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SYFY WIRE Interviews

Ghost Nation promises haunts for skeptics and believers alike

By Kristina Manente

Just in time for the spookiest month of the year, the godfathers of paranormal investigation are back with a new show and a new roster. Ghost Nation premieres this Friday, October 11, on The Travel Channel, and reunites Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves, and Dave Tango in the world of ghost hunting. However, this go-around they're showing everything from start to finish, and they're taking the show on the road as they go to assist local investigators whose cases have gone cold.

There's no shortage of cases, either, as Hawes reveals his site gets over 1,000 messages a day from people hoping he'd help them. That idea — helping people — became the core of Ghost Nation.

"There's no reason for us to go spend time in a big haunted building in the middle of nowhere, if not helping out anybody. So we're back to basics," Hawes tells SYFY WIRE. "We're getting in there, we're helping out families, especially with children. If there are children involved, that jumps in the front of the list. I mean, even on the first episode, you're going to see, we end up at a house in White Pine, Tennessee, where a veteran is dealing with PTSD and his family are sleeping in a Winnebago out in the yard, because they're scared of the things that are going on in the house."

The team stay with those they're helping for as long as need be and keep in contact with them long after the case has wrapped.


With any show about the reality of ghosts, ghouls, and other paranormal entities, the question undoubtedly comes up about whether they're real or not. Is it all just theatrics? Is it just fear or paranoia? Hawes, Gonsalves, and Tango are no strangers to skeptics, but they're not so worried about that with their latest outing. In fact, they're more prepared than ever.

"We definitely believe 80 percent of all hauntings can be disproven. 80 percent of all paranormal activity can be disproven. So, it's a pretty skeptical outlook on things," Gonsalves says, admitting that people should be skeptical of what they're doing — it's only natural. That's why he believes Ghost Nation will work, because every aspect of each case will be shared, from the preliminary investigation all the way up through research, trying to communicate, and the resolution.

They're not trying to prove the existence of the paranormal to anyone. "I don't care if you believe or not. I'm just after the truth," he says.

Hawes likewise believes that the skeptics are going to enjoy Ghost Nation just as much as those who have a belief in the paranormal. The show will go into a lot of the research they conduct for each case as well as break down how sometimes it's something scientific that's going on and not paranormal at all.

"There's a lot of research, a lot of twists and turns in this show. You're learning a lot with us, it's quite the ride," Tango adds. In fact, it was in the filming of Ghost Nation that Tango says he had the scariest and most real paranormal experience he's ever had.


"Even if you're not that into the paranormal, the way that our episodes unfold is very true to life, how it happens," Gonsalves says, noting that, occasionally, they will be researching and find out that no one actually died in a house they're investigating. It was just the rumor of something that had set the homeowner on edge. Such experiences and results are more common than you might think.

"Until Ghost Nation, we weren't able to really dig into the history and dig into the land as deeply as we did. [T]his wasn't a show where we were out to get the best piece of evidence, it wasn't the chase for the evidence ... but through that, we got some of the best evidence that we've ever captured and some of the best experiences," he explains.

In the wake of the end of Ghost Hunters, the paranormal investigation world has exploded, not only in interest but in the sheer amount of programming available. The team has still been working since the show stopped, just off-camera, but it begs the question of what can they bring to the table that will set them apart and ahead of the competition?

"We have resources that maybe they're not quite able to get, for instance, if we have a question, we can call a physicist, we can call the clergy, we can do the deep dives into the research and of the history and all that," Hawes says.

Their team also has a lot of new equipment that most paranormal investigators will never have heard of or gotten the chance to use. Besides, they've been involved in this world long before their television show, back 25-30 years. They do have a history in the field, one that they say is very well respected.

"I think that it also goes to show why we've had Pentagon clearance from government cases," he adds. "We've been called in by law enforcement, brought in by religious organizations. So I think it goes to show that for whatever reason, the way we've done things, people, they've learned to respect our methods out there. And I think that sets us very, very far apart."

As for those who want to follow in their footsteps, their advice is to hook up with a local group and just start investigating after getting into the research and learning about what's out there; don't just assume you can make it big because you say there's a ghost in an old house.

"There are no experts in the field that you scientifically can't even exist," Hawes admits, cautioning burgeoning investigators from seeking out experts or claiming they are one. "I recommend them connecting with a group in their local area, getting out spending some time with their group learning about the field. I mean, you design your own methods or own theories. But please be with people who've been doing it for a long period of time."


Gonsalves adds that understanding the equipment and how to actually use it is imperative. If you're going to use a laser grid, actually know what it stands for, because that's going to help you decipher what you may pick up and how to differentiate a paranormal entity from just a blip.

"If you see it or claim you see it or it happens in front of you, just make sure to face the laws of science," Gonsalves explains. "If it doesn't obey the laws of science and physics and energy, most likely you're misinterpreting what you're seeing. Or it's telephonic or audio phonic, in your head or someone's lying. So just keep that in mind moving forward as investigators."

They make an example out of Robert the doll and other such apparent haunted items. They don't buy it. Sometimes things just are a gimmick.

"What makes Ghost Nation so different is it's not a show about just us three, it's about everybody who's involved in the paranormal, whether it's investigators, whether it's people who are just intrigued by it, whether it's people want to sit at home, and for the safety of their home, be an armchair investigator," Hawes explains. "I think everybody who's involved in this field or interested in this field is a part of what makes up this nation of paranormal."

Ghost Nation premieres on the Travel Channel on Friday, October 11, at 10 p.m.