“Ghost Radio”: when ghosts haunt the airwaves in Thailand

“Ghost Radio”: when ghosts haunt the airwaves in Thailand


It's almost midnight in Thailand, time for 'Ghost Radio', a popular internet broadcast from a studio on the top floor of a half-abandoned shopping mall in Bangkok.

Thai people in the tens of thousands tune in to watch or listen to live listeners recounting their experiences with ghosts, spirits and other beings from the afterlife.

Belief in the supernatural is well ingrained in the kingdom's popular culture, from the myth of Mae Nak that haunted her neighbors after she died in childbirth to the frightening 'krasue', female creatures hungry for fresh flesh.

Today, these ancient stories are unearthed by online platforms such as YouTube or TikTok and instant messengers.

“A man in a white suit appeared to him in a dream and told him that his time was up. came and that she had to follow him”, describes the first interlocutor, her voice quavering.

“But when she turned around, she saw her own body on the bed.”

In the studio, animator Watcharapol Fukjaidee seeks out details.

Her webcast, to three million subscribers on YouTube, takes place twice a week, from 11 p.m. until dawn.

Watcharapol Fukjaidee debuted 20 years ago years with Thailand's “godfather of ghosts”, Kapol Thongplub, whose late-night show made taxi drivers happy.

Thanks to new technologies, “the chance of seeing ghosts increases,” he explains to AFP.

“Ghosts communicate via applications, messaging, telephone calls. Technology is becoming the channel through which they can contact people,” says Watcharapol, 46, who cultivates a discreet and tongue-in-cheek style.

More and more young people

He thus remembers the call of a man recounting having been contacted by a friend who gave him an appointment in a temple. When he arrived, what he discovered sent chills down his spine: “his friend had died and his phone had been placed in the coffin”.

“Popular beliefs adapt in such a way unbelievable” to changes in society, explains anthropologist Andrew Alan Johnson, who has studied the role of the supernatural in Thai society.

Ghost stories help preserve the memory of places or explain a feeling of uprooting, especially in the megalopolis of Bangkok which has changed a lot in recent years, continues the expert.

On the ground floor, a café dedicated to ghosts, filled with fans, provides another source of income for the show, in addition to on-air sponsors.

A employee, Khemjira, sifts through dozens of stories sent in by listeners, discarding those that touch on politics or the taboo subject of the monarchy.

“With the influence of Twitter and TikTok, more and more young people are calling,” he explains. “I think people often encounter ghosts. We hardly ever hear the same story.”

Munching on a tombstone-shaped brownie, 25-year-old police officer Chalwat Thungood recounts having had a supernatural experience during an intervention.< /p>

Called to intervene in a house, he saw on his arrival the shadow of a very fat man passing through the bathroom: after struggling to open the door, he discovered an obese man dead for at least five hours.

“I saw the spirit of the fat man”, he assures, “I believe 100% that ghosts exist”.

Watcharapol, he refuses to say if he believes in it, before admitting that he is “deadly afraid” of the ghosts that would haunt hospitals.

According to him, people find themselves in his show “because sometimes they can’t tell their family about their ghostly experiences.”

“No one can prove it’s real except the listener on the air,” cowardly Watcharapol, before smiling.