With October being the month where things seem to go bump in the night more often than other times of the year it's no surprise that television programming takes full advantage of the spooky month culminating in Halloween. The Discovery Channel is not immune to such strategy with the launch of "Ghost Lab," which takes a look at the paranormal from the perspective of science for those viewers that can't get enough of ghostly investigations. While there are other paranormal-focused series on the air, our Jim Halterman rang up "Ghost Lab" executive producer Al LaGarde to find out what sets "Ghost Lab" apart from the others as well as more about the impressive technology of Everyday Paranormal founders Brad and Barry Klinge, who lead the ghostly investigations on the show.
Jim Halterman: How did you hook up with the Klinge brothers and create the Discovery Channel's first show about the paranormal?
Al LaGarde: I've worked on some other paranormal shows and was always looking involved in looking for different things and came across their website. It looked pretty cool and a little bit different and when you see Barry and Brad physically, they kind of get your attention right away. We contacted them because they seemed to have some different ideas. We wanted to do something that was more scientific and they obviously did that. On their website, you can see they take a different approach. I called them and they seemed to be everything I hoped for. I went down to Texas and met with them and went out on a case with them and it was astonishing. I was just amazed at what they were getting and I'm a pretty big skeptic to start with. I'm not a big believer and I've seen some things I can't explain on these shows but I like to have the proof. I was there with them when they were getting some amazing stuff and I physically saw them be touched in a bush. I couldn't tell you what was causing it but I could tell you something was happening. And their personalities are so huge and they're such real people; it was great so we moved forward. Discovery has been great and they very much wanted to make sure this was a strong scientific show to fit the Discovery Channel and there's a reason why these guys are the first paranormal show on Discovery.
JH: Besides the science aspect, what else do you think sets this show apart from, say, Syfy's "Ghost Hunters?"
AL: They have a different style for what they do and I think our guys' approach and personalities and the science and the fact that we have a lab that has all kind of equipment that allows us to be able to do real time analysis and that's a big difference when you're doing paranormal analysis right there. You don't know where ghosts or activity is going to show up so the odds are much better that you do a little research, you get your results and you know where to focus your investigation. That gives them a big edge over a lot of other groups just because of the fact that they have this lab [built inside a 24-foot car hauler] and when they get a hot spot they find out about it and it's not like a week later when they say "Oh, we have something here" and then it's too late to do something with it. The guys themselves just have a big personality and it comes through in the way they investigate. They're much more active and aggressive and the results that they get are fantastic. They get more results than anyone I've ever seen in this. They've seen a lot of things and I've seen more things hanging out with these guys than any other paranormal group.
JH: The guys are also genuinely enthusiastic during their investigations.
AL: They have seen it all but they still get very excited.
JH: What is one specific thing you've seen that's really wowed you?
AL: There was a Catfish Plantation restaurant and we were all there and we have it on tape. We were doing an interview and right after the subjects had spoken about some of the activity that had gone on there a knife just flew up in the air. We were sitting there watching it and we know there was nothing attached to it and nobody was near the table and this knife just all of a sudden flies up in the air. When that happens, then [the Klinge brothers] really are interested in the possible causes of this and that's a big difference because right away they become skeptics and they want to find out if there's any other choice, any other possibility that could have caused this and only when they can't find anything do they say "Ok, let's look at the paranormal."
JH: The technology the guys use on the show is really impressive where they can measure voice, humidity, all sorts of things. Can you tell me a little bit about some of the equipment?
AL: There are all kinds of technology and we've only cracked the surface, believe me on this. In every one of these shows, you start gearing up and you start things and you add more toys, add more gizmos that they can use and they get better and better at it. Their background... Barry was a teacher and Brad was an IT consultant and that's a pretty interesting combination they have when they take their approach. It's just common sense but rooted in IT and activity and knowing what to do and a teacher looking at it with a critical eye and how you can explain this. We use what are called game cameras and those are things that will help you on hunting trips to identify where animals have gone and we found a use for those. It works very well and the brothers set those up and they get very good results from that kind of hunting technology. The data recorders they have just record all sorts of data � the humidity, the temperature and it collects all that information, sends it to their computer in real time. There's a thing called an aura camera where you can talk to the person and you can see the things going on around them as they're talking and trying to conjure up the spirits.
JH: Do you get a lot of leads on potential paranormal stories that don't pan out once you do your research?
AL: Yeah, we get a lot of cases that we do the research on and they don't make the cut. There are many more cases that we look at and do research on and talk to people about and the brothers might say, "We think this is what is going on here," but it might not be something that will work on the TV show.
JH: A lot of the places that seem to have paranormal activity are often places shrouded in sadness and death. Is that common across the board?
AL: The brothers' feeling is that energy is what drives that in the sense that spirits are made up of energy and there's an energy that attracts them. In the first episode, there was the Myrtles, which was a former slave plantation in Louisiana but there was also the Shreveport Auditorium, where the energy they created was energy from the Louisiana Hayride [radio] shows and the famous people who have played there like Elvis and Willie Nelson; they recreated that energy from when the crowds were there. It's not always a nasty, negative thing.
"Ghost Lab" airs every Tuesday at 10:00/9:00c on the Discovery Channel.