She has been missing for longer than she has been alive. The story of Kristin Smart, a Cal Poly student who has been missing for 23 years, is documented in a new podcast series “Your Own Backyard,” which made its debut Sept. 30, 2019.
Podcast creator Chris Lambert, a central coast native, grew up hearing about Kristin’s story. He was intrigued by the billboard that lies just off of E. Branch St. in Arroyo Grande, reading “Missing Cal Poly Student: Kristin D. Smart, $75,000 Reward.”
In “Your Own Backyard,” Lambert documents who Kristin was and takes a deep dive into her sudden disappearance in 1996.
“Part of the inspiration for doing something like this is that it’s gone on for so many years that she’s just fading from public memory,” Lambert said.
The podcast has taken more than a year to create and, through nearly six months of research, Lambert said he found many errors in initial reports on the case.
“A lot of what I discovered were there were a lot of mistakes that were made in early news reports, were things that were printed about where she was at or who she was with, who walked her home, even what she was wearing at the party,” Lambert said. “A lot of the early newspapers got it wrong.”
An article published by Peter King from the L.A. Times peaked Lambert’s initial interest in the case. Lambert’s involvement into his podcast took off from there, even speaking with King about his findings.
“[King] said ‘I think maybe your documentary is the legacy of my article’. I almost cried when he said that to me on the phone, like oh my god that’s so moving, that you think that I could take this further than you did,” Lambert said.
“Your Own Backyard” is a five hour documentary told through different episodes, documenting Kristin’s life from a young child to her current case and the open investigation.
“This is still an open and active investigation, which is good news for her parents because it’s open and [the Sheriff’s Dept] is saying they are investigating this so that’s hope,” Lambert said. “The moment they close it and say it’s a cold case it might be great for me because then I can start digging through those boxes and getting some of my questions answered, but for her parents that’s a nightmare because then, they’ve officially given up on it.”
Lambert’s goal through this podcast is to help Kristin’s bring case back to light and ensure her story never dies.
“She didn’t get as long of a life as she deserved, but in the time that she was alive she accomplished a lot of things and she did a lot of things and she was a fully developed person,” Lambert said. “I hope I’m sort of putting a record of that together so that people years and years done the line who don’t know her story or who she was could listen to it and understand her.”
Click the podcast below to learn more about “Your Own Backyard”:
The podcast above was originally played on the radio station KCPR, and produced by Sydney Brandt.