Jim Harold is the host of the hugely popular podcasts, ‘The Paranormal Podcast’ and ‘Jim Harold’s Campfire’. He is also the executive producer of his daughter Cassandra Harold’s podcast, ‘Unpleasant Dreams’.
Jim is also the author of the widely popular ‘Jim Harold’s Campfire: True Ghost Stories: Jim Harold’s Campfire 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5’ All Kindle #1 Supernatural Best Sellers.
The Paranormal Podcast and Jim Harold’s Campfire are among the Top 1% most downloaded podcasts on the industry’s largest podcast host, Libsyn. (Source: Libsyn, January 2020).
World Domination Update: Jim’s programs have been downloaded over 60 million times since their inception in 2005!
Sam: Greetings Jim Harold!
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule, to sit down and share your insights and experiences in the world of the Paranormal!
Mysteries of the strange and unknown have had a long history on radio, particularly with ‘Coast to Coast AM’ and it’s then host the late great Art Bell… But in regards to the modern digital age of radio and more specifically ‘podcasting’, you’re considered by many as the ‘pod-father’ in regards to the paranormal, the supernatural and all things unexplained.
I myself have been listening to you since 2010, as ‘The Paranormal Report’.
Sam: After well over a decade of podcasting to the world and releasing a good number of volumes of your ‘Campfire’ Ghost Story books… and of course you’re no stranger to YouTube… I for one would love to see a ‘true-story-experiences of the paranormal’ television show of some kind, hosted by yourself, of course! Do you feel that television could be an avenue to expand your tales? (If you had ‘full control’ of course!).
Jim : Absolutely, Jim Harold’s Campfire could be made into a fantastic TV show. Though I’m not sure I fit the profile of what TV companies are looking for in a personality. I think media companies typically think of a male “paranormal personality” as a tough looking guy in a black t-shirt with a scowl and that’s definitely not me (laughs). I take a different approach and I’m not going out provoking ghosts. I value the experiences people share and feel a responsibility in turn to share them with the respect they deserve. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want it to be entertaining. Of course, it would need to be and I’m on board with that!
I’d love to do it if it could be done the right way. My original training was in broadcast video NOT audio so I know I’m capable but unless I do it myself on something like YouTube I’m not sure I’d ever get the chance. As for having full control, if you are doing a major TV show you are not going to have full control unless you are someone like Oprah and I am not. I understand collaboration, am easy to work with and would be just fine as long as I would have input on the big questions. I’m not sure that most TV production companies are simpatico with my philosophy. If there’s one out there, I’m all ears!
Sam: How do you feel to know you’ve inspired so many to not only open up and share there own paranormal experiences on your shows, but to start their own investigations and shows?
Jim : It is very gratifying both in terms of people opening up and sharing experiences they’ve never told anyone and in terms of inspiring others to start their own podcasts, etc. You mentioned Art Bell, and anyone who podcasts on the paranormal owes him a debt of gratitude because we are essentially doing some version of what he did. And, he did it better than anybody has ever done it before or since. If I can have just a small fraction of that influence on aspiring paranormal podcasters that is a very nice thing.
There are some GREAT podcasters out there who have cited me as an influence and that is incredibly gratifying. I think of Scott & Forrest over at Astonishing Legends and people like Ryan Sprague of Somewhere In The Skies who are tremendous talents and didn’t need any inspiration from me. I’m honored that these talented people are so kind.
I plan to be doing this for about another 20 years or so. There is so much more yet to accomplish and if God blesses me with good health I plan on doing a LOT more before I hang up my headphones. I am very friendly and helpful but I also have a strong competitive streak. Look out youngsters (laughs)! Sometimes people are very gracious but talk about me almost in the past tense. “Jim started it all… ” That, of course, is very nice but I ain’t dead yet 🙂
Seriously, I do want to see EVERYONE succeed but I still plan on being a major player in paranormal podcasting for years to come. When I look back decades from now, I think I’ll say that the early 2020’s were when things really took off.
Sam: Your calm and warm delivery on your show evokes a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, essentially a ‘safe space’ for people to share their unexplained experiences, however strange. How important is it to make people feel comfortable in telling their most bizarre stories versus encouraging people to spin wild tales of fancy?
Related: Behind The Mic With Shannon LeGro
Jim: It’s everything. It is what I think I do best. These people are sharing their most personal stories and treating them kindly and compassionately is the least I can do. I mean that sincerely. I am honored that they share these stories with me. I think at heart despite the competitiveness I mentioned before that I am a kind person. I hope and think that comes across.
Sam: After all your years fine tuning your professional ears, you must be able to smell a fake story, and does it matter, so long as the story is good – OR do you prefer TRUE tales?
In a nutshell – do you feel it matters if the stories you relay are true or not?
Jim: I want to focus on true experiences. That’s why I never prep a caller and say, “let’s make this scarier.” I simply ask them to tell me what happened, full stop. That’s it.
I personally cannot vet every story that would be logistically impossible but I think you develop a nose for whether someone is giving it to you straight or if they are sharing a bit of a fish story. I believe the VAST majority of my storytellers are sharing the experiences as they happened and as they interpreted them. Is every suspected ghost really a ghost? Probably not, but I believe these people are telling the stories as they have processed them. I feel I get very few people are just making stuff up. And, although, this is my profession I absolutely personally believe.
Sam: There is a phenomenon that has occurred multiple times on your podcast shows, where a caller will share their story only to have the next caller share a very similar if not exact same situational strange experience… which in itself is of course unplanned, random and utterly bizarre!
This has happened more times than I can remember and is clearly a unique quirk to your show…
What do you think is happening here…?
Jim: Yes, we schedule calls totally at random in two recording sessions a week. One on Tuesday afternoon and one on Tuesday evening. We don’t say call in this particular week with this particular category of story…it is completely random. However, I can’t begin to tell you how many times we’ll have similar stories booking in the same session on their own…which is supposedly a coincidence. There really is no mechanism for the callers to coordinate this.
For example, we’ll have 3 or 4 callers in one day randomly call in about eerily similar shadow people stories, etc. I think it’s the universe saying with a wink and a nod, “This stuff is real!” I’ve really come to believe that!
Sam: Many people consider the paranormal to mean ‘ghosts’, but of course, this includes all manner of unexplained phenomena such as U.F.O’s and ‘cryptids’ among other things. Your podcasts of course welcome all manner of ‘unexplained’ stories, but why do you think ghost stories tend to hook people in more, what is it about the concept of a ‘ghost story’ that seems to be the most prevalent…?
Jim: Because it ties into the afterlife, which I believe is the ultimate question. Believers and skeptics alike, in their heart of hearts, wonder what really happens when we die. Ghosts speak to that question. If sentient ghosts exist, we do go on.
Sam: You’ve often mentioned on your show that your favourite type of paranormal stories are the ones you call ‘head scratchers’, the type of stories that make your brain experience that weird sensation of ‘HUH!?’ Of all the ‘head scratchers’ you’ve read and listened to over the years – you, of course, must have several favourites… But have you ever seen a pattern or a particular set of circumstances that you feel may be worthy of further exploration and investigation? …and of course, is there one ‘head scratcher’ that really sticks in your head the most?
Jim: My favorite headscratcher is the “Roadhouse Saloon” story. Basically, it is the story of a woman who went in a bar with a friend who found them both being absorbed into a mural on the wall. It seemed to be some type of Twilight Zone-type portal that she narrowly escaped. I felt so strongly about it that we traveled to her home pre-pandemic and interviewed her on video. I’ll not spoil the whole story. You can find it on YouTube.
She told me the story to me in person, to my face and I believe her 100%… what do you do with that?!? Possibly getting stuck in a portal… if true, which again I think it is, what are the implications? That truly makes you scratch your head.
Sam: This is a HUGE question with so many ways to explore it… But if you could narrow it down… What are your thoughts on death and the afterlife…?
Jim: I believe we go on. First, let me say that I am of the Christian faith but I don’t necessarily think I fit the standard definition of what many people call a Christian. I do like to think that there is a place that if you’ve lived a good life and have tried to be a good person that you are rewarded for that. Also, if you are evil, someone like say Hitler, I have no problem with the concept of Hell for the most egregious, nasty people.
However, I wouldn’t want to think that because you didn’t follow a certain dogma to the tee that you would be damned to Hell for eternity. I’d hate to think fire and brimstone await because you missed Sunday services.
To me, I would hope that one of the first introductions into Heaven is a family picnic where you can spend a nice long time having an actual picnic with your passed friends and family. You’d tell stories with each other and “shoot the bull.” Then, you’d go off on your own for a millennia or two to understand and process the mysteries of the universe. I’ve heard some people say that Heaven is what you’d want it to be… what would be paradise for you. That would be it for me.
Is that what happens? I have no clue. I think that there is some tantalizing research on reincarnation by people like Ian Stevenson and Jim B. Tucker that really makes me think there might be something to it. As for ghosts, sometimes I find that concept very troubling unless they are here to visit of their own volition. To think that someone is “stuck” because they didn’t realize they died would be an ultimate injustice. I wrestle with that one.
Sam: If you could sit down with anyone from history, alive or dead… and pick their brains about the paranormal… who would they be…?
Jim: John Keel
Related: The Disciples of John Keel
Sam: You’re the proud father of some very talented daughters. Natalie, a photographer who shot the cover image to this interview, and fellow writer and podcaster Cassandra – who hosts the podcast ‘Unpleasant Dreams’, of which you also produce. What’s next for Jim and the haunted Harold household!?
JH-A: Cassandra will continue Unpleasant Dreams, her excellent spooky podcast that EVERYONE needs to check out. Natalie is going to continue her photography studies and I think there are some interesting ways to incorporate her talents. Also, my wife Dar, has a great on air presence and I hope to develop something for her to share that talent with the world in 2022. I love the way Jim Harold Media has kind of evolved into a family business!
Sam:: Thank you again Jim for taking time out to share your thoughts with us!
I look forward to many years of listening to your shows. Have a wonderful year ahead!
Jim: Thank you, it has been a true honor. I wish you and your readers a happy 2022! Stay Spooky!
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Facebook: @THEJimHarold & Virtual Campfire FB Group