Veteran paranormal investigator Katrina Weidman will continue her supernatural search as Travel Channel’s hit TV series, Portals to Hell returns this week… Friday the 13th! She will be accompanied by Jack Osbourne to
“…resume their chilling journey to historically haunted locations in the United States, confronting sinister stories of the supernatural as they seek concrete evidence that a spirit world exists.”
Katrina and Jack will face their most fearsome cases to date as they reveal disturbing tales from the past. Extensive research, advanced scientific equipment and a network of specialists, including psychic mediums will hopefully help them expose the explanation behind some terrifying activity. Fan Fest News was fortunate to catch up with Katrina as we searched for our own answers.
Linda: I talked to you last year at Pennhurst (Paracon). I was reviewing my notes and it’s funny because I had asked if there was going to be a Season 2 of Portals to Hell and you couldn’t really say anything at the time. I’m happy to see that you guys are indeed back in action. That’s awesome.
Katrina: Yeah. Thanks so much. How’ve you been?
Linda: I’ve been busy, but good. Thank you. What has the fan response been for you guys after Season 1 and now going into Season 2?
Katrina: People are excited we’re back. We just made the announcement the other week and it’s mostly been really positive. Really the only negative stuff I’ve heard has been [regarding] the style of the show because it doesn’t follow the same format that ghost hunting shows have followed the last couple of years. There’s only been so many (shows). It’s not like a cop show where there’s one on every single channel. There’s only a couple of channels that do that. I think people get very used to a specific format and a specific look. And so I find that people either love it because it’s so different, [or because] it’s kind of a departure in the same lane, they’re like, “I don’t know.” It’s more of a documentary style to me.
Linda: Is that what you feel separates you from all those other shows?
Katrina: Well, I think there’s a couple of things. One, the look and feel of the show is different. But I think every step was kind of different just with personalities involved. It’s already going to be different because Jack and I have our own views of the paranormal and we certainly don’t hold back from putting those views out there. And I don’t want to speak for him, but I just know how we both think about the stuff because we talked about it all the time. We’re both believers, we also are pretty skeptical. I don’t always think that something needs to be presented and we’re certainly not shy about asking those questions.
Linda: I was talking the other night about the direction shows seem to go in. Do you find that people prefer to explore the darker side of the paranormal?
Katrina: It’s funny. I think it’s always been something that’s been there since these shows really became popular 15 years ago. I noticed that even when I first got into the field. When I was working on Paranormal State and we had a show … we worked on this one case where it was looking like it was turning much more negative than we had anticipated. One of our team members had an experience where they believe they were running into the same entity again. And that episode kicked off this whole thing of, “Oh, my God, I need to look for demons.” It was interesting, a huge explosion of demonologists everywhere. So I think that’s always been a thing.
I think that side of the paranormal will always fascinate people. And I wonder, I’m sure some of it has to do with things we’ve seen on TV, things we’ve read in books that dive into that part of it. It’s fascinating, it hooks people in. I think for some reason it’s romantic in a way, much like vampire romantic. But I do wonder if at the core it’s more of a question of… What if that is actually real?
Linda: Look around in today’s society, a lot of scary things happening.
Katrina: Yeah, exactly. People live in many different ways. I don’t know if it’s so weird because it’s very close to our humanity. I guess, in certain ways [it’s] part of the human experience.
Linda: Right. Is there anything you learned from Portals Season 1 that has helped you heading into Season 2? Did you change anything?
Katrina: No, I think it’s more Jack and I getting used to working together. I think that’s a big part of doing these investigations, having a flow with each other, having to think, having your own kind of language with the stuff when you’re doing interviews and learning when to bounce off of each other. Who’s to take the lead here, who’s to take the lead there. So I think it’s Jack and I flowing more.
Linda: Yeah, I love the dynamic. I was sent the first episode for Season 2, which I watched yesterday.
Katrina: Oh, how’d you like it?
Linda: I loved it. I’m one of those people who will put something on, but then I’m like, “I’m just going to start doing something else while it’s on.” But no, I was pulled right in. The Old Paulding Jail, I was pulled right in. And the way you guys work together, it seems to fit so well.
One thing I wanted to talk about was the technology that you guys are using and the way things keep progressing, particularly the GeoPort. Can you tell me how that works? I’m fascinated by the technology.
Katrina: I can tell you in the simplest terms because that’s how I understand it. It’s built by George Brown, he’s a mechanical and electrical engineer. George is a really interesting fellow because he has an engineering mind, but he’s very interested in the paranormal. So he started building these boxes and I don’t know that I’ve worked with another box that gets such results. There are various ones out there. What did they call it? Shack Pack, where you used to go to RadioShack and buy an AM radio and mess with it so it would get through all the different stations, but George did something different. He started building these boxes and they work off radio frequencies, EMF frequencies, but also EMS fluctuation. And you can either run AM radio through it or you can run like a program through it. I’ve been using them for five years at this point.
I’ve always had really, really good luck with them. And everything that comes through, if people aren’t familiar with the technology, everything that comes through with this is supposed to be gibberish, you’re not supposed to hear any words, you’re not supposed to hear any sentences. The thought, the speculation behind it is that these energies, if you want to call them spirits or whatever you want to call them, can manipulate the gibberish coming through and make sentences or words. So anything you hear that comes through that’s coherent, that’s something you want to pay attention to.
Linda: I have an engineering background and I’m trying to understand what’s going on. I thought, “I have to ask Katrina about this.” I know we didn’t really talk tech the last time I spoke with you. Do you have a preferred piece of technology that you use?
Katrina: GeoPort is really my preference because I’ve had so many good experiences with it before. I’ve had things come through that I really don’t understand how that word or sentence could come through. Generally speaking, I don’t really like to use a lot of tech, that’s not generally my style. Just because an EMS detector is going off, it doesn’t tell you there’s a ghost, it tells you there’s an EMS fluctuation. For me personally, I think sometimes they’re distracting. And a lot of times the experiences I’ve had or the things I’ve documented haven’t been off of equipment. It’s been based off of your own body. That instinct kicking in of “something’s not right here” and I don’t know what it is. I think technology is great and I hope to see it move forward, but it’s hard. It’s only going to get to a certain point until we know what these things are made up of or how they work.
Linda: We could talk about future technologies for a long time. When you talk about your body, I’ve heard other people in the paranormal say that as well. The technology is especially good on TV, but your own self tends to be the most important tool in your investigations.
Katrina: Yeah. I think if you don’t do investigations, it’s hard to understand because every now and again I’ll get a message from somebody being like, “I don’t understand. You’re just saying you feel this and you feel that, but I don’t see anything.” And I think it’s a fair point to make. But if you’ve been on an investigation, you know that that’s how you start.
“Well, this spot feels weird to me. I don’t know why, we should go check it out.” Or, “I feel weird in this moment. I’m not sure.” I call it tagging. You tag a place for a feeling that you’re having because maybe it will mean something later. I think people get confused, they think you’re calling that feeling paranormal and that’s not a paranormal thing. It’s just [that] you’re marking a feeling or a location and a building. “This feels different to me and we need to check it out.” And maybe it’s nothing. Sometimes it’s nothing, but sometimes it does lead to objective evidence. So it’s important to pay attention to it.
Linda: You talk about feeling, that again is something I find completely mesmerizing. With regards to the psychics you have coming in to assist, how do you choose the right person? Has it impacted how you investigate?
Katrina: It’s impacted how we investigate because we’re pretty much the same with every single psychic. We’re very stoic with a psychic, only yes, no, maybe answers. Sometimes they’ll ask a question as far as, you know if there was anybody that did knitting because they’re getting imagery of a knitter. And they’ll just want confirmation of like, “Yes, we know that.” So they can go further down that path or they’ll ignore that image that they’re getting and go down a different path. So sometimes we’ll say like a yes, no, or maybe for them if it helps them. But that’s something we’ve always done. I think it’s more about how we choose people. Each sensitivity psychic has their own set of skills. We obviously work with people that we trust. I would say like they’re all really amazing ice cream, they’re just different flavors. They all have their own little niche. I think for Paulding we used Michelle Belanger. I’ve worked with her, my gosh, close to 15 years now. I mean she’s always so impressive with the details she can grab from a location. I mean, just detail, detail, detail. I don’t know if they kept it in the final episode but at one point she’s blindfolded. At one point she puts her hand on Jack’s shoulder and she described the shirt he’s wearing. I don’t know why that’s important. She’s like, “I can tell what shirt you’re wearing.”
Linda: I got chills watching her in action.
Katrina: Yeah. Her readings are very impressive. I guess depends on the type of person you are. You’re either going to be completely blown away by it and it’s just going to confirm your belief or you’re going to be, “Oh, my gosh, I’m not sure what to think. This is really incredible.” Or you’re going to be a die-hard skeptic until you have that personal experience and it’s not going to confirm anything for you. But I think that’s everything with the paranormal, really.
Linda: I’m still learning. People ask me, “How do you feel about this now that you’re kind of involved in it?” And I simply say, “I’m learning, I’m experiencing.” Have I had my own thing happen? No. But that doesn’t mean I don’t believe, it just means I haven’t had it happen. It’s interesting to sit back and watch all of you guys do your thing and witness other’s responses to it.
Katrina: That’s the thing too, we’re [also] learning. Even though we’ve been doing this for so long, we’re still learning because again, nothing is proven, it’s all up for debate.
Linda: I wanted to touch on the subject of your being a female in this realm and how that has impacted you. I know there are female investigators, I’ve met them, I’ve talked to them, but where do you think women stand right now?
Katrina: Well, I think it’s challenging. Today, I don’t even think there’s … I
mean maybe I’m misspeaking, but I don’t think there’s just a female show, it’s usually women paired with men. Generally speaking, I think you’ve only really seen a lot of male leads over the last 20 years. It’s interesting because I consider myself an open-minded skeptic more than anything. I am the one who will stand my ground. I won’t go out screaming, I’ll go into the dark, scary tunnel.
I do investigations off-camera and it’s been interesting because not every man, I want to make that very clear, not every man, but some men I’ve worked with in the past… it’s like they don’t know what to do with that. It’s like, “Well, wait a minute. No, no, no, that’s my thing, it can’t be your thing too.” It becomes a frustrating spot because I think women for a long time were expected to fall into one category in this genre of being the scared woman who cries and I don’t know, just stays there.
So it’s been interesting because I definitely have come up against that many, many times where they want to keep me in one specific spot or they want to knock me down a couple pegs or they don’t want to let me take on that leadership role. I think that’s been changing for women, but I think that’s more a cultural acceptance of women being more leaders versus just in the specific field. I know so many of my female colleagues are incredible, they’re credible investigators and I don’t think they’ve had the same recognition that male counterparts have had.
Linda: Hopefully you’re laying some groundwork, Katrina.
Katrina: Yeah, I hope so. Well, you were at Pennhurst with us. I mean, Pennhurst is not the best example because it’s like 110 degrees.
Linda: I’ve never been so hot in my life.
Katrina: But it’s funny when I go out and I meet and I do these events and cons and everything… I’ve met so many young girls and their mom or their grandmother, or whoever takes them, will tell me, “They do want to be just like you. They look up to you, thank you for not screaming. Thank you for not being like hysterical. Thank you for holding your ground and be strong and brave.” That’s always really, really cool.
I hope that resonates with younger generations. Not just the younger generation, but in our generation too. It’s always really interesting to see the younger generation grow up with a different set of ideologies about gender roles than my generation grew up with, or my parents’ generation grew up with. And so I hope those little girls that come to see me, I hope they know they can be strong and brave and they don’t have to take the back seat. So that’s what I’m hoping translates with that.
Linda: I think you’re setting an amazing example for all those girls… to come forward, put their voice out there. Like it’s okay. It’s good. For them to feel confident enough to share their voice.
Linda: You have the Season 2 of Portals coming out, are any other projects you would like to talk about?
Katrina: I’ll keep it on Portals right now. I would just say, tune in March 13th on Travel Channel. Jack and I have a lot of investigations coming up that people can watch. And what’s really cool is some of them have never been investigated on television before. So this will be the first time some of them are being brought into people’s homes. I think that’s really cool.
Linda: That’s fantastic. Congratulations to you on Season 2. I’m sure our paths will cross somewhere along the line.
Katrina: I’m sure, I hope so. Thank you so much, Linda. It was great to talk to you again.
Linda: You too, Katrina.
A big thank you to Katrina for taking the time to speak with Fan Fest News. Catch her and Jack in action on Portals to Hell THIS Friday, March 13th, 9 PM EST on Travel Channel! Eight additional hour-long episodes will move to their regular 10 p.m. ET/PT timeslot beginning Friday, March 20.