Santa Lucia Hall.
As a freshman at Cal Poly living in Santa Lucia Hall, the story of Kristin Smart has loomed in the back of my mind since I first arrived on campus.
In May 1996, 19 year old Kristin Smart disappeared on her way back to her dorm after attending a party off-campus. 26 years later, she has still not been found.
Last year, Paul Flores, the last person to have seen Smart alive, was charged with her murder. His father, Ruben Flores, was also arrested and charged as an accessory to murder for his alleged role in helping to hide Smart’s body.
The trial of Paul and Ruben Flores is set to take place on April 25.
The road leading up to their arrests was lengthy and the investigation went years with seemingly no real progress. Then, Chris Lambert came along and helped revitalize the investigation with his podcast titled “In Your Own Backyard”.
Lambert who describes himself as an “accidental journalist”, started “In Your Own Backyard” as a side project that he could work on in his free time between his job as a music producer and hosting a different podcast. But, his little side project ended up becoming much bigger than he ever could have imagined.
According to the Associated Press, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff “credited Lambert with helping draw worldwide attention to the case and bringing forward valuable witnesses.”
“It still feels surreal,” said Lambert. “I forget sometimes the impact that it’s had and how far it spread because I’m still so focused on the fact that she has not been found yet.”
Though his podcast has had some unintentional effects on the case as it moves into the trial such as the defense motioning for a change of venue because the podcast has brought so much publicity to the case that they argue everyone in the San Luis Obispo County will be biased, Lambert says he wouldn’t really change anything about the podcast.
“If my option was to not talk about her at all or to talk about her, I would choose to talk about her,” he said.
With the goal of finding Kristin Smart and figuring out who was responsible for disappearance, Lambert bought a small field recorder and a shotgun microphone and got to work.
Lambert described the process of starting “In Your Own Backyard” in an interview with me via zoom.
Throughout this entire interview, Lambert sounded really passionate about podcasting, even though he doesn’t see himself continuing it as a career for the rest of his life.
“I think my favorite thing about podcasting is just the impact you can have with so little material. It’s just a microphone and storytelling,” Lambert said.
Since all you really need is a microphone and a story to tell, Lambert says anyone can do it and readily gave a few pieces of advice for people just starting out as podcasters.