The Truth Behind ‘Ghost Recordings’ On Ghost-Hunting Shows –


Radio is weird. I’ve had a little experience with this, having worked in broadcast myself. Under the right circumstances, even unpowered circuits can pick up radio waves. Not to mention that, in certain frequencies, meteors can carry and reflect signals from Earth back to us. Turns out when you zap a wire wiggling in a specific way so that it emits electromagnetic radiation at a very specific frequency that then bounces all around the world, well, that leaves some margin for error. 

Let me give you some examples. Once, in my former life working for PBS, we had to interview a band. My grip got them all set up with their lavalier mics, which are those tiny microphones you see clipped to people’s shirts in interviews on TV. We did the interview, struck the lights, and left. Later that week, when I went to edit the footage, I found that the audio was useless. My grip didn’t check that the lavs were on a clean frequency, so the interview sounded like two howler monkeys stuffed in a dryer. Just this awful, earsplitting, vacillating FWEEEEEEE-FWOOOP-FWEEEEE sound. Had we been recording this in a haunted house and not a bar in Indianapolis I probably would have crapped my pants and started crying instead of what I actually did, which was try to salvage the interview by using audio captured in-camera and then crying. 

One more example, then I swear we’re done. Once, in elementary school, I was hanging out at my friend Tyler’s house after school. We were playing video games in his room, because he had his own TV. This, to me, was the equivalent of him having his own functional jetpack. It was like a miracle. A TV in your bedroom? What will they think of next?! So we were playing Super Smash Bros.: Melee or whatever, when his TV starts buzzing and then we heard, clear as day, a man saying “Yeah, we got another report…just checkin in.” Tyler smacked the TV, seeming only vaguely irritated that it just talked“Yeah,” he said, “it does that sometimes.” His TV would just randomly pick up police radio chatter. I’d eventually get used to it, too, then get mad when it interrupted the music in Kirby Air Ride. This isn’t even that uncommon! There are plenty of stories of people getting in legal trouble because their appliances started vibrating weird and ended up accidentally emitting emergency military broadcast signals

There you have it. I’m being really generous and assuming the Ghost Adventures crew aren’t just pulling a hoax to sustain a quarter-century career in cable TV. I don’t think they’re faking. Honestly, they seem like good dudes, no matter how comical I find them. What we think of as ghost voices are just our extremely fallible brains trying to interpret sounds from extremely fallible equipment. That’s it. 

And with that, we’re done. Thanks for sticking by me all week. Sorry if I ruined some of your favorite supernatural phenomenon. I’m not trying to ruin anyone’s fun – if I was, I wouldn’t have gleefully watched every episode of Ghost Adventures. Just remember to be skeptical if someone is trying to use the paranormal to sell you something. Unless that something is chupacabra repellant, which is distressingly necessary.

William Kuechenberg is a repped screenwriter, a Nicholl Top 50 Finalist, and an award-winning filmmaker. He’s currently looking to be a writer’s assistant or showrunner’s assistant on a television show: tell your friends, and if you don’t have any friends, tell your enemies! You can also view his mind-diarrhea on Twitter.

Top image: Kochneva Tetyana/Shutterstock

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