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Episode 134: A cryptid story with Spencer White

Opinions editor Spencer White shares his encounter with Sasquatch enthusiasts, the surprising connection to a former UMN regent and more.

SPENCER WHITE: So yeah, Michael Hsu, who I interviewed about Sasquatch, he just texted me right now. Governor Tim Walz, a tweet about doing something about Bigfoot cause there have been so many sightings in Minnesota and he’s wearing a shirt that’s like got Sasquatch all over it. 

KAYLIE SIROVY: This is like actually from Tim Walz’s like Twitter account?

WHITE: Here. 

SIROVY: Oh my God. “We have to get to the bottom of this. Bigfoot sightings across the state of Minnesota. Have you ever seen a squach?” Oh my god. 

WHITE: Yeah, so the boys in blue are on it. 

SIROVY: Boys in blue. Alright, hello everyone, I’m Kaylie Sirovy, your host from the Minnesota Daily, and you’re tuning into In The Know, the podcast that brings you all the latest on the University of Minnesota.

This episode I have here with me Spencer White, who is the opinions editor.

WHITE: Hi, I’m Spencer. I’m the Opinions Editor. Thanks for having me. 

SIROVY: And today we’re talking about one of his stories that he did about cryptids, Sasquatch. 

WHITE: Yeah, originally it was going to be about the Dogman of Minnesota.

SIROVY: Who is the Dogman? 

WHITE: So that’s the thing, the Dogman is kind of hard to pin down, believe it or not, but it’s supposedly like a werewolf type thing in like northern, like the Iron Range, northern Minnesota, and I was gonna write about that with interviews from this guy, Doug Hajicek.

Who did like, he lives in Blaine and he did a Sasquatch and stuff like that, and I wanted to talk to him about the Dogman, but it kind of got derailed because he just really, really likes Sasquatch. 

SIROVY: Okay, and so the story was specifically about Sasquatch, right? 

WHITE: Yeah, yeah. And I guess the most interesting part, not necessarily being Sasquatch so much as it was the Minnesota regent who was into Sasquatch, Michael Hsu. Very nice man, by the way. I had a great time talking to him.

SIROVY: So, how’d you get in? How did you know that he was into Bigfoot? Who was it? Hajicek? 

WHITE: Highcheck, yes. Well, we were in Atlanta for our little journalism convention and I stepped out of like an awards ceremony or whatever to talk to Doug Hajicek about Sasquatch on the phone. And I told him, ‘Oh, I’ll call you back in like 10 minutes. I need to go back inside for something.’ I call him back and he tells me, ‘oh, I was just talking with my friend who knows your boss.’ I’m like, that’s an ominous thing to say. 

SIROVY: So scary. 

WHITE: Yeah. I was a little worried. And I was like, ‘oh, do you want to elaborate?’ He’s like, ‘yeah, I was talking to Michael Hsu, former regent of the University of Minnesota.’ I was like, ‘oh, okay. Are you guys like friends?’ And according to Doug, they’re like really really good friends. They’re former neighbors. 

SIROVY: Oh my goodness. 

WHITE: Being a former regent, some people at the Daily had Michael’s phone number, so I just got a hold of him and asked if he wanted to talk and he, I talked to him for like an hour or so about Sasquatch. I still text, well, as I mentioned, I still text him, so. 

SIROVY: Oh my god, specifically about Sasquatch, or about like? 

WHITE: Oh yeah, just completely about Sasquatch. 

SIROVY: Oh my goodness, that is incredible. Atlanta was like a week ago, too. 

WHITE: It’s really interesting like that a guy like that you would never expect someone, I mean like I mentioned in the story, but the last thing I expected to ever talk to a like regent of the University of Minnesota about was like Bigfoot or like mythical creatures, you know?

SIROVY: So, did you have any like what was the biggest surprise for you writing the story? 

WHITE: I mean, the biggest surprise was mostly just like how it came about because it literally was just I called this guy who I knew was like a big Bigfoot guy, and he just was like, ‘oh, by the way my like best friend is a regent at the U, and also is super into Bigfoot.’ Like, hell yeah. Like, I’m down. 

SIROVY: What, cause I know there’s a few quotes in my head that I remember specifically from this story specifically about that old Sasquatch footage. 

WHITE: Yeah. I think the quote itself is, I was talking to Michael the Patterson footage from 1967, I believe, and he said, that they like confirmed, no, it was a female Sasquatch. And that raised some alarms for me. I was like, okay, how do we know that? And the answer, of course, was the large breasts of the Sasquatch in the footage. I mean that’s kind of the nature of stuff like that where when you’re when you’re into like I guess the cryptid stuff that can get a little bit weird, get a little bit wacky I think. 

SIROVY: Do you believe in any of the cryptid stuff?

WHITE: They’re like a really big interest of mine stuff like that. I am a skeptic in that sense, I’m not a real believer. Really, I think I can I’m more convincible when it comes to like aliens or something like that, but like I don’t think, I don’t really think that Bigfoot’s real, especially when it gets in the like, I’ve talked to a lot of people about it, like working at the Daily and just generally, and like you’ll talk to someone and they’ll be like, well the reason we haven’t found it is because they’re inter-dimensional time travelers. It’s like, I think at some point.

SIROVY: The cryptids?

WHITE: Yeah, yeah, like Bigfoot.

SIROVY: Okay, okay. 

WHITE: That they’re like metaphysical beings and at some point it’s like I feel like we lost track of what’s going on here. Yeah, it’s like some of them are like something threw a pine cone at me in the woods and I was like yeah, I saw a beacon from God and the hairy man came out of it. It’s like, okay, let’s let’s hold on, but I mean, I think it’s all like interesting stuff and like I think it’s for the most part like harmless, too.

Yeah, like that’s the thing that in my, in my column, I didn’t want to like, I didn’t want to like make fun of Doug or like Michael or anything like that because like, though there are some things they said that are like a bit silly or something like that to like the general public, like what they’re doing is really like inoffensive and like not terrible.

SIROVY: Just a fun hobby.

WHITE: Yeah. They’re like having a good time. They’re like getting out. 

SIROVY: They’re talking with people. 

WHITE: Yeah and the book they published back in 2006, I think is like pretty, pretty well, pretty highly regarded. Like because it doesn’t like necessarily say, hey, like Bigfoot’s real. It’s like, ‘hey, there’s like weird things happening.’ Here’s evidence for and against Bigfoot. Like it’s pretty, it was pretty well made stuff. Like something Michael said was like, his like friends would like to get their kids into like school and, like, science and stuff would like give them that book. Yeah, because it’s like something more fun than just like learning the table of elements.

SIROVY: Yeah, I would say learning about Sasquatch is better than learning how a compound is made. 

WHITE: Yeah. Unironically, like trying, like watching and like talking to people about Sasquatch has forced me to like learn more about like anthropology. Just because like the terms being used, like it’s like, well I’m going to do some Google searches into like actual anthropology stuff, read some things.

SIROVY: So like cultures or histories or like folklore? 

WHITE: Like more like, um hominids stuff like that, like development of humans, I guess. 

SIROVY: Okay. That makes sense. That makes sense. What were your thoughts while writing this? 

WHITE: I was so excited. I was having so much, before I was the editor most of like my favorite columns were like doing stuff like this, like talking about kind of weird stuff. Like I interviewed ghost hunters Bigfoot hunters Scientology, well, I didn’t interview the Scientologist that was tricky, but I talked about Scientology. Bikers stuff like I got all over the place. 

So, it’s always a lot of fun for me to like talk to people like that who like are really like in depth believing like what they say and like it’s a bit absurd to some extent, but it’s like, it’s way more fun than being like, alright, I’m going to interview this guy about like economic shit. But yeah, no, it was a lot of fun and it was just really exciting because it’s like, it was something that was, it started off so different than like the end product and it just kept like building really. By the end I was, I was so pumped for it. 

SIROVY: Yeah, I remember in the hotel, you were writing this and you were just like, yeah, this is, this is good, this is good stuff.

WHITE: Yeah, I was like, I remember we got like five of us went to get food and I was just like on my laptop just like having a blast. 

SIROVY: Well, I think it makes it a lot easier and you become a better writer when you write about stuff that you’re interested in. Yeah, yeah, and like more fun stuff,  you know?

WHITE: Yeah, I totally agree. And. I mean, it also made it really easy, like, I think that column itself is mostly quotes, I’m pretty sure, or at least a good chunk of it is, which is kind of rare for opinions columns, but it was just so much fun with like cause they gave me so much to work with and they had so much to talk about that it really just made my job so easy.

SIROVY: Well, you have some stuff in here about your own opinions. But, yeah, you say at the end of it I’m very skeptical about these kinds of things, but they are a whole lot of fun to talk about. So, did you have any challenges writing this story? 

WHITE: Yeah, the main, I did, it was supposed to come out the day before Halloween, so it would be in our little Halloween newsletter, but it ended up coming out on Halloween, missed the newsletter.

And the reason was because the night I was going to get it done is when I was talking to Doug Hajicek and he told me he knew Michael Hsu. And I was like, I’m not putting this out without talking to Michael Hsu. Like I just Of course, yeah. I’m not doing that. It’s not worth it. So we push it off a day. I got to talk to Michael Hsu, and it just really, I think it really I think that column would have been nothing without Michael Hsu. 

SIROVY: Oh yeah, he definitely had some amazing stuff to say yeah.

WHITE: Yeah, I think that like that was the biggest challenge because previously I was struggling with finding sources.

SIROVY: Well, yeah, I think not too many people are whole professionals about the whole Sasquatch thing. 

WHITE: Yeah, you’d be surprised. I wasn’t gonna go back to the Minnesota Bigfoot research team. I kind of scorned them in the past. 

SIROVY: You scorned them? That’s, okay. 

WHITE: I kind of, I made fun of them in a column like a year ago. 

SIROVY: Columns do that sometimes. That’s why they’re columns. 

WHITE: Yeah, so I couldn’t go back down that well, but I went into this Facebook group of like encrypted hunters.

SIROVY: Oh yeah. Yeah. You talked about that in your story and like. The Minnesota Skeptics? 

WHITE: No, that was, that was a group of people that like don’t believe anything like that, and those people like immediately were like trying to vet me and like didn’t believe I was a real person. That one, that was funny in its own right, but like that was like the first guy I talked to was from them. And like he was a really interesting guy, Travis Peterson. But like it didn’t really have the, I guess the gravity that I wanted. You know? Like. He’s a very, he’s a very well spoken guy, and a very, very, very nice guy. I had a great conversation with him.

But, in terms of like the story itself, if I had only gotten him, which is what it was looking like for a little bit, it would basically just be me kind of vaguely talking about cryptids and being like conspiracies are whack, right? But, I got in this other Facebook group of like, Sasquatch hunters, and they got me in touch with Doug Hajicek. I mentioned before, he produced the show Monster Quest, some other stuff. And, yeah, from there, it just kind of happened. 

SIROVY: Did the Facebook group, did they, were they originally like, are you gonna make fun of us? Or?

WHITE: Oh, no.

SIROVY: They were totally on board the whole way?

WHITE: The moment, the moment I was there, they were just like, oh, this guy’s on our side.

SIROVY: I love that. 

WHITE: I mean, it seemed, admittedly, like, if I were them, I would be a little more skeptical of some guy showing up and going, hey, who wants to be interviewed for this? Because like especially given it, my I guess, I guess I’m pretty low on the bar of journalists, but like it took one Google search for them to find out that I’ve made fun of people like them many times. So, but hey, I’m that, they did me well they got me in touch with Doug and Michael so and Though I had great conversations with both of them. So 

SIROVY: Yeah, that’s I love that. I would have, if I were doing the story, I would have also have been having a blast like I can’t imagine the fun writing this like I remember during because at the beginning you kind of talk about like the certain cryptids that like people know about and I, you talked about Mothman for a few sentences, and I remember talking to Alex, who’s our editor in chief, he didn’t know who Mothman was, and so I literally had to show him a photo of like the statue of Mothman. And I remember, I remember thinking like, yep, this is why we write. 

WHITE: Well, I don’t mean to put you on blast, Kaylie, but more specifically, you showed him a picture of Mothman’s beautiful butt, and how sculpted and firm it is. 

SIROVY: I did also show that. I, well, I, okay, I should say I showed him the,  what, the front of Mothman first, then I was like, wait a minute, you gotta look at the behind also cause like, they put it on the statue, they knew what people were gonna look at. 

WHITE: It’s a magnificent ass. 

SIROVY: It is. It really is, but do you hope that after, after reading this and after writing it and after getting like a comment and what people say about it, do you wish for them, your readers, to take away anything from this story?

WHITE: I mean, the way I kind of ended it off was talking about like conspiracy generally and like how detrimental it can be, but I think, I think there’s like a really fine line to walk in terms of conspiracy, because I think, personally, conspiracy is super fun. 

Even if you like go into it like thinking it’s like Not true. That’s the word I’ll use. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of fun to think about oh, what if there are like aliens or what if there’s something in the woods? We don’t know about. It can be a lot of fun. The problem that really comes in is when it gets taken too far or like when it’s manipulated or used in a way to like cause, like, harm. Like, you can see that a little bit with, um, with, like, UFO people. UFO people can get a bit crazy because. 

SIROVY: They want to cause mistrust?

WHITE: Because like it’s believing in UFOs and UAPs as they like to call them. 


WHITE: Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon. That’s how you know someone’s in too deep on UFOs. If they start calling them UAPs. 

SIROVY: Good to know.

WHITE: They’ve crossed the line somewhere. But like there’s like an inherent like governmental distrust that comes with that. And personally, I think governmental distrust is a good thing. Because like, they do shady things constantly. So like and that’s kind of like what our role is as journalists to like look into that whatever. 

SIROVY: We gotta research.

WHITE: Yeah, yeah, the problem is we research.

SIROVY: There’s facts to back it up.

WHITE: When you’re just some dude who’s like yo my buddy said that he saw in a spaceship and the government is covering it up. It’s like, okay. At some point here we need, like there needs to be actual evidence of something before you just go like pointing fingers and like causing trouble. And it really becomes a problem when like I did a story about UFOs way way back like early days at the Daily for me. And there, it was this group I hit the name escapes me now, but it was like MUFON Minnesota UFO Network and MUFON, they had like a almost like a trauma response team that would go and talk to people who had like experienced, air quotes, experienced like abductions or something like that.

And they’d go talk to them through it or something. But it’s like, they didn’t have anything in place to like determine, oh, has this, does this person need to talk about how they were abducted by a UFO? Or do they need like the help of a psychiatrist? And it’s like just some, like, some like 50 year old woman going there and like being like, she was a very nice lady I spoke to, but when she just shows up and it’s like oh my god, tell me about how you were probed.

That’s crazy, dude. Oh, it’s like that’s not what is, who is that helping? Like these are people who seem to be in some way like going through trauma and you’re just like showing up and saying, ah man, damn, aliens are whack, huh? 

SIROVY: Maybe not the response that you want. What do people think about that story? Do you remember? 

WHITE: I remember I got like an email about it, but I don’t really remember. I think it did well, I don’t know. We don’t get many comments at The Daily here, so you guys should, you guys should figure that out, listeners. 

SIROVY: Well, I should say that opinions does get a lot more comments than a lot of these other desks.

WHITE: That is true. They’re never very nice, though. 

SIROVY: No, like the most recent one that you did of mice and majors.

WHITE: Yeah, that guy called a tabloid journalist. Someone, someone got mad that I implied you could become a therapist or psychiatry, psychiatrist with a psychology major, which you can do. 

SIROVY: You, I’m pretty sure you can. 

WHITE: There are some extra steps after it, but you can start there.

SIROVY: You can definitely have a background in it and become a therapist, yeah. 

WHITE: I will go to great lengths to not be wrong about this.

SIROVY: Yeah, no, well I feel like especially since it’s from opinions that more people are willing to share their opinions. 

WHITE: Oh yeah, I kind of like it to be honest. Like, I like to talk the talk, you know. 

SIROVY: Like to keep the conversations going?

WHITE: I like when, I like when they S talk me so I can S talk them back is how we’re gonna go about saying it. But, I mean, MeatEater. I want to get into him a little bit. 

SIROVY: Yes, MeatEater. He’s a commenter, or he was.

WHITE: He was. MeatEater, if you can hear me, please come back. I miss you so much. MeatEater never left a nice comment in his life, and he was great. MeatEater would just show up on about two columns a week, just rip into whoever wrote it, just making fun of them and that was it. That was his whole deal and I haven’t seen him in months. So, MeatEater if you’re out there, please please come back.

SIROVY: Maybe he was a scorned ex employee of the opinions column. 

WHITE: I had a theory that he might have been one of the other columnists at the time, but I never had anything to qualify that. So, that’s just a conspiracy that I made up. 

SIROVY: We do it all the time, don’t worry.

WHITE: That’s what, that’s what media is all about, I think. Making things up and lying to the people. 

SIROVY: Do you remember one of his, do you, is there like a comment of his that you remember specifically like word for word? 

WHITE: Not word for word, but cause a lot of them would be like really like a paragraph that’s like relatively thought out and like is really mean, but like is like well, well written. But every once in a while he’d just do one. He’d be like, this is garbage. 

SIROVY: Just not even any critiques or feedback. Just this sucks. 

WHITE: He was an all time hater. He is in the hater hall of fame. 

SIROVY: Wow that, I wonder who you have to be to have that much hate in you. 

WHITE: I don’t know, but I hope he comes back one day.

SIROVY: No, I remember hearing about that this past summer, like MeatEater. I was like who is this person? I kept, I was like, why does he do that? Why does he do what he do? Do you have any favorite cryptid or folklore stories? That you like researched about?

WHITE: I haven’t gone the most in depth on this, but like, it was one of my favorites when I was younger. Chupacabras. I like Chupacabras. I like the name. I like that it means goat sucker. 

SIROVY: He would steal goats from like farms and stuff. 

WHITE: Suck their blood right on out of them. 

SIROVY: Like a goat vampire.

WHITE: And I really, I really wish, I remember as a kid being like, I wish I had a chupacabra friend, and I don’t know if I want that. I don’t think that was a well thought out plan by like, nine year old Spencer. 

SIROVY: Maybe you just wanted a friend. 

WHITE: Fair, fair. Hurtful, first off. But fair. 

SIROVY: You know, I remember as a kid, like, cause there used to be this show, Finding Bigfoot. It would come out like every Sunday night, and me and my family would sit down and watch it just about every week. And I remember being terrified that Bigfoot was real. I’m like, I cannot believe that there’s this creature out there who just is giant and scary. And I remember hearing about all like the different like variations between like the states. Like down in Florida it’s Skunk Ape. 

WHITE: That is awesome. Yep. Skunk Ape. Skunk Ape. I love that.

SIROVY: Yep. He’s in the swamps. Oh. 

WHITE: Oh, he’s smelly. Talking about Finding Bigfoot. My like original, I wouldn’t call it love or passion, but I guess intrigue and like stuff like this would be when I was  like I mentioned it in the column, but when I was a kid, I’d be like driving late at night with like my family like going somewhere, and my dad would always throw on Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell or I guess probably George Norry, I don’t know, doesn’t really matter, one of the hosts of Coast to coast AM.

And Coast to Coast AM, if you’re unaware, is just like an old radio, well not really old, it’s still on, but like a conspiratorial radio show where they talk about Bigfoot, UFOs, ghosts, stuff like that. They take a lot of callers who’ll just call in and be like I had an experience with a ghost, and Art Bell or George Norrie, whichever, Art Bell was superior, but that’s neither here nor there, would just go into it and talk about talk to them and like almost always just take him at face value and it was it was wonderful.

SIROVY: Is that where you like first learned about like conspiracy theories?

WHITE: Yeah, that was my introduction to it. This was a very very young age, but I was like sitting in the backseat like four years old like oh my god dad UFOs are real. He’s like, I don’t know. 

SIROVY: I think there’s always a time where we’re as kids were like, oh my god UFOs are real and then you grow up. You’re like, I don’t think they are, but yeah. Do you have any thoughts on the rest of the story that we didn’t talk about? Any big moments, any big light bulb moments? 

WHITE: I mean, there wasn’t anything really light bulb. It was mostly just like, it was kind of a, of a snowball type thing where it started off like really, really small.

And like the scope of it was kind of stupid, to be honest. Like, I didn’t really know where I was going with it, and it just really picked up steam. 

SIROVY: But you had an idea. 

WHITE: But I had an idea. And I was saved by Michael Hsu and Doug Hajicek. They got me where I needed to go. 

SIROVY: No, I, after reading your, this story, I was like, oh my God, all my friends need to read this. This is awesome. I had no idea. 

WHITE: Promotion, let’s go. 

SIROVY: No, I talk about them. And I talked a little bit about that story that you put out recently, the of mice and campus one. 

WHITE: No, Of Mice and Majors. It was a campus caucus. I’m a big alliteration guy. 

SIROVY: Yeah, because the title of your story is Creatures on Campus.

WHITE: It’s a go to, it’s a go to. Did I mention they invited me to look for Bigfoot? I don’t know if I mentioned that.

SIROVY: No, you didn’t!

WHITE: It was not like a formal invitation, but Michael Hsu did imply that in the future I could look for Bigfoot with them. 

SIROVY: That’s incredible. Are you going to if they ever like formally offer it? 

WHITE: If they formally offer it and I like have the capacity to do so, I will.

SIROVY: That’s incredible. 

WHITE: Doug has some land in like it’s not his necessarily, but where he does a lot of his research is this cabin in like northern Canada, I’m pretty sure. So, that’s a bit of a trek, but I, if the opportunity arose, I’m not saying no to that. 

SIROVY: No, that would be an amazing experience. That would be so fun.

WHITE: Someone I, similarly, someone I interviewed for like my previous Bigfoot column, he has some land in Brainerd, I’m pretty sure or near Brainerd, and he has offered, he has said if I wanted to, I could go out to his land. 

SIROVY: You must love your job.

WHITE: Oh, it’s, it’s so great. It’s so awesome. 

SIROVY: Being like, I mean not formally offered, but like sort of invited to go hunt for Bigfoot. That’s amazing. You don’t really get that with a whole lot of other jobs, I would say. 

WHITE: No, no. You don’t get that with most jobs at The Minnesota Daily. 

SIROVY: No, definitely not. I can’t say that I’ve had people be like, Hey, you want to go Bigfoot hunting? Or you want to go try and find some UFOs? No. 

WHITE: Look, I know some people. I can get you in touch if you want that to change. 

SIROVY: I appreciate the offer. Oh my gosh. So, I also did want to ask, how long have you been at The Daily? 

WHITE: This is my second year at The Daily. I started last fall as a columnist. Became the opinions editor at the end of last school year. Here I am now. 

SIROVY: Here you are now, and you’re doing a great job. 

WHITE: Thank you.

SIROVY: We all do really good jobs here. But I’m just kind of tooting my own horn. Well, I think that is the end unless anything else?

WHITE: No, we can end here. I’ve said about all I can say at this point I mean, I wrote an entire column about it and spoke for how long.

SIROVY: Go read it if you want to. The story is incredible. 

WHITE: Yeah, and leave a like and a comment, please.

SIROVY: I don’t know. Well, they can do likes on the website. Most people usually don’t, though. No. That’s fine, though. 

WHITE: They don’t respect us.

SIROVY: They don’t respect the student journalists? No, no. No, I can’t imagine why. Well, this has been a wonderful talk with you, Spencer. I have enjoyed hearing your opinions as the opinions editor. I’m sure you have a lot more. This episode was just me, Kaylie Sirovy, and Spencer White.

As always, we appreciate you listening in, and feel free to leave us an email at [email protected] with comments or questions. I’m Kaylie. 

WHITE: And I’m Spencer. 

SIROVY: And this is In The Know.

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