Rebecca has been interested in the paranormal since she was a small child. Her passion was solidified when her family moved into an apparently haunted house as a teenager!
As an investigator, she has been working in the field for over ten years and has been leading the SPIRT of PA team in Philadelphia. She is proud of her team and of all of the work, professionalism, and passion they put into every case! Rebecca is the host of The Shadows Radio on Para-X on Monday nights.
What got you into the paranormal?
When I was a kid, I was a voracious reader and one of the first books I remember reading was a picture book of ghost photos. I checked it out of the school library so many times that the librarian let me keep it – apparently, I was the only one at my Catholic school who ever looked at this book. That was the start. My interest really great in high school when we moved to a new house and started to experience activity. Then I knew I had to get involved and learn more about what was going on.
How did you come to own and operate an online radio station?
I joined Para-X in 2011 as a regular show host. At that time, the station’s original owner, Dave, was still running everything. My show had a rocky start with a few technical difficulties and I’d reached out to Dave to see if he had anyone who’d be willing to work with us as a producer for a while to get the show off the ground. I ended up marrying that producer, Erick Bee. After a number of years, Dave decided to retire from radio and he reached out to several of his long-time hosts to see if they’d be interested in continuing the network. Erick and I had been on the network for several years at that point and were both some of the longest-running shows. We partnered with Barbara Duncan (aka CeilingCat) and said we would be interested.
What book or movie did you enjoy that not many people would think you’d like?
I think people are always surprised that while I read a LOT and a wide variety, I do have a collection of “chick lit” books. They’re romance stories without all the steamy stuff. So it’s a little out of character for me – but they’re quick reads and usually formulaic comfort stories that allow you to zone out and just read.
Do you get a lot of submissions for shows that don’t meet your requirements?
We like to pride ourselves on being fairly open-minded when it comes to the shows on the network. We’ve established some ground rules around a few things but generally, the field is wide open for what can go over the air. Our one big restriction is no political grandstanding and no preaching. This, and no copyrighted music, are the only things that will get you removed from the station. We make sure that everyone understands that prior to agreeing to a show.
That’s not to say that we don’t screen and approve every show that we put on the air. Any interested host has to either submit a catalog of shows if they’re an existing show or do a test/sample show with the management team. We also provide audio training and set up help for some newer hosts who might not have the technical knowledge. But we want to make sure that most people are given a fair shot – as long as you can put together a show that is interesting to listen to, are consistently on the air on time, and keep putting out good content, we’ll give you a shot. But there have been a handful of shows we’ve turned away because of one reason or another. Mostly the only thing that will get you “rejected” is if you’re not able to handle the hosting duties so your show is poor quality audio/content or if you are not great at keeping in touch during the interview process (my biggest pet peeve!).
What’s the hardest thing about doing interviews?
For me personally, I don’t always like to do a lot of prep work ahead of time. I want the conversation to flow and naturally move from topic to topic. Most of the time, just having high-level bullet points works well and the guest gets put at ease easily and the interview flows – but occasionally, it will come back to bite you when the guest just doesn’t realize that radio is an auditory art and they need to talk to be heard. If you’re only getting one-word responses and short clipped answers, only having high-level bullet points makes the conversations harder. But we manage.
Is it easier for you to create if given an assignment or does it get in the way of your creativity?
I am a very linear and literal person. I need guidelines and structure around the frame of a project to start something but I also need the flexibility within that frame to come up with ideas and flex creative muscle. But I’m a process person – I’ll always stay within the frame I start with.
What are your methods for doing research on subjects?
It depends on what the subject is. We interview a lot of representatives for historic locations and in that case, the interview is mostly about the history and the legends of the location. So I’ll look into local ghost story sites or list sites of paranormal spots in addition to looking up the history of the location and often the surrounding area as well. I try to let the guests tell the stories with little prompting from me so if the story is about a colonial soldier who died waiting for his love, I might just write down “soldier/stairs”. I’m very against hosts who ask a question of their guests and then continue on to tell the story they were angling the guest to tell.
My method when our guests is an author or expert on a specific topic is a little different. If at all possible, I will read the book. That’s always the best way to start. I try to understand, at least at the uppermost level, what the topic is about so that I can introduce ideas and questions thoughtfully. Then I try to write down topics and ideas that I want to discuss with the guest – but most of the time, the conversation flows so rapidly that we’re lucky if we ever get to half of them.
One thing you will never find me doing though is listening to other interviews or watching tv appearances that the guest has done. It’s a personal thing, but I just don’t want to run the risk of copying an interview.
What have show have you done that you are most proud of?
The past 10 years on The Shadows have been amazing – we’ve had a lot of great guests and topics. We’ve covered a lot of information. Not all of the shows have been winners for sure – but I think the ones I’m most proud of were our first interview with Duane Cerny, an antique dealer out of Chicago, who told us it was the most fun he’s ever had doing an interview (that’s how we’re listed on his site!) and who actually asked to come back on the show two more times. We’ve always been told that our interview style is fun and light and really makes things enjoyable for the guests so for me, that is something I’ll always be proud of. Another show, I’m very proud of is our 3-hour interview with Andrea Perron (from The Conjuring House). She’d emailed me that day saying that her pet had died and she’d like to do the interview but if it got too much, she was going to cut off early. Instead of our normal 55-minute interview, we ended up on the air for over 3 hours and only stopped when her phone eventually ran out of battery. I don’t condone shows running over their time limit for sure but as luck would have it, the hour after ours was off that day, and the hour after that was perfectly happy to join in the conversation instead of their planned show. It became a big family affair and was a lot of fun.
What was the oddest show/most difficult of your career?
The hardest show that was also just pure oddness was way back at the beginning when my co-host at the time, Mark Davis, booked a man who professed to be a “sanguine vampire”. While in theory, this sounds like an interesting and unique topic, in the end, the guy didn’t actually want to talk. Most of his replies were “I’m not going to talk about that”. Why would you agree to an interview about your vampirism and then not want to talk about anything? It was a brutal hour.
What projects are you working on now?
I’ve always got a million projects going on but which ones actually finish is the better question. Right now I’m working on website improvements to the Para-X site to make our listening experience more enjoyable and interactive. I’m also on the Board of Directors at Fort Mifflin on the Delaware and currently working on writing a “ghosts of…” type book for them to sell. That and raising my two kids, working a 9-5, and running the station keep my mind busy!