Sunday, March 22, 2009

An Email from Scott Marshall (Burden of Friendship)

An Email from Scott Marshall, reproduced with permission:

Hi Arvo, nice to see that people remember fondly those wild whacked days at the Wonderful Wizard. Also glad to see that someone remembers that the Voidwatch thing was my idea. Bill Meehan, Doug Brown, Bob St. Clair, and Mark Giangrande had all known each other for years at that point dating back to their days at LeMere Vipere, Chicago's first punk club c.1976-77. But I had only just met all of them the year before we started to doing the live on-air jamming (summer of '84) at my suggestion. Saturday afternoons were my first regular on-air slot, and one of those guys followed me, I think it was Doug. Doug just passed away like a week or so ago, he was only 55. Nowadays I really only exchange e-mail with Mark once in a great while, I've been living in NYC for the last ten years.

At this point Scott goes on to say that he doesn't have access to any audio or video from that time, just memories


Like the jams we used to have at the Unarco rolled steel factory in Evanston (1985). Prior to its demolishing, a friend of ours had the night watchman job at the whole facility. I know that Mark G. has video tape of that. THAT was incredible, using this huge old steel factory as one giant instrument, enormous decrepit steel tanks, all kinds of lengths of pipe, etc. The smell of the place was incredible. The highlight of the video from this one night (we went there to jam a few times) is when the overhead crane caught fire from over-usage by us, and then, miraculously, put itself out.

Or the all-night jam/party we did on WNUR with Andy Jacobsen, fueled by like a half ounce of coke that we all chipped in and purchased. I was designated steward of the blow, so I kept it hidden in the station and then made rounds on the half-hour spooning up doses to all the 10 or so noses while their owners were in various stages of on-air noisemaking.

Or the one Voidwatch that utilized live fireworks inside the station, along with pushing over filing cabinets and other general destruction (busted linoleum flooring, holes in the ceiling). I think the destruction was due to using some steel samples we had brought back from the Unarco factory.

Or, stupidly, me climbing the radio antenna on top of the Northeastern library building in order to bleed the transmitter cable system of air and fill it with nitrogen (I think, some kinda fucking gas in a tank attached to the transmitter cable), while Bill Meehan kept watch on me from the rooftop in case I fell to my death. That year I was the Program Director (85-86). We had just paid to have a new antenna installed along with our power upgrade to 100 watts. It was Friday, and the antenna riggers didn't finish the whole gasline installation thing, so, stupidly, I offered to finish it for them so we could get back on the air as soon as possible. So after I climbed back down off the roof, Bill and I went and turned on the new transmitter... and the new transmitter immediately blew up because the antenna guys hadn't correctly installed the radiating elements on the transmitter tower. We were off the air all summer while the University sorted it out and
used the whole escapade as an excuse to finally get rid of all us non-student DJs once and for all. So once the antenna company had made it all right a few months later, and a new transmitter was purchased, we were all on the air again for like two weeks before the University officially banned all of us, me in particular thank you very fucking much, as reward for all the work that we put into the station. I was the last non-student program director of WZRD.

Or the three most memorable ZRD-sponsored shows that B.O.F. ever played: At the Noise Factory on Lake St. (first B.O.F. show, included me getting lit flourescent light bulbs smashed over my back); opening for Algebra Suicide to a packed room and having Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth come up and introduce himself to me onstage after the set, saying that Steve Albini told him to come down and see us; and the big WZRD benefit concert at Cabaret Metro (1986) that featured a Who's Who of Chicago hardcore and punk groups, headlined by Naked Raygun who played a whole amazing set of cover tunes, it was a sold-out show and I was also the onstage M.C., I was so nervous in front of 1000 screaming punks that I had to take five Valiums chased be a couple of Long Island Ice Teas just to keep cool, and then I gashed my hand open during B.O.F.'s 5-minute onstage set, a nice touch. We raised something like $3500 for the station (in 1986 dollars), and then the following
month the University kicked us all out.


  1. Arvo , How di you get Scott to reply , I've e-mailed him a few times over the last couple of years with nothing? Anyway that's great stuff he shared. I never knew about some of that stuff. Ha, now I can join the club of Wizard djs being thrown out!! Although my story isn't nearly as exiting. Those were great (and dangerous!) days of WZRD radio, that i found fascinating as a kid. Never have stuff like that on WZRD anymore (probably ever!) Fireworks ?!, WOW!!!!

  2. Mike, I don't know what to tell you, I emailed him with the contact info which is on his site, got a reply the same day. He made it clear that he was a busy guy so I don't expect too many more of these, just glad to hear what I can. Great stuff here.

  3. Worked a lot of late-nighters there and filled in other spots when folks wouldn't show up. Three to five nights a week was my average. Days as manager at Dr. Wax and nights with free-form shows often using as many elements of the station as possible. A favorite "Void Watch" was the night I showed some restraint and my sole contribution was to sit in Studio B and just play the six 7" records that came in the set called "Lovely Little Records" in multiple configurations and speeds. Believe me, it was quite restrained, but I figured that my personal shows were so thick with variety that I wanted to test myself that night. Scott and the rest of us put up with a lot of crap the last few days of it's winding down period. There was a hot girl there (program director?) who caved in to the monster powers at the station and we were all ordered out. My last show was on Saturday night August 1, 1987. There's been nothing like WZRD since those whirlwind days of free-for(u)m radio. Even the PSA's were experimental constructs!

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  5. thanks for sharing. i haven't seen this comment til now. i haven't checked up on this blog too aften. WZRD was great '84-'88. and that time period was a different monster. very cool atmosphere about the station then .very creative/active/ totally interesting.