'Uncanny' Heads To Austin, Texas As Danny Robins Explores A Case Of A Phone Call From The Dead

May 08, 2024 1:00 AM ‐ PodcastsParanormalRadio
Old Telephone Keypad
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Danny Robins returns with the second episode of the new series of his hit paranormal podcast 'Uncanny', continuing his exploration of eerie tales from the United States. Available on BBC Sounds now, the episode, titled 'Dad's Phone', delves into Wendy's story. After her father Harry passed away, Wendy moved into his house in Austin, Texas, where Harry's old, disconnected phone starts ringing by itself.

Wendy, a former Air Force medic and now working in public health policy, tells Danny that her father was a complex individual with a background in espionage and military intelligence. He had always been fascinated by the possibility of life after death and promised Wendy he would reach out if it were possible.

Wendy describes the situation, "So there were those big like 80s Business phones all around the house. And one of the first things I did was call the phone company and have dad's phone shut down." However, about a month later, the supposedly disconnected phone began to ring. "I was working out in the garden and I could hear the phone ring. So I came in and it was dad's line. And I answered it. And I just heard static. So I just hung up the phone. And then I punched the line to listen again. To see if somehow it was active. And there was just baseline, silence."

The occurrences grew more frequent, baffling both Wendy and the phone company, which confirmed the line was deactivated. She explained, "These calls start happening more frequently. So I call the phone company and say I'm still getting calls. Can you please check what is going on? And they said that's impossible, the line is absolutely deactivated. And from other phones I would call the line and you would get the message 'the number you have called has been disconnected.' So there was no way that line was active."

The situation reached a climax during a family dinner, as Wendy tells Danny, "Our family was gathering for dinner, the kids were milling around, and the phone rang again and I just kind of exclaimed, 'God damn, it's Dad's line again.' And then all of a sudden, the penny dropped, and I was like, 'Oh my God. It's dad.' So I picked up the phone, and sure enough, there's the same static and I'm like 'Dad, this was not what I was expecting. But there you are. I can't hear you though.' And the kids were like 'What? It's grandad? That's been grandad the whole time?' And the static would get louder and softer, like almost maybe a speech pattern. So I could almost just feel him on the other end of the phone going, 'I've been doing this for months. I told you I believed in intelligent life.'"

The phenomenon continued until a family friend, Brian, with a background in technology security, intervened. After witnessing the phone ring and engaging in a one-sided conversation with Harry, urging him to move on, the phone finally went silent. Wendy said, "Brian's background is in technology security, so he knows all about phones and alarm systems and stuff like that."

What The Experts Think

As always, Danny was joined by two expert guests who give their opinion on Wendy's experiences. Dr. Cal Cooper, a psychologist and skeptic from the University of Northampton, suggests that the initial call could be a product of Wendy's grief-induced longing, a phenomenon where the bereaved might hear what they expect or desire to hear. He explained, "Part of you is longing for a call to happen, and you hear the call. It could be a genuine call, a telemarketing company or something like that trying to sell you something, but you don't hear them, you hear what you want to hear, or your mind is filling in the gaps."

Danny's other guest, Jeff Belanger, an Emmy nominated paranormal podcaster, suggested that if spirits are electromagnetic energy, they could potentially interact with electronic devices like telephones which require relatively low energy to operate. He explains, "If you subscribe to the theory that ghosts are electromagnetic energy, a telephone requires a lot less energy than say a radio or something else, so could something have reached through?"

Discussing the possible psychological effects, Cal raises the idea of group conformity influencing the family's shared experience of the ringing phone, suggesting, "We have to question did they actually hear the ringing as well? Or did they just hear on the phone in conversation? And therefore they didn't see the start of it? So we could still have some group conformity going on there potentially."

Jeff considers the possibility of psychokinesis, where Wendy might subconsciously influence her environment, causing the phone to ring. He states, "Psychokinesis is the ability of us living people to manifest something in our own environment, break a dish or shatter a light bulb or something like that."

The experts also discuss the impact of having Brian as an additional witness, which Jeff argues adds credibility to the paranormal explanation. He told Danny, "When it was just Wendy who heard the phone call, you could say maybe she was mistaken. When the whole family hears the phone ringing and the static, it gets more compelling."

Cal speculated about external causes such as high electromagnetic outputs from things in the local vicinity, like generators or radio pylons as well. I don't think the fault is with the telephone itself because it's already demonstrated the wirings gone, but it's still a piece of technology that still has elements to it."

Jeff reflects on the emotional closure the experience may have provided, regardless of its nature, "Here's Wendy's father in her mind, anyway, still checking up on her, still spying on her. And finally, it's a friend of her father that can say, 'hey, it's enough. Let it go.' That's the moment and whether the spirit of Harry let go or whether his daughter Wendy, let it go, the result is the same. There's closure."

You can listen to this episode in full plus the full 'Uncanny' archive on BBC Sounds now.

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