Hamilton Podcasters’ Scary Stories Entertain Listeners on Para (Normal)
These are the kind of scary stories you might hear from friends on a sleepover.
Two Hamilton women have found success with their Para (regular) podcast on the Sonar Network, reaching an average of 4,000 listeners per week.
Para (normal) delves into the weird and the supernatural, but podcasts are designed to entertain rather than terrify. The show’s target audience is predominantly female, aged 24 to 35.
About four years ago, the show’s founder and Mountain resident Marie Adoranti was considering launching a true crime podcast, but realized the market was already saturated. At the time, she thought to herself, “If I was at a party, what else could I talk about?
She opted for real firsthand ghost stories.
The podcast started to take off when Adoranti teamed up with her longtime friend, Nicolina Savelli. The episodes consist of well-documented ghost stories as well as “Hometown Haunts” submitted by listeners.
“We decided we had to do something with all of this listener stuff,” Savelli said. “They were kind of included in the footnotes at the end of an episode. People generally like to hear about other people’s experiences because they feel more authentic, about those famous stories that may or may not be exaggerated over the years.
The format of the show allows women to react to the stories of others.
“It’s really hard to tell ghost stories without a reaction from someone,” Savelli said.
With his background in media and communications, Savelli helped develop the podcast and improve the sound quality. Podcasts are broadcast year round, but audiences tend to increase until Halloween.
“We’re pretty much international,” Savelli said, noting that the podcast is attracting local listeners, as well as followers in Australia, the UK and across Europe. But the United States is the biggest market.
The women have covered many spooky historical sites around Hamilton and the surrounding area on their podcasts. A recent episode explored Mississauga’s Cherry Hill House, which is said to be haunted by six spirits, including a girl named Miranda.
“I like telling more local stories because I want more listening in and around Canada as well,” Adoranti said.
Previous podcasts have looked at well-known Hamilton landmarks, such as the Spice Factory on Hughson Street North, the Hermitage ruins in Ancaster, and Battlefield Park.
Adoranti remembers visiting the Hermitage at night when she was in high school. She decided to stay in the car while her friends explored the area.
“We saw people walking through the woods in white dresses with a neon orange belt around the waist,” Adoranti recalls. “I don’t think they were ghosts; I think they were probably some sort of cult. But we were terrified and I never wanted to go back.
Adoranti revisited the site during the day a few years ago in a somewhat frightening experience.
Savelli heard from a friend who volunteered at Battlefield House about misplaced or lost historical artifacts. Stoney Creek National Historic Site is said to be haunted by the spirit of Mary Gage.
The Para (normal) podcast started out as a hobby, but has since evolved into pandemic activity. During closures and stay-at-home orders, women registered individually. More recently, and since being fully vaccinated against COVID-19, they are recording together again.
“It definitely bonded us and brought us closer together,” said Savelli. “We could count on each other at all times. Connecting with real listeners is the most rewarding part.
Adoranti, who is expecting a baby, will take a break from podcasting, but Savelli will continue the show with special guests. Actor in the CBS series, Ghosts should for example appear in a future podcast.
Adoranti hopes to return by February.
Para (normal) is available on the Sonar network or wherever listeners access podcasts.
A Halloween giveaway contest can be found on the show’s Instagram page, @paranormalpod.