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Marisa Ryan Psychic Medium

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    Calling for a Connection // Radio show lets psychics help listeners communicate with deceased loved ones

    August 22, 2004

    Shaun Valentine was used to taking dedications from lovers and family members, some of them grieving, as host of "Lovesongs on the KOST." "I thought hey, wouldn't it be great if we could give more than a song to someone who had lost a loved one?"

    Last year, Valentine got the go-ahead from KOST/103.5 to launch "Angels in Waiting," where psychics would connect callers to their loved ones before playing a dedication.

    Valentine had been fascinated with psychics since seeing medium James Van Praagh on television years before, and it soon became clear that others shared his interest. The easy-listening station kept lengthening the Sunday-night program; this month, Clear Channel moved Valentine and his show into a five-hour slot, 7 p.m. to midnight, on the poppier KBIG/104.3.

    Tonight's show features an Inland psychic, Corona's Marisa Ryan.

    "Just about every moment is completely amazing," Valentine said of the program from the station's Burbank studio. Guest mediums do their best to quickly communicate specifics only the loved ones would recognize - a name or how they died - to allow the spirit to prove itself before sending its message.

    The psychic readings were so popular that Valentine has had to scrap the music; listeners "would rather not wait to get to the juicy stuff," he said. E-mail requests for readings are backed up several months.


    What makes people call a radio station to try to communicate with spirits?

    "Comfort. They really want comfort," Valentine said. A period of mourning is natural; "then you want to celebrate that person's life," he said. Sometimes people have trouble making the transition. "You have to find a way to move forward. . . You don't want to deal with nothing but sorrow," Valentine said.

    The hardest calls come from parents who have lost children, he said.

    But no matter what the relationship, "The first thing they want to hear is, are my loved ones, OK?"

    That's for the mediums to answer. Valentine and his producer, Jerry Belmonte, have psychics give off-air readings before allowing them on the show. Psychics aren't told anything beyond the caller's name and who they want to contact, Valentine said.

    Ryan and her sister both had readings done when "Angels in Waiting" was on KOST. One day she had a message from her own "spirit guides," urging her to e-mail the station to apply as a medium. She passed Valentine's audition and found herself on the air.


    "Angels in Waiting" was Ryan's debut as a professional medium. "My background is a lot different from most psychics'," she said in a phone interview. Many claim to have seen ghosts as a child or suffered a traumatic event. "I'm basically a mother of three - I'm a normal person," Ryan said.

    After her own mother died three years ago, the 37-year-old sales rep said she'd talk to her. "I was hearing answers back and I thought this is just (in) my mind."

    Her 21-year-old niece had died of undetermined causes in the same house two days after Ryan's mother died. The combination spurred Ryan to research the afterlife.

    Then, last fall, a friend e-mailed her about an unsolved murder in the Inland Empire: "I saw the girl and all of a sudden I saw this movie playing in my head."

    Ryan said the slain woman apparently spread the word in the spirit world; others started coming to her for help. "It was just crazy," she said.

    She started taking classes to learn how to develop her abilities ("I believe everybody has this gift," she said), and is writing a book. "It's changed my whole life. It's really crazy," she said.

    She'd always done readings for friends and family over the phone, so that was nothing new. "The only difference is, when you're on the show you're under a lot of pressure," she said - mediums only have two or three minutes with each caller.

    "I need to prove to that person I'm really talking to their grandfather," Ryan said.

    "I need validating information," something specific - say, the name of the restaurant where they used to eat. "Otherwise, I'd be a phony," Ryan said.


    Ryan describes her connection as "like a screen inside your mind." Spirits will show her pictures, figures, symbols, military uniforms, bits of memories."A lot of times I will actually hear full-on phrases," she said. Sometimes they let her feel the symptoms of their illnesses.

    Ryan is down-to-earth about her unearthly abilities. "People tell me all the time, `I'm going to tell you something weird.' How weird could it be? I talk to dead people! You can't out-weird me, I weird myself out," she said with a laugh.

    "The whole point of what I do is to really let people know that there is life after death," Ryan said. "There's a reason you're here, and you need to make the most of it."

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