The Spirits of Radio: Remediated Spiritualism, the Ghost Box and Paranormal Reality TV

Lee Barron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The article considers the historic role of wireless telegraphic and radio technology in the context of nineteenth century spiritualism and argues that, via the modern Spirit or Ghost Box device, radio continues to reflect this close association in the context of contemporary ghost hunting reality TV shows. Through the examination of two paranormal reality TV examples: Ghost Adventures and Ghosts of Devil’s Perch, the article explores the ongoing importance of radio as a channel argued to be able to contact the spirits of the dead. The article stresses that there is a clear modern continuity with the association of media technology with historic spiritualists but also discusses how ghost hunters use the Ghost Box to work alongside psychic mediums to enhance the validity of contact with ghosts. In this way, while the Ghost Box takes an element of the role of the psychic medium, it still needs a human factor in the interpretation of messages and so radio technology is a distinctive example of technological spiritual communication but one that retains, albeit in a remediated way, the connections made between spiritualism and wireless communication in the nineteenth century. Furthermore, the availability of ghost hunting technology like that used in paranormal reality TV has also made ghost hunting a distinctive form of participatory media, further elucidating the links between spiritualist and wireless forms of paranormal communication.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSupernatural Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Art, Media, and Culture
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Nov 2023

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