Tara Grinstead, how are you doing?

I'm doing great.

Miss Tifton, getting ready to go over to Columbus to represent Tifton over there. Are you excited?

Yes, very excited.

And you were well into your career already too, weren't you?


What kind of work do you do?

I'm an 11th grade history teacher at Irwin County High School and I also have a cheerleading squad of junior varsity cheerleaders, 9th and 10th graders. I just completed my first year teaching and I loved every bit of it.

That's the local news interview from 1999 when Tara won the beauty pageant for Miss Tifton, the biggest city near Ocilla. And she was moving on to compete for Miss Georgia. She seemed to have everything going for her. She was popular among her students, all the teachers loved her.

But in October of 2005, she would disappear without a trace and never be seen again. Who would want to hurt Tara? Let's recap the night of October 22nd when Tara just completely vanished. I'll have my friend Rob describe the scene.

Saturday, October 22nd, 2005. Tara went to a beauty pageant during the day and then she attended a friend's barbecue later that night, just a couple blocks away from her home. She arrived around 8 P.M. and stayed for a few hours. Friends at the party said she was acting normal, nothing out of the ordinary.

Around 11:00 P.M., Tara told a friend at the party she was going home to watch the videotape from the pageant that day. She said her goodbyes and drove off. She was never seen again.

Monday came and Tara didn't show up for work. When the bell rang for class to start and Tara wasn't there, students informed the faculty and they called the local police department.

The Chief of Ocilla Police, Bill Hancock, was the first to arrive on the scene. Her car was parked in her driveway and the front door was locked. As he approached her front door, Hancock discovered a blue latex glove just feet from her doorstep. Even more puzzling, he found a business card wedged in the front door.

The neighbors, an elderly couple, had a spare key to Tara's house. They were really close to Tara and they kept watch on her house at night. They had a little system going. Every night when Tara came home, she turned on the lamp by the window in her room facing their house. That night, Tara's lamp was never turned on.

Hancock used the neighbor's key to gain entry to Tara's home. The house was in near perfect condition, but there were a few subtle things that seemed a little off. The lampshade on her bed was knocked askew, tilted in an odd position as if maybe it had been knocked over. The clock normally on her nightstand was found on the floor by her bed. Her cell phone was found sitting in its charger on the nightstand.

Hancock quickly realized the severity of this case. He made a call to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for backup and official investigation was underway.

Come on in, man.

How are you doing, man? Nice to meet you, Maurice.

Come on in. All right. Come on in.

I decided to visit the private investigator in person. I told him I wanted to ask him some preliminary questions about the case for my documentary and he was more than happy to help. He lives in a small town in North Carolina and I drove up from Atlanta one afternoon.

Are these all notes about the Tara case?


He had this thick notebook. It was filled with hundreds of notes, thoughts, names, all related to the Tara Grinstead case. He started thumbing through it, reminiscing about the case.

Maurice is an older man, grey hair, glasses. You get the sense that this case and many others like it have taken a toll on him and even he'll tell you, it's exhausting. To Maurice, this is not a hobby. It's all he's ever known.

And then in the back here are some updates and stuff. I was contacted in the end of January of '06 by Tara's sister, Anita. I couldn't take it at that time and I actually didn't take the case. And then she contacted me again and I took the case about the end of February and I went down in March and then I worked on the case.

I spent two whole days in the house. We searched a lot of places. There was nothing ever come about anything and this case is cold as Alaska.

So Tara's sister, Anita, hired Maurice to help with the investigation and he wasn't involved until March of 2006, almost five whole months after she went missing.

So one of the things that I did when I was there is that I've talked to some of the local. A lot people clammed up and wouldn't talk.

You think most people clam up and don't talk in this case?

Oh, yeah. And still today. It appeared that to GBI and some others that were there, there didn't appear to be a struggle.

So they said there was no struggle?

Well, GBI has admitted that.

What do you think?

Well, this is what I found. See, she had the old-timey wooden floors with the gaps in between them. So I got on my, you know, knees and stuff and crawled around, I found a clasp from a necklace.

A lesser-known fact from this case that I actually learned through Maurice is a broken necklace that was found by police inside her home. The beads were scattered about on the floor and they bagged it up as evidence.

But it was still unclear to police if the necklace was broken on accident or if it meant that there was a struggle inside the home. Almost five months later when Maurice went to visit Tara's house, he found a clasp on the floor that looked like a match.

And you can see on the clasp it had been pulled apart.

So based on what you know about the necklace and that clasp, in your opinion, did that necklace come off in a struggle?

That clasp was pulled apart by force. You can take that for what it's worth. Then I found some pieces of broken plastic of the headboard in the master bedroom. The bedpost was split in two and broken and was found lying under the middle of the bed. You had to get under and find it. Then I also found a box with dust on it underneath the bed. So that was never retrieved by the GBI.

Then one thing that I noticed is she had a rug beside the bed. I moved, I pulled that rug up and the rubber came off on the back of it so the rug had never been lifted.

So in your opinion, did the GBI do a good job investigating?

Absolutely not.

On a scale of 1 to 10, what would you rate the GBI's performance?

Probably three.

Three out of 10?

Three out of 10.

Five months later, he finds a whole slew of evidence inside Tara's house that the GBI completely missed. You could sense his frustration still today. But what did any of it mean? I asked him to recap that Saturday Tara went missing. I wanted to know his account.

So walk me through the day.

My understanding is that during the daytime, she had girls over at her house and stuff, helping girls with the pageants and the makeup, the hair, preparing for the Sweet Potato Pageant in Fitzgerald that afternoon. I think the pageant started about 3 o'clock is what I was told.

So then she went to the pageant, stayed at the pageant and then she left the pageant around 7:25 to 7:30. One of her pageant girls named Dana Lauer walked with Tara to Tara's car and she said that she had to go to her superintendent's barbecue.

So she left the pageant in Fitzgerald and drove back to Ocilla. I was told that her landlord … the son of her landlord, Rhett Roberts, I was told that she talked to Rhett out at the curb of the road about probably quarter to eight then.

Again, another lesser-known fact about this case that you can't find anywhere in news articles between leaving the pageant and going to the barbecue that night. Tara made a brief stop at a friend's house, a man named Rhett Roberts who is actually her landlord's son and they talked briefly at the curb of the road.

And then she proceeded on to the barbecue, arrived about 8 o'clock. And then at 11 o'clock, she left the barbecue on the notion that she had to go back and watch a video.

What video is that?

That would be no video because so far there's never been one that existed that we know of.

Remember Tara told her friends at the barbecue that night that she was going home to watch the tape from the pageant that day. The police could never find it. And as far as they knew, no video ever even existed.

There's two types of crime scenes. There's a primary crime scene, that's where the most actions occur between the victim and the attacker. And then there's a secondary crime scene, say where a car was left. The problem with this case is you don't have any secondary crime scene and you don't have any really primary crime scene.

You don't even know for sure if the house is a crime scene.

That's right. The answer lies in the GBI case files in Georgia. The answer to this case lies there.

Why can't they solve it?

I don't know.

It was a bunch of information but I felt a lot more in tuned to this case. On my drive back to Atlanta, I played our interview on repeat, analyzing every detail. But when I got home, I caught my first lucky break. Someone was finally willing to talk to me.

Hey. How are you?

I'm good. How are you doing?

I'm a bit well. I had a little problem with my back but thank the Lord, it's getting better.

Awesome. Are you still walking every day?

Yeah. Wait a minute. I got to take out my …

That's my grandma. But she's lived in Tifton which is only a half hour from Ocilla for nearly half her life. Maybe she knew something.

So I'm looking forward to seeing you all. And I'll bring pound cake and some cowboy cookies.

Yes, I need some more cowboy cookies ASAP.

Okay. Well, that's what I'm baking right now when you heard the bell go off.

Oh, perfect.

My first batch.

Fresh ones.

Fresh ones, they're fresh. Okay-dokey, darling. All right.

Well, I wanted to ask you something.


So I'm working on this new documentary and it's actually about this girl who went missing about 10 years ago in the town of Ocilla. Her name was Tara Grinstead. Do you remember hearing about that?

I do. I certainly do. And you know Ocilla is only about 25 to 30 minutes from here.

What do you remember about that as far as like what were people saying when that happened?

I'll ask around a few people that might … in fact, I'll call my friend who lived in Ocilla.


And I'll ask her. She'll know. I'll call her right now.


And I'll call you back, okay?

Okay, that sounds great.

Okay. All right. Bye-bye.

And sure enough, 10 minutes later.

My friend's name, her first name is Melba, M-E-L-B-A. That is her first name.


Let me tell you what she did tell me. I'll tell you right quick. She was a school teacher. And on this Saturday that this happened, there was a beauty pageant in Fitzgerald, Georgia. Now, Fitzgerald is like 15 minutes away and there was a beauty pageant on that Saturday. You might know this. At like 3 o'clock, she went to help the girls put their makeup on and that sort of thing.


When the pageant was over, my friend that I just talked to, Melby, she talked to her at 6 P.M. at the theater.


Melba said when she left the theater, Tara was still at the back of the theater with a friend. Tara did leave and went to visit a friend in Fitzgerald. In fact, it was a student that she had talked for just a short time. And then from there, she went back to Ocilla to her principal's house because she had a cookout that night.

Did I hear her right? According to her friend, Tara stopped by a former student's house in Fitzgerald before going to the barbecue that night. Who is she talking about? If this is true, it's bombshell information. It completely contradicts the known timeline of Tara's last news. I had to talk to Melba immediately so I did.

Next time on Up and Vanished.

This season on Up and Vanished.

Reports of screams and gunshots and tires squealing off of Five Bridges Road that late Saturday night.

And he was to the left of us up against the wall with a video camera.

He acted really weird. He was acting like he didn't know who I was.

I want this thing solved before I die. I wanna know. I wanna know.

Thank you guys for listening to the first episode of Up and Vanished. This is my first time ever doing a podcast so I'm kind of learning as I go. If you like it, please subscribe and rate the podcast on iTunes.

We're going to hold a little contest too. If you rate and write a review on iTunes, I will pick one lucky winner in the next two weeks to get a fresh batch of my grandma's cowboy cookies. I plan on releasing a new episode every two weeks on Mondays. I'm in the process of creating a documentary video series on this case as well.

To stay up to date on everything, you can visit the website at I also would like to encourage anyone who knows anything at all about Tara's disappearance to come forward and share what you know. I want this podcast to be an outlet for people surrounding this case. Thanks again for listening and see you next time.

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Full Transcript: School of Podcasting – Three Audio Sharing Tools Reviewed

Today on episode number 616 of the School of Podcasting, we have a Because of My Podcast Twin Spin. That's right, and we're gonna look at three tools that help you share your audio on the internets, and we've got the Question of the Month: what did you plan on doing that didn't happen the first quarter of the month? Hit it, ladies!

(singing) The School of Podcasting with Dave Jackson.

Podcasting since 2005, I'm your award-winning personal podcast coach, Dave Jackson, thanking you so much for tuning in. This is where I help you massage your message. I help you tackle that technology. I help you face your fears, and flatten that learning curve, and not just get you podcasting, but get you podcasting right.

This is where I help you plan, launch, and grow your audience. The website, Use the coupon code, LISTENER – it's L-I-S-T-E-N-E-R – when you sign up on either a monthly, or yearly subscription.

All right. Well, you know I like to start off the show with a Because of My Podcast story, and I'm gonna give credit where credit is due. This came in from Troy Heinritz, from Blacklist Exposed.

He said, "You gotta talk to Aaron Peterson, from the Hollywood Outsider podcast." So, Aaron, thanks for coming on the show to share your Because of My Podcast story.

Thanks for having me. This is exciting.

And, with that, without further ado, because of my podcast, what happened?

Well, I've been doing the Hollywood Outsider for many years now, and we've got, you know, a nice base of devout listeners. One of the listeners was very, very diehard, and introduced his soon-to-be fiance, or the other way around. I can't remember which way it went. I don't remember if she was first, or he was first, but they were getting married, essentially.

And so, they both became very active listeners to the Hollywood Outsider, and would listen religiously, and became active members of the community, to the point where we would actually become friendly.

We ended up actually meeting them, once, while I was on a vacation. We actually met up with them. And, you know, we do that- we do that sometimes with our shows. If we're in a different area, we'll try to have a meet up.

And then, they were getting closer to their wedding, and they asked me about a year, probably about a year before the wedding, would would I'd be willing to officiate their wedding?

That's fun.

It was fun. Scary. I'll be honest, a little scary. I mean I've done emceeing, and panel … You've done a bunch of those, too, but that's not the same thing as if you screw this up, that's all they're gonna talk about for the rest of their lives.

No pressure.

None. None at all. So, you know, I, of course, thought about it, and then I said, "Well, how would you want me to do it? I mean, do you want me to do just what every other person does? Because anybody could do that," and they were very specific. Amy and Steve were their names. Amy, in particular, because, you know, the bride … The bride runs the show [crosstalk].

So, she was very clear that she wanted me to be myself, and she wanted it to be …. They said, "Please tailor it to movies and television," which I did. So, I wrote the entire program according to both love, and movies and television. So, there were little nods to … She's also a Matt Nathanson fan, which is a musician that I had never even heard of, so I had to do research on him, too.

I did a lot of research, and put together this entire program that was specifically tailored to them. That led to actually officiating their wedding. Their wedding- their love was consummated because of our podcast.

That is awesome. That's right, it's a Twin Spin from Aaron. He and Troy got to go on the actual set of The Blacklist for a very special episode. Here is another Because of My Podcast story from Aaron Peterson.

You know, I've always loved entertainment, and being- doing the podcasts, I've gotten more opportunities in entertainment than I ever had-

Well, yeah, you and Troy, and The Blacklist, man. I mean, who else just gets … "Yeah, I'm just gonna go hang out with Jon Bokenkamp, no big deal …"?

Yeah, that's insane. It really is. And Hollywood Outsider, on top of that, we've- I've talked to so many directors, and I've been invited to South By every year, as press, and I guess so many opportunities have come up that I never would've thought would've arisen from podcasting.

The Blacklist stuff is like ice on the … I mean, that's … Their hundredth episode of that, being invited to that, I don't think any podcast has been invited to something like that, that does what we do. I can't think of any that has for something … And that was insane to me.


We get there, and we're hanging out with like the studio … And there were only six media outlets that were invited, and we were one of 'em, and that includes the Hollywood Reporter, Variety. I mean it just was insane, insane.

Wow, that's cool.

Yeah, that's pretty cool.

So, did you get to meet like any of the cast while you were there?

Everybody. Yeah, everybody. We met James Spader, and Megan Boone, everybody that was there. We'd interviewed some of 'em, but we had never talked to Spader, because he's kinda the guy that doesn't wanna do many of these things.

He's Spader, yeah.

Mm-hmm, yeah, and he's about as eccentric as you would think. Super-nice guy, but he's definitely eccentric. He's been in Hollywood a long time.

But we met all of them. Megan actually was such a … We were on our way out. All the press had been escorted out, and she came to find us, and said, "Hey, do you guys wanna come behind the scenes?".

And so, took us back to see them film a scene, and Andrew McCarthy was the director. So, we got to also meet Andrew. He comes out, and says, "Hey I'm Andrew," and I'm like, "Well, of course you are. I grew up in the '80s, man. I know who you are."

Wow, that's cool.

Yeah, it's pretty cool,and they listened … I mean, they listen to our podcast. It's just surreal, a lotta times, honestly.

That is awesome. Very good. Well, Aaron, thanks for coming on, and sharing your Because of My Podcast story.

Thanks for having me. This is great.

Super-nice guy with Twin Spin Because of My Podcast stories. You can find Aaron at You can find him at,, and his latest podcast is called Smirk. I'll have links to these out in the show notes,

We are gonna get to the Question of the Month in just a second. I wanna thank everybody who came to my rescue, and sent in some insights into what didn't work that first quarter.

The first thing we're gonna talk about today, which I've also promised for a while, is some audio-sharing tools, and I've played with them quite- pretty much all of today.

And for the record, I'm not talking about … Like Bluebrry has the ability, they'll post your episode to Twitter. They'll post a two-minute clip to Facebook, and YouTube. Libsyn will post to Libsyn … Will post to Libsyn … Will post to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, all the other places. I'm not talking about those.

These are, and the big difference, you ready? Is these have little squiggly marks on them, like audio waves. Exactly. I'm not talking … I'm not ignoring Libsyn, and Bluebrry, and Spreaker, and Podbean.

These are tools specifically designed to make fun little videos with squiggly lines on them. And one is called a Wavve, which is W-A-V-V-E. The other one is called Audiogram, and the other one is kinda weird. People call it Headliner, but it's actually SpareMin, like spare minute.

These are tools that you can use to make snippets of your podcast, and turn them into a video that you can then share on Twitter, and Facebook, and Instagram, things like that.

This is not really the first tool to be based on sharing audio snippets. Clammr, C-L-A-M-M-R, rest in peace, 2014 to 2017, had all this stuff. I think the quickest I could get it was about two minutes to make a Clammr, maybe a minute, but it was doing it on the phone. You couldn't see what you're doing, and that was probably the biggest hurdle. They had a lotta press. They got mentioned a lot. They were integrated into Libsyn. They were integrated into, I think … I know Bluebrry did. I'm not sure if Spreaker did.

This was the scenario for doing this, because, remember, always consider the source. So, in this case, I said, "I wanna do a weekly show." That would be four, let's call these videos, for lack of a better phrase … I need four videos with four different designs.

So, I looked at whatever you wanna call it, Spearmin, SpareMin, Headliner. Here's the fun part of this one, it's free. It's absolutely not a penny, and it allows you to make a video out of your audio. In theory, it can transcribe your audio, which is true. The other thing that's true – it does it poorly. I've tried this a few times, and it's not even close. It was pretty awful.

It does give you the ability to have more than one image, so you can actually have the image kinda change halfway through your little video. You can easily make a copy of a project. I guess that's what we could call this, when you're making it, and edit that to be a new one. So, if you had things that were always used over, and over, and over, you could copy it, make a new one, and then tweak it.

There is an image-search tool. That's kinda what makes this one different, so you can find images to use in your video, but be sure to read the terms of service, as one of their services is Getty Images. Now, if you say Getty Images to most podcasters, they kinda flinch a little bit, because that is one company that will take you to court quicker than you can say, I don't know, "Insert something quick, here," and yeah …

But it is free, and there are videos inside their system to kinda give you a little bit of a nudge in the right direction. I'll have links to all this. If you go to, you'll see the one I did with, oh, let's call it Headliner.

The next one is not free. It's called Audiogram, and I like that Audiogram actually gives you a live, animated preview of your finished file, so you're not guessing. You don't have to like, "Hey, let me render this," and then look at it, and go, "Oh, I don't like that." So, I like that aspect of this one.

You can see it before you turn it into a video, and they have a bunch of premade designs. Now, the designs are not like, "Oh, wow!" They're like, "Oh … It's white text on a black background. How creative," but you have much more control over things like the titles and positions of the animations.

I'll give an example, with the free version, the Headliner, you kinda either go top, middle, or bottom, where you want the little squiggly line to show that, "Hey, look, it's audio, because it blinks now." That's all you get: top, middle, bottom.

This, you can really get specific on where you want those little squiggly lines to show up, and you can even load an existing design from a previous movie that you made, which could save you some time. So, if you like this certain font, and you want it a certain way, it looks like you can take the design settings from a previous movie, and use them on a new one.

Audiogram, it also shows your social sites, if you want, at the end of the video. So, as you're getting to the end of this video, it could show my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, things like that. Now, these are not clickable, but it's a branding thing. When you're done creating the video, you can download it, or email it to your phone for easy sharing on Instagram. That is the same on all these tools.

For me, to do four videos a month would cost me $19. I can do two videos for free. Now, again Headliner, from SpareMin, is absolutely free for everything. Audiogram, a little more control, a little more bells and whistles – $20. I can do two for free, or 19 to do up to 50.

The Cadillac one is Wavve, and it has the most elaborate tools. You can drag and drop things exactly where you want them to appear. That was kinda cool. They have more fonts … When you're done, you can actually post your video to Facebook, and Twitter, right from within your account. You don't have to download it and do … You just, "Oh, here it is. Put that on Facebook now. Here, put that on Twitter now." And then, again, it has the ability to email the video to your phone, where you can then put it … What you do is you download it, you get that video, and then, you know, somewhere on your phone, you'll have a share button, and you can share it to Instagram.

It does give you the ability to do a few free videos per month, but it depends on how long they are, because they have a time limit. They do have video tutorials that will walk you through the system. If you're a person who's really like, "I want these to look cool," this is the one that gives you the most control over the look. Now, for my scenario, to do four different videos a month that were different, it would cost me $18 a month, so it was pretty cool.

Now, if you're gonna base this solely on budget, it's super-easy. That would be good old SpareMin-Headliner, cuz it's absolutely free. It'd be interesting to see how long that hangs around. Usually it's about three years before something that … I mean, you're making videos; they're hosting these videos, and that's not free, so it'd be interesting to see how long this holds around. And it's not as versatile, but it does give you something to share, and you'll see, it's not a whole lot different than the other ones. The other one, again, Audiogram, $19 a month. Wavve is 18.

Now, there are different features. As I said, Audiogram has the ability to save your design choices, and use them over, and over, and over. I thought that was cool. Wavve has the ability to post to Facebook, and Twitter, right from your account, and SpareMine-Headliner has the ability to search for images, right from within there, so, if you wannna use different images … I think they all have the ability to transcribe, and I just … Every time I did that, it was like, "Well, that was a train wreck."

And so, you'll see that you can turn these little tools into a giant time-suck, if you're not careful, because you can go, "Ooo, should I use this font, or that font?" or things like that. So be careful with that. If you have something to make trackable links … So, for me, on WordPress, I use a plugin called Pretty Link. I know there are other systems out there, but if you're not using WordPress, you know, there's been, something, because what this does is it makes your audience … It catches their eye, especially on Instagram, because it's kind of a pain in the butt to get a movie on Instagram, because unless you made it on your phone, you've gotta do this whole email/download/share thing. And so, when I see one, it's like, "Ooo, that's different."

That's the whole point – you wannna stand out. But there's nothing here to track: did this deliver subscribers? Did this deliver downloads? Things like that. So, I'm actually making special links. In the audio that I have there, I have a special link so I can see is anybody following this? Because, if I'm spending $20 a month, roughly, or if I'm spending …

That's the other thing we should talk about the … All of these, I went through, and I have a video for you, if you wanna check this out. If you go to, you can sign up for a quick video, where I show you how I used all three of these. It'll, again, flatten the learning curve. will take you right there. Sign up, and instantly, you will get a video, where I show you these. All of them took five minutes or less, somewhere between four and five, because I was explaining what I was doing in the video. So, I would say somewhere between three to five minutes, if you …

Cuz you think about this, you're gonna figure out what your favorite font is. You're gonna figure out what images you're gonna use, and things like that. So, it's not a huge amount of time. It's just, this might be something, if you're … Something you're gonna be doing that's gonna be another part of your workflow, and that's where you're like, "Another thing to add to my workflow." That's why I am making clickable links, and I'm trying to track this.

That's the one thing that it's just not possible. Back when we were using Flash, you could make videos that had links that you could click on the movie. That is not the case anymore, at least to the best of my knowledge.

So, the one thing I really like about these services, though, has nothing to do with making a movie, has nothing to do with Instagram, has nothing to do with that. This is why I like these services, and that is it makes you think. And, if you're a new listener to the show, ah, if you can make me think, I am your friend for life.

And what I like is you have to kind of ask yourself, "All right, what's the key clip of this episode that's gonna wanna make people hear more?" Or, if you're making up a clip, if you're just gonna make something, you're not gonna pull something from the actual episode, but you're gonna make some sort of promo to motivate people to come and listen to your show, what's that main point? That's what I like about this, because it really kind of gives you a mirror to go, "Is there anything of value in this episode?" That's one of the things I really … Even if you're not gonna use these services, that's a cool thing to think about.

There is a book, it is called- it's by Ken Davis. It's called Secrets of Dynamic Communications. I've talked about this book before. It's made for public speakers, but I love the section on developing your presentation, and your podcast is a presentation. That's one of the things he says is you have to figure out what is the one thing that you're gonna base your presentation on? That's kind of what you do when you use these kinda tools. You're looking for something that is going to inspire your audience to go, "Wait, I wanna hear more about that." I'll have links to all of these. Again, if you want to get the video, where I show you how to use these, simply go out to

It is the last episode of the month, and this is one, where we're bringing back the tradition, where I ask you a question. And I wanna thank everybody who sent this in, because I had a few people say, "Dave, this wasn't your best Question of the Month." And, you know what? I am weird this way. I really am. I would much rather have somebody give me constructive criticism than lie to my face, and say, "I love everything about your show."

They made some great points. Number one, I'm asking people to throw themselves under the bus. What didn't you do? You know, maybe the question should have been … Kim, from, had a great point. She said, "Maybe we shoulda made that more positive. What DID you get done the first quarter, as opposed to, 'Hey, how did you fail? Way to start 2018!" I was like, "That's a good point." And so, then, after you throw yourself under the bus, can you do it in public? It's not an easy question to answer, and that's why I'm really super-appreciative to everyone who sent in an answer. And here's our first one:

Hi, Dave. This is Bill Hutchison, from the YWAM Podcast. They can be found at, as well, as other podcasts at

My goal for the first quarter of 2018 was actually to be more consistent in my production of podcasts for the organization I work with. I have not been able to do that quite as well as I had hoped. But, that said, so far in 2018, I've managed to produce 13 different podcasts. These include editing and remastering some old teachings that we have within our organization that go back as far as 1970s. So, you can imagine they take a bit of work to get remastered; as well as producing a new show, and a prayer guide every month.

In 2017, I managed managed to produce 17 of these podcasts. So far, in 2018, I have managed to produce 13, but they just haven't been quite as consistent as I'd hoped. So moving forward, I'm trying to get myself in a better routine, so that I'm able to release at least one podcast every week. That's kinda what I'm hoping to do, moving forward.

Dave, I know that you haven't got quite the response you want for answers for this month's question. However, I personally felt that they were valuable, last year, to hear from other podcasters. I do hope that you continue to do them, moving forward.

Thank you, Bill. What a nice guy. Yeah, I think we all wanna be more consistent, but here's the thing, and this is what I think is kinda interesting about that is, on one hand, he's saying, "I wish I could be more consistent," but yet, you put out 17 episodes of this, and 13 episodes of that. There are a lot of people who haven't even put out a single episode, so buddy, you're doing a whole lot better than other people.

Also, I wanna point out on this, because some people are like, "Yeah, I'm not consistent," I'm like, "Well, what's going on?" "Oh, I don't know. My grandpa lost a limb, and, you know, Aunt Mildred has double cancer squared," and you're like, "Well, you know, it's okay to take some time off when you have double cancer squared." So, here's our next one:

Hey Dave, this is Brad, from The Cinema Guys. Our little roundtable discussion about movies can be found at What is something that we wanted to do in the first quarter of this year? That would be engaging more with our audience, as well as calls to action, which we didn't do a great job with. We kinda really laxed on it, especially calls to action.

One, like when we get on the show, we either forget to mention things, or completely forget … And engaging with our audience, it seems like sometimes it's just crickets out there, so it's hard to tell who's listening, and who's not. Occasionally, we'll get an e-mail, or occasionally get a message, so it's been tough.

Recently, we've kind of started that upswing. We've made the conscious effort, as a group, to be more active on social media with our show. Within the last few weeks, we have doubled followers on our Twitter, and Instagram, and tripled followers on our Facebook, nd we've gotten some more interaction with people on those sides than we had before, which is great.

I think that's all, because I'm not the only one in control of our social media. My cohosts can also get on, and post, and comment back to people, which has really helped out. As far as our calls to action, we have recently started making sure we put that in our outline for our show, saying, "After we talk about this part, let's mention this – people contacting us – or after this, let's mention this of our TeePublic store," or whatnot. We've gotten a little traction from that, which is kind of nice to hear that there are voices out there. Again, our show can be found at

Brad, thank you so much. It was cool hanging out with you in Cincinnati, a little bit ago. Here's the thing, again … You hear this, "Well, we didn't get to do this, but we did triple this; we doubled that; we did that …" Just because you didn't get to everything you wanted, doesn't mean that the whole quarter was down the tubes. Great to hear that, while some things aren't going the way you wanted, other things sound like they're going great.

Hi Dave. This is Sarah Mikutel, host of The Postcard Academy. My travel podcast aims to help listeners get the most out of every vacation by sharing insider food, and culture tips from ex-pats, and other adventurist citizens of the world. This past quarter, I had wanted to formalize my project management plan for my podcast. It's all in my head, and I usually do all the steps but not having it written down with boxes to tick makes me feel like I am drowning.

I don't really know why I haven't done this yet. I guess it's because I really love the creative side of podcasting; interviewing people, doing research, and all of that. Mapping out a production and promotion plan just feels like treachery, but I know it's important, so this quarter, I'm going to make it happen. I have an Asana account, and my goal is to map out everything that is in my head. Now that I have shared this with you, I will have to do it, so please hold me accountable. Thank you for this opportunity to share, and I will see you at Podcast Movement.

Sarah, thank you so much. I need to start listening to your show, because I just got a passport. That's exciting. Asana is a great tool. My favorite tools for organization are Evernote and Todoist. I love Todoist. If you're a regular listener, "He's gonna say he's gonna do the Gmail thing again." Yeah, I'm gonna do the Gmail thing again.

In Todoist, you can install Todoist into your Google Chrome, and when there's an email there that you wanna follow up in, or for whatever reason, you just, "Hey, make this a Todoist," and you can give it a date for it. Then, you just go into Todoist, and what's cool is you can see, "Ooo, I was supposed to do this last week." You click on it. It opens up Gmail, and takes you right to that email. I love Todoist.

Hi Dave, it's Max Trescott, proud graduate of the School of Podcasting. My podcast is Aviation News Talk, and people who are interested in flying can find it at Last year, I saw a post in your School of Podcasting Facebook group, from Cale Nelson, of Ham Radio 360. He posted an image showing that his download numbers spiked up, after he presented at the largest ham-radio convention in the US.

I had been planning all along to request a slot to present at AirVenture, which was the largest air show in the United States. It's held in late July, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I've had an incredibly busy spring, and I just continue to put off doing it, so I'm gonna put in that request later today. I presented there for 10 years in a row, but haven't been back to AirVenture for six years. Hopefully, they'll remember me, and give me a presentation slot.

I probably wouldn't have done it at all, if you didn't pose this question on your show. So, Dave, thanks for that subtle kick in the butt that I needed to get this done. Thanks, again, and as I tell fellow pilots, keep the blue side up.

Thank you, Max. He has a … Man, that guy is super-decorated, when it comes to flying a plane, if you go listen to his show, over at

I'm with you on that. I have something on my to-do list. I found what I think is gonna be a great resource for future podcasters, and I haven't reached out to the company yet. That was on my list of things to do like January, first week. It's just one of the things, where it's like, "Uh, I'm not really sure …" Just shut up, and do it. I think we've all been there.

Dave, I planned to do a whole complete podcast in the first quarter of 2018, about fashion, and yuck … It just fizzled. It just fizzled. As you know, a podcast takes time, it takes money. It takes all the effort in the world to organize guests, to organize people, to organize editors, which I've only had one, which I'll get to in a minute.

My plan for 2018 is to keep Ask Win going strong. As soon as I graduate with my journalism degree, hopefully in 2019, I will be able to start a podcast about fashion, and/or some other aspect of my life. That's how my podcast kind of fizzled, my idea for a podcast, kind of fizzled out in 2018. I have a couple episodes of it, but I really want to do it strong on Libsyn, and it's not happening right now.

I did find a … I did find a Emily … I did … God, I'm laughing to myself, because I did find a editor, and she is [inaudible] all right, so now, I'm using her to edit my podcasts. I guess Ask Win is going strong, because … It's going strong, just because I found an editor, but my podcast on fashion – I should probably do a podcast on books, more than fashion – didn't pan out the way I thought, but maybe I'll do a podcast on books, and journalism. I don't know when. I don't know when. That's one of my other ideas.

Thank you, Dave, and this is Win, from Ask Win, and hopefully soon to be the books and journalism podcast. Maybe I'll come up with a new name for that one. Hopefully that one will start in 2019. I know I should give myself a date. After my life settles down, I'll give myself a date, and go from guns ablazing on that one. Thank you, Dave. Bye.

Thank you, Win. Hey, you just said you're a student, and you wanna start another podcast? From from my chair, I'd be like, "You know what? School first. School first, podcast second," and then once you get outta school, see if you have any time. Because you're right, it takes a lotta time.

We get the bug. We wanna start a second, a third, and a fourth podcast. I have multiple shows. That's because I'm testing other media hosts, not because, in some cases, I'm like, "Oh, I just wanna talk about socks, so I'm gonna start this socks podcast!" No, I'd need to test somebody out. We'll talk about another podcast host, here in a minute, but here's another response:

Hey, Dave, how are you? This is Zack Demopoulos. My podcast is Raising 'Rents, as in parents. You can find me on I think I will be the brave one here, and get out, and give you the answer to your question. You were curious why people weren't calling in. You know, it's not easy to try to express maybe what might be viewed as a failure, or just something that maybe procrastination is involved.

My goal, to start, that I haven't started yet, that I should've is to get my season two going, with Raising 'Rents. My last episode was in November, and though I am enjoying quite a few downloads, continuous downloads, instead of sitting back and enjoying that too much, I really should be telling myself, "It looks like this is a valuable show. I need to get started with my season two."

I haven't started, as of first quarter, and not sure what the reason why. You know, saying that I'm too busy is just an excuse. I heard that recently. I can't remember where I heard that. I think it was on the Tim Ferriss show, but being too busy is an excuse. It's more about allocating time, and getting rid of something that you shouldn't be doing, and I need to do that, so that's where I'm going to focus on..

I think the other thing that's gonna help me is just get the accountability thing going. I think doing this with you is one of those ways. Harry Duran is also on my butt, and has asked me publicly what am I gonna do, and when am I gonna do it by? I think that helps me.

So, what the heck? I stretched my neck out. Thought I'd throw this your way. Let's see if I can get my season two up and running. I appreciate the question, Dave, and as always, I appreciate everything you do for all of us in the podcast community. Take it easy, buddy.

Thank you, Zack. Always great to hear from you. You know, sometimes we need a little kick in the pants, and I'm sure that you are up to something. It's not like you're just kicking back. If you are kicking back, I'm actually reading a book right now that … When I say 'read,' of course, I mean listen. They're talking about the importance of downtime; that a lot of big-shot-smarty-pants people, their best ideas come when they take some time, and actually unplug, which is unheard of for me. If you think about it, I always talk about how I get great ideas in the shower. It's because I'm undistracted. I'm relaxed. I'm chillin' out, and all of a sudden, bam, here comes a great idea. So, maybe you're just taking some time to do that.

Harry Duran will be coming on the show in the future. He's the host behind, and if you wanna hear … Let's do that; Let me give out a couple of shout-outs here, and then I'll talk about what I didn't do the first quarter, since we're talking to Harry.

Harry always does great episodes, but he has a great interview with Drew, from Sleep with Me, the show where the guy- the original guy, I should say, by the way, that is attempting to make a show to put you to sleep. Great interview on just Drew's story, and the fact that he's kind of an introverted guy, but his podcast is helping him kind of come out a little bit out of his shell. I thought that was a really great interview.

Then, if you haven't heard, thanks to Chris Krimitsos, from Podfest, and from the kid-friendly Joke of the Day podcast, he's got another podcast about doing live events. He told me about Lou Mongello, WDW Radio, interviewed – you ready for this? – the guy, the head of Marvel, which just came out with the whatever it is, Infinity Wars show, and apparently this guy is a big fan of WDW radio. Gotta get Lou on the show to tell that story.

So, there are two shows for you to listen to. Now, back to what I didn't do this quarter. I had a couple. Number one, I'm trying to get my inbox down to something that's not 11,431, as I look at it. I'm trying to go through, and … Because obviously, the first 10,000 that are still in my inbox right now can just be archived, but I'm trying to get those down.

The one thing that I started off doing really, really well was I went … I had Jeff Sanders on, about getting organized, and I read his book, The 5 A. M. Miracle. I had my routine down, and then, I'm not quite sure where, but somewhere, I fell off the wagon.

It's sad when the first thing you have to put on your to-do list is look at your to-do list. That's a problem. I just wasn't. I kinda lost my morning ritual. So, I've kinda started that, actually today. I woke up. I made time to kind of do a little whatever you wanna call it – prayer, meditation. I did that. I've been exercising a little more, and getting more sleep. That's the other thing that can really kill you.

So, that's the big thing. I was kind of bummed. I really came outta the gate in January, just nailing it, being a super-organized. This weekend, especially, I looked around. I can't even see my desk anymore. It's just a pile of papers, and mints, and a thank-you card here, from Steve Stewart – Thank you, Mr. Stewart – and my passport. All sorts … It's just junk everywhere. I need to take some time, back up, and get a little focused. That will always be, I think, one of my top priorities is getting focused.

It dawned on me, too, one other thing that I do, that I used to do when I did … I think, at one point, I was doing six different podcasts. What I would do is I would have my notes in Evernote, and I would be taking notes … This was before I worked at Libsyn. I would take notes on my lunch, and I was constantly working on my podcast, when I … Anytime I had a free moment, I was putting things into Evernote, so that when it came time to do the show notes, when it came time to come up with my topics, and my bullet points, it was there. I would turn off Gmail, I would turn off YouTube, I would turn off Facebook, and I would record my podcast in a hyper-stealth mode, just, bam, focused.

I don't do that anymore, and I'm not sure … I think it's because back then, I was married, and I only had … We had a set … There were a couple of days that were Dave-Cave days, and that was Tuesday, Thursday, and part of Saturday, and we agreed on that. Consequently, it's hard to do that many shows on three days, so I was hyperfocused, and I guess now that I can do podcasts whenever I want, I'm just kind of not being as efficient, and I could be doing other things.

I just bought a course on SEO, and I've already got a course on- Jeff Sanders' course. I have his course on getting organized. It doesn't do any good to buy the book; it doesn't do any good to buy the course, if you don't pencil in the time to do it. That's one of things I've done now, just this week. I went back … My little wakeup routine now is on my calendar, my exercise is on my calendar. Everything that I do now is on my calendar, so I can see exactly where I'm at.

Then, the other thing that you have to look at is how much margin do you have? This is just something, right now, that I don't have a ton of. Obviously, I keep margin open for consulting, and things of that nature, to pay the bills, but I am hoping to, again, get organized, get some of this stuff stacked away, and have a little more margin in my life. I'm not complaining, because I really like being busy. I am a bit of a workaholic, but that is something that I know, in the long run, you can't do.

I wanna thank everybody who sent in their comments. I deeply, deeply, deeply appreciate it. You might be thinking, "But, Dave, what's the Question of the Month for May?" 'Well, I'm gonna need that by …" he said, pulling up a calendar, "May 25th, 2018."

I wanna give Scott Johnson from … Hey, check this out. Scott changed his format. That's right. You can do that. Hey, have you heard about Lee Silverstein, The Colon Cancer Podcast? He's been on the show. Guess what? Lee changed his format. He's gone from colon cancer to He's gonna open up … He's gonna kind of un-niche. He kind of approached me, he's like, "I'm gonna need your opinion on this." I said, "Talk to your sponsors, because don't you have sponsors that are super-niche?" Everybody is excited about it. He's gonna open up his niche a little bit. It's still about cancer, though.

I say that just because if you're sitting there thinking, "Uh, I don't know what I should do about …" you can always change it later. I'm just saying, but I wanted to thank Scott Johnson, from Computer Tutor Florida, for sending in some questions.

We're gonna bounce this off'a Win, because Win just answered this question; so, Win, you've already answered May's question, thank you. That is: do you have plans to start a new show, and what will it be about? That's for those people that maybe don't have a podcast at all, or maybe they have one, and they wanna start two.

Then we have, that's right, bonus question, and this one's for me. This is something that I wanna ask my audience. When I go to all these different events, everybody is really interested in getting a sponsor, and for the record, it's not one of the best ways to make money with a podcast. It is a way. I actually have a new sponsor coming on in May, so, obviously, I don't hate sponsors, when they fit.

What I'm noticing, and I'll give you the behind-the-scenes … I had somebody that joined a media host that isn't that well-known, and I asked why. They said, "Because they can get me a sponsor." For the record, Libsyn, Bluebrry, Spreaker, who am I missing, Podbean can all get you sponsors. I also know there are things like … Well, there's other media hosts.

My question is for those of you that have had sponsors, did they come from your media host? Which is gonna be interesting, because for the record, I worked for Libsyn, and there may not be anybody here, because each media host has different criteria. I say this because I think there are some smaller media hosts coming on that are saying, "We can get you a sponsor," and I'm like, "Really? Cuz, are the criteria different for Spreaker, and Bluebrry, and Libsyn, and Podbean, and suddenly, you're gonna get somebody who has 20 downloads a sponsor?"

That is my question, and I'm not looking to see how much you got paid, by the way, just for the record. If you wanna share that, you can. Most of the time, there's a Do Not … A DNA, or whatever it is. Do not … No, not do not resuscitate; that's if you're dead, but there's a form where you can't talk about it. I'm not looking to get into your wallet. I just need to know if you got a sponsor, how did you get one? Did they approach you? Did you approach them? If so, where did they come from? Dying to know that one, myself, so, that is the Question of the Month.

Now, what you wanna do – this is what I forgot to do, last time, and it kinda created a mess – is I need that by May 25th. If you go to, you can actually just call it in, like Zack did, from Raising 'Rents, or if you wanna e-mail me, [email protected]

A lotta you, Max did this, just recorded it on his phone, and then just emailed it, the voice memo, and just emailed it that way. That's fine. In the subject line, please put May 2018 Question. That way, it makes them very easy for me to find, and the minute they come in, I like to save them in a special folder, because this month, as I mentioned earlier, my email is a bit crazy, and I'm praying I didn't miss anybody. I did my best to do that.

That's the Question of the Month for May, and again, I look forward to everyone … Be sure, again, to mention your website, so we know where to find you, and just a sentence or two, which everybody did a great job of where we can find you. Don't forget to do that. That's important, as well.

Hey, if you want to work with me, you can go to I got real creative. Right now, you can go over, and sign up for the Patreon account, and that'll also get you access to the video I talked about, where you can see me use those different audio-sharing tools. Yep, that's for my Patrons. It's also in the School of Podcasting, as well.

Also, if you don't wanna spend anything, you can sign up for the newsletter, and get that video that shows you how to use those tools. If you have just a couple questions, don't really need to join the School of Podcasting, I would love to do some one-on-one consulting with you. If you're getting ready to launch your show, and you kinda want a mentor to kinda walk you through, I have mentoring programs, where we can get together for a couple months, and plan your stuff, get you launched, get you going, and we work side by side on that. Everything is super-simple. with me. I look forward to working with you.

That is gonna do it for this episode of The School of Podcasting. Thank you so much. Again, everything I mentioned today,, and 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 …

… Podcasting … Today, we might talk about a wrong path, or at least somebody who's coming into podcasting, who's kinda being not so nice about that. We might hit that today. We might save that till next week. The website that you wanna go to is School … You know, that's a horrible intro. What do you … Do you not know what you're gonna talk about?

… And there was a book by Ken, and I cannot remember his name. This is gonna be an edit point. Why did you call an audible, Dave? Why did you call an audible?

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

This podcast is part of the Power of Podcasting Network. Find it at, changing the world, one download at a time.

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Full Transcript: School of Podcasting – The Question Most Podcasters Forget to Ask Before Starting – And They Wish They Had

Today, on episode number 614 of the School of Podcasting, I'm gonna tell you the one question that every new podcaster needs to answer before they press record, and it's not why we hear the difference between minus-14 and minus-16 LUFS. I share my thoughts on sponsorship markets, and if you need royalty-free music of any length, I've got a tool for that, thanks to Steve Stewart. Hit it, ladies!

The School of Podcasting, with Dave Jackson.

Podcasting ince 2005, I am your award-winning personal podcast coach, Dave Jackson, thanking you so much for tuning in. If you are new to the show, thank you, first of all, for showing up. I really appreciate it.

Here's what we typically do here. I help you massage your message. I hope you tackle the technology. I help you face your fears, and I help you flatten that learning curve of podcasting. My website is Use the coupon code: LISTENER, when you go to, and you can save on either a monthly, or yearly subscription. There are other ways to work with me simply go to, and you can read about those there.

Today, I gotta tell you, I love my audience, and I know right now, I'm just talking to you, but there are times when I'm like, "Uh, I'm not sure what I'm gonna talk about on an episode," and somebody will send a question. I'm like, "That would be a great episode!"

Last week, if you missed it, I interviewed Monica Rivera from the YOU WANNA DO WHAT?! podcast, and I showed her growth, from episode zero to episode 40, and I got a lot of really good feedback on that, so I appreciate you listening to that. You can check that out at

This particular question ties in very nicely with that. We're gonna talk about starting a podcast, and really the question is to podcast or not to podcast? That is the question. I'm gonna talk about three questions. Now, I ask a lot of questions when I get a client, but these are three, and there's a new one that I now add that I think is probably more important than the first two.

I got this email from Tyler Primavera, and he asked me, he says, "I discovered your School of Podcasting, and Ask the Podcast Coach shows, and I really appreciate them. I'm slowly working my way through them."

So, here again, when people find your show, if they like it, they will go back, and download your back catalog. I say that all the time, and that's why. Then, he even says, "I'm sorry to hear about Bernie, the cat." If you are new to the show, I used to have a cat, who would come in, and interrupt the podcast on a regular basis. Bernie has gone to the big litter box in the sky.

He says, "I really wanna start a podcast in veterinarian school." He says, "I'm starting in the fall," so, congrats on that. He says, "But I'm afraid of the time commitment. I really think podcasting is a great idea … " He wrote an in-depth article about this, and I'll have links out the show notes at, or you could check out his website, And he says, "But, again, I am afraid of the commitment. How do I decide to podcast or not?" And he says, "Thank you for your time, Tyler."

The first thing I'm gonna ask you is why do you wanna podcast? Because, if you can't answer that question, then please don't spend a dime on any equipment. You need to know your why. If you can't explain your why, you're never gonna make it through the how.

To this, I went over to Tyler's website, and he says, "Through my podcast, I hope to speak, and live," he says, "the message that personal well-being is an absolute must during veterinarian school, and that no vet student is ever truly alone." That's a pretty cool reason to start, so he's got a message he wants to put out there – that you have to take care of yourself, and not kill yourself when you're trying to go through college.

He also says, "I want my podcast to improve the lives of veterinarian students, and the veterinarian field, second." He says, "I want to do my little part in tackling the big problem of veterinary mental maladies." That is a 50-cent word, right there, so let's just do this live, shall we? I'm gonna copy that. I'm gonna throw that out into Uncle Google … It's a disease, or ailment. Well, see, he's using fancy veterinarian words, there, or something like that.

So, that's my first question – why do you wanna podcast? If your answer is, "I don't know, I think it'd be cool," well, all right, you can do that, but usually, there's a little more heart in it. It's something that you just … "I just wanna talk about this." That's question number one.

Question number two: how will you know if it's successful? I realize that you might have one reason for starting a podcast, and you might think, "Well, it'd be successful if blank would happen," and then, later, that might change, but by answering this question, as a consultant, I can steer the podcast in what appears to be the right direction.

If your goal is to grow an email list, or if your goal is to be seen as an expert, or if your goal is to sell more product, or whatever it is, why you're starting your podcast, when I know what you're defining it as successful, well, then we can steer it that way. I can also see if the topic is in alignment with the goal of the show, cuz that is not always the case.

So, for the person that wants to position themselves as an expert, and then they do a ton of interviews, I'm like, "You're kinda making your guests look really, really smart, but you're not really doing a lot of that for you." There are different reasons why I want to have that question answered.

The first question: why do you want to start a podcast? Number two: how will you know if it's successful? The other reason I ask number two, and I see this happen a lot, somebody'll say, "You know what? This just needs to get out there. If I could have 100 people download an episode a week, that would be phenomenal. I just … I can't explain how that would make me feel."

They go at it for nine months; they're up to 150 downloads, and they're ecstatic. Then, they go and look at somebody else's stats, who's doing a weight-loss show, and they're doing a show about, I don't know, something super-duper-niche, and they go, "Aww, I can't believe it, that guy doing the weight-loss show is getting 5 million downloads an episode. I'm doing a show about albino-chinchilla racing, and I'm only getting 150 downloads." I'm like, "Wait a minute … You said if you got 100 downloads, you'd be fine. You're getting 150. Quit comparing yourself to …" I see people … The joy just gets sucked outta their life, because they compare themselves to somebody else. That's another reason why I ask how you'll know if it's successful, because I can point at that, and go, "Look, you have success. You have what you set out to do.".

This third question is the one that I'm gonna start asking people, because I really think that this is the question that needs to be answered. It is, unless you have a large budget, and you're gonna start farming a lot of this stuff out, your podcast is going to take up more time than you think. While I normally say to use the four-to-one rule, meaning a one-hour podcast is gonna take you about four hours, from start to finish, that number could easily be five-to-one, when you're new; if not six-to-one, seven-to-one, depending on how much of a perfectionist you are.

With this in mind, unless you have a time machine, there are still only 24 hours in a day, and most of us, at least the people I work with, are not starting a podcast … I go, "Why you wanna start a podcast?" "You know, I'm just bored. I got nothing to do. I'm sitting around, watching Dr. Phil say brilliant things like, 'If you jump in the water, you're gonna get wet.' Okay, thanks Dr. Phil. You know, and I'm just … I can't take any more Maury, and Dr. Phil, and I hate Judge Judy. I'm bored." I never get that response. It's quite the opposite. "Oh, I do this, I do that," blah, blah, blah.

In this article that Tyler wrote, he says," Right now, I have plenty of time to make a podcast, because I'm not in veterinarian school," or veterinary school. I'll get that word right eventually. He says, "How will I be able to attend school for 40 hours a week, study, workout, maintain a long-distance relationship, do the hokey pokey, and turn yourself around, as well as do a podcast?" Okay, I added the hokey pokey, but he actually says 40 hours a week. That's eight hours a day, five days a week. There's eight hours … I'm popping it up on my calculator, as we do this … There's eight hours. I'm gonna study, so that's an easy three hours, maybe two, depending on how good'a notes you take. I'm gonna work out. All right, so there's another hour. Now, you're up to 12 hours in a day, and maintain a long-distance relationship, so there's another hour out of your day on the phone. There's 13 hours a day. Then, that means that if there are 24 hours a day, that leaves you 11 hours to eat, and sleep. While that sounds doable, there's no time in there to drive … This is if you're teleporting everywhere. That means you're also not spending any time with friends, and things like that.

So, my third question, and I really think this is the most important question, is what are you gonna give up to make time for your podcast? Yeah. What are you gonna quit doing to make time for your podcast? Because, again, he says, "I'm gonna work 40 hours a week, study, work out, maintain a long-distance relationship, and do a podcast." He says, "How am I gonna do that?" I have no idea, but supposedly, if there is a will, there is a way. Well, 'if there is a will there's a way' is not entirely true

If we go back to the days of World War II, in 1934, in Time magazine, a little guy named Adolf Hitler said, "At the risk of appearing to talk nonsense, I tell you that the National Socialist Movement [better known as the Nazis] will go on for thousands of years." Well, he had the will to extend his National Socialist Movement, but there was no way that was gonna happen. In fact, I don't really think he lacked the will. He had extra … He had will-plus-plus, but there was just no way that was gonna happen.

Sometimes, having the will will give you the determination to really hunker down, when things are gonna get hard, but if you have to rely on your will all the time, your will will fade away, eventually, because what's gonna happen … I've talked about this in the past, that you need your attitude. These are three things you need to podcast, and they have nothing to do with downloads, or technologies, or Audio-Technica 2100 microphones, nothing … You need your attitude, you need your health, and you need the support of your family.

Because, when you stop sleeping, cuz that's usually the first one … "Aww, I'll just stay up later. I'll record late, when all the kids are in bed," blah, blah, blah. All right, well when you start cutting out sleep … Sleep is so huge for your health, that, okay, now your health is gonna fail, and when your health fails, that might lead to a bad attitude, and if you don't have the support of your family, well then, that also kills your attitude. That can also lead to stress, which can also lead to health issues.

If you don't have the right attitude, it may come across the microphone … "Well, it's Wednesday, and I said I'd do a podcast, so here it is. Hope you like it." That's not gonna go over well. Overall, when you have a bad attitude, it's just gonna kill the motivation to put out great content. You don't care basically.

Again, that third question: what are you going to give up to podcast? When I was in my 20s, I was on a few bowling leagues with my brother, and I think my mom was on one. That was kinda cool. I gave up watching TV, but I was with my family, so that was kinda cool. I was in a bowling league – I'm not a very good bowler, for the record – with a bunch of friends of mine. That was a blast, so I wasn't giving up time with my friends.

When I was in a band – I'm a guitar player – I gave up time with my family to go to practice, so that was a night out of that, and I gave up time to actually learn the songs, things like that. Being in a band also made me give up sleep, as I often didn't get home till 3:00 in the morning, smelling like cigarettes and puke. That was always great. We'll take a 10-second tangent here. I have a little plastic kind of a tool box that I have all my cables, and cords, and guitar tuners, and things like that. For years, I would open up the lid of that thing, be like, "Mmm, bar …" It was awesome.

Well, podcasting is no different. Are you gonna give up TV? Are you gonna give up, I don't know, videogames? Sleep? Family time? Exercise? Work? Other hobbies? Whatever it is, you're gonna have to give up something, unless you're absolutely bored out of your gourd, and you're just like, "I cannot watch another episode of SGU Poughkeepsie," whatever it is. You're gonna have to give up something, more than likely, and that's the thing you need to to ask yourself.

Those three questions, just the three, and I ask a ton more when we do consulting … Why do you wanna start a podcast, because if you can't say the why, you're never gonna make it through the how. I also need to help steer the boat with that. Number two, how will you know if it's successful, because you wanna steer your boat towards that success. Number three, what are you gonna quit doing to make time for your podcast?

If you'd like to work with me on a consulting call, or a mentoring program … I have those now, where you can sign up for- where we'll meet for a couple of months. You also get access to the School of Podcasting with that. Simply go out to

Hey, I am on the road this week. I'm looking forward to this a lot. On the 18th, I will be at I'll be at their monthly meetup. Looking forward to that. Again, for more information on that, go to On April 20th, Nashville, Tennessee – the now-sold-out Podfecta. Check that out,, and I'll be doing a live Podcast Rodeo Show there. That should be interesting, to say the least. Then, one more day in Nashville, on April 21st, I'll be at Craft Content Nashville. If you would like me to come speak at your event, I love to do this kinda stuff. Simply go out to

Speaking of Nashville, one of the people I'm gonna get to see in Nashville, along with a ton'a people, is the one and only Steve Stewart. You might know him from SteveStewart.Me, and you might know him from The Podcast Editors Club. That is a Facebook group for, it sounds weird, but podcast editors. So, if you're a podcast editor, they're actually a pretty cool group. They get knee-deep into the technology over there, sometimes.

He pointed out a really interesting site, and I wanted to pass it along to you. It's called Now, I'm a big fan of AudioJungle. If you go to, and again, all this will be in the show notes … If you're listening someplace, and you're like, "Oh, you know, I always wanna go back," if you go to, every time I put out an episode, the show notes come to you.

He told me about, and here's what makes them different … If you go to any music site, some of this stuff is just gonna sound like it was made on a bad Casio keyboard … Yeah, can there be anything even more, "Um, yeah, no …"? Now, I have a ton of royalty-free music, and I'm very happy to say that one was free, but Steve turned me on the Melody Loops, and I said, "Hey, show me some country music that was sad," and I realize that it's kind of an oxymoron, and- or wait, I don't know, it's kinda over-redundant maybe. This is a peaceful guitar melody. It goes a little something like this … This is a country song. [singing] "I got drunk with my dog in the truck, picking up mama from jail …" Right? It's not bad.

I kicked it around, but that's not what makes it cool. The prices are pretty decent. They're about 10 bucks a tune. Here's what Steve showed. You can go in, and … Like, right now, that clip is a minute and 21. What if I had a really sad country kind of whatever drama that I was working on? I could go into my … I bought it once. I could go in, and say, "Look, I need this to be three minutes and 26 seconds long." Somehow, magic elves behind the scenes grab the pieces-parts, puts 'em together. You can tell it to fade in for two seconds, fade out for 10, whatever you want, and it somehow makes the clip the exact length you need it to be. I was like, "That's pretty cool.".

There's no affiliates, that I can see, program for this. I need to contact them about that. There's a button that you click on called Longo-Loops, which is a really weird word. Longo-Loops. It's the distant cousin to Froot Loops, except they're very long-o.

It might be something, if you're looking for music, and you want it to be a certain length, check it out – The next time you're on Facebook, check out The Podcast Editors Club, and for all things Steve Stewart, check out, and for all things podcasting resources, go over to

I had another question come in. This came in from Kaine Dorr. Kaine is He said, "Dave, what are your thoughts on Podmosphere?" Usually, my question- or my answer is, "What?" It's usually not good. I try to keep up on all this stuff, so that you don't have to. I've never heard of Podmosphere, and when you have to think about a word before you say it, so you don't accidentally say it wrong, that's usually not a good name to choose.

When I look at the site, it looks like every other one of these podcast marketplaces kinda sites. You sign up with your show. You list approximately how many downloads you have, per episode. You list what your fee is, and it'll be in CPM. Now, that stands for price per mille, which I think is the Italian word for million, or thousand, or something, but it's the price per thousand downloads.

The thing is, Podmosphere, if you finally dig around their terms of service, they take 25 percent. So, if you say, "Well, I'm gonna charge $30 per thousand downloads," and you get 300 downloads an episode … Let's just say you do that, just for easy math. Well, first of all, $30, they're gonna take 25 percent of that, which means you're really charging 22.50 per thousand downloads. Now, we take our 22.50, and you divide that by 1,000 to figure out how many- what's the pay per actual single download. Then that means it's 0.0225. So, basically, 2 1/4 cents per download. You take that, and you said, "Hey, I got 300 downloads an episode." Take 0.0225, multiply that by 300, and you get $6.75 an episode. Woo! Where will you spend it all?

I've seen on some of these sites, before, and I'll give you an example … If you go to Sponsorama, "This Sunday, Sunday, Sunday, Sponsorama …" If you go to, you'll see, "Thanks for visiting the Sponsorama Sponsorship Marketplace." It shut down in September 2017.

Probably one of the longest one, and this is a really weird website, Cast.Market. They're a ghost. They're like a ninja. You think you're gonna see them, and then, they're gone. They spent a fair amount of money on branding. I often see their stuff, like, in a swag bag, when I go to an event. I believe they had a table at Podfest 2016, but there was nobody at it, so it's kinda bizarre, but, you know …

Through their campaign, it says here … Well, first of all, my favorite part of this one, and this, again, is from their website; I'm not making this up. It says, "Cast.Market is a free service." So, just let's let's chew on that a second. Cast.Market is a free service. "We don't charge podcasters anything. Got that? Nothing. Absolutely free. Through the campaign, creator businesses can pay podcasters …" Creator businesses, okay … "Creator businesses can pay podcasters directly to sponsor their show. Our credit card processor charges 2.9 percent, plus 30 cents for this. Cast.Market adds an additional 7.1 percent." So, they add an additional 7.1 percent, but, "We don't charge podcasters anything, and Cast.Market is a free service." What? So, that's kind of weird.

Here's the thing that's wrong with most of these, cuz I was over at … There's a new kinda podcast-hosting company I'm gonna be playing with. They have a button for advertisers. Every podcast-media host can probably hook you up with advertisers, if you have the right criteria, but here's what's wrong with these different advertising marketplaces.

Number one, they're all based on CPM, and the more niche your show is, the more you should charge. If you're doing an albino-chinchilla-racing podcast, it's gonna be a very niche market, so you can charge more for chinchilla-food sponsorship. That's what I'm saying there.

The one big thing that's missing from these marketplaces is really simple : sponsors. Sponsors. Sponsors, and sponsors. It sounds like a good idea, but in the end, if there are no sponsors, it doesn't work. I'll give you an example … As a musician, well, as a podcaster, CD Baby used to … This is a place where you could, when you're a musician, you could sell your CD. They'd be like, "This month, we paid independent musicians X amount of money for selling their CD." does this every now … "We paid $1 million in 2000-whatever to independent, creative people." I've never seen, and I'm on all their e-mail lists … I've never seen a, "Hey, we paid X amount of money to podcasters on our platform." I've yet to see one. Also, be sure to notice things, like when I go to Cast.Market to look at their news section, and I see that the latest update is from April 14th, and you're like, "Dave, that was like a couple days ago." No, no, April 14th, 2017. There's been no news for year, really? All that was, was … The news was, "Hey, we were interviewed on somebody's show."

So, for the most part, CPM pricing does not work for about 92 percent of podcasters, unless you're happy making your $27 a month, and adding another hour of time for the paperwork. Remember that, there's paperwork involved, now. There's one exception there that I've not looked into yet, and that is Podbean as a marketplace. Haven't looked into that one yet, so I'm gonna exclude them from this ever-so-polite rant, but as …

The one thing these services are missing is advertisers. If the rule applies of supply and demand, and they need advertisers, maybe – here's a thought – maybe you should go over, find a show similar to yours, and either a) ask them if you'd like to swap promos, promote each other's show … Develop a relationship with them. That'd be one thing; that's free, cuz all they can say is no. Or, you might actually offer to sponsor a another podcast in some of these directories.

Again, if you wanna see more of these, just go over to, and that'll take you right over to all of the resources that I have found. Some of those, I put what's on their website. In the case of Podmosphere, and Cast.Market, you will hear just a hint of not so much my snarky, just pointing out that you're probably gonna make about $3 an episode. Thank you, Kaine, for that question. I deeply appreciate it. This may be something that works in the future; just right now, the big thing that's missing are sponsors.

I wanted to remind you that, back by popular demand, we have brought back the Question of the Month, and I need yours by Friday, April 27. This month's question is now that … You know, we're into April, the first quarter of 2018 is over. Was there something that you wanted to do in the first quarter that you didn't get to? Why do you think that was, and, what do you plan on doing in the second quarter, now that the first one is over?

I realize that to do that, to answer that question, you have to throw yourself a little bit under the bus, and that's okay. We're not here to judge. We're just here to share that, "Hey, this is something I'm struggling with, too." Somebody had asked, "Hey, why don't we ask this as a Question of the Month?" So, I brought it back. All you have to do is go to

Here's the key point, be sure to mention the name of your show, your website, and what your podcast is about. If it was me, I'd be like, "Hey, this is Dave Jackson, from the, where I help you plan, launch, and grow your podcast. My answer for the Question of the Month is …" and then I would answer. It's really that simple., if you'd like to have your podcast in front of a couple thousand people.

In case you missed it, it's time for a Podcast Rewind.

I was on episode number 97 of Should I Start a Podcast? We were talking about the common podcasting mistakes you need to avoid. Here's a little clip of that.

-Podcasting since 2005. You must have some stories that when someone asks you, "What stories are the ones that come up to your mind?" what are those?

I think my favorite from the podcast radio show is somebody literally hit record, and they had like this kind of horrible intro music, and then the guy's like, "So, were we gonna talk about the one article from The Times," and it was like, "No, I thought we're gonna do the thing." I don't know, I thought … They were like … I'm like, "This is a good discussion to have before you hit record …".

You can find that at I mentioned the Podcast Rodeo Show in that particular clip, and if you've never heard of it, here's a quick promo.

On the Podcast Radio Show, we grab a random podcast, and see how long we can hang on, and I give you a real, live, first impression. "Didn't expect that. All right, this is not your grandpa's faith podcast. I'm digging it so far.".

"We discussed how cheesecake is actually a really great thing to have in your home.

Okay, you had me, and you said you brought her on because she knows this cool survival stuff, and then you didn't tell me the other things that she's gonna tell me about, and now, you're talking about cheesecake."

"Um, so we didn't really have anything to talk about. We were going, because this episode is coming out on Black Friday …".

And that, my friends, is the phrase that pays. The minute you go, "Ahh, I'm not really sure what I'm gonna talk about," I am outta here, because that means that you're gonna waste 45 minutes of my time.

Holy cow. Well, first of all, great intro. Here's the key to this. I wanna hear the rest of this episode. Do you? I do. The Podcast Rodeo Show. Find it at

Recently, I used Hindenburg Journalist to create this show, and Spotify, which currently, according to Libsyn, with only 13 percent of Libsyn users actually setting up Spotify, is the number-two place where people are listening to Libsyn podcasts. You can get a free month, by the way, at Libsyn, by using the coupon code SOPFREE. That's SOPFREE, all one word.

The big question, now, is which one should I use, because we kind of … Somebody said there was close to an industry standard of minus-16 LUFS, and we're not gonna even explain what a LUF is. It's a loudness standard. Now, Spotify is saying we would like minus-14. What does that actually sound like? I've gone into Hindenburg Journalist, and said, "Look, don't automatically adjust the volume levels for me. I want these to come in at the levels I exported them at." I recorded a phrase, exported it at 16 LUFS mono, as a .wav file, and then I exported it as a 14 LUFS mono .wav file, and here's the difference.

"You don't have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.

You don't have to be great to start, but you do have to start to be great.

Now, if you're asking yourself, "Hey, what was the difference there?" It's about two decibels. The minus-16 looks to go up to about a little over minus-6 decibels. It's weird, because you go up to 0, so it's about like minus-5 1/2 decibels. The minus-14 LUFS is about minus-3-ish, so it's not a huge difference. I hope this doesn't turn into a cage match to the death somewhere. In this corner, fighting for minus-16 LUFS, it's Biff "The Crusher" Jones! In this corner, fighting for minus-14, it's John Smith. Really.

Now for me, I was riding my bike last week, listening to podcasts as you might imagine. There's all this traffic on the streets [inaudible]. I'm going for the louder version, and I almost said louder standard, here, and there are standards in radio. I don't know that we've all come together, sang Kumbaya, and agreed on an actual standard for audio. I know we all kinda went, "Hey, let's use minus-16," and we all went, "All right. Sounds good to me," because it really wasn't a whole lot of difference. I used to use minus-3 decibels. I'm like, "That's good by me.".

I hope that's not a huge deal. I don't really think it matters, in the long run. I use Overcast, which has a voice-boost button anyway, so I'm not that worried about it, but if you … If somebody goes, "Hey, what's the difference between minus-16, and minus-14 LUFS," you could do the math and go, "Um, two LUFS," or you could say, "It's about two decibels." It's not a whole lot different, and just remember it's weird in audio. The smaller the number, so minus-14 is actually louder than minus-16, but in the end, it's not the tech.

I hope to see you when I'm out on the road this week. Do wanna let you in on something a friend of mine is doing, and that is my buddy, Erik K. Johnson. We've talked about the Podcast Rodeo Show a little bit, today. I do a show with him, called The Podcast Review Show. You can find it at I tell you what, if somebody said, "What's the one thing that I've done that's improved my show?" It's basically making Erik K. Johnson one of my friends. This guy is a wealth of information.

He's doing a thing called the Power of Podcast Interviews Workshop. You meet for five weeks on Thursday night. I'll put a link to this out in the show notes. Again, It is starting April 19, and there's only 24 spots available.

Now, you also heard me talk about Podfecta. That is sold out, and I would be really surprised if this was not sold out. He's keeping it small, because he wants to work with a small group. If you're interested in that, either go to, or like I said, if you go out to, a link to this particular workshop, as well as everything else I mentioned today, you can find it.

I do wanna thank you so much for tuning in. I have so many different ways, if you are looking for more information from me … You can go out to You can join my Patreon group for a dollar a month, and there's like another 40 episodes out there, as well as extra stuff. If you want a Podcast Rodeo Show, it's five bucks. If you want a Podcast Review Show, it's 99. If you want the School … Trust me, anyway you need help, whether you're stuck on the technology, whether you're stuck on the naming, or the branding, or the promotion. I can definitely help you. Check it out,

Thanks so much for tuning in. Next week, we'll hear the story from Dan Miller on how he was able to license the song, Taking Care of Business, for his podcast, as well as I'll have some reflections from Podfecta. Until then, 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.

Their fees are not horrible … Gees, that's bad. We have a cool resource from Steve Stewart for [inaudible]. We have a cool resource from … Aww, man, why can I not say that? Seriously.

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

This podcast is part of the Power of Podcasting Network. Find it at, changing the world, one download at a time.

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In the Dark: S2 E3 The Gun

Previously on In the Dark.

It was a jigsaw puzzle. I'd hold the pieces and it fit. We didn't find a gun, but we found the projectiles. To the ones that don't believe it, they didn't pay attention to the evidence.

They had it down on a pad for me. So, all i had to do was go there and they asked me the questions and I answered.

I was scared, but it was the police that wanted me to go. I know I ain't did nothing wrong because I will never do nothing to get in no trouble

Everybody just disappeared. We backed off.

Because it sounded like it's a threat, right, that you were received.

It was. It was. It was a threat.

I just wish that I… It shouldn't have. I hate my name here. I don't like it and I just want to live a normal life. I hate it happened.

There's something I haven't told you yet, something else that happened in Winona, Mississippi, on July 16, 1996, the day of the murders at Tardy Furniture. That morning, around 10:30, maybe a half hour or so after the murders, a man named Doyle Simpson finished work. Doyle was 38. He was a janitor at a sewing factory. And that morning after work, he went to pick up some lunches for some of his co-workers from a place called Fuzzy's Fried Chicken.

When Doyle got to Fuzzy's, he told the people there that when he'd gone out to his car at work just then, he realized that someone had gone into his unlocked car and stolen his gun from his glove compartment. It was a 380 semiautomatic pistol. On the morning of the murders, it didn't take long for Doyle's story about his gun being stolen to make its way to the investigators down at Tardy Furniture. By the time Doyle got back with the lunches for his co-workers, two investigators were there waiting for him.

This story of Doyle's stolen gun would become one of the key pieces of evidence against Curtis Flowers. It would be repeated over and over in six trials over 21 years. District Attorney Doug Evans, the man who prosecuted Curtis Flowers in all six trials, would tell jurors that on the morning of the murders around 7:00 a.m., Curtis Flowers walked across town to the factory where Doyle Simpson was working, went into Doyle's car and stole his gun. And that Curtis then used that gun to kill the four people at Tardy Furniture. It was a simple story and a clear one. And it helped lead the jurors to convict Curtis Flowers and sentence him to death, even though the investigators never found that guy

But the actual story of the gun, the full story, the one I pieced together over months of reporting, that story was anything but clear.

This is Season 2 of In the Dark an investigative podcast from APM Reports. I'm Madeleine Baran. This season is about the case of Curtis Flowers, a Black man from a small town in Mississippi, who spent the past 21 years fighting for his life, and a White prosecutor, who spent that same time trying just as hard to execute him.

The case against Curtis Flowers came down to three main things: the route, the gun, the confession. This is an episode about the gun

On the day of the murders at Tardy Furniture, July 16th, 1996, right away, law enforcement saw Doyle Simpson as a possible suspect and his gun as the possible murder weapon because when you go around a small town saying your gun has been stolen on the same morning that four people were shot in the head in a mysterious killing and it turns out it's the same kind of gun that was used in the murders, it would hardly be a surprise to learn that law enforcement is now considering you a suspect in that murder.

That's what happened to Doyle Simpson. That day, investigators had Doyle come down to the police station for an interview. Doyle told the investigators that he was at work at the sewing factory at the time of the murders. We talked to a man who used to work with Doyle back then at the factory. His name is Kenny Johnson.

He just would sweep up the floor or whatever, and take out the trash and things of that nature. And you'd see him in and out the building, you know, as he needs to.

Kenny said he was at work with Doyle on the day of the murders, July 16th, 1996,.

And that day, nothing was out of the norm. You know, he came and went as he normally does, you know, in and out the building to take the trash out, or whatever, to the dumpster out back, or whatever.

So, it would have been possible for Doyle to sneak out without being noticed. And that meant that Doyle didn't have a strong alibi and were are a few other things that got the attention of the investigators. First, a dusty, beige car that looked like Doyle's had been seen downtown, parked about a half block from Tardy Furniture, around the time of the murders. And two Black men had been seen outside that car. They looked like they might have been arguing.

Second, Doyle's own half-sister, woman named Essie Ruth Campbell told the cops that she'd seen Doyle drive past her work that morning around 9:00 at a time that Doyle claimed he was at work. Essie told us she was outside when she saw Doyle Drive by.

I wasn't out there that long, you know. I just glimpsed the car and I just noticed… I know his car because his car always stayed at my house all the time and he always came to visit me all the time. So I know this car.

Investigators also learned that Doyle had a connection to Tardy Furniture. He'd worked there part time off and on over the years. It wasn't anything formal. Doyle would just fill in here and there when the story needed help with deliveries

Six days after the murders, law enforcement asked Doyle to meet with them again, this time so they could polygraph him. I just have the one-page summary of the results from this polygraph. The investigator asked Doyle whether he'd lied to the cops about the theft of his gun and whether he had knowledge of the murders at Tardy Furniture.

According to the investigators report, Doyle showed deception on both questions. The investigator wrote, "It is my opinion that Simpson is not truthful about the theft of the gun and knows who committed the murders.".

Before we go any further, I want to tell you something about polygraphs, which is that they are not reliable. Not at all. They're so unreliable in fact that jurors aren't allowed to hear about them. Polygraph results are not admissible in court, and for good reason. Studies have found that polygraphs cannot tell you who is lying or who's telling the truth. All they can tell you is whether the person taking the test is anxious an because a lot of people are anxious when they're questioned about a crime, there are a lot of innocent people who fail polygraphs. It happens all the time.

They thought that he did it. That's what they thought. Well, they didnt say he did it, but I think on the first day, that's where they went with the investigation.

I found a woman named Denise Kendall on her porch and Winona one afternoon last summer. Back at the time of the murders, Denise was dating Doyle. And Denise told me that after the murders, law enforcement had her come down to the station.

They was questioning.

Did he ever get a lawyer at any point, do you know?

I believe so.

How did he seem with all this?

Well, he didn't like the idea that he was trying to I'm going to say pin it on him, or looking at him as a suspect, quite naturally.

Investigators were particularly interested in Doyle's gun. They asked Doyle if he'd ever fired it. Doyle told them, yes he had, tha he practiced firing it in his mother's backyard, out on a country road called Poorhouse Road on the outskirts of Winona. Investigators went to Doyle's mom's backyard with a metal detector to try to see if they could find any bullets that had been fired from Doyle's gun.

They found a cedar post sticking out of the ground that looked like it had been shot at. An investigator used a knife to dig a bullet out of the post. They went back again about two weeks later and found another bullet. The investigators sent those bullets to the state crime lab. They wanted to find out if someone at the lab would be able to tell by looking at the bullets whether they came from the same gun as the bullets recovered at the crime scene. In other words, was Doyle's gun the murder weapon. Denise Kendall said all of this made Doyle even more nervous.

He didn't like it. He didn't like it at all because they went there picking out… Picking the bullets, or the shells or whatever that goes in the tree when you shoot a gun. I don't know what's left in the tree, the bullet or something.

So, he didn't like it either.

Well, he knew they were trying to get him. I wouldn't have liked it either. If somebody came to my tree… If a murder had happened and somebody came to my tree and started picking my bullets out of my tree where that I've been target practicing with a long time ago and now you are here, ain't got no gun, picking bullets out of my tree.

Doyle Simpson was clearly freaked out but for Doyle being freaked out wasn't anything new. Long before the Tardy Furniture murders, Doyle was always looking over his shoulder, as if something terrible might happen to him at any moment. I talked to one of Doyle's half-brothers, a man named Johnny Earl Campbell.

Doyle had a lot of shadows, like skeletons everywhere. I mean, you can't really tell about… I couldn't tell about Doyle. Doyle had something happen to him back in the past. I mean, Doyle got in trouble back in Louisiana years ago. But, it was all down down low and nobody said nothing about it.

Johnny Earl Campbell told me that what had happened to Doyle years ago down in Louisiana had made him anxious, kind of jumpy in a way that might have made him seem suspicious to the cops when they started questioning him in the Tardy Furniture case. And he told me that whatever happened to Doyle down there, it had left Doyle with a deep, dark scar that stretched all the way across his neck.

That's why he had a voice issue.

Oh, he had a voice issue?

Yes, he did.

How did you talk?

It was like a, it was like a weird sound when he pronounced words and everything, like a whisper. And that's what he would do.

The story of how Doyle Simpson became a fearful man, how he got that scar that stretched from one side of his neck to the other took place in a swamp on the outskirts of Edgard, Louisiana. That's after the break.

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Hi. This is Samara Freemark. I'm the senior producer of this podcast. Before we get back to the episode, I want to tell you about something special we're doing the season. We've started a closed Facebook group where you can connect with us and with other listeners. I'm there, Madeleine's there, so are other producers and reporters. We'll answer your questions and share bonus materials with you that will only be available in the group.

A donation of $50 or more will get you access to the group and support our investigative journalism. You can give now at And thank you.

Our reporter, Parker Yesko, went to the swamp outside Edgard, Louisiana, to see the place where Doyle became a fearful man. A detective named Vernon Bailey brought her there.

You don't want to walk in the grass near here.

Oh, no?


What's there?

You've got all kinds of snakes in the grass.


In 1986, Doyle was 29. He was living in Louisiana and spending a lot of time with a relative named Clyde. One afternoon about two weeks before Christmas in 1986, Doyle pulled up outside Clyde's house.

That day, [inaudible], it was misty. It was like rain was supposed to be coming down. It was cloudy.

Doyle was just sitting there in his car when all of a sudden, a man burst out of the house, jumped into Doyle's car, put a gun to his head and told him to drive. Doyle didn't know it at the time, but this man had just slashed Clyde's throat and shot him in the head. Doyle and the man drove out, way out into the swamps. And then the man told Doyle to pull over and he marched him into the swamp. The man took out a set of handcuffs and cuffed one of Doyle's wrists to a tree branch.

You see that small tree, that little skinny tree right there?


Then, he took out his gun and fired. He shot Doyle in the back twice. One of the bullets came out his neck. Then the man left and Doyle was alone, bleeding to death in the swamp.

And you was dumb and you was handcuffed to the tree, what would you be trying to do?

Get free as quick as possible.

You mean for something either smell your blood or whatever, you know what I mean? Alligators, snakes, possum, raccoon, wild hog, you name it. You don't want nothing to try start jumping at you. That's for sure.

Doyle found a piece of broken glass and he sawed through the tree branch to free himself. He crawled out to the highway and collapsed in front of a semi. The driver called an ambulance and got Doyle to the hospital.

It didn't take long for the cops to find the person they thought did this to Doyle. It was a guy living down in Louisiana and that guy took a plea deal and he went to prison. The cops never figured out a motive for the crime. Their best guess is that it was a drug deal gone bad, that maybe Doyle was involved in the deal, or maybe he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time

Doyle Simpson died six years ago. His family told me that after all this happened Doyle was just uneasy all the time. He kept looking over his shoulder. He was scared that the man who had kidnapped him would come back for him and finish the job. And they told me that's why Doyle felt like he needed a gun.

But after the murders a Tardy Furniture in 1996, Doyle Simpson was not honest with the police about that gun. Doyle told the cops he didn't have the serial number for the gun. He didn't even know what brand it was. All he knew was that it was a 380 semiautomatic pistol and he got it from an uncle in New Orleans.

One problem with Doyel's story was that as best I can tell, Doyle didn't even have an uncle in New Orleans, but Doyle did have a brother who lived there. His name is Robert Campbell. He still lives in Louisiana in the town of Hammond. Our reporter, Parker, went to talk to him.

I'm looking for a Robert Campbell.

It is me.

Robert said that in August of 1996, about a month after the murders at Tardy Furniture, Doyle called him and asked him for a favor.

Doyle had called me, "Man, tell him that you sold me the gun." I said, "Man, I ain't lying with you, bro. Too many people got killed. I ain't lying," I said. "I didn't sold you no gun."

"Oh, man, go and tell them you sold me the gun." "No, I ain't telling no people that." I mean, that's my brother, but still, I ain't going to lie for him. So, hey.

Robert told Parker that sometime that month, the cops showed up at his job asking about Doyle.

Yeah he did I know door. Yeah no door. Are my brother and yeah me door about Peosta from me. What do you mean he said. Does say you saw him on the radio I said with no life to you he told the lad. Don't lie to us he said.

They asked me did I know Doyle. I said, "Yeah. I know Doyle. Doyle's my brother." And he asked me, "Did Doyle buy a pistol from you?" That's what he asked me. He said, "Doyle said you sold him a 380." I said, "Well, Doyle lied to you, didn't he?" I told you like that, "Doyle lied to you." I said, "I didn't sell Doyle no 380."

I have a copy of the typed report from law enforcement's interview of Robert Campbell and it says exactly what Robert just said, that he told them but he didn't sell Doyle the gun and that Doyle was lying. Robert said he knew where Doyle actually got the gun because after Doyle had bought it, he told Robert the name of the man who sold it to him. It was a man known as Three Finger Ike.

We just called him Three Finger because he had three fingerse. He got bombed with three fingers. So, we called him Three Finger, Three Finger Ike. So, that's who he got the gun from, who he told me he got the gun from.

When did he tell you that?

He told me that when I first seen the gun. I asked him, "Where did you get that gun from?" "Man, I bought it from Ike."

Law enforcement talked to a friend of Doyle's, who went with Doyle to Ike's Place when Doyle bought the gun. The man told the investigators that Doyle also bought some crack at the same time. Law enforcement also interviewed Ike and Ike confirmed that he'd sold Doyle the gun. On August 14th, 1996, about a month after the murders, investigator John Johnson had Doyle brought in again for questioning. Doyle was Mirandized. He didn't have a lawyer with him, but he agreed to talk. The interview was recorded. I don't have the audio, but I do have the transcript, and this interview is not friendly.

John Johnson tells Doyle, "You know that we are investigating a murder, four murders down here at Tardy Furniture Store, a place where you worked and knew the victims. And knowing this and asking for your cooperation, you were lying to us about where you got the gun. Would you please tell me why?" Doyle replies, "Because I was scared."

Johnson says, "Why are you scared?" "Because I told you that I didn't have anything to do with it and y'all kept pressuring me, man." "Well, we are only asking for the truth because you keep lying to us and we knew that." Doyle says, "I told you all the truth.".

Johnson doesn't appear to buy it. He tells Doyle, "Why are you going to all this trouble to lie to us., after we have explained to you that this gun has been matched and made positive identification." And here Doyle interrupts because this business about law enforcement having matched his gun to the murder weapon, he said that was news to him. Doyle says, "You did not tell me that." Johnson says, "Yes, I am, and I am explaining it to you now."

It's not clear whether Johnson actually knew this. The crime lab report that was later identify Doyle's gun as the murder weapon hadn't even been written yet. But law enforcement aren't required to tell the truth when they interrogate someone.

Johnson keeps going, "Involving four murders, your gun has been made positive identification as being the gun that killed these people, people that you supposedly have worked with and worked for, that have done favors for you." "I don't know. Do y'all know that it is the same gun.?" "Yes, we do. The crime lab has made positive identification on it. We've already explained that to you several times." Doyle says, "I don't have nothing to say." "You don't have nothing else to say?" "No." "OK, that will conclude the statement."

John Johnson doesn't arrest Doyle Simpson. He allows him to leave and the investigation continues. And this whole time in July and early August of 1996, while law enforcement is investigating Doyle, they're also investigating Curtis Flowers. And like with Doyle, they didn't have anything solid on Curtis either, nothing that would absolutely prove that Curtis committed the murders.

None of the route witnesses had come forward yet. That wouldn't happen until a little while later. But law enforcement was already looking into Curtis. They'd asked Curtis if they could fingerprint him and he agreed. They wanted to find out if Curtis' prints matched the ones they'd found on the counter at Tardy Furniture and in Doyle Simpson's car. But none of the prints matched Curtis's.

They took Curtis' clothes, not just what he was wearing on the day of the murders, but other close to: several pairs of shorts, a T-shirt, two pairs of shoes. They sent the clothes and shoes to a lab and asked them whether any of it had the DNA of the victims on it. The lab did not find any.

I couldn't find any record of law enforcement collecting Doyle Simpson's clothes or shoes to perform similar testing. There's also no record of law enforcement testing Doyle's hands for gunshot residue, but investigators did get Doyle's fingerprints to see if they matched the ones found at Tardy Furniture. They didn't match. I've read all the documents I could find from the investigative file back then and in these documents, you can see law enforcement going back and forth between these two suspects.

Curtis, Doyle, Doyle, Curtis. I've talked to people who were interviewed during this time in the investigation, like Kittery Jones, Curtis' cousin.

All they wanted to hear was about Curtis and they will start asking, you know, little questions like, you know, did Doyle and Curtis hang together. Stuff like that.

Law enforcement also consider the possibility that Curtis and Doyle could have committed the murders together. Curtis and Doyle did know each other. Doyle was a distant relative of Curtis Flowers. He was Curtis' mother's stepbrother and they would see each other at big family gatherings. They weren't close friends though. Doyle was 12 years older than Curtis. According to Curtis. law enforcement had even tried to use him to get evidence against Doyle.

Curtis testified about this in the first trial and in that testimony, Curtis said the sheriff wanted to wire him up to see if Doyle would say something to him about the murders, but Curtis had refused to do it. The only constant in this part of the investigation was the gun, Doyle's gun. The only question was who pulled the trigger.

Law enforcement kept investigating Doyle Simpson for a little while longer. But by September of 1996, about two months after the murders, there aren't many investigative notes that mention Doyle, Instead, law enforcement now appeared to be focused entirely on building a case against Curtis Flowers. I don't know what caused this shift, what made law enforcement turn away from Doyle Simpson. There's no report in the files saying that law enforcement determined that he was not the murderer. There is no new piece of information in the file that would prove that Doyle couldn't have done it.

I did find something curious though, in the file, a handwritten note from an investigator. It's not signed, so I don't know who wrote it. It's dated August 20th, 1996. August 20th was six days after Doyle Simpson was interrogated by John Johnson. It's the interrogation where Johnson told Doyle that his gun was the murder weapon. This note from August 20th is brief. It says that Doyle Simpson had called. The note lists a bunch of names and addresses of other people and Winona.

And then it says, "Curtis acting funny." By the time Doug Evans brought Curtis Flowers to trial, Doyle Simpson, the suspect, had disappeared. He was replaced by Doyle Simpson, the state's witness, the helper who though it was difficult to turn against his own family was helping law enforcement discover the truth, which was that Curtis Flowers had stolen Doyle's gun from the glove compartment of his car and used it to murder the people at Tardy Furniture.

To prove that, it would help for Doug Evans to be able to show that Curtis Flowers knew that the gun was in Doyle's car, that Curtis wasn't just wandering around town going to a parking lot of a sewing factory in the hopes of finding a gun there. Evans called Doyle Simpson to the stand and Evans asked Doyle a question. Evans asked, "Did Curtis know that the gun was in your car.?" And Doyle told him yes.

Under cross-examination, Doyle's story was more shaky. He said the only reason the gun was in his car on the morning of the murders was because he'd put it there the night before because he was going to take it to have it cleaned. Defense attorney, Billy Gilmore, said to Doyle, "So, there is no way that Curtis Flowers would have known that gun was in that car that particular morning, was it?" Doyle says, "No, sir. Not as I know.".

And then justice quickly, District Attorney Doug Evans, got back up to redirect and he asked Doyle, "Curtis knew you normally kept the gun in that car, didn't he?" And Doyle said yes. By the time of the first trial, the crime lab results were in too and Doug Evans told the jurors that a firearms expert had determined that Doyle's gun was the murder weapon.

The defense tried to tell the jurors that Doyle had been a suspect, but when they questioned law enforcement on the stand about it, law enforcement downplayed it. They said they ruled Doyle out as a suspect almost right away. State investigator, Jack Matthews, told jurors that even when the investigators found out that Doyle had lied about where he got his gun, "He wasn't a suspect at the time.".

And that contradicts law enforcement's own paperwork in the investigative file. They were listing Doyle as a suspect using that word on reports at the crime lab as late as September. In his closing argument in that first trial in 1997, Doug Evans told the jurors not to get all tangled up in what the defense was trying to say about how Doyle wasn't trustworthy. Evans told the jurors, "They want to try to confuse the issue by pointing the finger at Doyle Simpson." Evans said, "They can't put the blame on the poor fellow that owned the gun because he didn't do it.".

No one ever did, you know, speak about him. He really didn't. And, you know, after it happened, Doyle kind of shied away a little bit.

This is one of Doyle's relatives, a man named Antonio Campbell. I talked to him out on his porch one night.

He never did hang around much at all no more then..

Why do you think that is?

I think I can't really pinpoint it, but I think that he know he just told, you know, he told a story on Curtis. And I think that if Doyle, Doyle should have came up and just told the truth about the whole thing before he deceased. I'm just going to be honest with you. I think that Curtis should have been out a long time ago.

I thought a lot about Doyle Simpson over the past year and I still don't know what to make of him. Almost nothing in the investigation that involved Doyle was recorded on tape. The notes are brief and for some really key moments, there aren't any notes at all. The way I see it, there are a few options for what's going on with Doyle Simpson. Maybe someone really did steal Doyle's gun. Maybe the gun was never stolen and Doyle gave it to someone else.

Maybe Doyle did commit the murders himself and went around town saying that his gun had been stolen because for some reason, he thought that would make him seem less suspicious. Maybe Doyle had turned against Curtis to save himself from being charged. But when you have all of these options, what that really means is that there is no clear evidence that any one of them is true. But there is one other option that I haven't mentioned yet and that is that maybe Doyle's gun wasn't the murder weapon after all.

And to understand why, you have to know a bit about how law enforcement goes about matching bullets to guns in the first place. When you fire a gun, the bullet travels down the barrel of the gun. And as the bullet travels down the barrel, it's picking up all kinds of scratches because the inside of the barrel of a gun is not smooth. It has grooves cut into it in a kind of spiral pattern. The reason for this is so that when a bullet passes down the barrel, it picks up some spin so it can be more accurate, like a well-thrown football.

So, if you look really closely at a bullet that's been fired, you'll see some lines on it, some scratch marks that were made when the bullet passed through the barrel. Those scratch marks are what examiners in the crime lab are looking for when they're trying to match a bullet to a gun. And people who do this kind of analysis believe that you can tell whether a bullet came from a certain gun because the grooves inside the barrel of a gun are different from one gun to another.

One way to think of it is that it's like a gun has a fingerprint and every time a bullet passes through it, the gun leaves that fingerprint on the bullet. And so, if investigators are trying to figure out whether two bullets came from the same gun, they'll take those two bullets, they'll put them next to each other under a microscope and they'll decide whether the lines on the two bullets look similar. And if it looks similar enough, then the examiner will declare a match. These two bullets came from the same gun.

I talked to a man who does this for a living. His name is Andy Smith. He's the Vice President of the Association for Firearm and Toolmark Examiners and the Supervisor of the Firearms Unit at the San Francisco Police Department crime lab. I wanted to know exactly what an examiner is looking for on the bullet.

Of course, it's easier to show you a picture than it is, you know, to describe it. But there's actual widths to the lines that occur. There's spatial relationship between each of the lines in relation to each other.

Yeah. So, do you actually measure like the width of lines?

We do not. Using comparison microscope, we're not physically measuring the width of those lines. So, it's an optical comparison. I mean, we're just doing it visually.

Like, it comes down to looking at it, basically.


Like you're looking at two things under a microscope and you're making a decision about whether these appear to be basically the same, like similar enough to say that they came from the same gun?


What Andy Smith told me is that there's actually no set of criteria for what constitutes a match. It's not like you're required to have the same number of lines or the same distance between them. You just have to find what firearms examiners call sufficient agreement between two bullets. And what sufficient agreement means is for the individual examiner to decide.

In 2009, there was a big report that came out from the National Academy of Sciences that changed the way a lot of people look at forensic science. The report showed that a lot of what passes for science in the courtroom is full of errors and overstatements, and might even rely on practices that aren't scientific at all.

This National Academy of Sciences report led to the creation of all kinds of groups, and commissions and studies to find out whether certain branches of forensic science, including ballistics, are valid. One of those groups is called the Center for Statistics and Applications in Forensic Evidence. The director the Center is a woman named Alicia Carriquiry. She's also a Professor of Statistics at Iowa State University and she spent a lot of time looking into ballistics in particular, so I gave her a call.

So today, this is still a largely subjective science, in quotes.

What did you mean science in quotes?

Well, you know, by science, we normally understand something that follows a certain logic where you have a hypothesis, you experiment, you confirm or put into question that hypotheses, improve your models, repeat experimentation, etc. The forensic, most of the forensic sciences really do not follow that process. And so, talk about science is a little bit of a misnomer.

Alicia Carriquiry told me that the biggest problem is that there's no proof that each gun actually does leave its own unique marks on a bullet. It's never been tested in the kind of massive peer reviewed study that would be required to try to prove something like that. I asked her about the way that examiners decide whether two bullets match, about this term that they use to describe what they're looking for, sufficient agreement.

Ha-ha. Yes. Yes.

Why are you laughing?

Because that is such a fuzzy-wuzzy non-scientific concept. It really does blow your mind. And so, this is one of the problems that there is no good definition of what it means to find sufficient agreement. So, what's sufficient agreement for you may not be sufficient agreement for me. And so, you have this very undesirable situation where two examiners looking at the exact same samples might reach different conclusions.

I wanted to know what Alicia Carriquiry think of how ballistics evidence was used in the Curtis Flower's case. So, I started to take her through what the investigators had done.

Like they went and got a bullet out of a piece of wood in someone's backyard. So, they believe that that bullet that they got came from this stolen gun.

Now how in the world…? How did they know to go look for a bullet in somebody's backyard on a tree?

So, they asked the guy who was the suspect. So, they say, "Well, have you ever fired this gun.?" And he's like, "Of course." And so, he tells them he's fired it in his mom's backyard, like on this country road. And so, like a bunch of people in this family would go there with like different guns, like although allegedly, this was the only 380 semiautomatic pistol that was involved in this target shooting. And so, when the investigators show up, they like use a metal detector, they like end up in this post area and then they take a knife and they like pry out a bullet from this post and send it off to the crime lab.

Okay, which of course, means that first of all, the bullet must have been somewhat damaged from being shot into a post.


And second of all, who knows how many more marks they introduced in the bullet by praying it out with a knife?

I wanted to know what she'd make of what happened next. Investigators tried to match these bullets from the post to the bullets they had collected from the crime scene. But unfortunately, the examiner who looked at them couldn't say whether or not they matched. But then about a month after the murders, the DA's investigator, John Johnson, went back to the crime scene with three other investigators. By then, the store had been cleaned up.

John Johnson testified in court about this. He said he knew they hadn't gotten all the bullets. He went to the back of the store to where Bertha Tardy's body had been found because he'd remembered seeing chipped paint on a brick column back there. And within five minutes of walking in the store, Johnson said, he'd found a bullet. It was inside a mattress and Johnson took out a knife and got it out. He told the jurors the bullet was pristine. I told Alicia Carriquiry about this.

And so, they go back into the crime scene. It's a store. It's a furniture store and people have been in and out since then. It's not secure and they find in a mattress, a bullet. And so, that's the bullet that they used to make this ID..

Are you serious?


Oh. This is… I'm speechless. Let me put it this way. I mean, imagine, right. So, you found all these other bullets. Nothing much as to anything. And then, weeks later, you go to his mattress and find another bullet and lo and behold, this is the one that matches.

The crime lab didn't find any blood on that bullet from the mattress. I wanted to talk to the investigator, John Johnson, about all this, but Johnson didn't respond to my requests for an interview. Finally, I wanted to find out what Alicia Carriquiry made of how this evidence was presented at trial, like how a firearms examiner, named David Balash, had described his findings to the jurors.

He says, "This bullet from the crime scene came out of the same gun as this bullet from the post across town in this person's backyard." And so, he says… This is what he tells a jury. He says, "When I identify it that means I am 100% certain that these were fired and one gun and no other gun on the face of the earth."

That's what he says? Is this a case that's going on now?


Well, you cannot say, "I can tell these two things are the same, or were fired by the same gun," with 100% certainty. First of all, there is no such thing as 100% certainty anywhere. And second of all, even most firearms examiners today will agree that saying to the exclusion of every other gun in the universe is insanity.

Yeah, and he repeats this. So, this is a case that has had six trials, so he said as recently as… Yeah, which is [inaudible]. So, that's 2003. And then in 2010, testifies. This is the last trial, the latest one. And he's in the same, you know, same exact thing. So, he says, "I'm 100% certain there is no margin. If I identify them as coming from the gun, that's an absolute identification. 100%."

Well, I mean this Firearm Examiner's defense, the last was in 2010, you say.


Okay, so in 2010, they were still saying that nonsense, but that is absolute nonsense. And today, I sure hope that the same examiner would be less categorical and say, "I cannot exclude the possibility that these two bullets were fired from the same gun." That's about as much as he can say comfortably. I mean, that's about as much as the science today would allow.

I am 100% certain that I am 100% certain that these bullets were fired from one gun.

I called David Balash, the firearms examiner who testified that the bullets were 100% match. Balash is an expert witness from Michigan, who says he's testified in at least 400 trials all across the country.

I'm 100% certain that that is my opinion.

What made you a 100%?

The fact that I've been doing this for an awful long time and I know what identification looks like. So, what you have to do is when you're looking at these, you have to get to the point as a firearms examiner, convince yourself that there is no other gun on the face of the earth could have left these marks. And that's what I do.

How do you do that?

Well, you have to do mental gymnastics, I suspect. And when you, you know, when you look at it long enough and you see all the markings, well, they have to be in the same place at the same spot, but you understand why that takes place. But that's how you come to the opinion.

I talked to Balash for a long time, almost two hours, and basically what he was saying was that this whole process of how he matched the bullets in the Curtis Flowers case, it came down to mental gymnastics. It's a sort of thing where you have to know it when you see it. I wanted to know if David Balash was aware of all the criticism that this type of forensic science has received in the past decade or so.

Yeah. Have you read that National Academy of Sciences report that came out in 2009?

I think I perused at one time. They sort of want to be ambiguous. You know, it's… They're trying to be politically correct, I suspect.

What do you mean?

You know, people now want to be able to say that everything can be assigned, you know, a percentage or you have to be absolutely sure that all of this is one way or the other. You know, you want to make it a science and it's never been called a science. It's been always called an artform using scientific materials and equipment, and it's always been an opinion.

But it should be based on facts, right?

I'm sorry.

But it's an opinion based… It should be… It's an opinion based on facts, right, or based on science?

Well, I don't know. Sometimes, you know, it's a fact in somebody is mind, it may or may not be a fact and somebody else's.

The reason that I wanted to talk to you is because it does seem like you were so certain at trial and yet, the state of the science says you can't be certain. And so, I just was curious if you had changed your view of it, if you would say, "Well, actually…".

Not at all.

Not at all. Okay.

David Balash says that if Curtis Flowers is tried a seventh time, he expects he'll be called to testify. Meanwhile, the gun that was used to kill the people at Tardy Furniture has never been found. It's still out there somewhere. The case against Curtis Flowers comes down to three main things: route, the gun, the confessions. Next time, the confessions.

In the Dark is recorded and produced by me, Madeleine Baran, Senior Producer Samara Freemark, Producer Natalie Jalonski, Associate Producer, Rehman Tungekar and reporters, Parker Yesko and Will Craft. In the Dark is edited by Catherine Winter. Web editors are Dave Mann and Andy Kruse. The Editor in Chief of APM Reports is Chris Worthington. Original music by Gary Meister and Johnny Vince Evans. This episode was mixed by Veronica Rodriguez and Corey Schreppel.

To see photos and videos and to find out more about what happened to Doyle Simpson in the swamp, check out our website This is a nonprofit public radio podcast, which means we're supported by you, our listeners. Show your support with a donation of any amount at

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In the Dark: S1 E6 Stranger Danger

Previously on In the Dark.

"Rochelle, someone took Jacob. Someone took Jacob. There was a man with a gun, and he took Jacob."

Helicopters scanned a 30-square-mile area, while searchers below combed the area on foot without finding a trace.

I wanted everybody in the world looking for Jacob. It was like my son, you know, we're talking, getting him home. We did what we had to, what we felt we had to.

Lots of kids that are taken are not taken by some caring person and taken to Disneyland. They're taken by someone who is into sexually assaulting children. And if you're lucky, you'll find the body in a field.

We pulled out all the stops and turned them upside down. Sometimes, you just can't get it.

A few weeks after Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped, Jacob's mom, Patty, started getting letters from all over the country. Letters from kids, kids who had heard about Jacob, and wanted to tell Jacob's mom their own stories of violence and abuse.

"This happened to me," or "My sister ran away, and this happened, and this." And it was like this growing … It's like a snowball.

Before Jacob was kidnapped, Patty thought she understood how the world worked. The lives of kids, as she understood them, revolved around homework, and hockey practice, and playing outside, and getting into small and quickly resolved fights with friends. But Jacob's abduction and this deluge of letters forced Patty into a world she'd never imagined.

It's bigger than Jacob. I knew that right away.

This is In the Dark, an investigative podcast from APM Reports. I'm Madeleine Baran. Today, we're going to do something a little different. We're going to leave the dead-end road where Jacob was kidnapped 27 years ago. We're going to look outward, far beyond this tiny town, far beyond Minnesota even, and see how the fear about what had happened to Jacob, and what it seemed could happen to any child would grow and spread until it took the form of a federal law that would alter the lives of millions of Americans.

And to understand how all of this happened, we have to go back to the 1980s, to the world that Jacob disappeared into.

Remember, a stranger-

Can mean danger. Now, I know.

And knowing is half the battle.

GI Joe.

Back then, the idea of Stranger Danger was everywhere. It was on TV shows, and morning cartoons, on public service announcements with unscientific and ever changing numbers of how many kids go missing.

If she gets into that car, that may be the last time you'll see Jenny. I'm McGruff, the Crime Dog. See those kids? Every day in this country, 60 kids disappear. Some run away, but a lot are kidnapped by strangers, or even by people they know. Take a bite out of crime.

Child abductions and child abuse were one of the most popular genres of made-for-TV movies with anxious parents.

My little boy was here.


Did you see where he went?

Melodramatic acting.

Which one of them hurt you?

They all did. They showed us and took pictures.

And lurid plot twists.

But how did it happen?

One day I'm off doing something for myself, you know. I don't know, eating a Danish. And these people raping our baby.

This idea began to take root at the edges of the public's consciousness that thousands of child abductors were out there waiting to strike the moment we let down our guard, even though this is actually a really rare crime. And that fear, it grew into a kind of national hysteria.

This is not a Halloween fable. This is a real life horror story.

The faces of missing kids started appearing on milk cartons. Parents fingerprinted their children in case someone snatched them. Daycare providers were accused of performing satanic rituals on toddlers.

A symbol of every parent's worst fear.

An increasing national tragedy has become a national scandal.

I was talking to a man named Ernie Allen about what it was like back then. He's a national expert in child abductions. And back in the early '80s, Ernie was one of the first people raising alarm about missing kids. He would go on to help found the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

This was a time, late '70s, early '80s, in which there were some horrendous cases involving the abduction and murder of children. Adam Walsh in South Florida, Etan Patz in New York.

These cases became iconic. You might remember some of them yourself. Etan Patz snatched away on his two-block walk to the bus in Manhattan, the first time he'd been allowed to make the trip by himself. Adam Walsh, taken from a Sears Department Store and found beheaded two weeks later in a drainage canal off the Florida Turnpike. Johnny Gosch disappeared from his paper route in West Des Moines, Iowa.

It just frightened people and made people think something's going on. Something is wrong. This is not about one sick city. It's not about one Jack the Ripper. This is happening to greater or lesser degrees in communities across this country, and America has missed it.

By the time Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped in 1989, after a decade of hysteria, the public and lawmakers are hungry to do something, anything, to protect children and put an end to child abductions.

Right from the beginning, investigators on the Jacob Wetterling case were convinced the crime fit into the pattern of other child abductions; that the person who did it had a sexual motive.

Investigators now say they plan to question every person in Minnesota who has ever been convicted of a sex crime or crime against children. They want to know where those people were Sunday night when Jacob was kidnapped.

The top FBI agent on the case at the time, Jeff Jomar, told reporters how this worked.

What we're trying to find out where persons who had been convicted of this type of crime before were at 9:15, Sunday night.

But it wasn't easy. Back then, the files of people convicted of sex crimes were spread out in boxes in small town police departments, sheriff's offices, courthouses. There wasn't a central directory of people convicted of sexually assaulting children. So, when Jacob's mom, Patty, started asking some of the investigators who worked on that case if there was anything that could have helped, they told her, "Yes, there was one thing."

Knowing who was in the area would have made things move a lot faster at expediting, you know, ruling out. Actually, it works to rule people out. If you know who's done this before, and you have their name and address, you can go, "Where were you?", you know, right through the list much more quickly.

What law enforcement and Patty had in mind was a private registry of the addresses of sex offenders, so they could quickly find all of the sex offenders who lived in a certain area. Some states already had laws like that, but Minnesota wasn't one of them. So, about a year after Jacob was kidnapped, with the case still unsolved, Patty pushed for a state law to create a registry in Minnesota. But there was no national registry. Patty worried that offenders could easily cross state lines.

I was, at that point, working closely with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. And people were calling the National Center and finding out which states don't have sex offender registry. "My brother's getting out of prison soon, and he's trying to decide where he should live." So, it was like, "Well, we can fix that." So, we did. We just did it.

In 1993, about four years after Jacob was kidnapped, a US representative from Minnesota introduced a bill in Congress, the Jacob Wetterling Act, that would require all states to verify the addresses of sex offenders every year, and to maintain registries of sex offenders. Patty envisioned the registry as something meant for law enforcement.

It was not designed to be open to the general public.

But then-

Right before, you know, we were already closing in on finalizing the bill when Megan Kanka was kidnapped.

Megan Kanka, she was a 7-year-old girl from New Jersey who was raped and murdered by a convicted sex offender who lived across the street. Megan's parents didn't know the man was a sex offender. So, they asked Patty if they could add one tiny seemingly minor addition to the Jacob Wetterling Act, just a couple of words.

So, they added one sentence saying that law enforcement may notify community upon the release of a violent offender.

May notify the community, it didn't seem like much.

But I had this nagging thought in the back of my head from the first time I heard it. I had this nagging thought, "What would the general public do with that information?" But I would be going against another victim family who saw another need. And I wasn't strong enough to say, "No, I don't think so."

The Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children Registration Act passed as part of the 1994 Federal Crime Bill. It marked the beginning of a new way of thinking about sex offenders in this country. And once the idea took hold that this group of people, sex offenders, should be registered and tracked, there was no going back.

Two years later, in 1996, Congress passed Megan's Law. It took the idea of community notification, something that had been voluntary in the Wetterling Act, and made it mandatory. Now, local law enforcement had to notify communities about most sex offenders moving into their neighborhoods.

Today, America warns if you dare to prey on your children, the law will follow you wherever you go state to state, town to town.

This is letting parents know that the fox is in the hen house. Are we mad and bitter? No, but we're sick of seeing these people get all the rights, and our children and the parents not getting any rights.

From then on, it seemed like it almost became a competition. Who can pass the most restrictive laws on sex offenders?

The drumbeat is intensifying to toughen up laws regarding sexual predators.

Question is, can anything work short of life in prison or execution?

Congress passed a law that said the most serious sex offenders had to be on the registry for life.

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

Registries expanded to include people who commit all kinds of sex crimes, not just crimes against children. Some people, now, end up on registries for texting a nude photo of themselves to their boyfriend or for peeing outside. Teenagers started being put on registries. It just kept going. More and more laws, more and more restrictions.

Missouri State Law requires sex offenders on Halloween night to turn off porch lights at 5:00, stay inside until 10:30, and post signs like this that say, "No candy or treats can be found inside."

One place has a law banning certain sex offenders from public storm shelters. The Governor of New York has even banned some sex offenders from playing Pokemon Go.

Officials are worried about luring component of the game. With 38,000 registered sex offenders in New York State, they fear it might be easy to fake an ID and stalk a child player.

Earlier this year, President Obama signed International Megan's Law. It requires authorities to mark the passports of US citizens who have been convicted of certain sex crimes against children with what they call a visual identifier, presumably a stamp; though the government has yet to figure out what the exact marking will be. The marking passports, by the way, is something we've never done before in this country for any kind of crime.

As efforts to get tough on sex offenders picked up steam, Jacob's mom, Patty, was right on the front lines with the parents of other abducted kids pushing for more laws, for more restrictions. She met with President Clinton in the Oval Office, appeared at a news conference in front of the White House, and became a nationally-renowned advocate for child safety. She even ran unsuccessfully for Congress three times on a platform of keeping kids safe.

When her son was abducted 17 years ago, Patty Wetterling told herself she'd do everything possible to bring Jacob home and everything possible to protect other families. From Minnesota to the US Congress, Patty Wetterling forced gridlock legislators to pass new laws to prevent child abduction, lock sexual predators behind bars, and keep our families safe. An ordinary Minnesotan with extraordinary courage.

I'm Patty Wetterling, and I approved this message.

But Patty couldn't shake that nagging thought in the back of her mind that maybe some of this wasn't such a good idea. She began getting another type of letter, letters from parents, parents of kids who had been put on sex offender registries. And one day, she went to Alabama to speak at a treatment center for kids who had been convicted of sex crimes.

I walked in, and there all these kids wearing blue jeans and blue work shirts. You know, they're kids. And the youngest one had just had his 10th birthday, and he was experimenting with a cousin or something when a relative walked in, and was horrified, and named him a sex offender. And I was so devastated by that.

And eventually, she even started going to prisons to talk to adult sex offenders to try to help them.

I want them to see a personal side, and I don't need to be mean, and angry, and yelling at them. I want to show them a compassionate side of life.

Patty thought more about all these sex offenders, about what all these laws and restrictions meant for them. She began to think about all this in a different way. She began to think, "I want these sex offenders to have a successful life."

Because that would mean no more victims, and that's the goal. But we we let our emotions run away from us achieving that goal.

And some of these laws, the way Patty began to see it, were actually doing the opposite. They're making it harder for sex offenders to rejoin society in a way that was safe for everyone.

You're screwed. You will not get a job. You will not find housing. This is on your record forever, and ever, and ever. Good luck.

Today, the best estimate is that there are about 850,000 people on sex offender registries in this country. That's about 1 in 400 people.

There's something that I think is really important to remember here, these are people who have already served their time. Many have spent years in prison. And this is the only crime that we do this for. Murderers don't get put on a public registry. Arsonists don't. Thinking about all this, it sounded unconstitutional.

So, I got in touch with a guy who has studied sex offender laws extensively, even written a book about them. His name is Eric Janus. He's a lawyer and former head of William Mitchell Law School in Minnesota. Janus told me that, yes, it's true, the state is not allowed to punish people after they've served their sentences. That would violate the Constitution. But sex offender laws, according to the Supreme Court, are not punishment. They're regulation.

I think, and I don't mean this in any kind of provocative way, but it's like we're regulating nuclear waste. We're not punishing the nuclear waste. We are making sure that it's kept away from us at a safe distance. And that's perfectly acceptable, and the law does that kind of thing all the time. It's not punishment. It's regulation.

The problem is that these laws take that idea and apply that idea to people. And these laws treat people as if they are dangerous objects that have certain dangerous properties.

Like hazardous waste?

Exactly, like hazardous waste.

If someone is hazardous waste, there's no safety measure that goes too far.

But we'll take a little quick right, to the right. Let's go here. You're not making it too obvious.

A few months ago, we sent a producer named Rowan Moore Gerety to see where these laws have taken us. Rowan met up with the guy, Marcos, around a commercial area in Miami, known as the spot.

But there's tents, and a few cars parked on here.

The spot isn't a house or an apartment complex. It's just this outside area, a parking lot basically, next to some warehouses. And it's where some of Miami's sex offenders live. Marcos used to live here too.

Here to my left, right behind, just next to the lighting pole is where I was parked there. Right there all the time. Right in front of me, there'll be a gentleman pitching a tent every night with a car in front of us as well. So, you'll see-

Marcos as a Marine Corps veteran. When he was 21 years old, he tried to meet up for sex with two teenage girls he'd met in an internet chat room. The girls turned out to be undercover officers. Marcos went to prison for seven years and got out last year. He's still on probation, and wears an ankle monitor. He asked us not to use his last name because he doesn't want to be threatened or harassed.

Marcos will be standing behind me. Marcos will be here.

When Marcos was getting ready to get out of prison, he started thinking about where to live.

You know, you're like,"It can't be that bad. You know, there's got to be a place to live. It can't be hard."

But it turned out it was that hard. In Miami, where Marcos lives, sex offenders have to live more than 2500 feet from a school, and more than a thousand feet from a daycare center or playground.

That area right there, it's good for any sex offender to live in. Right where we were at maybe five seconds ago, it is not good for sex.

What's a thousand feet that way?

I have no clue, but the circle goes around in and as the crow flies. So, that means that, pretty much, there's got to be some sort of school around there or some sort of daycare.

Just think for a minute what this means. Imagine taking out a map of Miami and drawing a circle around every day care center and playground, a thousand feet in diameter. And drawing a larger circle 2500 feet around every school. And then, coloring in all those circles with a red marker. Once you're done, almost the entire map will be red. That's the map of Miami that Marcos has to work with for the rest of his life.

When Marcos first got out of prison, he managed to find an apartment that fit all the restrictions, and things are going okay. But then, about a year later-

Someone must have seen the registry, and they notified them. They notified the property that there was a sex offender living on the property. Obviously, you know, your face is plastered all over the internet. Anyone can punch in their address, and they'll know you're living close to them. And then, I mean, just that label itself, that says enough. You know, it's the worst label you can have pretty much.

The property manager gave Marcos 10 days to get out. That's how he ended up at the spot. His probation officer told him about it.

She said, "Look, if you don't find housing, this is where all the sex offenders are staying at."

The first time Marcos went to the spot was in the afternoon. He wanted to check it out before it got dark.

And I was like, "Wait a second. Here?" I'm thinking more of a safer area, I guess, you could say. And yeah, I mean, it was surreal that this exists in the United States. Forced homelessness is pretty much what it is. It's a makeshift prison. If you think about it, it's like one of those prisons in the future.

But Marcos didn't have any other choices. So, he found a place to park and moved in.

Where do people go to the bathroom?

To be honest with you, my case, I went in a cup and a Gatorade bottle that I had in my car. I mean, it's not safe to get out, obviously, at nighttime. At nighttime, there's no lighting at all here. You don't want to be, you know, going in and out of your car. You never know who's out there waiting for you.

Here's what seems especially absurd about this. The spot was where Marcos had to come to sleep. It guaranteed that when Marcos was sleeping, he'd be far away from children. But during the day, he could pretty much go wherever he wanted.

Later on, as the night gets closer, you'll see a lot more cars here. I mean, this place is packed pretty much.

From the first night he slept here, Marcos was trying to get out of the spot to find a house he could move into. And Marcos was better off than a lot of people at the spot. He ran his own business. He could afford to buy a house. But when he looked at his map of Miami, the map he had to work with, with all the red circles around the daycare centers, and schools, and playgrounds, there were only about 80 or 90 houses in all of Miami Dade County that fell outside those red circles, not houses for sale, houses period.

I was honestly looking. I was looking every day at the map where I could buy the houses. I told that to my best friend who was my realtor. I told him we're finding a needle in a haystack here.

Marcos would look at his map of where he could live.

Small pockets. Some pockets were small as two homes. Some pockets were as big as 30 homes. And I remember the pockets. I wrote them all down. And then, I went on to, you know, the housing website. I would kind of like go off each other, kind of, you know, "Okay, there's no different in this than here. Okay, now, go back to this site. Where's more houses for sale? Boom." Kind of constantly going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth looking every single day.

After three months of nonstop searching.

Yeah. Can you show me around?

Sure. It's a new home. I mean, the main thing is that it was good for my residence restrictions.

Marcos finally found a house that met all of the restrictions for sex offenders and moved in.

It's this little issue right here, which is nothing but a blanket pretty much. It's better than sleeping in a car, which is what I was doing for the past two months and a half.

Marcos says this whole experience has made him feel like an outcast.

And I said the main thing I want to get across is fairness to not just me but the other guys that have no way out, you know. And something that I did 10 years ago will haunt me for the rest of my life. But I hope that people will realize that these laws have no purpose. These laws are there just for further punishment. Nothing else.

You can trace all of this, all these laws, the laws affecting Marcos, the spot, the passport markings, the Halloween restrictions directly back to a few specially dramatic abductions of children by strangers. The goal of all these laws was to protect kids from these kinds of crimes. And so, the obvious question is, did they work? Did they reduce the number of kids getting abducted by strangers? Jacob's mom, Patty, have the same question.

Is it working, or is it not working? You can't pass legislation, and then 20 years later, strengthen it without any proof that it's doing what it was set out to do.

So, I went looking for that proof. I brought in Will Craft, a data reporter I work with.

Hey, Will.


So, thanks for coming in.

No problem.

And I asked him to try to find out whether fewer kids are getting kidnapped by strangers these days, now that we have all these laws.

This is the most perplexing journey I have been on.

You'd think this would be pretty easy to figure out, that you just go to the FBI and say, "FBI, how many kids are kidnapped by strangers every year?" And they'd say, "Glad you asked. Here's our annual report on that very topic."

The FBI's website even says, "Get in touch with us if you want archived statistics."

So, Will get in touch. The FBI said, "Submit a FOIA request for the data." FOIA stands for Freedom of Information Act. It's the formal way you request records from the federal government.

So, I submitted a FOIA request. It was rejected. I submitted a second FOIA request, and then a FOIA negotiator got in touch with me and said, "We can't give you the information that you want. They say it's too difficult to gather all of it, and would take a really long time."

Who is they?

That's a good question. I asked, "Who is they?" And the FOIA negotiators said, "I'm not allowed to tell you." And then, I pressed her on that, and I said, "Well, I'd want to know, is this the people who have gathered the data? Is this the custodians of the data?" And she said, "I would really like to tell you more, but I would get in trouble with my bosses if I released any more information about this basically."


She wouldn't tell me that either. It's very strange.

She did eventually tell Will that the information on this was in paper documents stored in boxes.

She basically said, "I cannot tell you where, and I cannot tell you who is in control of it."

You think you were asking for like the nuclear codes?

Yeah, I mean …

So far, the FBI has refused to let us look inside those boxes. And even if they did, we still wouldn't be able to figure out whether fewer kids are being abducted these days. That's because the whole process of local law enforcement reporting missing kids to the FBI is voluntary. A lot of local agencies don't do it.

There's no national requirement. There's no national standard for how these things need to be reported.

I kept looking into this. And eventually, I found out that Congress actually does require the Justice Department to conduct what it calls Periodic National Incident Studies to find out how many children go missing and how many are found. But in the past three decades, the department has only done two of those studies.

The first one looked at 1988. It sampled 83 law enforcement agencies, and estimated that 200 to 300 kids in the United States were abducted by strangers that year. The second one looked at 1999. It sampled more than 4000 agencies, and it estimated that 115 kids were kidnapped that year.

But these numbers don't tell us anything because they're only two years, and they used different methods of counting, so you can't compare them. The federal government actually says not to.

This is like shining a flashlight into a cave. You see a small number of cases, and you get a few details, but there's so much still left in the dark.

Yeah. And you don't know, like, if you were to shine it in a different area, like, would you be looking at something completely different?

Yeah, because this is not, in any way, a scientific study of this. There are just so many caveats. These numbers are useless.

Will and I spent six months researching this. And in the end, we came up with almost no data on what lawmakers, the media, and pop culture have led us to believe is one of the worst threats facing children in this country.

We spent a lot of time doing work that can basically be summed up by the shrug emoji. It's like, "Ugh."

That's so depressing.


A few months ago, before the Wetterlings found out what had happened to their son nearly 27 years ago, I went over with our producer, Samara, to talk to Patty Wetterling.

Good morning. Hi.

Come in.


It's finally spring.

We wanted to talk with her about how she feels now about the laws that she played such an important role in creating, especially the one that started all this, the law that requires all states to have registries of sex offenders.

Do you check the registry periodically?

No. It doesn't do me any good to know the registry. I know they're out there. So, no, I don't I don't check registries.

Do you think that any public registry is a good idea?

You ask hard questions. I think, the way it was set up at the beginning can be a helpful law enforcement tool, much as, the same as when you get pulled over by a state trooper, they got your entire record, man. They know what you've been up to. And if it's been a lot, they may be more likely to issue the ticket than the warning. And it's all there. Your neighbors don't know that. Most people don't know that. And the rest of the world doesn't need to know that.

It's hard. It just seems like where we're at right now, it's like-

We're stuck. Right now, we're stuck because it's a trap. We want people to be angry about sexual assault. And then, when they're angry about it, they want to toughen it up for these people, you know, these bad boys who do this. And if we can set aside the emotions, what we really want is no more victims. Don't do it again. So, how can we get there? Labeling them and not allowing them community support doesn't work. So, I've turned 360 or, no, 180 from where I was.

Patty wanted her legacy to be a world that was better for kids, a safer, happier world. But she said she worries that what all those laws have actually done is make people reject that idea, and instead, view the world as fundamentally violent, dark, and suspicious with danger lurking behind every corner.

It's all the fear. I think, fear is really harmful in this topic. You're more likely to get struck by lightning than to get kidnapped. But the fear of sexual abuse, especially with parents, is huge. And they think that making their kids scared is going to keep them safer, and that's absolutely not true. It's probably the opposite.

And Patty told me, the reality is kids are much more likely to be harmed by someone they know than by a stranger or a registered sex offender.

It is somebody who knows the family and knows the child, the teachers, the coaches. They are in our community, and it's not somebody jumping out from the bushes.

Here's what seems so remarkable to me about this. Patty's own experience is of her son being taken by a stranger in the dark. It really is that nightmare scenario. And yet, what she's telling us is that we should not be making any more laws based on what happened to Jacob. But we did talk about Jacob. We talked about Danny Heinrich. By that point, Heinrich was already known to the public as a possible suspect in Jacob's kidnapping, but he hadn't confessed yet.

I just want to say this after all of our hours and hours of conversing. Most of the offenders, most of the suspects that we have had were never on a registry. Danny Heinrich that they have now, he wouldn't have been a registered sex offender.

Danny Heinrich had never been convicted of a sex crime. Even if all of these laws had been in place back then, it wouldn't have mattered. None of them would have alerted authorities to Heinrich.

And even when Patty learned all the awful things that Danny Heinrich had done to her son, she didn't ask people to be more vigilant or pass tougher laws. Instead, she asked people to play with their children, to eat ice cream, to laugh, and to help their neighbors. She asked people to celebrate living in the kind of world where Jacob lived before he was kidnapped, a world where people were so scared of each other.

Next time on In the Dark.

Crimes are being committed that were unsolvable for the education and background of the individual who's holding a position of chair.

The murder shocked the rural Stearns County community and left State Crime Bureau investigators and sheriffs puzzled searching for some fragment of reason behind the slayings.

All at once, we're locking doors.

Yeah, yeah.

We started having a gun in the house at this point.

What has changed in those 40 years? Nothing has changed. So, the problems that were back 40 years ago and beyond are still with us today, but there has to be an element in order to have accountability. And when accountability is not there, disastrous things happen.

In the Dark is produced by Samara Freemark. The associate producer is Natalie Jablonski. In the Dark is edited by Catherine Winter, with help from Hans Buetow. The editor in chief of APM Reports is Chris Worthington. Web editors or Dave Peters and Andy Kruse. The videographer is Jeff Thompson. Thanks to Rowan Moore Gerety for his reporting in Miami. Additional reporting for this episode by Will Craft and Emily Haavik. Our theme music is composed by Gary Meister. This episode was mixed by Johnny Vince Evans.

Go to to watch a video of Patty Wetterling talking about how she's changed the way she thinks about sex offender registries, and to find ways to get help if you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted.

In the Dark is made possible in part, thanks to our listeners. You can support more independent journalism like this at

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In the Dark: S1 E5 Person of Interest

Previously on In the Dark.

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

And we've been running so many white cars down, and red cars down, and tan station wagons, and vans.

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


And nobody came and searched your house that night?


And nobody searched any of, as far as you know, the buildings, the farm buildings right around your house.

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

When the news broke three weeks ago that a man named Danny Heinrich had confessed to the murder of Jacob Wetterling, US Attorney Andy Luger held a news conference. Standing by his side was a Stearns County Sheriff.

First, I want to introduce Sheriff Sanner, my partner on this matter, and a man whose dedication to seeking justice for Jacob Wetterling knew no limits, Sheriff Sanner.

Thank you. Over the past several days, the response to this news has been pretty much the same. This is not the ending that any of us wanted, but Jacob is finally home. Our thoughts-

John Sanner had been the Sheriff of Stearns County since 2003. And ever since taking office, Sanner had vowed that he and his investigators would try their hardest to solve the Wetterling case. His efforts over the years had even led some reporters to give him the nickname Jacob's Sheriff.

A steadfast commitment to never lose hope that this day would eventually come.

What Sheriff Sanner didn't say, and what no one else brought up at the news conference either was that for most of John Sanner's time in office, he had focused on the wrong guy.

This is In the Dark, an investigative podcast from APM Reports. I'm Madeleine Baran. In this series, we're looking at what went wrong in the case of Jacob Wetterling, an 11-year-old boy who was kidnapped in a small town in Central Minnesota in 1989.

Today, we're going to look at what happened when the people of Stearns County elected a new sheriff. And his team came up with its own theory of what happened to Jacob, a theory that would lead the sheriff to turn one of the investigation's best witnesses into its top suspect.

Back in March, about five months before the Wetterling case was solved, I went with our producer, Samara, to meet up with a man named Dan Rassier, then 60, but he looks at least a decade younger. He's tall, fit. He's a marathon runner. Dan was a bit wary at first. He didn't want us to come to his house. So, we met at a library instead.

All right. So, thanks for meeting with us.

Yeah, I'm not sure where we're going exactly but-

Yeah, yeah.

We sat up in a room in the library with glass walls on three sides right in the middle of the book stacks. And Dan kept glancing over his shoulder as people walked by.

He's watching the sky.

There was a guy browsing the books right outside the room. And he kind of stayed there for a few minutes just hovering with his back to us. I didn't even notice him at first.

This guy's listening out here. That's all he's doing. He probably can hear every word we say. He probably took my picture too.

We tried to assure Dan that the guy was probably just curious because we had a huge microphone, and Samara was sitting on a table with it. But Dan was convinced the man recognized him because of the Wetterling case. And while this might sound paranoid, it's really not. Dan had good reason to feel that way.

In 1989, when Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped, Dan was 33. He lived with his parents in a farmhouse at the end of a long gravel driveway on the dead-end road that led to the Wetterling's house.

Dan was a music teacher in the public schools. His students called him Mr. Bebop. He collected thousands of records, brass ensembles, big band recordings.

It was like I had this dream of buying every brass ensemble record known to man. That's kind of why I had to leave college. I was buying too many records but ran out of money. Everyone called it pulling your ass, you're going into the record store, and buying all these records.

Pulling your ass.

I mean, it's hard not to buy them.

On October 22nd 1989, Dan's parents were on vacation in Europe, and Dan was home alone. And that night, sometime between 9:00 and 9:30, right around the time Jacob was kidnapped, Dan was in his bedroom organizing his records, typing their names onto index cards when his dog, Smokey, started barking.

I turned the lights off. I'm looking out the window.

Dan saw a small car coming down his driveway. It looked like it was dark blue.

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

The car came all the way down to the house. And then, it turned around in the farmyard, and headed back out toward the road. Dan didn't get a good look at the driver. A little while later, Dan went to bed. And then, around 10:45 or so, Dan's dog, Smokey, started barking again, and Dan woke up. He peered out his window. And this time, he saw some people with flashlights roaming around near the family's woodpile. He thought maybe they were trying to steal the wood.

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

Dan went outside and ran into a sheriff's deputy. They talked for a minute or two. Dan offered to search some of the farm buildings, and that was pretty much it.

The next day and over the next few weeks, investigators did look at Dan Rassier, and Dan didn't blame them.

I was home alone. People would say I was weird. I am weird. "And you're not married, and you're 34 years old, you're living at home with your parents. You are weird. You did this."

Do you think that's how people viewed it?

Oh yeah.


Investigators went into Dan's family's house a few days after Jacob was kidnapped. They looked at his shoes. They looked in the trunk of his car, but they didn't find anything. And they didn't think Dan did it, but what they did think back then was that Dan was a witness, and that what he saw that night, that small dark blue car that turned around in his driveway right around the time of the abduction was really important.

All the law enforcement officers I talked to who worked on the case back then said they always believed that the person who kidnapped Jacob drove to the site, put Jacob in a car, and fled. They'd found some tire tracks in the driveway of the Rassier property up by the road. And there was some shoe prints there too, adult-sized prints that didn't match any of Dan's shoes, and a shoe print that looked like Jacob's.

So, they pushed Dan to remember more about that car. They even had him hypnotized. Dan remembers the whole thing was really intense; so much so that sometimes, he would just start crying. None of it worked. Dan couldn't remember anything else about that car.

This theory, call it the car theory of the abduction, led the investigation for 14 years until John Sanner was elected as the new sheriff of Stearns County in 2002.

Sheriff Sanner put together his own team to investigate the abduction of Jacob Wetterling. He put one of his top officers in charge of the investigation, a captain named Pam Jensen. And she teamed up with an agent from the State Crime Bureau named Kenneth McDonald. Together, this new team rejected the car theory.

It was a huge shift in the investigation. And it all came down to a story from one guy, a guy named Kevin.

Hello. This is Kevin. How can I help you?

Kevin agreed to talk to us on the phone as long as we didn't use his last name because he didn't want to be harassed. Here's what he told us. On the night of October 22nd 1989, Kevin was at his girlfriend's mom's house in St. Joseph, sitting around, playing cards, and listening to the police scanner.

And at around 9:30, they heard something strange come across it, something about bikes and a man with a mask. They're curious. So Kevin and his girlfriend got in a car, and drove around to see what was going on. They ended up on the dead-end street that leads to the Wetterling house. They turned left onto what they thought was a dirt road. And then, they realized it was actually a driveway that led to a farmhouse. So, they turned around. As they came back out onto the road, their headlights hit some bikes in the ditch.

Drive there for a while. It's shining right in the ditch and the bikes. I'm sitting there going, "What the hell is going on?" You know, we threw the bikes in the trunk.

Kevin and his girlfriend drove back toward town and saw a police car stopped in a parking lot. Kevin told the officer about the bikes, but Kevin said the officer didn't seem to care.

The only thing he said to me, he goes, "We already know about it. We already know," and that was it. Didn't ask me what I was doing there, didn't ask for my name, nothing. We pulled out there going, " What the hell? No one cares about these bikes."

Over the years, what happened that night became a kind of funny and strange story Kevin would tell to people at parties. One night in 2003, 14 years after Jacob was kidnapped, Kevin ended up telling this story to a guy who turned out to be a federal marshal.

And he goes, "Well, you should tell the investigator you might have seen something." He goes, "If I line up, will you talk to him?" And I'm like, "Sure, what the hell."

In October of 2003, Captain Jensen and another officer met with Kevin. I got a copy of the transcript of that interview. It was short, just 12 pages, double spaced, large font, maybe 10 minutes total. The investigators asked Kevin to tell them what happened that night. They bring up the tire tracks that were found in the driveway of the Rassier farm. They tell Kevin they've been trying to identify them for years, and they say they think the tracks were left by brand new tires.

I told them I had brand new tires on the car. That's when they looked at each other, and said, "Oh my God. We've looking for you for 10 years."

Okay. So, I know this sounds a little far-fetched that one guy could appear after 14 years with a story about driving through the crime scene before police even got there, and changed the whole course of a massive investigation, but that's actually what happened here.

I read it right in a sworn statement written by Agent Kenneth McDonald. He wrote that when Kevin came forward, the investigators eliminated the car as an option in the abduction. Once they did, everything started to point to Dan Rassier.

A few months later, Dan got a phone call. It was an investigator on the Wetterling case asking Dan to come into the sheriff's office to talk.

I went in blind. I had no idea. I went, and "How are you doing?", you know.

There were two investigators there, Agent McDonald and Captain Jensen. I tried to interview McDonald for the story, but he refused. Jensen never returned my calls.

"And can I shoot the breeze a little bit?" And then, "Well, that car that you saw, we know who was driving it." And I remember saying, "You have your person then. You know who did it." "No. No, he didn't have anything to do with it."

Investigators told Dan the car he saw that night in his driveway had been ID'd, and the person driving it had been cleared. So, that only left one option.

They were saying, "You took him. How did you do it? We know he was taken by foot. The car is accounted for. Would you just please admit that you did it, and we can make this a lot easier for you?" And I remember laughing going, "No way. You've got to be kidding."

Dan thought this was absurd. The night Jacob was taken, he had no idea what was going on; so much so that when he woke up to the sound of people searching with flashlights, he called 911 and reported them. Dan says that in that interrogation in 2004, investigators tried to use that 911 call against him.

"But that's why you were so nervous on the phone because you did do this, and you were way too nervous to be worried about a woodpile. You were worried because you might be caught, and you wanted to think of a way that you could keep the police from coming in your house, so you went to them."

I wanted to listen to that 911 call. But in Minnesota, recordings of 911 calls aren't usually open to the public, but the transcripts of those calls usually are. So, a few months ago, before the case was solved, I asked the Stearns County Sheriff's Office for a copy. At first, they told me they couldn't give it to me because the case was still active. So, I asked our lawyer to get involved. And once he did, the explanation from Stearns County changed.

Now, they told us the reason they couldn't give us a transcript of the 911 call was because the transcript doesn't exist. They said the Stearns County Sheriff's Office never had one, and that it never even saved the audio from Dan's 911 call. They just pretended to have it when they questioned Dan.

Dan remembers the interrogation going on for almost three hours.

They had me watch a little videotape of Jacob talking. And I remember thinking, "Wow, this little boy is gone for this long already, 15 years or so." And I think that the idea behind that was that I would break down and confess.

Did you think about getting a lawyer at that point?


A lot of people would be like, "Oh my gosh. You are in a serious situation right now."

Even at that point, I remember as I left that interview thinking, "This is an insane story. I remember going home telling my parents about it. They didn't believe me.

And then, do they call you again or what happens next?

That's what really gets bad.


That's where I go, "Those turkeys," a lot of bad words for them.

A couple of weeks after the interrogation on a Friday night, Dan drove home from the school where he taught.

And I drive down into the yard, and there's a car there waiting. And I get out of my car, and there's already a bright camera light. And that was the end of my life.

A TV reporter named Trish Van Pilsum had somehow gotten wind of the fact that Dan had been called into the sheriff's office, even though the only people Dan had told about it where his elderly parents. Dan still doesn't know how she found out.

And she wanted me to go on camera so bad. And I said, "No. Nothing good will come of it for me to be on the news with this story."

Dan declined to do the interview, and he thought that was the end of it.

Fast forward to the Monday, Monday comes, and I drive to the back of the school to unload all my stuff for band. And before I could get out of my car there in the back of the school, she was right there. I'm looking, and here she comes. I remember she's just shouting questions at me, and these really insulting questions. I remember thinking, "Why are you being so mean?"

14 years later, who took Jacob? Police finally turned their focus to this man.

It's Trish Van Pilsum with the exclusive.

We won't identify him because he hasn't been arrested or charged.

I didn't have anything to do with this.

He lives near the abduction site, home alone on October 22nd 1989, no one to confirm his whereabouts.

They disguised my voice to make it sound almost like I had problems speaking more than I do already, and they made me sound like an idiot, like I really didn't care. I didn't give a shit about anything. And they made my face blurred out, but you could see my car, you could see the school, you could see what I was wearing. Everybody knew who it was. I mean, it was devastating.

I called up Trish Van Pilsum, and told her what Dan had said about how devastated he was by the whole thing. Trish wouldn't talk about it. All she would say is that, "I think the story speaks for itself."

From that point on, Dan lived with this uneasy feeling that people were looking at him differently, that maybe they were talking about him behind his back. But for a few years, Dan wasn't sure exactly what was going on with the investigation, and I didn't know either until a few weeks ago when the Stearns County Sheriff's Office released a batch of documents related to the case written by Agent Kenneth McDonald.

And in these documents you can watch as McDonald and Jensen spent years trying to build a case against Dan Rassier. They started out by looking at some basic facts. Dan was home alone on the night of the abduction. The boys didn't see a car. The boys said the abductor seemed to come from Dan's driveway. But then, Jensen and McDonald started looking into what kind of person Dan was or, at least, what kind of person they thought he was.

In one of the documents, Agent McDonald noted that on the night Jacob was kidnapped, Dan was organizing his record collection. McDonald wrote, "The abductor appeared to be detail-orientated, and Rassier has the same traits." They noted that Dan taught music to kids around Jacob's age; that Dan didn't call any friends or relatives to tell them about the abduction; that Dan went on one or two dates with a woman briefly in the mid-1980s, and it didn't end well; and that in the winter of 2007, after a solid month of monitoring and reading Dan's mail, investigators discovered something. For that entire 31-day period, Dan had only received one Christmas card. Investigators considered all this very suspicious.

The documents described what happened next, how in 2009, McDonald and Jensen went to Jacob's mom, Patty, with an idea. They asked Patty to wear a wire, and pretend to run into Dan in town. She did, and she started talking to him about the case. She kept asking him if he did it. And when that didn't work, she tried asking him what he thought happened.

Dan told Patty that he was worried the abductor might come back and bury Jacob's body on his property. And then, he would be the one who would get in trouble for it. I talked to Dan a lot about this worry he had. He told me he had spent years thinking of all the places on his property that law enforcement had missed, the places where he thought it would have been possible for someone to hide Jacob's remains.

Well, the silos. Silos, you could bury, you know. Somebody could even put them under a cement.

Dan has his own term for this type of thinking. He calls it his negative imagination. I think a lot of us have this tendency to start to think this way. Some of us shut off those thoughts pretty quickly. But Dan, he continues down that path as far as it leads.

In our house, we have potato cellar. And I could easily bury a body down deep in that, and you would never know.

Do you see how saying something like that would make people suspicious?

What should I say? I have no idea? Then, I'm not being honest.

And I know that these kinds of statements didn't go over well with the officers assigned to the case. In the interrogation of Dan in 2004, Dan brought up the incomplete searches of his property. Agent McDonald wrote about the exchange in one of the documents. McDonald wrote that Dan, "seemed to be enjoying this part of the conversation, smirking at times."

But I noticed there was something else that seemed to especially bother the investigators, and that was Dan's insistence on this blue car, the blue car he saw that night sometime between 9:00 and 9:30 right around the time Jacob was kidnapped; that Dan was certain it belonged to the abductor. Dan just wouldn't let it go.

Agent McDonald wrote that Dan was "overly concerned with the car he saw that night." He wrote that when he accused Dan of the crime, Dan still kept coming back to that car. Dan "continuously went back to the fact that it must have been the person that turned around in the driveway." It's like Dan's reminding them of something they find irritating.

At one point, Agent McDonald even described it as Dan refusing to allow them to eliminate the car theory. Dan kept insisting that he saw a car, and that the car he saw was small and blue.

In 2010, the investigators took all this information: the record collection, the job teaching kids, the bad relationship with a woman in the mid '80s, the conspicuous lack of Christmas cards, and they brought it all to a Stearns County judge to ask her to sign a search warrant, so they could dig up the Rassier farm and look for evidence of Jacob. They had a meeting about it before the judge signed it. It was Agent McDonald, the judge, Vicki Landwehr, and the top prosecutor in Stearns County, County Attorney Janelle Kendall.

I called Judge Landwehr, but she declined to talk. I do know exactly what was said in that meeting because a transcript of the conversation was released a few weeks ago. Judge Landwehr told them she agreed that the circumstances and Dan's reaction did seem suspicious, but she questioned whether some of the details actually added up to probable cause. So, she asked them if there was anything else they had that would, as she put it, tie him a little more directly. The prosecutor said she didn't have anything, and turned it over to Agent McDonald.

According to the transcript, McDonald said quote, "I'm thinking." And then, he came up with a few things. He told the judge that Dan ran marathons all over the United States, and that they'd even contacted law enforcement in all those places to look for similar crimes, but didn't find any, but they did find a quote Dan had given to a newspaper reporter about running. Dan said he runs to suppress pain. Agent McDonald put it this way to the judge, "You can interpret that to, well, he running and suppressing pain with running, or is he running away from something?" Judge Landwehr replied, "Sure, okay."

Agent McDonald also mentioned that Dan once, "made some strange comments about being on a train in Europe." McDonald told the judge they tried to investigate that through Interpol, the international police organization known for helping to stop terrorism and hunt down stolen art, but they didn't have much success. Judge Landwehr replied, "Okay."

So, Agent McDonald took all this, the stuff about running away from pain, the stuff about Interpol, and put it into a sworn statement, a statement under oath — It's called an affidavit — that he gave to the judge as grounds for signing the search warrant. And in that affidavit, Agent McDonald took this offhand reference to contacting Interpol to check out some strange comments Dan made about being on a train in Europe, and turned it into something else. What McDonald now claimed was that Dan "has been further investigated by Interpol regarding comments he made on a train while traveling in Europe."

So, McDonald had taken the story of them contacting Interpol and turned it into a story about Interpol conducting its own investigation of Dan. I just had to show this to Dan as soon as I found out. And when I showed him the paper, Dan just stared at it, and shook his head.

It's like, "Now, Im Jason Borne. I was investigated by Interpol in Europe when I was riding trains for four summers." It's like, "Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? I can't even make this stuff up."

It seemed odd to me too that Interpol would investigate Dan Rassier for something he said on a train. So, I decided to get in touch with Interpol to see if this was really true. I emailed them the exact wording from the affidavit that Dan had been investigated by Interpol, and asked them to confirm that they did, in fact, conduct this investigation. They did not confirm this. Their press office in Lyon, France got back to me almost right away, and they told me Interpol doesn't even do its own investigations, but Judge Landwehr signed the warrant.

We have exclusive new information tonight about the Jacob Wetterling investigation.

I'm standing in front of a cornfield on the edge of the Rassier family farm. Just to the right of me, take a look, you'll see a sheriff's officer there. And then, just behind him, down that long dirt road, well, the end of that road is a farm, and that's where this investigation is going on.

In 2010, the Stearns County Sheriff's Office, the FBI, and the State Crime Bureau descended on the Rassier farm with cars, a pickup truck, and a backhoe. Dan had no idea what was going on because, back then, all these documents about the search were sealed. Officers scooped up ash and dirt from the farm, and held it away in barrels. Then, they came inside the house.

And they pushed my dad aside. I grabbed my dad. I thought he was just going to have a heart attack because of how they were treating him. And my mom comes up from the basement going, "What's going on?" And they're rushing, almost like a drug bust. It's like you go, "You've got to be kidding, you guys.".

Dan said his mom started talking to one of the officers.

Saying, "What are you guys doing in the house?" And he pulls her. He grabs this old lady's arm, and yanks her off the chair. She falls to the floor. He drags her across the kitchen floor, and he says, "You're all under arrest. You're all under arrest." And my mom's going, "Oh no. What did we do?" "You're all under arrest." It was really … It was horrible. And I'm ready for them to pop us with their gun.

Law enforcement didn't arrest the Rassiers. They didn't arrest anyone. I sent an email to the officer who Dan says dragged his mother across the floor, and asked him if this happened. He forwarded my email to a spokesperson who sent back a one-word answer, "No."

The search came up empty. They found no evidence connecting Dan to the abduction of Jacob, but the same day the search ended, Sheriff John Sanner did something new. He started using a three-word phrase to describe Dan Rassier's connection to the Wetterling case.

The Stearns County sheriff says Rassier is a person of interest in the Jacob Wetterling-

Labeled Rasser a person of interest-

Person of interest. Good evening, I'm Bill-

Person of interest, a vague phrase. There's no actual definition, no legal meaning, but that label, "person of interest," and the stigma of it would mark Dan for years.

During the 2010 search of the farm, Sheriff Sanner said something to Dan that stuck with Dan ever since.

Sanner, he's standing in the shade with his crisp white shirt on and his cap acting very calm, and cool, and arrogant. Scoundrel, he is. I say something like, "How could you come to this?" He said, "This is what happens when you talk. This is what happens when you talk."

Things are growing now. We've got a lot of maple trees growing. I hope they keep coming.

A couple of months ago before the Jacob Wetterling case was solved, Dan invited me to go exploring with him in his family's woods. Over the years, Dan has spent a lot of time alone in these woods, cutting down trees to use to heat the house, maintaining the trails, especially since his father died last year.

How big is this whole woods?

Not that big. I would say it's maybe 25 acres.

Dan had mentioned that he sometimes finds evidence of that search from back in 2010 when investigators dug up his farm. We went looking together for what we could find.

You're looking for basically police tape on a little … just like on a branch.

What color? Like would it be-

Yellow. It could be yellow.

The woods we're walking through, it was like a magical forest.

Like this used to be called The Lost Valley because it was lower down, and it was-

All dense with trees, maple, and ironwood, and ponds, fallen logs, and vines that looked like Tarzan's row.

When I was a kid, dinosaurs were down in this part of the woods.

As we walked, the light filtered in here and there through the trees casting a dreamy haze onto the path in front of us.

I see one straight ahead, right there. That's the yellow tape that they used to mark off where they were looking for with the dogs. Look at that. If you look that way, you see them. They're disintegrating. You can tell they're falling apart.

Dan walked over to a tree branch to touch one of the pieces of crime scene tape. He rubbed off some of the dirt with his fingers.

When I see that, I just shake my head and go, "That was a bad day. Bad, bad day."

Dan told me it's hard to describe how much this has changed his life, to be under suspicion for so long.

It changed everything in our family. I mean, my dad would probably still be living. It was so stressful for him. And the stress of it, there are certain members of the family that the stress was unbearable for them; and therefore, it's my fault.

Dan still works as a music teacher, but his side business giving private lessons has dried up because a lot of parents no longer trust him alone with their kids. Dan told me he couldn't even sell stuff on Craigslist because as soon as people Googled his address, they realize, "That's the place where the guy who might have kidnapped Jacob lives."

People in town, it's sort of a weird feeling when you realize that, "Yeah, they probably don't think too much of me," and women are the same way. They look your name up on the internet, and they go, "Thank you but no thanks." It's like you've become a little bit … What's the word? Poisonous or toxic.

I mean, as I'm talking here, I realize I can't talk to family members about any of this. They don't want to hear it. It's just they get upset. I can't talk to people at school about it for obvious reasons. So, I can't talk to anybody about it really.

The whole thing just sounds very lonely.

Well, I mean, how would I say this? I'm 60 years old. And this has been going on since I was 34. So, it's almost half my life time. And you realize you're going to go to your grave. You're not going to be known for being, you know, a teacher, or, you know, a musician, or whatever. You're going to be known for this, connected to this tragedy of Jacob. And it's not a good feeling.

For years before the case was solved, Dan tried to get help from people outside the sheriff's office to clear his name and get his family's stuff back, some lawn furniture, a chest, some documents. Dan wrote to the State Attorney General, the State Crime Bureau, various oversight boards for courts and lawyers, the FBI, the senator, his representative, even the governor.

In one letter, he wrote, "What can be said for living in America when I've experienced hell right here in Minnesota at the hands of law enforcement? This whole mess continues to torment my family, and shows no signs of relief."

No one did anything in response to Dan's complaints; though, a few agencies did write back. An FBI agent sent down a letter saying the FBI couldn't get involved because there was no evidence that a federal law was broken. The FBI agent added, "We're happy that you have no complaints directed against the FBI investigator involved in this matter."

The reason that no one could do anything with Dan's complaints is that in the United States, sheriffs have an incredible amount of power. There's no government agency in charge of supervising them. Unlike police chiefs, sheriffs don't have to answer to a mayor or a city council. They're out there on their own. And the only check on their power comes once every few years when they're up for election.

Come here. Sit down.


I wanted to talk to Sheriff Sanner about what investigators did to Dan Rassier, and how it basically ruined his life. So, in early August, about a month before Danny Heinrich confessed to kidnapping and murdering Jacob Wetterling, I went to meet with the sheriff in his office. Sanner's 62 years old. He has blondish gray hair, a mustache, and he was wearing a sheriff's uniform: brown pants, and a white buttoned down shirt, with a shiny sheriff's badge on one side, and an American flag patch on the other.

So, thanks for taking the time.

No problem.

What I wanted to know from the sheriff was his answer to the question Dan had asked years ago, "How did it come to this?" How did the sheriff come to view Dan, not as a witness, but as a suspect? And why did the sheriff decide not to keep this quiet? Why did he tell the public that Dan was being looked into? There was a lot Sheriff Sanner wouldn't talk about, like the interrogation of Dan in 2004, or how his parents were treated during the 2010 search.

I can't confirm or deny anything the Dan Rassier is commenting about because it is about the Wetterling investigation.

And then, I guess, similarly I was going to ask why hasn't Dan gotten his property back or all of his property back?

Again, the same answer for that. I'm sorry.

But there were some things about Dan that Sheriff Sanner was willing to talk about, like that TV news story from 2004, the one that blurred out Dan's face and voice, the one that said investigators were now focusing on him.

There's this one story in particular that Trish Van Pilsum did in 2004.


You're making a sound.

When I mention this reporter's name, the sheriff leaned back in his chair and groaned. And then, he brought his hands out in front of him, and made this kind of wrenching motion, like he was trying to wring someone's neck.

It's frustrating because I have absolutely no control over what the media does and doesn't do.

So, do you know who told her that Dan was a suspect?

I have no idea who made those comments. If they were even made, I don't know.

And did you ever try to investigate whether or not there is a leak in the sheriff's office?

I'm sure we would have. If the information was coming from inside the sheriff's office, that would be gravely concerning.

I followed up with Sheriff Sanner after the interview and asked him if he had any evidence he could send me about this internal investigation. He told me that, actually, there was no internal investigation. During the interview, I asked Sheriff Sanner why he decided, in 2010, to publicly call Dan a person of interest?

I have to think back.

Sheriff Sanner told me it had to do with an interview Dan had done with a local paper.

He, by himself, went to the St. Cloud Times, and talked to them, and started talking about the case, and his involvement. So, when he did that, he identifies himself then. So, I just gave him the label of "person of interest." He's the one that goes to the St. Cloud Times. I don't do that.

I think, they called him on the phone, and he-

However it works, he talks to them.

What the sheriff just said is startling when you think about it. The reason the sheriff decided to call Dan a person of interest, a decision that would be so devastating for Dan and his family was because Dan did what all of us have a right to do. He talked to a reporter.

I think you need to call him something, and person of interest seemed to be the best fit for him.

Why don't you just say, "No comment"?

Because Dan had already come forward and talked about the case or his involvement in the case to them. And for me to say no comment at that time would have been like we're not doing our jobs either.

So, the lesson is like don't talk to the media?

Well, not necessarily. Maybe don't talk to the media the way he did.

But doesn't he have the right to talk to the media however he wants?

I suppose, but when you're involved in a major, major criminal investigation, you might want to use some discretion when you identify yourself.

So, this has really damaged his life. You know, I mean, he describes how he's like a pariah. He has had trouble meeting people. He can't date anyone because they Google his name, and it's like, "Oh, you might have kidnapped Jacob Wetterling." He can't do the private music lessons. He just feels like he's under suspicion. I wonder if you weigh that in the equation. I mean, do you feel that … I mean, do you think about that?

Yeah, of course, I think about that. There are consequences to things that we do in law enforcement. But there's also consequences to things that we don't do. If we don't look at things, and we don't do investigations because we might hurt somebody feelings. Still, our primary goal is to resolve the case, and you're going to maybe hurt some feelings or damaged reputations in the process, but it's still a piece. We still have to do what we have to do.

And how does it help the investigation to call him a person of interest?

I don't know how it helps the investigation.

Just three weeks ago, after nearly 27 years, a man named Danny Heinrich confessed to kidnapping, sexually assaulting, and murdering Jacob Wetterling. Heinrich told the court that on the night he kidnapped Jacob, he drove down Dan Rassier's gravel driveway. He swung around, and pulled back up near the road to wait for the boys in the driveway. He was driving a 1982 Ford, a small blue car. Dan Rassier had been right all along.

I went back out to St. Joseph last week to check in with Dan.

Good to see you again.

You too. It's actually been a while.

Yeah, it has.

We couldn't go inside. Dan's family is still wary of reporters. So, we ended up grabbing some chairs and bringing them into the family's empty chicken barn where Dan used to practice the trumpet as a kid. I wanted to talk to Dan about what it feels like 27 years later, after all he's been through to know that he was right.

It makes my life in a lot of ways worse. I've been sleeping less than ever, and just thinking about it over time, and-

But why?

Long pause. You don't recover 27 years of time. You just don't get it back because it's just such a … I can't even describe the frustration of the 27 years of time being … It never had to be this way. Just a feeling of complete waste with time gone.

I went to the news conference after Danny Heinrich confessed. And as I sat there waiting for it to start, I wondered if the sheriff would use this case as an opportunity to review what had happened, to really look at why he and his investigators had focused for so long on the wrong guy. Not to apologize exactly, but to learn from it; to say to the public, "Next time around, we'll be better prepared. We'll do things differently."

But when Sheriff Sanner got up to the podium and started talking, if there was one thing he was clear about, it was that he wasn't interested in any of that.

Over the years, I've been asked to look back and comment on things that might have been done differently. My response has always been the same. Our energy needs to stay focused on what we can control and not waste it on things we have no control over.

And Sherrif Sanner had nothing at all to say about the man he called a person of interest. He didn't mention Dan Rassier's name at all.

Coming up next time on In the Dark.

Investigators now say they plan to question every person in Minnesota who's ever been convicted of a sex crime or crime against children. They want to know where those people were Sunday night when Jacob was kidnapped.

This is not about one sick city. It's not about one Jack the Ripper. This is happening to greater or lesser degrees in communities across this country, and America has missed it.

The drumbeat is intensifying to toughen up laws regarding sexual predators.

Today, America warns, if you dare to prey on our children, the law will follow you wherever you go, state to state, town to town.

This is the most perplexing journey I have been on.

It's like we're regulating nuclear waste. We're not punishing the nuclear waste. We are making sure that it's kept away from us at a safe distance.

In the Dark is produced by Samara Freemark. The associate producer Natalie Jablonski. In the Dark is edited by Catherine Winter, with help from Hans Buetow. The editor in chief of APM Reports is Chris Worthington. Web editors are Dave Peters and Andy Kruse. The videographer is Jeff Thompson. Additional reporting for this episode by Jennifer Vogel. Our theme music is composed by Gary Meister. This episode was mixed by Johnny Vince Evans.

Go to to learn more about this term, "person of interest," and how it's been used in other cases, and to see a timeline of the 27-year search for Jacob, and to learn more about the shoe prints and tire tracks found in the driveway.

In the Dark is made possible in part, thanks to our listeners. You can support more independent journalism like this at

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Popular Transcripts Full Transcript: Editing Audio Using a Text Transcript in Adobe Audition – Mike Russell

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Full Transcript: Editing Audio Using a Text Transcript in Adobe Audition – Mike Russell

Hello there. I am Mike and welcome to another edition of Music Radio Creative Live. Oh, that feels good, doesn't it? It's good to be back.

And in this edition, I'm going to talk about the best way to transcribe your podcast audio into text. So you can do all kinds of cool stuff like PDF transcriptions that you can give either as a lead magnet or as a free download. Also how to create awesome show notes, that kind of stuff.

I'm going to show you a few options on my screen right now during this live little explain session. Thank you by the way for joining me. If you are in live or if you're here on the replay, I hope you find this content valuable.

So as you see in the background here just behind me, I've got a Google Doc opened. That will be the first option. Also I've used this service from Rev before in the past and had very good results.

But I also want to introduce you to a new service you might have seen on my channel, done a few videos about them. Cool enough to sponsor some of my videos before as well. It's called Sonix.

And in the time it will take me to explain the other features to you, I will be able to do a transcription in lightning speed time using Sonix.

So I've got an old podcast episode here. Let's just play it for a second. It's about five minutes. Okay, perfect. So it should just take a couple of minutes to drag and drop it here and I'll get this going.

And then while that's happening, I'll show you some other ideas. So English British, that's my accent. Start transcribing. Brilliant. Okay. While that is wearing away in the background, obviously I can't fast forward this video because I'm live, I'll explain some of the other stuff.

So Rev is popular. I've seen it recommended a random load. I've had good results with it in the past, does use human transcribers. Hence, the fact it is speedy but not quite as speedy as artificial intelligence which is what this app is using here, Sonix.

And also yeah, one dollar per minute so if you have an hour long podcast episode, that's going to be 60 bucks to get your podcast transcribed by a real human being.

In my experience, I can say they've been very fast. Usually 24 hours or less so no real messing about but this is going to take two minutes which is pretty, pretty cool.

The other way to do it is to use something like a Google Doc and there is a cool feature in here. You've got tools, voice typing and see that and I can click to speak. Hang on.

Let's change my accent again because I'm British. Where are you British? Or is it UK? Where is it? Am I missing it? Australia, Canada, Ghana, India, Ireland, Kenya, New Zealand, Philippines, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, oh, United Kingdom. Okay.

Let's see whether it picks up my voice. Hello. I'd like to find out if you can transcribe me perfectly. Not too bad.

Now, if you've got your audio interface hooked up in such a way you can actually play what you hear audio in, you should also be able to go into a new line here, transcribe using this podcast episode.

So let me hit transcribe. Hit the mike phone button again and I'm going to try playing my podcast episode.

Hello. I'm Mike.

I'm Isabella.

And welcome to season. Okay, that is not working. So a little bit of messing about here or maybe it disabled itself because it didn't hear any audio. Let's try that again then.

Hit record and play the podcast episode. So podcast episode ready to go. That's a problem. It seems to disable when I click off. So maybe if I start the podcast episode first then hit the microphone.

Hello. I'm Mike.

I'm Isabella.

Maybe it's missing the intro. You see, it's a bit fiddly this one. Mike. Okay. I'm gonna start it from that point.

Let's just check back in with Sonix. Oh yeah, it's already done. It's already transcribed the episode of Ron Sonix but never fear, I am determined to make this work. So let's play the audio and start the microphone.

Hello. I'm Mike.

I'm Isabella.

And welcome to season three of the Music Radio Creative Podcast.

You know I was literally itching to be back. It's really funny how we had such a long break from podcasting.

I know.

And I almost feel really guilty. And there were days where I'm just thinking, "Oh could we just not sit down and start recording right now."

And that's the beauty of podcasting, right. You can just grab your microphone, you can switch it on and start talking.


Okay. As you can see, it's done an okay job but it's really not perfect. And it's mistranscribed a few of the words, plus I'm not getting nice paragraphs. Literally, at the end of this I'm going to have one big chunk of text.

So let's go over to Sonix. Oh, before I do actually, there is one more thing that I can show you. If you can get this to work on your desktop, you can use something like Evernote.

So I'm just loading up the Evernote app here, logging in to my Evernote. And if I create a text note here, there you go, creating a text note on Evernote. Then, what I will do is I will use my microphone input here.

Hello. This is a test note. And you might be able to see that or not but it is transcribing exactly what I say. You could be really fiddly and start that recording and hold it up to a speaker and play your podcast episode.

But remember, both the Google Drive way and transcribing into phone way, you're gonna have to transcribe in real time. So if you got a 60-minute podcast, you'll have to sit there for an hour, leaving it playing in real time so not ideal.

Rev will work it but uses real human beings, more expensive than Sonix and also you're going to have to wait a little bit longer to have that real human being turn around your transcription.

But let's have a look at this, I'm very very quickly falling in love with Sonix. And you can see it's done a great job. It split the podcast episode into nice little paragraphs as well.

It's given me a confidence rating as well so I can actually highlight with the thermometer any words that it's not confident about. Brilliant, brilliant stuff.

If you want to try this out for yourself by the way, Okay. That will not only give you 30 free minutes but if you sign up for a paid account, you'll get 100 minutes for free by using my link. So to test this out.

Hi. I'm Mike. And I'm Isabella is the last bit. And welcome to season three of the Music Radio Creative Podcast. So really really cool stuff. A very fast way to get some nice looking show notes going on here.

You can go ahead and assign speakers. So I can say that this is going to be Mike, save and this is gonna also be Mike. This was Isabella speaking and you can go through like so just assigning the speakers to be the correct speakers here.

You see it will pick out for you automatically different speakers that it detects. You can just go through and do Mike, Isabella, Mike, Isabella. You'll see why I'm doing this in just a moment.

Let's get that all assigned, Mike, Isabella and you can just go through and do this really quickly. I'll leave the rest. Oh, might as well do the whole thing for sake of completeness, Mike, Isabella, Mike, Isabella, Mike, Isabella.

And this has got some really cool integration so not only can you make a podcast show notes. So if I wanted to add a show note here. Okay, we're changing the format. We're changing the format of this podcast, read more at That could be one show note.

What else did we talk about here? If there's something you'd like to hear on the podcast, okay. If you'd like to hear about something on our show, go to

And as you can see here, I'm making quick show notes to the podcast which would take much longer if you had to listen to it. Now I can just skim, read through this text to make notes. And as you can see here, they appear as nice notes.

Now, let's do some exporting to really show you what this can do for your podcast. I can export as a Microsoft Word document or text file if I want to copy paste into something like WordPress. I include time stamps and speaker names. It's very handy. Export and boom.

There we go, some show notes and look at this, looking fantastic. It calls out Mike and Isabella so each speaker here with timestamps of when we were speaking. Show notes are here at the top with links. So again, ready to Command A, Command C and paste into your CMS like for instance WordPress.

But if I want to go ahead and make some edits here, I can edit out a whole line of me talking here. Just grab your microphone, you can switch on and start talking. Boom, that's gone and that will actually disappear now from the audio.

And I can show you this just quickly over in Audition. If I then export this as an, let's click here, Adobe Audition session file which we're gonna do using Sonix, export and then open in Adobe Audition. And we want to link the media with MRC and it is mrc-s3e0. Boom.

Open up and you'll see here transcription is going to appear here in the market section or it should appear here in the market section. For some reason that's, oh, it's not working because I've got a search in there already. There's the transcription.

And you can see how it is making cuts at the point that I have told it to cut our out audios. So right about here but this is nondestructive so if I zoom right in, I can actually re-enable any of the audio that Sonix is cutting it out.

So Sonix will edit your podcast for you as well. It's a really really cool app and the best I have found in order to transcribe your podcast audio into text. So go, give it a go, try it out for yourself and let me know how you get on with this.

Like I say, the time it has taken me to explain the other methods of transcribing, the artificial intelligence inside this app transcribed a short podcast episode with ease and not even breaking a sweat.

So go and try it out for yourself at Really hope you enjoy using this for your podcast. Let me know how you get on and I'll be back tomorrow for a brand new episode of Music Radio Creative Live. Join me then.

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Popular Transcripts Full Transcript: Top Podcasting Tips & Tools for Recording, Interviews & Exporting – Pat Flynn

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Top Podcasting Tips & Tools for Recording, Interviews & Exporting – Pat Flynn

Hey, what's up guys, it's Pat Flynn here. You know I've recorded over a thousand podcast episodes, conducted hundreds of interviews. I'm excited to share with you today in this video some of my best and favorite tips. We're going to talk about recording your episodes. We're going to talk about interviews.

We're actually going to dive into the editing software. I'm gonna show you different kinds of episodes you can create and how they're structured and then finally, I'm going to show you how to export an MP3 file and tag it properly in a way such that it has all the right information in it for the person listening on the other end. All right. You ready to get started.

All right, let's start with tip number one. When I first started podcasting, I thought that when you recorded a podcast episode you had to record it all in one fell swoop, meaning just one take and I would get frustrated every time I made a mistake. I would go back to the beginning and re-record everything over and over and over again and over time it would get longer and longer the amount I could go without actually making a mistake, but I eventually found out the secret.

You don't have to record everything all in one take. You can and you should be stopping at certain points, going back and redoing something if you feel like you can do it better and at the end, your podcast episodes are going to look like a bunch of pieces all put together. So, don't try and be One Take Jake because that is very difficult and unusual.

All right, tip number two. You don't have to script your entire podcast episode either. I actually used to do that too because I was so scared that I was going to miss something. I wanted to make sure I structured my episodes and said everything I wanted to say in the perfect way. But what ended up happening was a lot of those episodes that I scripted out word for word kind and it didn't sound like they had a lot of personality in them and you can make sense of that when you start to read your own stuff.

My best tip for you is to actually just outline your episode. Start with the end in mind – the transformation. What is it that you're trying to teach or share with this audience member of yours and then work backwards from there, listing the examples; the case studies; the stories that you want to tell; the facts. All those kinds of things. You don't have to, and you should not, script everything out. Trust yourself to use that outline to be able to tell stories in a way similar to if you were to just go to a cafe and talk to a friend.

All right, tip number three and this relates to microphone placement. So, a couple of things here. You need to know that your mouth needs to stay in generally the same position at the same time. Now you obviously want to talk naturally too and this can be a little bit tricky for some of you but you want to make sure that your mouth is pointing the same direction the whole time.

And, trust me, it's so easy to forget that you need to do this because we often move our heads around, especially when we're talking, especially during an interview. But always try to make sure that your mouth is pointed in the same direction. You also want to make sure the distance from your mouth to the microphone remains the same too.

One trick that I like to use, especially on this particular microphone is I like to have basically the tip of my nose touching the windscreen because that allows for that deep resonant voice, whether you're a man or woman, to come through and make it sound very natural and soothing sounding, so try to stay as close as you can to the microphone and obviously check your levels when you're recording, run some test recordings, make sure you're in the right spot. But, generally speaking, mouth always facing microphone and always having it be the same distance from the mic.

All right, tip number four and this is a quick one. Make sure you remove all distractions when you're recording your podcast episodes. This means turning off your phone, making it silent or turning off the notifications on your desktop or closing the door, obviously, or if you have kids or people around the house, let them know that you're recording and not to distract you during that time. One of the worst things that can happen is obviously losing your flow because when you're in a podcast episode, you're often in a state of mind where things are flowing, things are going really well. When you get distracted, it can throw you off. So, remove those distractions as much as possible and just make sure that becomes a habit for you.

All right, in tip Number 5, the final one for now. I'll give you some more tips related to interviews specifically once I show you how to conduct an interview because it's a little different beast, but the last one is no matter what kind of episode it is, make sure that you create some sort of hook in the beginning of that episode because, you know, kind of like with a website or with a YouTube video, you know, people watch that or they read it and then if they're not interested right away, they're going to click away or exit right away, right? Same thing with your podcast although you have a little bit more time. You have about 20 to 30 seconds to really convince the listener that they should stick around. I mean, that magic moment is when they take that device of theirs and they put it in their pocket, they're saying to themselves, yes, I commit to listening to this episode. You want that and the best way to get that is to actually give them something that they can look forward to. So, whenever possible, especially in the beginning or the introductions of your episodes, tell them what they're going to get and why they should stick around.

Now, when it comes to creating content for your podcast episodes, some of those episodes may lend itself to just be you. Have it be a solo episode where you're chatting with that audience on the other side. Other times, it might make sense for you to have an interview type of episode where you have a guest or a number of guests on your show and this is beneficial for a lot of reasons. Number one, a person might have an expertise that you are able to share with your audience through that interview when it's an expertise that you might not have yourself. Number two. Guess what, you get to have a lengthy conversation with somebody, perhaps somebody who you look up to in your space that allows you to start building a relationship with them at the same time. And, number three, now you're associated with that person, which means if a listener comes through and sees that you have this connection with this other person, I mean, that means a lot. Now, in order to capture an interview – I'm not going to go into the details of how to do all the interview process, scheduling, and all that kind of stuff. A lot of that is common sense. I also talk a lot more about it in my premium course Power of Podcasting, but for now I'm going to give you a quick rundown of how to capture an interview using Skype. Skype is a free tool that you can download online that allows you to do audio and/or video chats with other people, even messaging as well, but using some third-party tools you can actually capture those things, take those MP3 files and just drop them right into your editor. If you're on a Mac, likely you'd want to use Call Recorder for Mac by the Ecamm Network and then if you're on a PC, you'd want to use either Pamela for Skype or Amolto, which a lot of people are using now too. Obviously, links for all these things are below this video.

All right, so really quick I'm gonna show you how to record an interview on Skype using Call Recorder for Mac and then we'll get into some interview tips after that. ok, so here you are on Skype and a few things you want to do. First, make sure you follow this account here, the Skype name Echo 123. This is a robot test call tool that Skype provides you so that's Echo 123. We're going to record a conversation with this person in just a moment to show you how easy this is to do. Secondly, after you install Call Recorder for Mac, for example, if you go to view up here and click Call Recorder, you'll see the call recorder pop up and simply you click on this red button to record the conversation. It will record the audio on my end and it'll record the audio on the other person's end too at the same time. Now, as you can see, it is greyed out and that's because we are not initiated in a call right now. It'll only initiate and be able to be clicked on after we're on a call, so let's go into that Skype call and let's actually test this out. So, I'm going to click this button here, call the Echo Sound Test Service and then I'm going to hit record and then I'm also going to speak so that we can capture that and then I'll show you where that file ends up and what to do with it.

Hello, welcome to Skype Call Testing Service. After the beep, please record a message. Afterwards, your message will be played back to you.

Hey Skype, this is Pat Flynn here. Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Woo hoo. Yeah.

Hey, Skype. This is Pat Flynn here. Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Woo.

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, then something is wrong with your audio recording settings. Please check your microphone and microphone settings or visit for more help. Thank you for using Skype Call Testing Service.

All right. So, there we go. I closed the conversation and that recording ended and we're going to go find it really quick, but briefly she mentioned that you can check your preferences for Skype if your mic is not hooked up and to do that all you have to do is go to Skype and then audio and video settings. If that setting is not there, just go to preferences. It's likely there instead. And, now you can see my camera. So, my camera is working, which is great. Good to see you guys. And then microphone, as you can see, is the built-in mic and we did that for the purposes of this demo. If I wanted to do a real podcast, I would hit this and select the ATR USB microphone. So, that's how you would make sure that you have the correct mic.

Now, let's go find that podcast episode or, excuse me, that interview that we just "recorded" there with that test sound service. So, if you actually click on this find your icon or this magnifying glass here, that will actually open up a list of your previously recorded episodes here or interviews and if you click on this, you can you can actually play it and preview here. So, you can do that. Now you're hearing a little bit of echo with mine there because I didn't have headphones on. It's always best to kind of have headphones in when you're recording so that your microphone doesn't pick up what the speakers are putting out. So, that way it's in your ear, there's no echo. I'm not going to play here because there is an echo, but here's what you would do from here. You'd go to export as MP3 and then click export and then you can save it wherever you'd like. Save it as the best quality and it's going to be something that you can easily drag and drop into your editor for your interview shows. Cool.

All right, now really quick, three simple tips to help you increase the likelihood of having a great interview. Number one, make sure that you and the person you're interviewing are both on the same page, meaning when that interview is going to happen; where does it happen; what are your Skype user names together and what is it going to be about. Also, make that person feel really comfortable when they get on with you. That way the interview just goes that much smoother. All right tip number two, as much as you might want to write down questions beforehand, which you can, my top recommendation is to don't always stick with them and see how deep you can go. A lot of those questions that you might ask initially are just surface level questions. The gold lies deep down below so, continue to ask questions like, why or how come you felt like that or what was going through your head at that time. Try to pull stories out of that person too. That's how you get into the golden, great information that your audience is going to really enjoy. And finally, just overall, the third and best tip I can offer you as an interviewer is be genuinely curious. Yes, you're going to have to listen, obviously, but it can be very difficult to listen because you're going to want to make sure you ask the right follow up question or you might be keeping track of notes or certain things but when you are genuinely curious, when you approach your interviews as that, nothing can go wrong because you are putting yourselves in the shoes of those who are listening. You're collecting information, you are learning about that person and you're getting valuable information that your audience will benefit from.

ok, so to finish up this video, a really, really important step here and that is taking your file, right, after it is completed, after you got all the pieces in there, the music, the interview, intros, outros, call to action, all those necessary things. Once that's ready to go, well what do we do next? Well, we have to export it. Take it from our editing software into an MP3 file but then we need to take that MP3 file and add a little bit of data behind it to make sure that the information in that file matches what it should be so that when a person listens to it on the other end it's exactly the way it needs to be. So, let's dive right into the editing software right now. I'm using Garage Band. There's like a made-up episode that is put together for you for the demonstration purposes here and then we'll export it and we'll tag it and then we will be done for today.

All right, so here we are in Garage Band. We have this made up episode here as you can see. This is my track here with the intro and outro. There's like a middle piece here for the interview and then there's music on either side to kind of cap things off. Now, at this point, what we want to do is export, and to do that, quite simply we just go to the share area in the menu item and then click export song to disc and what we want to do is make sure this is an MP3 file. So, we're going to click on MP3 file and in terms of quality, there's a number of different selections here. There's a low quality, medium quality, high and then highest. The higher you go, the bigger the file size is going to be, but the lower you go, the lower the quality of that episode is going to be as well. High quality or medium quality will work just fine and because we want the highest quality possible, that makes sense. Just click on high quality, 192 gigabytes per second. But don't worry about highest quality. That's too much. That's for, like, music production. High quality will work just fine and then what you do is you can name it. You can name it the episode number, if you have episode numbers, or the name of that episode or the guest that you might have, for example. It's nice that they include this timestamp here for you automatically so that you just know when you exported this one so, I'm just going to keep it as Test Episode and hit export and it should take just a moment. Obviously, it can take a little bit longer depending on the size of your episode. And boom, we're done. It is converted now to an MP3. So, let's go and find it. All right, so I found it here in this Test Episode Folder. Now, hopefully, you can have your own file management system in your computer that has different numbers and just makes it easy for you to find these kinds of things. So, this is Test Episode. This is the Garage Band Project file and this is the MP3 file that we just created and if we were to play that, it would play properly. But, as you can see, it uses just the default logo there because we don't have artwork put into it yet nor do we have any information related about this episode that would play on the other end. If a person plays this on their device, it would literally say test-episode-010918-335pm, and that's not what we want. We want to put the proper metadata behind it. In other words, we want to tag this thing. So, how do we do that?

There's a number of third party tools that you can use to add tags to your file. You can also do it within your podcast host, which we'll talk about in the next episode, but I wouldn't recommend doing that. I would recommend just doing it on the file itself using iTunes. The reason I like doing it on iTunes is a) because it's very simple; and, b) you can get a sense for what it's already going to look like as you go along. So, I'm just going to open up iTunes right here and, in my library, I'm gonna create a new playlist just to house these episodes that I create and build over time. So, I'm gonna click new playlist and just do a Podcast Episode – I can't speak and type at the same time. There we go. And now, what I'm going to do is drag this over and literally just drag and drop this test episode, the MP3 file, not the Garage Band file, into that playlist. Now, here it is. So, let me expand this really quick so we can get more of you there. ok, so now we have that podcast episode. As you can see here, it's Test Episode with the day and the time and it has the default image file. This is all the information that is in this file right now.

So, let's change that. To do that, you can right click and click on Song Info and, as you can see here, now we have a number of fields – Artist; Album; Album Artist; Composer; Grouping; Genre. But, hey wait, we didn't create a song, we created a podcast, so we have to change that first. First thing you wanna do is go to Options and then change the media kind from music to podcast. This changes the menu items up here. Now, if we go to details, for example, you'll see that this has changed. So, title here is the title of this podcast episode. So, podcast episode title goes here. The author, this is you. The host. This should be the same as what you're eventually going to put into your media provider, which we'll talk about your media host in the next video. So, same as media host then, podcast. This is the title of your podcast so your podcast title goes here. Your release date, this is the date that this is going to be published, if you know that already, if not, that's ok. Genre. That's something that doesn't have to be filled out either. Runtime, as you can see, that automatically populates and then simply to add your artwork, just click on Add Artwork. You're going to find your file and then it'll be essentially embedded in that episode. Boom and now that artwork is in there for my podcast and when I click ok, it's going to show that artwork there but we're not ready to click ok yet. I'm going to click on description and this is where we add a little bit of a description of what this episode is about. Not your show, but what this particular episode is about and you can have it as long or as short as you want. In some applications they truncate this so don't spend too much time on this, but you do want to make sure that when a person reads this, that they are enticed to go and listen to it. So, I'm just going to put a description for Episode goes here. Then, I'm going to hit ok. Whoa, what happened? Our playlist disappeared. Well it didn't disappear, it just moved because remember we switched from music to podcast and we are in the music library right now. You're seeing music from the movie Frozen and a TV show called Happy Endings. We need to go to the podcast library so, to do that, just go to the drop-down menu here, music podcasts. Now after this, you won't ever have to change it anymore. But, as you can see there's your episode. You can see the title of our episode. Podcast episode titles go here. You host, same as me, host. Podcast title goes here, but where's our artwork? Well it's not necessarily gone. It doesn't often show here right away, but if we were to click play on this it should show up here at the top and that's how we know it's connected. So,let's press play. Check, check, one, two. This is Pat Flynn. We're ok because see there's the logo up there and it played that funky music which was what we just used for demonstration purposes and all is good to go. So now our file is ready for the world.

All right and final step here relating to this podcast episode that we just tagged. We want to take this tagged file and put it back into our folder. That way we know that that's the final one that is tagged. So, we're actually going to click on that here in iTunes, drag and drop it over to our folder and then just one thing I like to do is just click on here and add the words final at the end and that's how we know that that's the file that we should be uploading to our media host.

All right, great job. In the next video, you're going to learn a few things such as how to get set up with media hosts properly, get your show ready for the world. Also, distribute your show on directories like iTunes, Stitcher and Google Play. We'll also get into how much does a website play a role in all this and also show notes and what that means. All right, and really quick before you go, I have a gift for you and that is the Podcast Cheat Sheet. You can get it for free using one of the links in the description below and what that does, is it helps you just make sure that you have all the pieces into place to help you get your show up and running and also has a checklist to go from nowhere to a podcast up and running on iTunes and also to make sure that you are creating the right kinds of content and can plan properly ahead to just do a great job with your podcasts. I'm excited for you. You can get that link, again, below in the description for the Podcast Cheat Sheet, and if you're ready just head on over to Day 3 and we'll finish this off with a bang.

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