An Interview with Captain Jack Harris

The Host of Paranormal Radio

by Brent Raynes

Captain Jack Harris, the voice of Paranormal Radio, of the Badlands Radio Network out of Central Texas (KVMP, 99.9 FM). In this exclusive and candid interview, read what Captain Jack has to say about his radio career, about the future of radio talk shows, and what he has to say about his genuine interests in the world of the paranormal.

By the way, you can now hear Brent Raynes each month with Captain Jack Harris on the Paranormal Radio, to be aired live on the last Wednesday of each month from 9 p.m. to midnight Eastern Time. Mark these dates on your calendar and tune in for these upcoming shows! December 30th, January 27th, and February 24th. The website:

Brent Raynes: It looks like you’ve had 17 years in the radio business broadcasting on the paranormal since Halloween of 1992.

Captain Jack: Yeah, it went from ’92 to about 2000 and then I got out of it for a good five years or so and then they asked me to come back and host Paranormal Radio and so I said, “I think I will.”

Brent Raynes: You started out in Milwaukee and you were quite a sensation there on Chicago and Milwaukee late night radio, and when you popped back up was it in Texas, where you are now?

Captain Jack: No, it was in Atlanta, Georgia, as a matter of fact. I was living in the foothills of Atlanta when Jimmy Baxter had called me up. He said that he and Jake Evans (which Jake was my original board op and audio guru), and I hadn’t spoken to him in years. So it was good to kind of reconnect with him again. He said that they were going to bring back Paranormal Radio and they had a bunch of great ideas

Brent Raynes: And now you do a program that on Eastern Time is 9 p.m. to midnight, Monday through Friday, so that’s a lot of programs.

Captain Jack: Yes, it is. I look back at the archive folder and see how many shows are in there which to me, it’s like just yesterday that I started the month of programming and I think, “My God, that’s a lot of shows in there.”

Brent Raynes: And you’ve got a real big show, actually billed as a 24 hour program, but it looks like it’s more like 27 hours running from December 17th starting at 9 that night and you will go till midnight December 18th. This is to be a special fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Captain Jack: Exactly. We’ll start on December 17th at the normal broadcast time and we’re not ending until the following day at the end of our normal broadcast time. A little over 24 hours, I think it’s going to go very well and it’s for a great cause.

Brent Raynes: You’ll be a little worn out by then.

Captain Jack: Oh yes, I will. My voice is going to be gone. (laughs)

Brent Raynes: You’ll have a lot of interesting guests. Selene Spencer has informed me of some of the people who you’re lining up now, including myself.

Captain Jack: That’s right. I look forward to it. We’re going to have a lot of fun!

Brent Raynes: I’m certainly looking forward to it too. I know that Stan Friedman, the nuclear physicist, will also be one of your guests.

Captain Jack: Oh yes, Uncle Stan. I’m so happy that he’s coming on because as I’ve said to him before, “Stan, you really are one of the best guests because you come armed with so much information and you’re so good at talking about it that at times I can just turn down my mike (laughs) and away you can go.” So he’s really going to save me a lot on my voice.

Brent Raynes: Never a dull moment.

Captain Jack: Not at all. Not with Uncle Stan.

Brent Raynes: Well now, how did you become so immersed with the realm of the unexplained yourself? Was there any particular literature or an experience?

Captain Jack: I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, right in the valley, right in a runway path for a lot of the military aircraft for Kirtland Air Force Base. So it was very natural for me to be out in the backyard building things or whatever. I was always building something as a kid. There was literally hardly anything around us. A few homes here and there, but military jets would come in for a landing, so low that you could see the pilots.

So growing up in Albuquerque, plus my father would always tell me all kinds of fascinating stories about Roswell, about strange government projects going on in the Sandia Mountains, which from where our house was, they were these big purple mountains that were right there. And, I grew up watching Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of, and all of these different programs of strange places and mysteries. I was always fascinated.

So there was nothing specific that really got me interested and into it. I just always have had this interest in the mystical and the mysterious. It’s always just kind of been in my blood.

Brent Raynes: Back in September, we did a couple of programs with a Native American named Tommy Lightning Bolt and you had mentioned how you had met some Native American people in Wisconsin who you kind of hung out with for awhile and heard some interesting things there. Could you tell us about that again?

Captain Jack: Sure. One of the things that was always real interesting to me, that led up to that, was that my grandmother lived in Santa Fe and when my father and I would go and visit his mother, Santa Fe is just incredibly rich with Native American culture, so I’ve always been around it, and I’ve always been very familiar with that aspect.

When I moved to Wisconsin, I had met a friend of mine and his wife was Menominee Indian and by right, because he was married to her, he got some privileges on the reservation in Wisconsin there. He was a very good friend of all of the family, they all liked him, he would go up there and we’d go camping together on Legend Lake and just have a really good time. The majority of the family were loggers, and as a matter of fact there was an uncle who used to tell us some fascinating stories, kind of the telling of ghost stories and legends of their people around the campfire. The one story that they used to tell me about a lot was the story of Pagekena. The Pagekena was something that they didn’t like to say the name because it meant devil I think. I might have that wrong, but who this thing was or what this thing was it was always associated with death.

One night we were back in Milwaukee, and I was over at my friend’s wife’s mother’s house. It was late at night and I looked at the clock and I said I had to get going. At the time it was nothing for me to hop the bus. It went right past their house and I would take it and it would drop me right in front of my house. It was a particularly kind of cold night, and there was a lot of fog rolling off of Lake Michigan there. I didn’t want to stand there and wait for the bus. I had about ten minutes. I figured that I’d cut across this park and catch it up on the other side. A nice little walk on a nice eerie night. So I’m walking through the park and as I’m walking through, and again this is late at night, I look up and I see, up in the distance, standing under a street light, a man. There was a man standing there, like leaning up against the pole. One of the things that I recognized about him is that he had a top hat on and I thought, “That is incredibly weird for a guy to be standing in a park, in the middle of the night, wearing a top hat.” So I decided to go around him. I didn’t stay on the path and walk past him. I went around him, keeping my eye on him the entire time. He moved and he was watching me and I kept my eye on him, but he never moved from that street light.

The next day, when I had gone over there for lunch or something, I was telling this story to my friend’s wife. Her mother was listening and she stopped and she turned to me and she said: “What? What was he wearing?” And I said, “He was wearing a top hat.” They looked at each other and the mother went to her cabinet and she pulled out a bag of tobacco and she went outside with it. I was wondering, “What’s going on here?” She put it around the house and was burning sage and walking around the house. It was explained to me later that whenever Pagekena (spelled phonetically) appears he always appears with a top hat. He always brings death. And this was before I had ever heard a description of Pagekena. Many of the Native Americans from off of the Menominee Reservation don’t even like to say the name. They believe that it brings bad things.

I had talked to others who had talked about Shadow People, like Heidi Hollis of Milwaukee. I asked if she had ever heard of Pagekena. She talked about the man in the top hat. There are legends like that there. She said no. So I kind of pointed her in that direction.

This is when this started to really peak my interest in this. It was very strange, and sure enough, there were deaths in the family not long after that.

Brent Raynes: Hmm. Interesting. How about the story of the UFOs coming up out of the water or going into the water?

Captain Jack: There were a lot of stories about strange things lifting up out of the water, very large balls of light. UFOs appearing during the aurora borealis because they get the Northern Lights a lot in that area. So there was always a very plentiful amount of UFO stories about things coming up out of Legend Lake. I never connected it to ancient stories, or stories throughout the history of their culture, but they said that they had seen things coming and going out of the lakes around that whole area for years.

Brent Raynes: It’s fascinating when you can put all of these stories together and you can kind of see a pattern.

Captain Jack: Indeed you do, that’s for sure.

Brent Raynes: It reminds me of Brad and Sherry Steiger going to that sacred lake down in Peru and being told by the shaman that it was a place where these craft would go in and out of the water. They went there and saw these things, and they’re actually considered angels more than as space craft, by most of the villagers. They were walking around and this activity was going on, and it was no big deal to them, but to Brad, Sherry and the other tourists I’m sure their mouths were dropped open and they were wide eyed.

Captain Jack: That’s fascinating. There are definitely interesting connections whenever you go to a lot of these sacred Native American places and I think there’s more to learn there, that’s for sure.

Brent Raynes: Yes. Not just Native American but all ancient cultures have ties to the past and there is a lot of information that’s not easy to access. But whatever we can find out, it may shed some light on what we know, as a relatively new kid on the block, have been experiencing during our time.

Was there anything else that you wanted to touch upon?

Captain Jack: Well, let me tell you a little bit about the daily operation of the Badlands Radio and how we get prepared for things. Typically, in the morning whenever Selene comes in is usually whenever it gets started. (laughs) We kind of base it on whenever she comes in. I usually get here first, and then Jimmy will usually wander in. Sometimes I’m all over the place, and then Selene will come in and we’ll sit down and we basically have what we call the war meeting because we get together and look at what guests we have coming up and what subjects we’ll be covering. The best way to do a program is like a show on an anniversary date and or a certain subject, we will try and get as much audio and bio as we can and as much research information about the subject. Every now and then, Selene can’t find a whole lot of information to compile reference notes and stuff like that for me. I usually just go off of memory. We don’t do a whole lot of scripting of programs.

What I have noticed, in the radio world, is that what listeners hear is usually incredibly scripted. There are questions at times that have been prepared so that not only the host has all of the questions already laid out for him by the guest of what to ask, which what an easy night of broadcasting that would be if all of the questions were right there in front of me and I could just read from the list. I don’t like doing that, so we just try to compile and absorb as much information as we can get and then take it to the air. We like to create a very real atmosphere for listeners out there so they can turn on their radio and they can sit back and almost, if they can, imagine themselves sitting in the studio with me when this fantastic guest comes in to talk about something incredibly wild or informative. That’s the way radio should be. No spin, no hype, no scripting. Turn on the microphone and whatever happens happens. That’s the way that I look at it.

Brent Raynes: The spontaneity is what people really gravitate toward and you provide that excellently. It’s what keeps bringing the listeners in I’m sure. If it gets scripted too much then it just becomes like listening to an infomercial.

Captain Jack: Something has changed with radio that I have noticed. There are a couple of things that are starting to happen. It’s no longer about the content or the drama of radio. It’s more about the advertisers and just getting through and putting it together in a particular format.

Radio has definitely changed. There are very few real radio programs left. We have pod casts, we have online programs, we have all of these different subjects and all of these different talents out there to the point that the real excitement to radio has been lost. I mean, I remember how when I first started this program and coming on the air at night I usually would get listeners who would call (our web presence was non-existent really back then) and they’d say, “You know, your program is a lot like Art Bell.” I’d go, “Who the hell is Art Bell?” So a friend of mine told me who Art Bell was and where I could find him on the AM dial and I tuned in to him one night and it was great. This is the radio that I love doing, and he was doing it much more adequately than I was. It was just fascinating. And then later, as time went on, I got to meet one of his good friends and old co-hosts, a man named Jack Daniels.

Brent Raynes: Oh, Jack Daniels! That’s a familiar name here in the South! (laughs)

Captain Jack: He was a great wealth of information, advice and encouragement. He was just overall fantastic. Jack Daniel’s name may not be out there as much as Art Bell, but there are many in the radio world who know exactly who this guy is. Every now and then, you’ll hear his voice out there on certain things. People don’t really know who he is.

He told me a long time ago, “One thing that Art always did and this is one thing that you have to remember, especially doing talk radio, and especially doing it on the subjects that you’re doing, is that you have to be able to do it in such a way that you not only make it fun but also really get people to think about it and kind of take them away into the subject a little bit.”

Sometimes it’s easy to do, and sometimes it’s not so much. (laughs)

Brent Raynes: And sometimes it depends on the guest.

Captain Jack: It does. It really does. I had I think one of the worst guests that I have ever had. It was a woman who on the web appeared to have enormous credentials and supposedly had written all of these different articles on all of these different subjects. She seemed like someone who overall knew something about everything, so I thought what a fantastic guest she will make. That is, until I brought her on the air. One of the first things that I realized was that she appeared to be a little intoxicated. That was the first thing, and there wasn’t a coherent description from her from that point on. Her claims got more and more fantastic and just unbelievable, and so when we went to break I asked her, “Are you okay?” and she said “Yes, I’m fine.” I thought, “Are you sure? I can’t understand what it is you’re talking about.” I said, “I’m sorry, but we cannot continue this interview. We just can’t.” So I let her go. The next day, I found out all of these very, very bad things about her defrauding people of money and everything else and I thought, “Oh my. So the only thing I can do tonight is put it out there and explain to the listeners why I had her on and what I found out about her.”

Brent Raynes: Well, you know, that’s going to happen from time to time, as many programs and as many people as you interview. There’s going to be good days and bad days. You’ve just got to go with the flow.

Can you tell us a little bit again about who your co-workers are in the studio?

Captain Jack: Jimmy Baxter is my right hand man whenever it comes to doing board ops, taking care of the technical aspects that go on in the background there. Then, of course, there’s the very talented and wonderful Selene Spencer. Jack Evans is my audio guru, the voice meter at the beginning of the program and does all of the music and everything else. That’s the main circle right there.

Brent Raynes: Well I know that it sounds like a very long day, and it’s Monday through Friday, starting in the morning and working up till midnight.

Captain Jack: It is. We work all throughout the day. Every now and then, I’ll indulge myself and stage my true vampire ways and sleep through the day and then emerge during the night. That’s usually my routine, but lately I’ve been in the studio early and working hard and on the news, the equipment, and all of the technical stuff. Once that’s all taken care of, I’m going back to my vampire ways! (laughs)

Brent Raynes: Now you have internet radio and you broadcast live feed to Miami and Seattle, and maybe Milwaukee?

Captain Jack: No, no. Not Milwaukee. We have, of course, in Seattle, Washington, the CTR Network, and they carry my program on Fridays. The CTR Network is different from my program. I have one of the most unique programs as far as how we do things on that network because most everyone else there is handled in-house. The host just patches them in and the board operator there in Seattle controls everything. They control calls, breaks, etc. With me it is way different because what they do is they pull in my internet feed and they just pump it to their air and the board operator just has to sit there and put their music over my breaks, and so whenever I’m playing the news they can put in their commercials and their advertising or whatever. It’s really done the way that it is supposed to be, and everyone else on there does an hour, I believe, but I do a full three for the CTR Network on Friday nights. It’s 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. for them, and they put it to the air and let it go.

Then, of course, we have the new station down here in Texas that is going through all kinds of ups and downs with federal licensing and everything else. Battles with the FCC and all of these changes with KVMP here in Central Texas. We haven’t pushed out as much as we once did for affiliations because when it comes to branching out that way, because radio has changed so much, they really push for a little bit of control of your programming and if you don’t want to compromise on control, then the only alternative that you have is to pay out an enormous amount of money to get on the air. So affiliation branching out is a tricky thing, which with the web these days you don’t really need that type of exposure. You can reach a hell of a lot larger audience just through a streaming audio to all over the world than you can 100,000 people in one city at 1000 watts at night on an AM station.

Brent Raynes: It’s amazing what has happened in just recent years. We’ve got grandkids who can’t believe, “You didn’t have internet back in your day? What did you do?” (laughs) But now it’s like having a library hooked up to your home. I hardly go to the library anymore. You can google information and it’s just instantly there at your fingertips. It’s amazing.

Captain Jack: That’s right.

Brent Raynes: Everybody is going there. That’s the way to go!

Captain Jack: It’s definitely going to change the future of radio, that’s for sure. I think that there’s some big changes ahead for radio. I am not going to say that radio is in jeopardy of being pushed out, but I do believe that there are going to be some changes, much like there were with FM, which at one time no one was using. Everyone was on AM, and then slowly various rock stations and such started to go to it, and FM took off and AM kind of got pushed to the backburner. And it’s going to be like that with internet and radio itself and satellite. Well, satellite isn’t doing so well right now, but the internet is going to change it with G3 networks, as they get better and better and unlimited data packages. Currently we are on a network called Talk Stream Live and what that does is it tracks, and it really is the only internet based tracking of listeners and determining who is number one on the web, as far as talk radio shows go. For awhile there, we were really pushing hard through our networking and we were making the top 50 in a three month period. We’re talking about an enormous amount of people. Which was incredibly encouraging.

Brent Raynes: Oh yeah. When you consider the thousands and thousands of radio programs out there and to be rated within the top 50, that’s pretty good.

Captain Jack: That’s right. So we’ve done really well there and it was encouraging to see. Of course, when we moved our studios and we had some down time, we were doing our archives, got everything set up, and these technical issues really set one back, and up until just recently the technical issues were really setting us back, but they’re all patched and fixed now.

Brent Raynes: That’s great. I want to say on a personal note that I appreciate you guys for working me in on a monthly program basis.

Captain Jack: I enjoy it every much.

Brent Raynes: I love the banner that you crafted for us. It’s really neat.

Captain Jack: Yeah, I hoped that you might like that.

Brent Raynes: I like that expression, “Cross over the line of your mind.”