The boys are back in town—ghost town that is. Ghost hunters Jason Hawes, Steven Gonsalves and Dave Tango are getting back to their paranormal roots in their brand new show, Ghost Nation on the Travel Channel, and are taking things to the next level with new hunting equipment and investigative techniques.
This time around, the group is helping homeowners who are dealing with scary hauntings and people whose lives have been overtaken and threatened by unexplained phenomena. Each hour-long episode features high-stakes cases and multi-stage investigations, which feature a couple who recently gained notoriety when their nanny-cam footage captured a ghostly shadow figure walking by their baby’s crib, a local team that captured possible shadow people moving throughout a notorious haunt and an investigator who is scratched by an unseen phantom, and more fascinating cases.
So how did these ghost hunters become involved in the paranormal realm in the first place?
“Back in 1990, I had my own personal experience where I saw something that I thought was never possible,” said Hawes, who eventually cofounded The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) with fellow ghost hunter Grant Wilson. “From there with researching and trying to figure out how these things were possible led me down the path. Back then, there weren’t a lot of avenues to go. People were claiming a piece of dust was actually orbs and ghosts. That was never my belief system. I always wanted to look for real answers.”
Gonsalves became invested in the spirit world after reading a book that was written by parapsychologist Loyd Auerbach when he was 9 or 10 years old, about the paranormal, and eventually worked alongside prominent paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren in his late teens.
“I started my own team at 20 years old and joined forces with TAPS at 21,” Gonsalves said. “Then six years later, we got the show [Ghost Hunters]. I’m 42 now, so it’s been a rough road for me.”
Tango’s interest in the paranormal came from stories that his father, who was a police officer in Elizabeth, NJ, used to tell him and his brother about his unexplained encounters while on the job.
“He’d come home and tell us true stories that would either happen to him or people that he knew on the force,” said Tango. “You couldn’t really put these things in the reports, you’d have to go to a psych ward or something or run tests on you. That’s kind of what led my interest in the paranormal. I had a small amateur group, just me and one other guy, and we heard that the show Ghost Hunters was in New York. We gave them a call and said, ‘hey, we have this case in Jersey that we need help with.’ They thought it was a good story and they let me and my friend be guests on that episode. It was like a dream come true. At the time, I didn’t realize that they were looking for someone new to join their group. Two weeks later, I get a call from the director, I believe, and the rest is history. I was 19 turning 20 and now I’m 34. So it’s been most of my adult life.”
The team is now armed with new state-of-the-art technology and their meticulous methodology. The team, under its new banner, United Paranormal Research Organization (UPRO), will face the most challenging and dangerous paranormal mysteries the country has to offer.
“Ghost Nation is still about a chain of people that weren’t casted to make a TV show,” Hawes explained. “We’re a group of people who have always been together and we’re getting back to our roots where we’re going back to actually helping homeowners—ones with children and without—that are scared of things going on in their house or have misinformation about things going on in their house. We’re there to figure out what’s happening there, help them out and assist them any way possible.”
“We do a lot of research on the properties and on the homes,” said Tango. “You feel great helping these people. It’s such a great feeling when we leave a family and they’re not scared anymore or at least you know you leave them with enough information and education of what’s happening. We’re always a phone call away. We’re dealing with families and it feels that much better to be going back to our roots doing these residential and private cases.”
According to Gonsalves, Ghost Hunters and other shows were more about the chase and who has the best evidence instead of helping those who are truly in need.
“Investigating places like asylums are super fun. We do have some of that as well, but who are you helping?” explained Gonsalves. “We also do an incredible deep dive into all the history. We’re not chasing any stories that aren’t legitimate. We always want evidence because that’s what paranormal investigators do. That’s what pushes the field forward and that’s what helps us. That wasn’t the goal for this show. The goal was to help the clients and help the teams who don’t know how to get answers for their clients, but the byproduct of that is that we’ve got the best evidence we ever captured. It’s amazing.”
Gonsalves and Tango recall one specific moment while filming Ghost Nation that brought them to tears, ultimately showing the true power that the paranormal can have on others.
“It took 15 years, but it finally happened,” laughed Tango. “I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say exactly what happened since it hasn’t aired, but it was definitely life changing and very emotional. You’ll see it. Steve and I both cried because your body and brain, when you see something legitimate, doesn’t know what to do. It’s seeing something that seems unnatural and it’s like ‘What do I do?’ The fact that it happened to me and it happened to Steve and we’re in the same room. It’s intense.”
“We started weeping,” recalled Gonsalves. “I mean after we wept, we high-fived. It’s some really intense stuff during this show. It just speaks to what good research, techniques and science we realistically do use.”
Together, it is safe to say that the three are excited to be reunited on the small screen after putting Ghost Hunters behind them.
“We wanted to make sure that we all stayed together if we were going to do paranormal investigating on television,” said Gonsalves. “To be honest, Jay and I came up with some show ideas with Mr. Tango and we had a meeting at Discovery and Travel Channel and they blew us away with how gracious they were. We sat down with them and presented them with some show ideas and they said they liked the idea where we traveled the country helping other teams with their cases. We’ve all been able to nuance it where there really hasn’t been another paranormal show like it.”
“I feel much more comfortable investigating with people who I’ve investigated with for as long as I have,” said Hawes. “It was one of those things where I do nationally syndicated radio as well and I’ve been asked 40 different times to do TV shows and I turned it down. It was the fact that when I met with the great people at Travel and Discovery and I was talking to them, I really came to a decision that it was time to come back, especially on a network that gives you total freedom to just be yourself and to do the things the way you’re going to do them. I just love the idea that we’re helping out families who are fearful of the things that are going on in their homes. The nice thing is that you’ll get to see the investigation from when we get it to really diving into the historical information of the house because a lot of families end up with misinformation. Just the fact that we’re able to be ourselves and we’re able to have a good time again and investigate and we’re really excited. Ghost Nation is really the next step up from what we did in the past.”
Catch the series premiere of Ghost Nation on Friday, Oct. 11, at 10 p.m. ET on the Travel Channel.