- The Washington Times - Monday, August 20, 2001

If you've never seen John Edward at work on his incredibly popular series, "Crossing Over," then here's the gist of what he is all about: He is to the spirit world what Ma Bell is to telecommunications.
"I'm like a phone," he says with a thick Brooklyn accent during a telephone interview. "I act as a conduit of energy. It plays through to me. The 'other side' is like a radio station broadcasting a signal. I'm like the antenna. I tune in to the signal and play it back."
Those "signals" manifest themselves in almost the same way daydreams do for the rest of us, he explains.
"I do not see the energy of the people," he says. "I hear their energy. When I say that, I mean I have to concentrate on what I find myself thinking about during a session."
Since debuting two years ago, "Crossing Over With John Edward" has been the breakout hit of cable television.
Mr. Edward walks through his studio audience and amazes them with detailed information about dearly departed family members and friends.
He tells them he communicates with their energy, something he says he has been able to do since around the age of 12. At 15, after a reading with a psychic, Mr. Edward says he came to accept this as a role in life.
He started doing private readings from his home. Word of mouth brought him to the attention of New York radio, followed by national appearances on television and, eventually, the Sci-Fi Channel.
Mr. Edward's bio (www.scifi.com ) says he was "an ordinary kid growing up on Long Island. He played ball with his friends, ate pizza on Friday nights, had out-of-body experiences and visions of dead relatives he had never known, and predicted phone calls and surprise visits."
"I know it sounds strange, but if I want to break it down to the barest definition, then that's the way I can explain it," he says. "I quiet my mind and whatever thoughts come in after that I discuss them."
Mr. Edward's psychic wave is expanding. "Crossing Over" goes into syndication Aug. 27 (check local listings for time). On the same day, "Crossing Over" moves to 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays on the Sci-Fi Channel.
"Crossing Over: The Stories Behind the Stories," his latest book, will be out tomorrow.
It's a follow-up to his best seller, "One Last Time," which explains how he got into the medium business.
Despite his schedule, he says he doesn't talk to the dead daily.
If he did, "I'd be locked up in a rubber room by now," Mr. Edward deadpans.
Funerals, he says, turn out to be a "workday" so he doesn't attend many. He believes in reincarnation, too.
"My job, from the get-go, is not about being on TV. It's about educating people about the work that I do. After the first two weeks of doing 'Crossing Over,' I discovered that this, to me, is not a television show. I probably drove everyone here crazy. I told everyone [on the crew] that I would honor requests [for a reading].
"As soon as I opened my mouth to do them, I told them to get out of my way and let me do my readings. That's literally how everybody is around here. They leave me alone."
Shooting one episode of "Crossing Over" can turn into several hours. Once he establishes communication with the 'other side,' he says, he goes with the flow.
"No one tells me to stop. I keep going until I drop or I cannot go anymore," he says. "These people are coming here, and they are honoring us with their presence. It's their [late] families and friends who become the show. I need to do the best job I can to get to as many people as I can."
The show also has a grief counselor on standby to talk to guests for whom Mr. Edward reads.
Though he has been in communication with the dead hundreds of times, Mr. Edward says, he doesn't know what the "other side" is like.
"I don't live there. I live here," he says. "I would not venture to even say what it is like, but I will say this: What I have gathered is that the 'other side' is made up of different levels.
"It's a place where we continue to learn and grow. It's not like we get a harp, a halo, a book of knowledge and a cloud for the rest of eternity. We still have issues to work out."
A practicing Catholic, Mr. Edward counts nuns and priests among his supporters.
There are skeptics, of course. But whether Mr. Edward is a clever fake or the real deal doesn't hurt his ratings.
A case can be made that audiences are tuning to him for entertainment more than knowledge.
Anyone can talk to the dead, Mr. Edward says. "Meditation is the key," he adds.

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