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When a Haunting Isn't

Back in the early 2000s, I lived with my parents along the Columbia River. Our lot had a nice view of Mount Hood, as well as the town of The Dalles across the river. It was in such a strategic spot jutting out over the water that an internet service company based in The Dalles asked to use our house to set up their antenna. This not only gave us free high speed internet, it set us up for a most unusual situation.

An internet dish antenna.

It all started one evening when I was home alone. Mom and Dad had gone to some community meeting and I stayed behind to do some writing. As I was typing, I suddenly became aware of two male voices who were engaged in a conversation. They were too far away for me to understand what they were saying, so I assumed it was someone talking on the neighboring lot. I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it then.

A few days later, however, I could no longer dismiss the voices as something ordinary. It was two in the morning when I got up to go to the bathroom and I heard voices again, this time two men and a woman. The pattern of their voices suggested either a radio program or a television news show. Whatever the cause, the voices were coming out of the wall outside the bathroom.

Sometime after this experience, I heard music drifting around the house. I searched for the source of the music, but it seemed to be coming directly out of the air. At first I thought it was my mother playing some computer game, but when I checked on her she was reading a news article and there was no music. I thought perhaps it was Dad listening to his bullshit political shows, but the TV and radio were both off and he was typing away at his computer.

You can imagine there was a while there where I thought I was losing my mind. I spoke to Mom and Dad about hearing the sounds, but neither of them heard anything unusual. Then again, my parents didn’t hear much of anything. Mom was losing her hearing and Dad always had blocked ears. This did not make me feel any better, though.

There was only one thing I could say was consistent with the sounds. It was either windy or stormy when they occurred. This was especially true on dry, windy days or if there was lightning involved. If it wasn’t stormy or windy, it was late at night. For some reason the sound usually emanated from the walls of the house, especially the interior walls.

Mom and Dad humored my investigation, especially that jerk Dad, who probably agreed that I was crazy. He was always looking for reasons to say I was out of my mind and I wasn’t about to give him another excuse with this mystery. So far, however, I was coming up blank as to a cause.

They took me much more seriously late one evening when Mom was sitting at the computer in her bedroom. Suddenly she started to hear a classic German song that I have since forgotten. She called into the living room asking if someone was watching a show, but the TV was off and so was the radio. Someone else had finally heard the phantom sounds!

Suddenly this was no longer just my mystery. A few days later, everyone in the house stood in the family room listening to what sounded like a news program drifting through the air. Everyone heard it. Everyone acknowledged it. We had a haunting in our brand new house!

Or was it a haunting? Was it even paranormal? The answer to both questions is no, it had a perfectly logical explanation in the end.

It turns out that the antenna for the internet was the source of noises. The structure was placed on the end of the house near the middle of the roof. Screws that held the antenna in place contacted the metal frame of the manufactured home, essentially turning the house into a large satellite dish. The interior walls, which were hung from the metal frame, became speakers for distant broadcasts.

Why did they occur during wind, storms, or late at night? Well, radio signals travel much better at night, allowing people to pick up stations from thousands of miles away that they are not able to hear in the daytime. As for the wind and storms, these caused electrical disturbances that enhanced the effect on the house.

I always think of the man in the Old West who stopped for the night near Death Valley. He hung his bugle on the edge of his metal bed frame and went to sleep, just before a thunderstorm hit. The unsuspecting man awakened in the middle of the night to overhear a stagecoach robbery in the distance, which was broadcast through his horn by the disturbed air. This is similar to what was occurring at our house.

So what is the point of this story? It’s really very simple. Not everything unusual is paranormal or a ghost. As I’ve said in a previous article, the fun of paranormal investigation is finding a logical cause for the things that you are witnessing. Nine times out of ten, there will be a scientific reason for the phenomenon you’ve seen and experienced. There’s always that one time, though.

Enjoy your ghost hunts and paranormal investigations. Just don’t dismiss the ordinary when you’re sniffing around those haunted houses and presumed UFO landing grounds. You might be surprised what you find. Science is just as fascinating at spirits and aliens.


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