Hopeful Agnostic. Accidental Exorcist: Dave Glover and The Exorcist House

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Dave Glover 97.1 FM Halloween Show Exorcist House Destination America Exorcism Live RJ Carter Critial Blast

Dave Glover is the modern example of taking failure, adding more failure to it, chucking it all away with an "Eff this," deciding to be yourself, and riding that all the way to fame and success. A mediocre attorney, Glover left the law to take on a radio talk show about legal matters -- which was going nowhere. Finally, one day early in his career, the legal questions fell by the wayside to be replaced by penis jokes and tales of his OCD. And a Saint Louis legend was born.

Today, Glover reigns over drive-time with the most listened-to talk format show in the Saint Louis market. Featuring such regular popular segments as "The Priest and the Rabbi" (where he hosts an actual priest and rabbi for frank and honest religious discussion), "Battle of the Halfwits" (a trivia competition among the staff heavily weighted in whatever direction Dave's mood happens to lean), and "Paranormal Tuesday," Dave and his on-air cohorts -- movie critic Max Foizey, Saint Louis Radio Hall of Fame broadcaster Mark Klose, and promotions director Tony Colombo -- keep the drive entertaining and thought-provoking.

The show's annual Halloween show has become a tradition for the Midwest, as Glover and company settle upon one of the many supposedly haunted areas of the region and embark on a spooky ghost hunt with teams of psychics and paranormal investigators. Some have been fun, while some have been downright eerie, with members of the cast getting scratched in the dark and EVPs being captured that were clear as day.

One of the many -- and strangest -- places the crew has investigated has been a little house in the Bel-Nor neighborhood, where once upon a time a series of events occurred that served as the basis for THE EXORCIST. The video captured from that investigation, and the experiences had there, rank as some of the most inexplicable and creepy in the show's history.

This year, the show has teamed up with Destination America for a special Halloween show, EXORCISM: LIVE! which will revisit the house and combine the radio program with a national broadcast.

Do you know what seeded your fascination with the paranormal? Was it a personal experience?

Actually, it very much was THE EXORCIST. My brother (who loved to torture me, he was twelve years older) bought me some sort of horror magazine – FANGORIA, something like that – and THE EXORCIST movie had just come out. There was an artist's rendition – it wasn't even a picture of Regan, just a really crude drawing – and I remember distinctly that was the first time I ever felt like body fear. My tongue went numb, it was as if I'd never seen anything like that.

I didn't see the movie, thank God, until I was 18, 20 years old, but that started me on CREATURE FEATURE every Saturday and telling ghost stories with my friends, and THE GHOST AND MISTER CHICKEN back with Don Knotts in the seventies. That's kind of how the whole thing started with me. Fifteen years ago, when I started the radio show, my idea was based on THE GHOST AND MISTER CHICKEN to do a contest and have someone spend a night in the Lemp Mansion, which is very Scooby-Doo-ish. And it just kind of went from there. Like most things in life, it started out as a lark and ended up being a fifteen-year dynasty with the Halloween show.

Did the first Halloween show come before your weekly paranormal segment? And what was the listener response when you added it?

They're probably simultaneous. I knew of Dr. Michael Lynch from my relationship with Steve and DC. He had done some Halloween shows with them, and I knew them, they're the ones who brought me into radio. Mike did the very first Halloween show with me at the Lemp Mansion, and has been on every Halloween show with me since.

I'm not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg, but right around that time we started doing a show every Tuesday, and whether it really is the most popular thing on my show or not, it's what I hear the most about. When I meet listeners, or I'm out grocery shopping, eight times out of then they'll mention Paranormal Tuesday.

On these many Halloween excursions that you've been on – including the Lemp Mansion, the mysterious "pit" in Illinois (which is all we know it as), and even the Exorcist House, have you ever had anything happen to you directly, or is it always afterward when you're reviewing the tapes and discover things that you didn't know had happened?

The only thing – you know, I am a really strange mix of skeptic and scaredy-cat. I call myself a "hopeful agnostic," I don't really believe in supernatural things, and yet I'm the first to get scared. Which is a strange, paradoxical juxtaposition that just is me. But every show, I'm in showman mode. So I don't get nearly as scared while we're doing the Halloween shows as I would if I weren't the one responsible for, "Is this going to be a good show or not?"

That being said, the only time anything ever happened to me that I couldn't explain, which I've talked about several times on the air, happened at the Exorcist House back in '08. Basically, we always get there early to get ready and set everything up. It was still light outside, probably about 4pm – probably even earlier than that, since we would have gone on the air at 3pm – and I was upstairs. I had gone to what I thought was the little boy's room. I thought, "Eh, this is a whole bunch of nothing. It's a nice little room. I could imagine sleeping here." And then someone came to get me and said I was in Mom and Dad's room, and over here is where the little boy was.

So we walked back there, and it was absolutely terrifying and oppressive and tiny. And Tony Colombo, my production guy from the show, was with me and we were having a discussion. It was very mundane, it was about, "Yeah, we should put a microphone here, we should put a camera here." Just very much back and forth, and at some point I looked over and he was gone. So that kind of creeped me out, and I walked into the hallway: Tony wasn't there. And we had just been talking. So I looked out the back – there's a window there – and I saw him out back. At very, very best, if Tony had wanted to pull some sort of a trick on me, he would have had to sprint out of the room, down the stairs, out the door and get back there huffing and puffing to try to fool me.

When I walked outside, really freaked out, I said, kind of angrily, "What the eff are you doing? Why would you do that to me?" He had no idea what I was talking about, and said he'd been standing out there for at least ten minutes.

So that's the only thing in fifteen years that I just can't explain away. Of course you could say, "Well, you were mistaken, time just got away from you because you were standing in this very famous room." Which is true, but it didn't feel like that. I felt like I was just having a super normal mundane conversation with Tony. There were no voices, there was no craziness and then I turned around and he was gone and according to him he hadn't been there for about ten minutes.

So you saw him and heard him during that conversation?

Didn't see him. That's interesting that you bring that up, I don't know if I've ever brought that up before. Because what I was doing – when I'm in my show mode, I'm Rain Man. So I was standing and looking at the room, and saying "Okay, let's put the chair here, let's put the candle there, let's put the camera here." Just a running dialogue, assuming he was taking notes or something, and he was standing (as far as I knew) in the doorway, saying "Okay. Makes sense." It was all completely audible. Otherwise I would have probably just left had I been watching him and he wasn't really there.

But that's the only thing in fifteen years – I've seen people get scared. I've heard things, little snaps and pops and things like that that were very scary. And it's been very scary to watch people get scared. I tell the story many times about Kristin in the Exorcist room, where when I got upstairs and she freaked out, I felt so terrible that when I got home later that night, I woke my wife up – and I think I was crying – because I felt so terrible. I said to my wife, "I feel horrible. I think I've done something horrible tonight. You wouldn’t believe this girl's face, Kristin, when she was alone in the Exorcist room." When I say her face was contorted, I don't mean in a supernatural way, just that I'd never seen someone's face do that before out of just sheer terror.

Tell us how you got hooked up with Destination America for EXORCISM: LIVE! What's your role going to be in the show? I know they're going to televise footage from your last visit there, but is there anything beyond that?

I think Destination America found me through word of mouth, and they went to the website and watched the videos from '08. And then a couple of months ago we started talking, and I went in and I shot some B-roll for them. I guess they liked me, and said, "How about if you were there that night and be a part of it?" I said, "Sure." And it ended up that I'm going to be co-hosting with their primary host.

As I understand it, my role is going to be sort of Carson Daly in the orange room for THE TODAY SHOW. I will be there manning the social media. They're going to be setting up lots of cameras, and people can watch it live all over the world. As I picture it – of course, it's live so you never know how it's going to be until you're there – but I picture it as someone will say, "Hey, Dave! I'm in Australia, and I think I see something in the basement." And then I'll go, "Hey, guys, why don't you go to the basement and check this out. Barry in Sydney thinks that he sees something."

So that's the extent of my role as far as I know. And since it's a live show, you just never know how it's going to go. But I'll be doing my radio show live, 3pm to 6pm Central Time, and then I'll be a part of the team 8pm to 10pm Central Time.

So this will be almost like a simulcast with your show.

Almost. From 3pm to 6pm, we are going to be having several of the people from the television side on as guests. We'll definitely be having Chip [Coffey] the psychic on, who was on a couple of weeks ago, who is just fantastic. I'm sure we'll have some of the behind the scenes people telling everyone, "Okay, here's what we're doing." And I'm sure I'll probably have my primary host on, and possibly the bishop who is going to be there. So it's sort of a pre-show to the television show.

My next question calls for speculation on your part, but why does a house that's already had an exorcism need to be re-exorcised?

That's a good question. It's above my pay grade. I asked Chip the psychic the other day, "Why would there still be something there? This happened in 1949, and supposedly the little boy was completely cured and exorcised by Alexian Brothers. Why would there be anything happening there?" And he said someone else asked that question when he was in the house a couple of weeks ago. And he, being a psychic and sensing these things, heard the demon voices being very crude and using lots of vulgar language, and basically saying, "We're here because we want to effing be here."

But I don't know. I thought the same thing. Lynch has this theory that it was the house that caused the whole thing, and the house that attracted the little boy from Cottage City in Maryland. I don't know.

I do know this, though. I've been to the house several times now. I was just there the other day, shooting some video with someone from the local television station, and you really do feel something. I'm not saying that I could walk through that neighborhood not knowing which one was the house and pick it out. I don't have any psychic abilities like that. But when you look at it, it's almost like a Civil War battlefield in that even if there's nothing happening now, just that fact that you know what happened in the past – whether you're standing at Gettysburg, there was Pickett's Charge, you know that thousands of died and they were right there – that's the same kind of thing that I get when I'm at the Exorcist House. Especially standing in that room, or walking up that narrow staircase. You just imagine, how in the world were there five grown men and a twelve-year-old boy, with a bureau and a bookcase and a bed in a room that's so tiny. You just get that sense that even if there's nothing happening now, it's just thick with what happened back in 1949.

And, I'll even go farther and say even if there's no such thing as the devil, there's no such thing as demons and this little boy wasn't possessed, something really screwed up happened back there.  I was just re-reading that 29-page diary from the priest, which is by far way scarier than the movie or even the Thomas B. Allen book , just reading this mundane diary of what happened, something horrific happened whether it was mental illness or it was demonic possession. And so when you're in that physical space, you can just feel it.

You've been doing this for a while now, and you've mentioned that you're a "hopeful agnostic." What are you looking for that would convert you from skeptical to convinced?

Probably irrefutable proof, which I understand is not what faith is based upon whether it's faith in Jesus Christ or faith in Mohammad or faith that there are demons haunting the world. The priest who was on "The Priest and the Rabbi" with me the other day said, "Certitude is the enemy of faith." And I get people who call my show all the time and say, "Oh, I don't believe in that kind of bullshit."  So I get it, I understand the whole paradigm, I understand the logic of the equation. I'm not expecting Jesus or the Devil to show up in front of me and say, "Let's have a talk so I can prove that I'm real." But I just have a higher intellectual level of certainty necessary. Not that I'm smarter than anyone else, but I'm very intellectually driven as opposed to emotionally driven when it comes to these things. So the fact that I get scared doesn't mean that there are ghosts. The fact that I would drop to my knees in a heartbeat if, God forbid, my kids were hit by a car and I would pray to anyone who is listening…in the calmer moments, when I'm having discussions like this, I would just need to know something historically or from a personal standpoint that went beyond explanation.

The Tony Colombo thing was really super-weird. Another thing that happened to me once in my life, sort of a psychic thing, was really super-weird. But not completely unexplainable.

About ten years ago, I got to call into your show while you had a gentleman on who was talking about the Kabbalah. And it was an academic religious discussion, and I called in – and you immediately pegged me as a jokey-joke smartass – and asked him about making a golem. And the gentleman said something like, "Oh, that's quite real. We can do that." Can you get him back on and have him do it? Wouldn't that be irrefutable proof?

I remember that. And I'm still in touch with those guys. This may not be the guy you were talking about, but Rabbi Shmuel Greenwald is a rabbi over at Aish Hatorah, and there are two or three rabbis who absolutely believe in the mystical side of Judaism, and they absolutely believe that they can raise a golem – and one claims to have done it before. And he said he would come on the show any time. It's one of those things that when you put on a four-hour show every single day, you tend to forget things. I absolutely need to get that rabbi on, because he was fascinating. We had lunch together, and he was talking about, "Oh yeah, this happens and this happens, and I've raised a golem before." So I will take your advice, and in the next couple of weeks we'll get him back on the show.