Rob Ordahl, co-founder of the Post-Void Radio Theater passed away unexpectedly; performed superhero duty on the Little City in Space with vocals (counting down the Universal Top 12; introductory greeting on NPR pilot show) and his original ads for Anger Gear Unanimous; Uncle Beano’s Pants on Fire. His radio stints included KFAI’s Late Nite Magic, Random Access, The Wilbur Drive Effect; commercial D.J. in Duluth, MN and Waco, TX; programmed experimental net station Weird Energy. He worked behind the scenes in TV, on camera for the special, A Television Relationship, with Stu Mathews.
He created original music on his own, listen to robO: Screen Test Study Music featuring highlights from a sonic sampler with several robOnus tracks posthumously discovered.
Stu Mathews, Post-Void Radio Theater
In 1974, I got a job at Research, Incorporated doing electronic assembly. Their biggest client was NASA. Research built the first prototype ovens for firing the thermal displacement tiles for the space shuttles. The assembly group I joined consisted of Rob Ordahl, christened “Buffalo Bob” by our supervisor Larry. Rob’s hair was long and wavy, like the images of historical character Buffalo Bill. Larry and I started calling him “The Buffalo.” Rob knew of me when he was a sophomore at Bloomington MN Lincoln High School and I was a senior…there was less than a year difference in our ages, although we graduated two years apart. I was amazed to find someone I’d never met, who already knew about me. He said he looked up to me in high school for one particular incident that he was witness to. Rob reminded me there was one time back at school when I was on my way from one class to another and was confronted by a group of crew-cut jocks. I chose to simply walk right past them, and one of them grabbed my back pack, and threw me to the floor, calling me “hair boy.” My response is what surprised Rob. I picked myself up, and called down the hallway after them, “You better get used to me, ’cause I’m not going anywhere.” I felt I’d found a kindred spirit in Rob, and I think he thought so, too.
Peter Stenshoel, Post-Void Radio Theater
Rob was introduced to me as The Buffalo. My whole span of time meeting first Stu and his band, the Infinity Art Unit (Lane Ellwanger and Mark Maistrovich at that time), then Damon (Mathews), and then Rob, had me so excited. I felt that I was meeting a string of bona fide geniuses, and Rob was no exception. I remember one time meeting him where he was living and he held a crystal in his hand. He said, “I like to look into this and make up stories.” I got the impression he was letting me know he had visions when skrying crystals, but with Rob you could never be sure.
Well before the Post-Void Radio Theater ever made its radio debut, Rob and the other members collaborated on many pages of humorous material. Peter elaborates:
One more memory: Visiting Rob opening his Late-Nite Magic Show on KFAI, he was playing HPSCHD, the John Cage, et. al., LP of really avant-garde and harsh sounds. I said, “Are you sure you want to start with that?” He smiled, and said, “I’m just getting rid of the listeners who aren’t serious. I’m clearing the field.” He had such a fascinating style in the studio, he could be so subtle. He could whip things up and just watching him do a show on his own I would watch in awe the way he could almost be a one-man circus.
Yes, Rob and I did some radio together. The most memorable was a Saturday overnight stint. Rob had been DJing at a wedding and was in a three-piece suit, a rare sartorial choice in the Walker Church belfry, especially in high summer. At one point, we had an actual bat in the actual belfry. Rob took off his vest and caught the bat in the vest, and we proceeded to interview the bat on the air. I think that’s one of my favorite-ever KFAI stories.
He wanted to move to Olympia, and I was certainly open to it if he were self-sustaining, but I wasn’t sure he could be and was leery of a difficult living situation. KAOS here in Olympia was one of the stations that ran the LCS season you guys put together in the late ’80s or so. I had an idea it would be fun to get a show there — it wouldn’t be hard, though it would probably start as weird night hours and might stay there — and do it with him and at least one other radio-theater type of talent I know in the area. Probably a pipe dream, but a nice one, though alas now it will never happen. He had more talent than I suspect the world will ever know—as a DJ, and as a theater maven at multiple levels, from handling light and sound for stage productions to performing and producing radio theater.
Peter: Rob really loved the movie, “Stay.” I had been interviewed along with others about my NDE for inclusion as a special feature. Rob saw me “Petey-Pie” I think he called me and told me it was his favorite movie. I hope that my interview helped him on his journey from this popsicle stand called Earth.
A thoughtful essay on Rob Ordahl, death and Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal by the Post-Void’s Jeff Pike can be read at https://pkcantexplain.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-seventh-seal-1957.html
From Little City in Space, listen to an imaginative sound skit featuring Rob with Stu Mathews called Little Guy and his Robot Driver: Train Your Robot
Above, 2 images created by robO
More early Post-Void Radio Theater scripts (Rob with Peter, Stu, Jeff)…