by Clyde Lewis
A ghostly encounter on a talk show may prove the existence of life after death . This is the true story of The Ground Zero Incident where a ghostly encounter happened on the air.
In November of 1996 a blanket of snow covered the Salt Lake valley. Utahns were having their first real taste of winter. The Thanksgiving season brought with it biting cold and blizzard like conditions. Most people stayed home and watched t.v. while others spent their weekend listening to their radios. A small group of people were just getting used to a talk show on a rock station. KBER 101 had saved a radio show from a defunct AM talk station, KCNR. Ground Zero was a cult hit on KCNR and program director Randy Rose thought that the program would work well with the younger and older KBER rock music listener because of the subject matter that was discussed on the program. The paranormal. On November 30th while most people were still picking at the dry bones of the Thanksgiving turkey and throwing that last dollop of whipped cream on their pumpkin pie, I was about to experience something that would haunt me for the rest of my life.
The subject for the night's show was "Contact with the dead, is it possible?" a topic that I thought would generate calls. I had seen an article in the newspaper that talked about how many people in the United States claim that they have received a message, or have communicated with a loved one who has passed away. Throughout my life I had heard of such stories, but did not know if they had validity. I contacted a spirit medium and asked if he could contact a spirit that people could communicate with on the air. He agreed to the show. The idea for the show did not fair well with one of my friends. Sabrina Cat who had worked with me at KCNR was troubled with the idea. She expressed to me that contacting spirits is not wise, because she felt that it stunted their progression in the afterlife. She admitted to me that after the suicide of her husband that she wanted to see him again so badly that he appeared to her and her mother. She claimed that her husband had revealed to her many things about the afterlife. She also claimed that after his appearance that she was able to see and discern spirits. A gift that she feels God gave her for comfort. She told me not to do the show. I then asked her to express her feelings on the show. I told her that he was not going to stop the attempt to contact a spirit named Joan on a Ouija board. Sabrina reluctantly agreed to come on the show and
The show began at 11:00 p.m. and I was worried if my guests could brave the hostile weather that Utah was experiencing that night. All guests arrived safely. Sabrina, and Dee the medium who was going to contact the "spirit." Helmut Von Schmitt a young rock jock was wrapping up another broadcast of "Love Lines" when he asked me what the show was about. I replied that we were going to contact the dead. Helmut looked at me and nervously said "Right on." Helmut asked if he could stay on and watch. I nodded and invited a young intern named Russ Winters to remain also as witnesses to the event. The show was a typical program as discussions were about death, the spirit world, ghosts, and communication with spiritual entities. The phone bank fired up and I listened to people with their own experiences. One caller claimed that while playing with a Ouija board he even saw the eyes of an evil spirit. The caller went as far as saying that he believed that they were Satan's eyes, warning me that demons occupy Ouija boards. The studio was filled with all kinds of emotions that night. The discussions about the subject lasted well over an hour without one attempt at contacting a spirit. I was eager to talk with Joan, the spirit that Dee claims was going to speak to his audience.
It was a little after midnight when a call came in from a man named James. James was talking about his estranged wife, who was murdered in August of 1996 before they could reconcile. James was eager to know if his wife was okay on the other side and asked if Dee could contact her. I was reluctant because I was sensitive to the man's request. I thought that if any of this was nonsense that James would walk away unhappy and still wanting answers. I was about to motion to the medium an emphatic no to his request but before I could get Dee's attention he had already agreed to contact James' lost wife. I smiled nervously and faked an eagerness to proceed with the contacting of James' dead wife. James gave the Okay.
It was only seconds and I mentioned that there were cold spots in the well heated room. These Cold spots were surrounding me. My producer Kurt Geltz had thought that the air conditioning had popped on and stated on the air that what he was feeling was an air conditioner. We argued on the air about the cold spots in the room. I focused my attention on Helmut Von Schmitt and Dee asking them to feel around the room. During that time Sabrina was interrogating James. Nobody was paying attention to Sabrina. I then ordered the intern to check and see if the air conditioning was on. Russ Winters returned to the studio to tell me that there was no air conditioning blowing through the building. I asked him if he could feel the cold spots in the room. Russ was about to speak into the microphone, when suddenly a cold sensation over took My body. I lost complete control. I felt a troubling fear and yelled out to my audience that something had sat on my lap. Immediately the guests were telling me to calm down. I was angry. I felt that no one was understanding the fear and the helplessness of losing Control of a radio program. I knew that something was with me near the microphone. I left the area out of disgust and allowed the guests to take the show. I moved into the corner and allowed Kurt to take over while I tried to regain my composure. In the meantime Dee the medium had his fingers on a wine glass that glided across the counter top around a piece of paper with numbers and letters on it. The wine glass stopped on the letters I- A-M-O-K. I returned to the area where the spirit had appeared. Sabrina was describing to James what the spirit looked like. I demanded that the spirit identify itself with a name that James would know. The crystal glass glided across the table near the letters M-A-R-Y. Dee affirmed that "Mary" was okay. I immediately heard in my headphones the name "Julie." On the phone, James stated that his wife's name was Julie. Dee looked at the control board, a little puzzled and said "Why do I keep getting the word Mary?" Jame's voice cracked with emotion replied, "That's my mom's name."
Sabrina started asking personal questions about Julie's anatomy (legs and hair) while the crystal glass continued to glide around the counter. James was a little puzzled about Sabrina's questions, but then realized that Sabrina could see Julie in the room. Others in the room saw nothing, but a pale talk show host and a group of people still looking for answers. According to Dee, Julie was confused and a little shaken by my outbursts because she was spelling out a series of "R"'s and "O"'s and then said "yes" when asked if she was having problems. I told everyone that it was time for a commercial break. During the break I expressed my concerns about the family and their loss and told Dee that it would be best to do this another time with James in Studio. I told James this and James said that he would be willing to come on with his mother and discuss this. I also said that it was important that Mary knew that Julie was calling her from the other side. I told James good night and hoped that he could soon do a follow up.
When I talked to my producer Kurt about the follow-up Kurt said "Whatever, but I still say you freaked out about the air conditioning." I was shocked. I told Geltz that I did not fake his fear. Geltz was not convinced. The others in the room did not know what to think. I then worried about my credibility and nervously played down the visit by the ghost because there was no proof of it only circumstantial evidence and the mind can play tricks on you. Could I have lost my mind and control of his radio show? I laughed it off toward the end of the show . I still was afraid of what happened. Did a ghost try and communicate on the radio station? If so, why? Was Kurt , my producer right? Was it a hallucination?
Meanwhile Sabrina kept contact with James. She told James that when Julie appeared in the room, she heard helicopters. She told James that Julie loved him. Julie wanted to assure family and friends that she was fine where she was, but was frustrated because she felt she died at a time when she had unfinished business. She also said that the place she is now is fine but, a bit boring. Sabrina related to James that Julie was shot in the side of the head by a friend of hers, with an unusually large gun. Julie did not die instantly. James confirmed all of what Sabrina told him.
Dee wanted to remain anonymous after the event because he did not want to draw negative attention to his business. His "ghost hunting" was only a hobby. However, he was willing to come forward for a follow-up show and is still ready to develop some infrared film that he used to take pictures in the studio.
The events received national attention in Radio and Records magazine. The idea of a ghost on the air captured the attention of broadcasters across the country I did an interview on WRKO in Boston with Jeff Katz. I told Katz about the story and sent him a copy of the show for him to review. The story basically died and everyone involved lost contact with each other. It may have been because the story was ruining the credibility of my show GROUND ZERO . I was a news reporter For Metro Networks and while Ground Zero was a successful talk show, I had no other jobs to pay the bills. I had a small Computer programming stint at a new Disney radio station but that didn't last , I was released from his duties at Citadel Communications and was offered money to continue broadcasting Ground Zero. I did not want to see my show die in the first month on a new station so I continued doing the show for very low pay. In the meantime I heard the jokes about how I jump and scream when the air conditioning comes on. The local weekly newspaper wrote Local Talk show host Clyde Lewis gets lap dance from a female ghost. I took it all in stride. I have had worse problems after a broadcast. I didn't change my story I just didn't talk about it much.
In October of 1997, I was having lunch with talk show producer Charlene Spencer. She asked if I was ever going to do a follow-up to the ghost in the lap show. I said that it would be difficult because I lost contact with everyone involved. James number was disconnected. For four months I had been out of contact with Sabrina. I was also very busy with a new film experiment dealing with Pink Floyd and the Wizard of Oz and planning a Horror film festival. I received a phone call from Dee requesting a website address on the internet. That same week Sabrina showed up in studio to tell me she had some interesting news about Julie, the woman who appeared in the studio on November 30th of 1996. Sabrina invited me to her new home that she recently moved into. She told me that while she was moving in , a newspaper fell on to the table and opened to a Salt Lake Tribune headline, Drug-Induced Murder Nets Killer Prison.
Sabrina gave me the article to read and what I read validated everything that happened on that cold winter night back in November. The article was dated Tuesday , August 19th, 1997 and opened with these words;"After five days of using illegal methamphetamine, Travis Wesley Workman shot and killed his best friend during a minor argument. Workman claims he did not intend to kill Julie Ann Walters, last August in a Midvale Apartment."
Sabrina told me that this had to be the Julie that James was talking about. I read on.
"Workman initially was charged with murder. But prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty to the lesser crime of manslaughter. The victims family was not pleased with the plea bargain agreement. Mary Bunten, the victim's mother inlaw , feared Workman was going to walk away virtually scot free."
All the puzzle pieces were beginning to fit. All the names matched. Julie was shot by Workman with a Mac-11 9mm assault pistol behind her left ear. She was tranported to a hospital and died hours later. She was shot August 14th 1996. The Ground Zero Incident took place November 30th 1996. Three months after her death. The Article in the Tribune appeared August 19th , 1997. Did Julie try to communicate with James and Mary because she had some unfinished business with her family?
I asked this question almost a year later on the Uncle Nasty morning show hoping that James was listening, hoping for a contact. I needed to let him know that I was convinced that this encounter was real. James Bunten was listening at that moment . James called the station immediately to say to me that his family and friends have heard a tape recorded copy of the ghostly event and are convinced that Julie was there that night. Did Sabrina see Julie? Other witnesses saw nothing. However they felt the cold spots in the room. The producer claims it was the ventilation system. I truly believe a spirit entered my body. I cannot deny it , even though for a time I did question my sanity, and the events surrounding the incident. Isn't it a coincidence that almost a year later that a news paper article appears in a vacant house mentioning the names of all that are involved? I then had a chilling thought . Julie wants to speak again. This is why everyone is coming back. It was a full circle.
I contacted James and asked if it was okay for an on air meeting. Dee called called to tell me that all of the infrared film that was shot in the studio had been developed. Every picture unfortunately had been over exposed. All that is available for proof of the story is the audio event, and the eyewitness testimony of all that were there the night of November 30th.
A family reunion was held on Ground Zero. Mary Bunten and James were there along with Sabrina and Helmut. Psychic John Edward was the special guest and the conduit for the other side. It was touching as John described things and emotions going on in a Utah Studio sitting in his room in New York. Julie spoke to John through images, and john used his gift to tell us what was on the mind of Julie. John did not know of the situation before hand, or the relationship of James, Mary and Julie. John described Julie's entrance into the station, asking who drove what car that was parked in the parking lot. Every car that was out there was mentioned. Julie was also confused because in the lobby of KBER studios there were country music Albums that are framed and hung on the wall. KBER is a rock station that moved into a complex owned by Citadel Communications, which owned Utah's Country powerhouse K-BULL 93.3 FM . Julie's message for Mary was that she was greatful for the way their relationship was. She loved her very much. James on the other hand was not so lucky. Julie told him to remove her wedding ring from his finger. I looked down and teared up because James was wearing it in the studio on his hand ! How did John Edward know this? She continued by telling him that although she had feelings for him that she did not love him anymore. That they had a bad marriage and she told James to move on. Everyone was brought to tears.
Everyone was hugging one another because they all felt her spirit. I had only one question for Julie, "Why did she sit on my Lap." The simple answer is "I Got your attention didn't I ? We all laughed , because from what James said Julie had a very bold personality. She was good looking and confident. I saw pictures of Julie after that. And saw that she was beautiful, A blonde, with great features. Model Material. I still feel some sort of connection with the Bunten Family, and I think about James often. I am still teased about having a fear of air conditioners. But, it doesn't matter anymore. I know what happened that night. I can only say that the spirit world is very close to us. We may not see them but they see us. Having something happen to you this traumatic triggers all sorts of things but one thing in particular that stuck out in my mind was the death scene in the play "Our Town." People gather around a Cemetery and the line "The living Just Don't understand." I still don't understand. Even though this shows me that there is life after Death. The threat of non-existence still frightens me. Because you can't change what has already been done. Julie lamented the loss of her life because of her mistakes.
That should be our hell. I will continue to remain at GROUND ZERO. Sweet Dreams.