It was Colin Smythe, a publisher working with the Swedish artist and filmmaker, Frederick Jurgenson in 1958, who coined the term Electronic Voice phenomena (EVP). Konstantins Raudive, a Latvian psychologist, took great inspiration from Jurgenson’s book Voices from Space (1964); they worked briefly together but not overly productively, before Raudive published Breakthrough (1971) and popularised his recordings as “Raudive voices”. This was to become a seminal book that stimulated a significant growth of interest in the subject, but EVP being a less personalised and generic description of the recording phenomenon and not being isolated to tape or audio recorders, has prevailed as the common acronym.
EVP falls under the umbrella of Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC), under which practically any device capable of receiving either visual or audio signals may be used to receive messages from the deceased. Who first recorded EVP is open to debate. In the 1920s, Inventor Thomas Edison postured that it was possible to construct an apparatus to contact personalities in another existence, but there is no proof that his machine was ever built or functioned. From 1936 Attila von Szalay captured voices on a phonograph, and later with Raymond Bayliss on the tape recorder. Catholic Fathers Gemelli and Ernetti were to gain patronage from Pope Pius XII in the 1950s for continued EVP experimentation, after inadvertently capturing voices with a steel wire recorder, during a recital. Since the development of modern communications circuitry in the late 1950s and the recent popularisation of the subject, basic equipment is affordable to all and has provided an opportunity for anyone with a curiosity in EVP, to practically investigate the phenomena for themselves.
It is understandable for those who explore ITC as a means of post-mortem communication, to attain the goal of two-way conversation. Direct Radio Voice (DRV) has proven to facilitate this objective, but very few researchers have achieved clear channels with the other side, however, Anabela Cardoso in Portugal, and Marcello Bacci (1927-2019) in Italy are well-known practitioners who have demonstrated remarkable results in this field. DRV in its simplest form, is listening to a radio frequency between stations that is free of recognisable speech. As with any discipline, those who obtain even modest success are personally driven and will have spent a considerable amount of time, most often years in pursuit of communication. Practitioners who achieve consistent results, are seldom able to provide a service to members of the public, in the way we might expect a spiritual medium to work.
Whilst DRV is highly evidential and an important method of post-mortem communication, due to the necessary time needed to develop a clear channel, it is unobtainable and impractical to all but a few, however, in comparison with DRV achieving evidential, sentient communication through EVP is relatively straightforward and requires considerably less time to achieve with only a modest financial outlay. It must be said though that the inherent nature of recording for EVP does not permit two-way communication, even when recordings are immediately reviewed for replies, the resultant staccato conversation is far from fluid or natural. Those with no prior experience of ITC may require a period of development to establish a connection. How this is done will depend on the operator’s circumstances and their willingness to experiment, without being defeated by inevitable setbacks and delays in progress.
Researchers who actively record for EVP are generally willing to share positive results and recordings with those who are new to the subject, relatively few, however, are open to discussing their modus operandi in great depth. Professor Dr. Ernst Senkowski (2019), a renowned German physicist and ITC researcher is keen to point out “experimenters in EVP like to speak about their “research”, but with very few exceptions they have no professional background, they are neither able nor interested in scientific work and in experiments following established rules”. Senkowski’s attitude is prevalent amongst scientists and provides an insight as to why many lay researchers are wary of engaging with professional bodies, and why many potentially valuable sources of evidence are ignored and lost.
If research is interpreted as being a systematic investigation, with the objective of finding answers to questions, then surely those who work with a transparent and documented methodology might be considered researchers and be encouraged.