BGSU Magazine Spring 2010

Who you gonna call? Ghost hunter Ben Smith!

Explore the world of spirits with a BGSU Firelands student

Ben Smith

It sounds like the premise for a spine-tingling horror film. Five students spend two nights in the dark, eerie halls of Overbrook, the former Essex County Mental Hospital in Cedar Grove, N.J. The halls have sounds; some people say they've heard whispers; others, terrifying screams.

The five students, including Ben Smith, a junior in BGSU’s Visual Communications Technology program at Firelands, were being filmed as the newest "ghost apprentices" for SyFy’s 2009 television series "Ghost Hunters Academy."

Smith's ghost hunting adventure began with a video audition he sent to the show's producers in May 2009. Within two months, he was selected to be one of the show's five novice ghost hunters.

His experience on the "Ghost Hunters Academy" turned out to be a perfect way to hone his visual technology skills. "Viewers might see a two-minute montage of something that took us hours to set up," he explains, adding that he worked with thermal imaging cameras, which can pick up heat signatures, as well as high-definition night cameras and digital recording equipment.

The apprentices traveled with veteran ghost hunters Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango to six sites across the U.S. that are allegedly haunted. They had to prove their abilities to study the paranormal and withstand any supernatural phenomena they encountered or be sent packing.

Smith passed with flying colors.

"We had to decide where to set up cameras and equipment based on information we gathered through interviews with curators and others who were familiar with the sites," says Smith. "They would show us exactly where paranormal activity had been sighted."

Smith's experience earned him internship credit at the University, which he'll add to his current co-op experience with a local Web development company. His ghost-hunting days? "It’s still a fun hobby."