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In honor of October, BoA:Audio returns to the realm of ghosts and hauntings as we welcome author and ghost investigator James A. Willis for a conversation about his new book Ohio's Historic Haunts. Over the course of the episode, we discuss ghost hunting, in general, including a glimpse of what the field was like in the 1980's, all the new technology that is being used by ghost hunters today, and the challenges facing the field as it goes forward. Additionally, James will detail some of the cases from Ohio's Historic Haunts and the interesting evidence obtained from these investigations as well as a truly bizarre story that is unlike anything we've heard on BoA:Audio in the past.
An episode containing not just spooky stories, but also an open-minded assessment of both the ghost hunting field as well as the ghost phenomenon as we welcome James A. Willis for a discussion on Ohio's Historic Haunts.
Highlights: We kick things off with the standard bio / background on James A. Willis and find out how he ended up getting involved in researching ghosts. This leads us down an unexpected path as we find out that James was involved in the ghost field since the 1980's and we delve into what that world was like 'back in the day.' James provides a fascinating look at the quaint nature of ghost hunting in the 1980's, before it became 'Ghost Hunting.' He also reflects on the change in public perception for people who go out ghost hunting, reveals what kind of evidence his 1980's ghost hunting expeditions yielded, and talks about the challenges of poring over hours of audio and video recordings from just one ghost hunt in today's technologically advanced world.
Next we move on to Ohio's Historic Haunts and have James provide listeners with a thumbnail look at the unique premise and approach behind the book. From there, we have James detail the vast amount of equipment that can be used on a ghost hunt as well as what specific tools he thinks are best to use on an investigation. James tells us about some really cool devices such as a meter that can read temperature from a distance and then talks a bit about how some equipment is often overhyped by ghost hunting groups. Beyond that, he talks about the controversial device known as Frank's Box and shares a story about how, on one investigation, the device inadvertently played a role in a possible ghostly encounter.
The conversation then organically turns to us talking about ghost hunting, in general, and pondering what field is ultimately trying to accomplish. This turns into some talk about the nature of proof and how ghosts seem to have been a part of human consciousness since the beginning of time. Getting into some of the investigations found in Ohio's Historic Haunts, James details one particularly odd case, from the McKinnis House, where something mysterious appeared to break the laser grid being used by the researchers. James provides the three point breakdown of the case: the history of the house, events reported by people who work there, and his own investigation of the location.
Staying on the topic of James' investigations, we learn how any anomalous reading from his equipment is always followed by sending it back to the manufacturer in order to determine if there was a technical issue. Returning to the process behind Ohio's Historic Haunts, we have James recount his methodology of interviewing people who work at locations that are said to be haunted and how these folks provide some truly unique perspectives. James also details how the rigorous process of procuring stories resulted in a more refined sampling of experiences. He also talks about how obtaining stories in this fashion allowed for newer and more detailed ghost stories being told that were actually different from had been passed down as urban legend.
We then discuss the Ohio State Reformatory, which both served as the location for the film Shawshank Redemption and also has a long history of alleged ghostly activity. James first provides some remarkable history on the reformatory, how it ended up being founded, and subsequently went awry as more dangerous prisoners were sent there. James also recounts the bizarre aspect of the story where people would escape and then die after they returned to the reformatory in order to get revenge on people who wronged them. This leads to us learning about some of the ghosts that are said to lurk in the reformatory. In light of Binnall's lights out experience ghost hunting this past Summer, we find out if James uses the same methodology of investigating with the lights out.
Digging into some more of the details of James' ghost investigations, we have him tell us about the group he works with and how he developed this organization. Going into a whole different direction, we muse about how theaters seem to be predominant locations for ghosts and ponder why that seems to be the case. Considering all the many investigations he has been on, we find out what the most unsettling experience James has had while on a ghost hunt and he shares one of the strangest stories we've heard on BoA:Audio in quite some time. Next we have James tell us about another case from the book which is particularly unique in that he brought someone into the house who actually knew the person believed to be the ghost and some truly odd as well as heartbreaking moments subsequently occurred.
Nearing the end of the live show, we revisit the origins of Ohio's Historic Haunts and talk about how the book is actually published by Kent State University, which is highly unique for a paranormal book to be published by such a prestigious university. Additionally, we talk about the use of psychics or mediums during a ghost hunt and whether James has ever tried that tactic on an investigation.
In the post-live show portion of the program, we talk about the territorial nature of ghost hunting and how it is increasingly difficult to discern which ghost hunting group is worth approaching. Attempting to learn more about how the process of ghost hunting works, we find out about the people who approach James' group to investigate their homes or businesses and learn why these folks seek out his group as well as how that motivation has changed over the years.
Considering that James has been involved in ghost hunting since the 1980's, we get his perspective on the unexpected explosion in popularity for ghost hunting over the last decade or so. James reveals some first-hand experience from the early days of ghost hunting reality TV as he had been approached by MTV for their program Fear. James also reflects on the evolution of ghost hunting TV shows and how they seem to be getting more and more extreme. This segues into some talk about the dangers of ghost hunting and how some people have died during an investigation. We also get James' take on the future of ghost hunting now that is has become more commonplace.
Wrapping up the program, we talk about the sad state of paranormal television with programs like Hillbilly Bigfoot Hunters and other ilk. We also briefly talk about the weird Zanesville, Ohio zoo escape from a few years ago and then find out what's next for James A. Willis and where folks can pick up Ohio's Historic Haunts