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Your Paracast Newsletter — September 30, 2018

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
September 30, 2018

Sharon A. Hill Presents a Skeptical Approach to Paranormal Research on The Paracast

The Paracast is heard Sundays from 3:00 AM until 6:00 AM Central Time on the GCN Radio Network and affiliates around the USA, the Boost Radio Network, the IRN Internet Radio Network, and online across the globe via download and on-demand streaming.

SUPPORT THE SHOW AND ENJOY A PREMIUM PARACAST EXPERIENCE AT A SPECIAL LOW PRICE! We have another radio show and we’d love for you listen to it. So for a low subscription fee, you will receive access to an exclusive podcast, After The Paracast, plus a higher-quality version of The Paracast free of network ads, when you sign up for The Paracast+. We also offer a special RSS feed for easy updates of the latest episodes, the Paracast+ Video Channel, episode transcripts, Special Features, Classic Episodes and there’s more to come! So act now! Check out Introducing The Paracast+ | The Paracast — The Gold Standard of Paranormal Radio for more details about The Paracast+.

This Week's Episode: Gene and Randall present Sharon A. Hill, who researches paranormal topics, pseudoscience, and natural anomalies with a special scholarly interest in how paranormal investigators use science and interact with the public. She has written Scientifical Americans: The Culture of Amateur Paranormal Researchers, published in 2017, the only comprehensive study of modern ghost investigators, cryptozoologists and Ufologists that assesses claims of the paranormal. A trained geologist with a Masters in Education, she has written for Skeptical Inquirer and Fortean Times, and created and ran the popular weird news website Doubtful News for many years, as well as producing a related podcast, 15 Credibility Street.

J. Randall Murphy's Ufology Society International: Ufology Society International (USI) - Explore the UFO Phenomenon

Sharon A. Hill's Blog: Sharon A. Hill

After The Paracast -- Available exclusively for Paracast+ subscribers on September 30: Gene and Randall are joined by skeptical paranormal researcher Sharon A. Hill in part two of a discussion that began on the September 30, 2018 episode of The Paracast, as the talk spreads to a reality show reality check, where the trio looks at the problems with existing programs in adhering to facts. The main focus remains on entertainment value and getting high ratings. There’s also talk about poltergeist phenomena and whether there’s any explanation for objects moving around a room or a house seemingly on their own volition. And what about extraordinary claims really requiring extraordinary proof?

Reminder: Please don't forget to visit our famous Paracast Community Forums for the latest news/views/debates on all things paranormal: The Paracast Community Forums. Check out our new YouTube channel at: The Official Paracast Channel

Out of Our Comfort Zone
By Gene Steinberg

Every so often, I focus these columns on the show rather than on any particular topic. So the other day, I was thinking back to the very first episode of The Paracast in 2006, which featured two notables no longer with us: Jim Moseley and Brad Steiger.

You may not recall this but Brad actually named the show. It was to be called “Paracast World,” but he said why not The Paracast? We agreed and made it so!

From the very first, the main focus was on UFOs, largely because of my long background in the field. I had known a number of well-known figures involved in Ufology over the years, so it was real easy to line up a great roster of guests.

From time to time, we did focus on other paranormal subjects, with a smattering of conspiracy episodes. When Chris O’Brien joined us for an eight-year stint as cohost, he brought along some of his colleagues to appear on the show. So we had a greater emphasis on Bigfoot and cattle mutilations, but UFOs still occupied the larger part of the guest list.

Now that J. Randall Murphy has come aboard as cohost, we have begun to expand our focus to a wider range of guests. The last two episodes, featuring Bryan Bonner and Clarissa Vasquez, have presented a skeptical approach to paranormal investigation. This week we are joined by Sharon A. Hill, who has straddled the skeptical and Fortean worlds and has studied the subculture of amateur investigations rather extensively.

It’s been a while since we dealt with conspiracy theories, and we’ll return there to.

I enjoy the expanded focus. It gives me the opportunity to learn some new things about our strange world. What’s more, we don’t look at these subjects in the traditional way. So rather than just assume that popular theories must be true, we don’t, for example, say that ghosts must be spirits of the dead or something similar.

Sure, strange apparitions are being seen, and in the end it may reflect the existence of an afterlife. But there really isn’t much evidence to speak of that points in that direction. Certainly it’s not a theory that can be tested, since the only way to know would require a one-way trip.

But it’s not that there will no longer be UFO shows, or that familiar guests won’t return, but Randall and I are working hard to grow The Paracast. That doesn’t mean just getting on more radio stations, though that’s a worthy achievement. But terrestrial radio is very much yesterday’s news, and we exist in a market where there are tens of thousands of radio shows that are never heard on what you’d consider radio.

Now in the very near future, The Paracast’s site will undergo a major transformation, with an expanded online store. There’s some terrific branded merchandise waiting in the wings too.

As usual with web site construction, though, it always seems to take longer to finish a project than you expect. But it won’t be long. It’s mostly a matter of fine-tuning things for a better presentation.

There will also be a greater emphasis on our YouTube channel. Again, there’s loads of competition, so the episode artwork is being redesigned to attract more attention. Eventually the entire channel will be overhauled.

And as The Paracast+ is poised to enter its fifth year (it debuted on November 4, 2014), Randall and I are working to provide more bang for your bucks. Some recent episodes of the After The Paracast podcast have actually served as Part Two of the regular episode, with the same guest or guests, which means you have to subscribe to listen to the full show.

I think it’s worth it.

But one of the biggest problems with The Paracast+ is the sign-up process. It isn’t as easy as it should be, since it also requires that you first join the forums, if you’re not already a member, before you can subscribe. There are ways to simplify the process, so you can do both at the same time, and we are hoping to deliver such a change in the near future.

I’d also like to see more payment methods. Right now it’s strictly PayPal even if you’re using a major credit card. But the newest version of our forum software, XenForo, offers tools for more payment processing methods. It may even be possible to accept electronic checks. It will come as part of the forum redesign.

If you want to get an idea of the look and the feel, please check out our Rockoids sci-fi site at Attack of the Rockoids Community Forums.

And one more thing:

As you know, I also host a second radio show, The Tech Night Owl LIVE, which is also carried on the GCN network. As with The Paracast, it began as an online radio show, one of the earliest podcasts.

I started the show with my son, Grayson, as cohost in 2002. My blog, also known as Tech Night Owl, premiered in 1999. The current site has content going back to 2005; radio show episodes go back to 2007, although I have all the episodes available for upload should the need arise.

But I’ve taken The Tech Night Owl just about as far as I can creatively, so I’ve decided to sell the site and the show so I can focus more on taking The Paracast to the next level.

I’ve already received some inquiries about taking over The Tech Night Owl LIVE, and the blog. While some may want to concentrate on our vast archives, I’d prefer to see the radio show continue with another host, if that’s possible.

If you are at all interested in becoming the new owner of The Tech Night Owl, please write and give me your ideas.

I’m open to lots of possibilities, and I hope I’ll be able to talk more about the future of the tech show soon. For now, the show must go on, and I still have some great guests from the world of personal technology to present in the coming weeks.

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