It was 30 years ago yesterday (September 4, 1984) that I had the fortunate experience of being the subject of a big article starting on the front page of the Oakland Tribune’s Lifestyle section. “Who you gonna call? Real ghostbusters” by Mary Ann Hogan focused on my work as a “real ghostbuster” — field investigator — and on the contrast between what was in the movie GHOSTBUSTERS and how we really conduct investigations as parapsychologists.
The article was written a couple of weeks earlier in August, and started with a call by the reporter to the Graduate Parapsychology Program at John F. Kennedy University (an accredited Master’s program that ran from 1977 to 1987). The reporter had heard about the program, and someone she knew had seen me on local news in June as a “real-life ghostbuster.” (see the video here). Fortunately for me — and unfortunately for the other core faculty members, I was the only one in town, as the rest were at the Parapsychological Association Convention (in Dallas, that year). I simply couldn’t rustle up the money. But this was indeed serendipitous for me, as it happened.
I did have the reporter speak with Dr. Karlis Osis at the American Society for Psychical Research in NY. Besides the fact that he, too, had foregone heading to the convention, he was a many-decades experienced laboratory and field researcher, and was a bit of a mentor to me when I worked at the ASPR only a couple of years before.
The article ran in the Tribune on September 4th. It was picked up immediately by the Associated Press, and began running in various forms/lengths over the next few weeks in hundreds of newspapers — including one of the tabloids. Our department was inundated with requests for interviews, and I and other faculty members did hundreds of them in total. We were also hit with print interview requests and some for TV, including a fun piece for HOUR MAGAZINE which you can see on YouTube here.
I was even flown to NY for CBS’s morning show that Halloween, where Dr. Osis and I were to be interviewed. We never made it on the air (though we made it to the studio oh so early in the morning) as that was the day Indira Ghandi was assassinated. “Real” news trumps the paranormal every time.
But my media profile had jumped so much that not too long after, I was contacted by a literary agent (a friend of one of our grad students), who was so impressed by how much coverage I had that he “already spoke with several publishers” about a book I could write. I’d always been interested in writing a book, and so the proposal for a book with the tentative title “I Ain’t Afraid o’ No Ghosts” was born and marketed to the publishing world.
Warner Books picked up the proposed book, it went through some changes (positive ones, thanks to my excellent editor Brian Thomsen) and a title change (since the line we wanted to use was trademarked) to the book so many know: ESP, HAUNTINGS AND POLTERGEISTS: A PARAPSYCHOLOGIST’S HANDBOOK, appearing in the early fall of 1986 (and to more media coverage as a “real-life ghostbuster” — see my YouTube Channel for more video).
And launched me in a direction that has continued for 30 years.
All because of the popularity of GHOSTBUSTERS, which celebrated it’s 30th Anniversary this year.
Download the Oakland Tribune article HERE