QUESTION 1.Can you describe how you
felt when folks around northern Michigan began calling into the
station after the Legend was first played?
At first, we thought people were
playing the April Fools joke back on us. But none of the reports
were amusing or over the top, and the callers seemed sincere.
It really wasn't until the Luther incident that I began to feel
like "maybe there is something to this."
QUESTION 2.What is the most compelling piece of potential
evidence you've encountered? What made it so interesting?
I think the one that sent the
deepest shiver down my spine was the report from Geels,
Michigan, that included the foam pawprint casts. The story alone
has a chilling aspect to it; a hunter of 30 years feels like he
is being tracked into the woods in the early morning darkness.
He hears footsteps behind and to his right. Footsteps that stop
everytime he does. This is a man who has never felt fear while
alone in the wilderness, who suddenly turns around and runs back
to his car. He returned later and found the tracks, and made
casts of them with expanding foam insulation. When you see these
casts, clearly dog paw prints - with four toes, pads, and
protruding round claws - and then realize the size of animal it
must have taken to make them, it's enough to make you shudder.
QUESTION 3.You are given credit for naming the creature the 'dogman'.
How did you come up with that name and how is it fitting for the
depictions that witnesses give?
At the time I was writing the song,
each verse was based on sightings of other strange
creatures from around the country. The dogman is really no more
than an amalgam of all those creatures. I didn't want him to be
a bigfoot, or even a werewolf. I wanted him to be unique. The
descriptions that witnesses give however, is precisely the
creature I saw in my head while writing the song. Brian
Rosinski's portrait, also purely from his imagination, is
strikingly similar to what many people have seen.
QUESTION 4.What is the most unusual area in Michigan that
you've come across a story or encounter?
I think the strangest place for an
encounter would have to be the sighting received this year from Alpena.
It's an area that is thickly wooded, but is actually located in
town. The river does a wide bend there, with a cemetery on one
side and a neighborhood on the other. Not exactly the kind of
place you'd expect a seven foot dogman to be wandering around,
but he was actually seen there twice over a 25 year period.
QUESTION 5.Where do you find your inspiration for the
Hauntings stories played on Halloween?
Haunting Of Northwest Michigan" is actually even
older than "The Legend." I started doing that show in
1985 when I worked at WCCW. Originally the stories were
adaptations of real
ghost stories from the region, but it didn't take long to
run out of those. We still get story ideas contributed from
listeners each year, but recently it's about 75% a creative
writing exercise for me. That's actually been a benefit,
because the imagination isn't limited by facts. I have a
flexibility to create whatever I want, which makes for much
better campfire story fare.
QUESTION 6.Do you ever get the 'creeps' or 'shivers' when
traveling through the woods or going outside at night? Has
the growth of the legend intrigued or enriched your life more?
No creeps or shivers - well, no
more than anyone else gets. My wife gets spooked if she walks
the dogs toward dusk sometimes, and I must admit a well placed
twig snap might make me jump, but overall, I'm pretty skeptical
of crypto-creatures and monsters. If there's one thing "The
Legend" has taught me, it's how folklore begins. People
have experiences they cannot explain, and when a central theme
comes along that offers a possible explanation they tend to
gravitate toward it like moths to a flame.
It's gratifying to me that my simple song has touched and
entertained so many people for so long. We literally believed
the song would run for a day on the radio and never be heard
from again. Almost 25 years later, I have people come up to me
and tell me stories of hearing the song as children, and now
they have children who now love it just as much. My friend Jack
O'Malley once said that "The Legend" is forever woven
into the local culture and folklore. It will be here long after
we are gone.
Of course, nothing gives me more joy than seeing the real effect
the song has when we donate the profits to local animal rescue
groups and other charities. The recent resurgence of the song's
popularity has allowed us to give nearly 24 thousand dollars to
help homeless, abused, and neglected animals in just the last
three years. Of course I can think of a lot of fun things I
could have done with that money, but none of them would make my
heart feel this good.
QUESTION 7.What background in
legends and folklore do you have that's led to the creation of
Nothing formal. I've just always
loved ghost stories and unexplained mysteries. My parents were
wonderful storytellers, and would rivet us with tales of their
own ghostly experiences. As a kid I read a lot of books on haunted
houses, bigfoot, the Loch
Ness monster, ufo's, etc. I recall getting a copy of
"Chariots of the Gods" from the library and being so
intrigued I read it three times in a row (paid a hefty late fee
for that one!). In the 70's, I watched two ABC Movies of
the Week called "The
Night Stalker" and "The
Night Strangler," which would later be a big
influence in the structure of "The Legend." In my
adult years as I lived in various places, I would study the
local folklore and collect stories from individuals. A lot of
what you hear in my music and storytelling is built on that
I've never been a fan of the modern style of horror, so full of
graphic blood and gore. Stephen
King said in "Danse
Macabre" that the scariest monsters are not the ones
that screech and bare their fangs in front of you. The scariest
are the monsters under the bed, in the closet, or panting on the
other side of the door. That's the key that makes the dogman so
appealing. There is no blood, no violent death, he's just plain
QUESTION 8. What was the most
story you've heard?
Wow, big question. Most interesting to me is the 1987 Luther
story. Not because of the compelling evidence, because little
was found, and not because this was an actual witnessed
encounter, because it happened when no one was around. What
makes this story so fascinating is that two experienced officers
were impressed enough by the damage and the size of the dog
prints to call it in to the radio station. Normally police and
DNR officers are very pragmatic. They look for the most
reasonable conclusion and stay there. In Luther, the evidence
defied reason. While one of the officers who responded thinks
now that it was just a neighbor's dog that did the damage,
Deputy Jeff Chamberlain is not convinced. He found claw and
teeth marks on a wooden window frame, and slobber marks on the
window, over 7 feet off the ground. To this day, he can't
explain what kind of creature was there, or why.
QUESTION 9. What was your
inspiration for the Sigma story?
Ever been to Sigma? It's kind of a spooky place to begin with.
It shows up on Michigan maps as though it's a town, but when you
get there, it's nothing but an intersection in the middle of
some farm land and scrub forest. There once were a few buildings
that made up the village, but today, it's a ghost town.
In 1989, I wanted to write a sequel to
"The Legend," so I decided to do a song in the same
style, but make it about the disappearance of a whole community
following a summer of Dogman terror. Sigma was the natural
choice for a setting, because people could actually drive there
and see that no one remained!
The Sigma story never made the splash
that "The Legend" did, and it only played on the air a
couple of months before being retired. We included it in both
the 20th Anniversary Collectors CD, and did an updated version
for our current CD/DVD set "The Legend Legacy Edition"
QUESTION 10. How has your life
changed because of the Dogman song?
Well, I suppose it brought me my 15
minutes of fame. It's unlikely that I would have ended up
on Fox News
or The History
Channel because of some creative radio commercial that I
produced. Mostly though, it's given me the chance to meet
so many great people who have enjoyed the song, and use the
money the song generates to help out homeless animals.
QUESTION 11. What is it like to be
known as the "father of the Dogman"?
A little intimidating, but also kind of cool. Some people credit
me for creating this beast, but others will say I'm just one cog
in a historic wheel that's been turning for some time. What I
enjoy most is the belief that this legend will long outlive me.
I think it will be kind of fun, when I'm like 80 or so, to have
some cub reporter turn up wanting to interview me about this
QUESTION 12. What is the farthest
away (you know of) that "The Legend" has been played
on the radio?
The most distant station I know of is Armed Forces Radio in
Germany. I've heard rumors it may have played in Japan as well,
but haven't been able to confirm that.
QUESTION 13. Who was the first to
call the station in 1987 and report a Dogman encounter?
I can't recall who was first, because we didn't take the early
calls very seriously. The one that stands out is Robert Fortney,
because he was the first caller to report a direct face to face
encounter. You can read his account here: http://michigan-dogman.com/01_encParis.html
QUESTION 14. When was the most
recent Dogman encounter in Michigan?
We get at least one report a month, sometimes several. I haven't
published many lately because there just hasn't been time to
follow up on them. I will say the latest I've heard of occurred
near Gaylord last fall.
QUESTION 15. Can you share anything
about your interview with Monster
There were two interviews done, both last fall. They brought in
all kinds of cameras and lights to shoot the video. These guys
spend hours setting up the proper lighting schemes for scenes
that may last no more than a few seconds. It gave me a whole new
respect for the artistry that goes into creating a show at this
Quest people were primarily interested in the Gable Film story,
and we covered that pretty thoroughly. They also wanted to know
about the history of the song, some of the encounters posted on
the website, and the charitable aspect of the project. We also
provided them with contact information of a few witnesses who
gave us permission to release it.
QUESTION 16. Do you have any idea
what might be featured on the upcoming Monster Quest special?
I know some things, but not all. White Wolf Productions, the
producers of Monster Quest, is under contract with the History
Channel to not reveal too much about any particular episode in
advance, and they ask that the participants not disclose any
direct knowledge of findings or plot lines the show may contain.
As someone who produces audio and video material for a living, I
understand and respect their position.