Saturday April 19, 2014
Haunted Oregon Radio Station Still Restless Decades LaterTim King Salem-News.com
Spirits that disturb the former radio station seem to have only become more troublesome with time.
(McMINNVILLE) - Ghosthunting first became an interest of mine in 1991 when I was the News Director of KLYC AM 1260 FM Radio in McMinnville, Oregon. Gathering, writing and delivering the news in this rural farming community was an interesting gig, though I think I blew the farmers minds more than once with my selection of material.
Maybe they weren't used to hearing about how ghosts and haunted buildings are very prominent in Oregon's Willamette Valley. For that matter, I wasn't either. As it turned out, I gained more of an education in a short time than I expected to, and it was a good basis for work I would continuing doing.
I also figured out that people who work in paranormal are easily offended and put out by reporters who always come calling in October but not the rest of the year. That is something I have wrestled with and accepted, and it leaves me thinking that people need to adjust and accept the public mentality when it comes to hauntings and the myriad other things that really truly scare people. They can take it for a week or two at Halloween, but that’s it.
I have been on dozens of paranormal investigations since then and most of the time I’ve had a TV camera on my shoulder. And yes, I have seen some things that go far beyond reasonable explanation.
And it all began at that radio station, when I came in early to bring the AM signal up for the day. This “powering up” of the station was done in a narrow room in front of the DJ booth. We called this “the rack room” and that is a term often used in both radio and television stations, “racks” hold all of the broadcast equipment.
Each morning when I arrived at the station, I always felt a little uneasy and better after reaching my office and turning the lights on. All night after they closed up at midnight, the place sat in total darkness.
The first thing in the rack room was turning on the “plates” so they could warm up 15-minutes prior to starting the actual transmitter. Then a couple more switches, information entered in the legal documents on a clipboard, and the main switch is activated bringing the station to life.
But it was always during that 15-minutes that strange things happened.
It started with the uncomfortable feeling. It was always cold, hard to pin that on anything but living in Oregon during the colder months I suppose, but there were sometimes more goosebumps than usual. I felt like I was sharing space with someone and neither of us liked the other very much. There was never anybody else around during these hours of the day. I think now that the spirit if that is what it was and I had a very similar agenda, we both wished the other was long gone.
As I activated those switches in the rack area, or waited the last minutes before doing so, I would often see what I would describe as fleeting images in my peripheral vision. I would turn my head, but there was never anything there. But there was something there, and I would have this happen every day. I became used to it eventually and I only discussed it with my wife. It caused no fear, and over time caught my interest.
As Halloween approached that year, it occurred to me that I should look around and try to find something to do a story on in our regional area. I opened that day’s Oregonian and there was a story about the Ghost of Knight Hall at Pacific University in Forest Grove. I noted the name of a Clairvoyant named Erin Lasell in Portland who was quoted in the story and found her number in the phone book.
After calling, I explained that I was interested in the Forest Grove Knight Hall haunting and that I also had some unusual things going on in the morning at KLYC. She agreed to come out the day before Halloween to do a live radio show with me about her life as a clairvoyant, another term for psychic.
That afternoon as I was leaving for the day, I stopped to talk to the station’s program director David, and Stella, who owned the station along with her husband Larry and still does today. I told David that I was having a psychic come out the next day and he said “Well you know this place is haunted right?” I played dumb for a second and he continued with words that I never forgot. David said, “You know there’s something here, you open the station in the morning don’t you?”
I was shocked. Having only discussed the strange occurrences with my wife, I knew I was hearing something interesting. He went on to explain that there essentially wasn’t a single person there who had ever opened the station in the early morning without getting spooked.
My guest, Erin Lasell arrived right on time that day and she impressed me. She was pretty and personable and seemed to know her stuff. When Erin looked at the areas around the station and particularly the rack room, she said she clearly noted a presence. The problem she said was “filtering.” At that time, AM 1260 in McMinnville was a station with an on-site transmitter. That meant that right outside the back door, there was a huge looming radio tower that blasted our signal out to the region.
If she had she been there when the transmitter was down she may have been able to gather more. I found it all very fascinating and it was good to know that I wasn’t imagining the strange presence each early morning.
While this story happened right at the end of 1990, it did come back to life again. After returning to Oregon four years ago, I visited the former site of that radio station in McMinnville. Today the place is a day center for disabled kids. That very morning that I walked in inquiring about ghostly activity, the girl working there related a story that made my skin crawl. She had walked into a storage closet to grab supplies and just after opening the door; a tape dispenser flew across the walk in closet as though a person with a strong arm had thrown it. The problem was that nobody was there, it becomes an old story in a building like that after a while.
Poltergeist? Perhaps, but I never saw anything fly across the room when the place was a radio station. Still, there was an uneasiness that pervaded the place especially early in the morning.
I have lost touch with Erin. She was interesting and admirable because she took it all very seriously and seemed very credible. We went on to work at Pacific University and explored the story of the ghost at Knight Hall, and we spent a lot of time in cemeteries around Yamhill County, Oregon looking for name clues. I hope to hear from her again some day, and I always remain curious about what system of events left the place so unsettled.
Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. Tim is Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. His background includes covering the war in Afghanistan in 2006 and 2007, and reporting from the Iraq war in 2008. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.
Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing from The Associated Press the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs, Electronic Media Association and The Red Cross In a personal capacity, Tim has written 2,026 articles as of March 2012 for Salem-News.com since the new format designed by Matt Lintz was launched in December, 2005.
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