Publication Date: August 7, 2016
My Rating: 7/10
Overview: On October 22, 2005, a beloved teacher and beauty queen vanished from Ocilla, Georgia without a trace.
Now, 12 years later, the Up and Vanished podcast brings the cold case back into the spotlight and unveils several mysteries surrounding Tara Grinstead's disappearance.
What I loved: True crime podcasts are my thing. I absolutely love them and can't get enough. When my close friend, Spencer, recommended Up and Vanished, I downloaded and subscribed immediately. I began listening on March 28th and today, April 5th, I'm already caught up to date. That's 42 episodes on iTunes. I know. I'm crazy.
One of the best parts of the podcast is witnessing the host's transformation with each and every episode. At the beginning, Payne seems uncertain and almost lost in an unfamiliar territory. However, by the end, Payne has taken control as a host and narrates his investigation masterfully.
I also enjoyed the Case Evidence and Q&A episodes in between the main investigative episodes. I believe these helped fully describe and elaborate what had been discussed previously. I commend Payne on conducting so many interviews with Ocilla townspeople and professional experts. It added more validity to the investigation than if he simply spoke about what he'd discovered.
The disappearance of Tara Grinstead is the definition of a cold case if I ever heard one. There had been no earth-shattering leads, witnesses or suspects. Sure, there had been rumors and ideas of who'd done it, but the police and the GBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, hadn't gotten any closer to finding out what happened to Tara...
I highly recommend listening to Up and Vanished, BUT, make sure not to do any Googling of the case or even skip ahead to read more recent episodes' descriptions. You will ruin the case for yourself. You've been warned!
What I didn't: I want to start off by saying Payne, the host, did a fantastic job as an amateur podcaster. I can't imagine all of the hard work he put into creating and producing Up and Vanished. So, kudos to him for doing such a great job his first time around. But, respectively, I did have a few issues with the podcast.
First and foremost, I feel the sound quality of the podcast has lots of room to be improved during Season 2. I spent a lot of time adjusting the volume during episodes because some scenes were too loud, while others were too quiet. I wish the quality would have been a little better especially during the recorded phone calls. Sometimes, I could barely hear what the person was saying.
Again, I respect Payne for all of his hard work, but the ads, man. All the ads. I know it can't be easy to produce a podcast and I'm sure it costs a lot of money, but I felt there were too many ads. I could understand maybe one in the beginning, middle or end, but to have one in all three of the duration of the podcast was a little much. I felt like it broke up the story and diminished some of the more climatic scenes.
Same with the Kickstarter ads. People who have been listening to every single episode know there is a Kickstarter campaign for the next season. I don't think it's necessary to promote it every episode. Maybe every other? I don't know, I just felt like with all of the ads and then the Kickstarter campaign, it was as if someone was holding me upside down trying to empty out all the change in my pockets.