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Salem Evening News
April 24th, 2001
Page A2

'Chronicle' looks at duo's 'double lives'
by DAVE GERSHMAN
News Staff

SALEM - It's a risk that is now paying off. Of course when the risk is forming a company that sells a new kind of Ouija board, perhaps these two city businessmen knew something about their future.

Tonight, on Channel 5's "Chronicle," which airs at 7:30 p.m., their double lives will be exposed. Robert Murch and Gary Halteman, both 27 came to salem about a year ago, and started Spirited Ventures, which sells a new kind Ouija, or talking board, Cryptique, which is marketed as being more fun and less scary. The two men were featured in an article in the Evening News in March.

Meanwhile, by day, both work at Fidelity Investments.

"It was quite extensive" Halteman said of the taping. The Chronicle crew filmed the two at Fidelity, and then at their home, which doubles as their office for Spirited Ventures. Fidelity was very accommodating, he added.

"They were pretty open," he said, with one caveat: "They didn't want anything to be tied to investments, Ouija board and everything."

Both men see talking boards as fun things to do for enjoyment and do not believe they have any spiritual powers.

After moving to Salem more than a year ago, they formed the company last August. They met while going to the University of New Hampshire. The two e-mailed Chronicle after the Evening News ran a story about them. The TV producers called back.

"They contacted us and said they're doing a show called "Double Lives," Halteman said.

The two couldn't be more pleased with the way business is going. Their talking board is available in local shops, like the Salem State College bookstore, Salemdipity at Pickering Warf, and the Trolley depot on Essex Street. They just negotiated a deal with Newbury Comics to stock it as well. And a retailer in Switzerland saw the talking board on the duo's Web site and asked to stock it.

"There is definitely a risk in stating a new business," Halteman acknowledged. "I think from our standpoint we felt there was a need for a quality talking board on the market...Talking boards have been out there since the late 1800s."