Stars of Travel Channel’s new hit show “Paranormal Challenge” discuss the show and reveal secrets at 2011 Dragon Con.
Article and Photos by Suzanne Philips-Paranormal Challenge banner copyright The Travel Channel
Paranormal Investigator and “Ghost Adventures” star Zak Bagans debuted his new show “Paranormal Challenge” on June 17th on the Travel Channel. The show pits two teams of amateur ghost hunters against each other during a nighttime investigation in a legendary haunted location. With high-tech gear at their disposal to investigate the hotspots, these amateurs get a chance to prove their skills at collecting ghostly evidence. At the end of the lockdown, the teams present their findings to Zak and lead judge Dave Schrader (Darkness Radio) as well as two guest judges that rotate each week and feature experts in the paranormal field. The winners are selected based on teamwork, their use of technology, their knowledge of the history of the location and the evidence collected.
Lead judge Dave Schrader visited the 2011 Dragon Con in Atlanta last week and brought with him judges Patrick Burns (“Haunting Evidence”), Chris Fleming (“Psychic Kids”) and Aaron Sagers (Paranormalpopculture.com) and Producer/Cinematographer Jay Wasley to discuss some of the things that you don’t get to see on the show and reveal some info on the upcoming final two episodes of the season.
One of the things that makes “Paranormal Challenge” unique is that two local paranormal groups are chosen to investigate a location that is well known to have significant paranormal activity. These groups are then given a tour of the facilities paranormal hot spots and tools to help them to find the best evidence to present to the judges. “It’s like “Iron Chef” meets “Ghost Hunters”” is how judge Patrick Burns describes the show. “To see new teams each week brings an interesting challenge. To see teams that are not polished in front of the camera is interesting.” Judge Aaron Sagers feels that “part of the appeal of the show is giving these paranormal groups a chance to investigate with equipment they might normally not have access to. It’s like the game show of the paranormal.” Chris Fleming feels that the show premise “is exciting for the teams. They get to do something that they are passionate about and put themselves to the test.”
Lead judge Dave Schrader says that the judges “are the voice of the viewer. We are trying to convey what the audience is thinking. All of the judges have to be really careful about not talking to the competing groups before the investigation.” The judges and producers don’t want to appear to be showing favoritism and thus need to keep some seperation between themselves and the groups. Schrader also commented that the “rules for (groups competing on) “Paranormal Challenge” are really tough.” Jay Wasley confirmed that “every square inch of the location is covered. The competitors are always in view of the control room. Lot’s of times those of us in the control room can see and hear things happening in the location that even the contestants don’t.”
Executive Producer Zak Bagans, who is also lead investigator for Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures”, might seem like just the host of “Paranormal Challenge” but he is really involved in all aspects of the show. “Zak is very hands on in both producing and hosting each episode” says Schrader. “He reviews each episode and writes notes on them and also helps with editing”. Schrader recalls one episode where a female team member was constantly smacking her gum during the investigation. This was contaminating their audio devices and would prove problematic when it came time to review the evidence. Bagans wanted to stop the investigation and tell the lady to stop chewing her gum, but Schrader said no. “We have to let the teams mess up and then explain to them why what they did was wrong.”
Schrader says that they “do get some weird teams that are horrible” and the judges and producers have to struggle to find something nice to say about them. In the end it’s not only about winning the challenge, but also about educating both the teams and the viewers on how to properly run a paranormal investigation.
Although “Paranormal Challenge” has had a steady climb in viewership, Season 2 of the show is still in question. “Travel Channel just picked up “Ghost Adventures” for 26 episodes for their next season.” says Schrader. “If we film “Paranormal Challenge” at the same time, it would take Zak about 3/4 of the year just to film both shows.” If the show does go for a second round, Schrader has some things that they would like to change. “Editors are not always paranormal people. They go for the drama and the quick laugh and it may not always show the best paranormal evidence. There is a lot more humor on set that you see in the final cut.” They also have a nice list of judges that they want to bring in for the second season if it works out.
The final two episodes of this season, are going to take the show out with a bang. In the USS Hornet investigation there is a piece of evidence that Dave Schrader calls “a game changer. I wish I could tell you what it is.” All he would say is that they had a piece of evidence that came in that they even had to get an expert in to explain to them. The final episode is in Jerome, Arizona and that episode features a lot of turns and red herrings. The viewer “won’t know who is going to win that episode until the end and they might be surprised by who does” says Schrader. The time slot for the final two episodes is also shifting to a later 11pm time slot.
Catch the final two episodes of “Paranormal Challenge” on Fridays on the Travel Channel and stay tuned to CFM for more info on a possible Season 2 of the show as news becomes available.