She Was a Ghost and I was Mr. Chicken
What happens when someone claims your place of employment is haunted?
I personally don’t know a single person who can say with certainty that he or she has ever encountered a ghost. But that didn’t stop me from being afraid of the ghost that some said haunted the radio station where I got my start in broadcasting.
I was 22 years old, still in college, and working part-time as a night disc jockey at the AM station in my college town of Denton, Texas. It was the perfect introduction to broadcasting, a chance to spin records and practice my ad libbing. An added bonus was that if I had a test in class the next day, I simply opened the microphone and announced, “Now here’s eight-in-a-row, commercial-free,” and I would play one record after the other while reviewing my notes from physics or broadcast law.
Then came the unfortunate conversation I had one afternoon a few months into my radio gig. I got to talking with Hal, the station’s long-time chief engineer. We were trading stories and laughing with one another when his face suddenly grew serious. “Here’s something you should know about this radio station,” he said gravely. “It’s haunted.”
I laughed, but Hal’s expression didn’t change. “It’s true,” he maintained, and then related that many years in the past, the building that housed the station had been a funeral home. Sometimes at night, he told me, a ghost from those funeral home days would show up. At first I disregarded his rant as a tall tale from a convincing kidder, but then he described to me, in intricate detail, his experience with the specter:
He was working late one night when a young woman walked in. She was dressed in a long faded-white lace-covered dress and frilly hat from an earlier century. As she walked toward him, Hal could clearly smell her stale perfume. He was just about to ask her what she wanted when suddenly, right before his eyes, she disappeared. I listened wide-eyed as Hal told me of how he frantically searched the building without finding anyone, then checked the doors and confirmed they were all tightly locked from the inside. He was alone.
Apparently Hal wasn’t the only one to see the disappearing woman. Another night disc jockey corroborated the story, saying that he had, on more than one occasion, seen the strange visitor. The ghost was legendary.
I didn’t think too much more about Hal’s astonishing story for a few days, at least not until my next night shift.
That’s when I began to think about it a lot.
I did not get much studying done that night. The more I thought about the mysterious ghost lady, the more I became convinced that at any second, I might look up through the soundproof glass of the studio and witness her walking into the next room, just as Hal had described. As I sat in my swivel chair parked in front of the microphone, I became increasingly uneasy. I couldn’t shake the thought of her. In fact, after dwelling on the ghost story for a couple of hours I felt myself transforming from what I had thought was a self-assured young announcer into Don Knotts’s character in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken.”
After several minutes of feeling the hair on my neck stand on end, I decided I didn’t like being inside an enclosed studio, isolated from any outside sound. I got up from my chair, turned around to the studio door behind me, and opened it so I would be able to hear the slightest noise from elsewhere in the building, just in case the mystery woman should appear. The door was on a spring designed to keep it closed, so I grabbed a couple of my textbooks and using them as a door stop, slid them under the door to keep it propped open.
Unfortunately that action didn’t help my comfort level one bit. With my back to the now-open door, I constantly felt the need to turn around to make sure I was still alone. As I imagined what I might do if the phantom visitor should actually appear, the adrenaline flowing through my veins intensified, and every sense became heightened. I became startled by every illuminated light, threatened by every shifting shadow. My shaking hands placed a vinyl 45 rpm record onto the turntable and cued it up. Forcing my voice to sound calm and casual, I opened the microphone to introduce the song. “Here’s a new one now….” I began.
At that very moment, one of my textbooks became dislodged. The studio door behind me slammed shut with a thunderous crash. My high-strung body, already wound as tightly as the door’s spring, vaulted straight into the air. My flailing arms knocked the tone arm off the record, and as I spun around I hit my lip on the microphone so hard that it split open.
My eyes darted around the room, certain I would see the young woman standing there. At the same time I somehow managed to slam the needle back onto the record and hit the play button. Whirling in every direction searching for creatures in every corner, I finally saw the reason for the slammed door. I took a breath and collapsed back into my chair, shaking like a maraca in the hands of a Latin percussionist. “There’s no ghost Nick,” I said to myself. “There’s no ghost.”
And there never would be, not for me anyway. In fact, in the year-and-a-half that I worked at the radio station, there was not a single sighting of Hal’s apparition, and as far as I know there hasn’t been one since. But the radio station ghost has been immortalized in a book The Ghosts of Denton and is sometimes remembered in a stop on the Denton Ghost Tour.
I agree that the story of the young woman in white makes for a great legend, and I’m not calling anyone a liar, but I’m not sure I buy into it. I mean after all, the lady had her chance to prove herself to me and didn’t take it.
Or then again, maybe she was just giving this “Mr. Chicken” a break.
© Nick Walker 2019
You can read more about the radio station ghost and other stories of haunted buildings at Denton Haunts and Ghost Stories. Got any good ghost stories yourself? Please scroll down and leave a comment.