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Spooky Radio

Local show tackles aliens, ghosts, and demons.

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It was 1972. Eddie Middleton and his girlfriend were watching a meteor shower through a pair of binoculars.

"I saw this thing that looked just like a shooting star arch across the sky," recalls Middleton. "It was white and then it turned orange and then it just stopped. It was a grayish disc with no portals. I only saw it for about three seconds, but it was as close as an airliner coming in for landing."

Middleton believes he saw a UFO that night, and he's had a passion for the paranormal ever since. These days, he hosts Nightsearch, a radio show about the paranormal, every Saturday night from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. on WMC AM-790.

Topics range from UFO sightings to ghostly hauntings to demons.

"I want to educate people on the greatest unsolved mysteries of our time," says Middleton, who also teaches philosophy at Southwest Tennessee Community College. "The whole business with alien abductions and crop circles and cattle mutilations -- the stuff you never hear reported on the news, but it's all over the place."

Typically, Middleton interviews his guests, then opens the phone lines for questions from listeners. Occasionally, callers ask for personal advice on dealing with the paranormal.

"You go to most psychiatrists and they'll think you're nuts or they'll tell you your [paranormal encounters] are repressed memories of childhood abuse, not aliens," Middleton says.

Middleton is no stranger to skeptics: "People make jokes about it. They think it's not something an intelligent, well-informed person should take seriously."

Sometimes skeptics come in the form of prank callers. Middleton says on a recent show, a man called in during a discussion about the "face" of Mars. The caller wanted to know where the butt was.

But Middleton takes the paranormal seriously. In 1982, he started a speaker series that continues today. His first speaker talked about cattle mutilations, which Middleton says is "the alien calling card." He started a UFO discussion group in Memphis in 1990. The group meets at the Whitehaven branch library on the second Wednesday of each month.

On October 29th, Middleton will interview demonologists John Zaffis and Andrew Calder. Zaffis is considered a veteran investigator of the dark side, and he tours college campuses discussing cases of demonic possession. Calder is a member of the Georgia Paranormal Investigation Team and an ordained Episcopalian priest trained in exorcisms.

Past guests have included Nancy Talbot, an expert in crop circle research. Middleton says she actually broke the news of this year's first crop circle sighting in the United States on his show.

Scientist Clifford Carnicom came on the show to discuss chemtrails, the white streams emitted by jet aircraft. Some people believe the streams are not fuel exhaust but chemicals used by the government in some highly classified project.

Earlier this month, Middleton interviewed Ric White and Linda Thornton, producers of a documentary on the Bell Witch hauntings that occurred in Tennessee in the early 1800s. Middleton has arranged a screening of their film, The Bell Witch Haunting, at First Congregational Church on November 12th.

Just how hot is paranormal activity in the Memphis area? "We're not a hotspot [for UFO activity], but there are ghosts everywhere in Midtown and downtown," Middleton says. He claims he had plenty of ghostly dealings when he worked as a caretaker for the Woodruff-Fontaine home in Victorian Village.

Though the show airs once a week, listeners can catch it 24/7 on streaming audio on the Nightsearch Web site.

"There have been sightings [of paranormal activity] by thousands of credible witnesses," Middleton says. "Evidence is everywhere."

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