Tag Archives: reality tv

265 – Ghost Nation: Back On The Hunt With Jason Hawes

We’ve interviewed plenty of television ghost hunters on the show before, but it’s not every day you get to talk to the original. When Ghost Hunters premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel in 2004 (even before they’d changed the name for corporate trademark purposes to SyFy), there were talk shows with psychic mediums, there were shows that used the Night Vision camera like MTV’s Fear, but there was nothing that showed the modern ghost hunting experience. Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson founded the core of the team and Jason stayed with the show through all 232 episodes.

Those are some serious-looking Ghostbusters

In 1990 after having his own paranormal experience, Jason Hawes formed the group that would become The Atlantic Paranormal Society. The acronym T.A.P.S. would launch a thousand paranormal teams across the country, but it was a 2002 New York Times article that would eventually lead to their deal with Pilgrim Films and turn a Rhode Island paranormal investigation team into international celebrities and create the phenomenon that would become “paranormal reality television”.

Ghost Hunters ended after 11 seasons in 2016 (with a new revival on A&E with Grant Wilson starting this season), but Jason Hawes has returned to television with Ghost Nation, starring longtime TAPS members, Dave Tango and Steve Gonsalves. Ghost Nation is centered around what Jason feels is the most important part of paranormal investigation and that’s working in private residences with families who are having haunted experiences that they need help with.

Dave Tango, Jason Hawes, and Steve Gonsalves

Jason has his own radio show, Beyond Reality and he spent 11 years on television, so he’s a great talker and our discussion is wonderfully candid. He’s got a really disarming manner and even if I hadn’t seen him hunt ghosts so many times, it felt like I’d known him for years. You can see how people who’ve never met him can open up about their paranormal experiences. If he brings that kind of easy charisma to Ghost Nation, it will be a fun season indeed. Here are some of the topics that we cover:

  • Why Jason decided to get back into TV ghost hunting after several years off
  • Tips for a new ghost hunting team
  • The difference between an intelligent haunting and a “recording”
  • Why Jason misses some of the real-life drama that fueled the first few seasons of Ghost Hunters
  • What’s the difference between ghost hunting in the 90s and today
  • Is there some kind of feud between him and Grant Wilson now that they have competing shows?

Ghost Nation premieres on Travel Channel October 11th, 2019 at 9pm Central/10pm Eastern and Pacific Time!

So much of life is dedicated to pondering its brevity. In fact, the Roman Stoics used to carry Momento Moris around, which were little reminders that they were going to die. The idea is that its supposed to urge you into action realizing that you have a finite time on this earth, so make the most of it. My conversation with Jason Hawes who has been to so many haunted sites and has seen so many things that he cannot explain made me posit just the opposite. What if we had all the time in the world?

That immediately made me think of Andrew Marvell’s lovely poem “To His Coy Mistress” which famously starts “Had we but world enough and time”, the idea being that life is short so let’s get to the fun parts (in the poem, the speaker is trying to get his girlfriend to make some sweet love, as was another Seventeenth Century poem inspiration for one of our earlier songs.) But this song is just the opposite, it’s about how love never dies and when faced with the possibility that our spirits are eternal, instead of a one-night stand, it just might be “The Long Game”.

It’s the lines on my face
and the dark around your eyes
when infatuation fades
we’re left with these old lives

what if we knew forever
was more than just fantasy
what if we knew forever
could be our reality

we’ve got world enough and time
an eternity remains
we’ve got world enough and time
love is a long game

Though the clock is ticking
we’re more than these old bones
there’s no stroke of midnight
when you’re dancing on gravestones

what if we knew forever
was more than just fantasy
what if we knew forever
could be our reality

we’ve got world enough and time
an eternity remains
we’ve got world enough and time
love is a long game

243 – Never Stop Searching: The Paralosophy of Brian Cano

You might be most familiar with him as the ghost hunting equipment guy on Haunted Collector with John Zaffis, the nephew of the notorious Ed and Lorraine Warren. Or you might have seen him as one of the hosts of the new Travel Channel show Paranormal Caught On Camera. But in the days before paranormal reality television was the popular phenomena it is today, Brian was urban exploring the abandoned buildings and haunted locations of Staten Island and putting together videos of it for public access cable.

His show Scared on Staten Island! (and eventually just called Scared! as they began investigating locations outside New York) started off with just camcorders documenting his haunted adventures and it eventually would lead to a career of hunting ghosts and investigating weird phenomena all over the United States.

His website is called “Never Stop Searching” because it’s based on getting the specualtion out of the research of paranormal phenomena. Why is a ghost the best explanation for an EVP? Why would spirits be limited to a certain location when they don’t have a physical body? Why do we assume that it’s dead human personalities that are showing up in photos and not our own real live brains and psychic energy projecting onto the audio recording or visual image?

in this interview, we discuss Brian’s “paralosophy”, which is really about unlearning all the stuff that we’ve been led to believe about paranormal investigation. Some of the topics we cover:

  • How he started off as a skeptic and saw too much to not believe in something
  • Why we should question all the assumptions of paranormal investigation
  • Why it’s good to go into a place cold and do the historical research afterwards
  • His psychic projection experiment that he likes to perform at every investigation

If you’re in Wisconsin, Brian will be teaching his method of paranormal investigation at the Old Baraboo Inn on April 27th to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Tickets are available by clicking here. Of course, we’ve been to the OBI a few times and have had some weird experiences of our own there, so you never know what you’re going to see!

The song this week, we were inspired by Brian’s “Paralosophy” and the idea of unlearning everything we think we know about the paranormal. Here is Sunspot with “More Than We’ve Dreamt Of”.

it’s so much
bigger than what you see

more than you’ve dreamt of
in your philosophy

and you’ll know it
when you’re ready

it’s what’s stuck in
the corner of your eye

and it’s the fear
that we don’t know why

but when the clouds clear
we’ll see the sky

it doesn’t matter
if we agree

for all these worlds
are yours for free

in the light of

more than we’ve dreamt of
in our philosophy

once you’re in, you’re in
once you’re past, you’re past
now that you’ve opened the door
you’re never going back

Rip up the rulebook
and let the mother burn
You can eliminate
everything you have learned
You live a hundred lives
and never understand
that you’re nowhere
til you give up everything you have

it’s so much
bigger than what you see

for all these worlds
are yours for free

more than we’ve dreamt of
in our philosopy

and we’ll know it
when we’re ready

Too Many Ghost Hunters?

An interesting story from CNN this week about the proliferation of ghost investigation groups across the United States since the dawn of the Ghost Hunters in 2004. And not only how ghost investigation groups are hitting the mainstream now but that because there’s so many groups and only so many TV spots and haunted places, that these teams are going into competition against each other for attention.

zak balans hardbody
I know people love Zak Bagans but did he just ask me, “Do you even lift, bro?”

And it’s true, like comic books, the world of the paranormal has gone from a geeky subculture to big business because producers saw dollar signs. Reality TV is cheap to produce (no matter how much these paranormal investigative groups make off each episode, it’s still nothing compared to a scripted show. There’s no Screen Actors Guild for reality TV stars.) Since the Ghost Hunters debuted, it’s been one more paranormal show after another, from college research groups like Paranormal State to following around a couple of Chicago police officers known as the Paranormal Cops (worth watching for the lovely Chi-cah-go accents alone.)

When I was a kid I would have loved to see all these shows about ghost hunters on the air. When That’s Incrediblehad a seance (with psychic Sylvia Browne!) inside a Toys ‘R Us, it was the most captivating thing that I ever saw.

But now, I can be hardly bothered to watch most of the paranormal shows. I’ve known people who’ve been on reality shows and they’ve told me how much of it is scripted.  We’ve interviewed people who have been featured on haunted specials and they are told to stick to the script no matter what. You just need to take everything you see on TV (including That’s Incredible even if it does feature Pro Football Hall of Famer, Fran Tarkenton, who always sounded like a very reasonable man to me!) with a massive grain of salt. It’s TV, they’re not on a mission to find the truth, they’re on a mission to get viewers so they can sell more ads.

And that’s okay, because it means it’s up to us to decide what to believe and not believe. And the competition is good because it means that hopefully more clear-headed investigations with thorough historical research can win out over guys just yelling at the air while waving around EMF sensors.

I’m all about entertainment, but it’s important to draw a distinction. Before ghost hunters were cool, most of us experienced some kind of ridicule for thinking this stuff was awesome. It’s important not to blend the “entertainment” part of it all (like movies, even great scary movies like The Conjuring that nonetheless stretch the facts) from actual investigation and research, which requires sources of local legends and trying to maintain some reasonable amount of scientific conditions in the field. That means a lot of sitting in the library and a lot of sitting in dark, cold rooms in old houses. But that’s what we signed up for.

Anyway, I love all these new ghost hunters and paranormal investigators because it brings you guys here to our little podcast, blog, and music – as well as to my haunted history tours, so I say, keep the competition coming!