If you ask Kara McGuirk-Allison if she believes in ghosts, she’ll describe herself as an interested skeptic.
After a year of ghost hunting with the Dead of Night Paranormal Investigations team, however, she admits she’s “more interested, less skeptic” now.
Since premiering on September 1, The Ghost in My Room has explored the haunted histories of different locations in Maryland and Pennsylvania each week. In total, the team conducted nine investigations during the season, with locations ranging from an antique museum in Havre de Grace to an inn overlooking the battlefields in Gettysburg.
“I love history,” McGuirk-Allison says. “For me, the investigation is cool, but the other part that I think is really cool is the history.”
McGuirk-Allison, an Annapolis resident, says she’s had an interest in all things paranormal and creepy from a young age, sparked by what she believed was a haunting in her childhood home. While shadows and creaks in the night aren’t exactly unusual in New England houses built in the 1800s, a young McGuirk-Allison was convinced it was a ghost.
A former producer at NPR for shows including Hidden Brain and Justice Talking, McGuirk-Allison left public radio in 2016 after being diagnosed with breast cancer. Following her recovery, she started a production consulting company, Platform Media LLC, and began working on this podcast.
After contacting the Dead of Night team and following along with an investigation they were live streaming on Facebook, McGuirk-Allison proposed the podcast to them. Led by Olen James Prince, the five-person Dead of Night team includes two mediums and a historian, plus a wide array of ghost-hunting technology.
While ghost hunting can be almost mundane in video form—it’s not often you find physical proof of a haunting—the ambient noise and sounds from the equipment used during investigations was well-suited for podcasting.
In many ways, McGuirk-Allison acts as the straight-woman in the investigations, offering historical context and narration for each location with journalistic rigor. Still, it’s hard not to get caught up in the investigations.
So, what was it that made McGuirk-Allison doubt her skeptic status?
During one investigation, Prince attempted to make contact with the ghosts using a spirit box, asking a seemingly empty room, “Is anyone here?” For those not well-versed in ghost hunting, a spirit box is a tool that cycles between AM and PM radio frequencies in order to capture the voices of spirits.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was no answer. However, when listening back to audio later with her studio headphones, McGuirk-Allison heard a faint but clear voice call out, “Hey man, yeah, over here.”
“We’re journalists, there’s always going to be part of me that’s like, ‘nah,’” McGuirk-Allison says. “But there were enough instances at all these places that made me really think about it.”
While this season primarily focused on Maryland locations, McGuirk-Allison says she hopes to check out DC locations in the future. In particular, she said that she wanted to investigate the Octagon House in Foggy Bottom, a well-known location to local ghost hunters. One of McGuirk-Allison’s favorite paranormal stories is one that most DC residents of certain age are probably familiar with: the statue of Black Aggie.
The legend, as told by McGuirk-Allison, goes like this: Located in Druid Ridge Cemetery outside of Baltimore, the eyes of Black Aggie—commissioned by Felix Agnus in 1907— were said to glow red and bring misfortune upon those who dared sit on the statue’s lap.
Spooky, sure, but that’s not what interested McGuirk-Allison. It turns out, Black Aggie was an unauthorized forgery of a work by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, which calls Rock Creek Cemetery in DC home. The fraudulent copy, after being donated to the Smithsonian in 1967, has since moved to the courtyard of the National Courts Building.
“I love that one because it ties DC to Maryland in a crazy story of statue fraud, but it also show show legends perpetuate and travel through time,” McGuirk-Allison says.
For those who fancy themselves amateur ghost hunters, the podcast team is also offering a chance to get in on the action. On October 6 and November 17, listeners can join the team for an investigation of the Bahoukas Antique Mall, where they filmed the first episode.
The Ghost in My Room can be heard on Apple Podcasts, NPR One, or wherever you download your podcasts.