Rob Ordahl (1954-2016)

Rob Ordahl

Rob Ordahl

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.skm_284e16101815590_0001

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:

His contributions to our fried shoe style script writing, where Jeff (Pike), Stu, Rob, and I would hand off a script after finishing a few lines and pick another off the pile, were brilliant, but I think all of us were on a roll.  We would read them out loud afterwards, stage directions and all, and laugh our asses off.  These scripts proved well nigh impossible to make radio from, but that’s another story.  They stand on their own and ought to be published in book form.bringslippers110

bringslippers111bringslippers112One 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.

Peter, Rob (KFAI)

Peter, Rob (KFAI)

Stu Mathews, Post-Void Radio Theater
The first day of broadcasting at KFAI, Rob was talking on the air, and I was going around outside with my portable cassette recorder to interview people who attended the grand opening party at the church.  Then, I’d go back up to the studio and play the cassette interviews over the air.  It was a lot of fun. When Rob left Minneapolis to live in Texas for a while he gifted his radio air shift at KFAI to the Post-Void Radio Theater, and that’s how the Little City in Space radio series was born.
Blanche Fubar, KFAI D.J.

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.

The Roaming Buffalo

The Roaming Buffalo

 

Jeff Pike, Post-Void Radio Theater

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.

Stu Mathews, Post-Void Radio Theater
I always thought (as humans always do) that Rob and I would meet, again, sometime. Now that door is closed. We were best friends, off and on, for nearly 20 years.
Leslie Eaton, Foolish Mortal
He was a good friend, who worked with me on a music project. While it didn’t get finished, we stayed friends, and he opened my mind to different media in a lot of ways. He was in a great state of mind before he unexpectedly died.  He was making plans for a move. Well, he made a big one and I’m sure to a good place. Hope to see him later. He sent a lot of DVDs that will bring back memories when I watch them. I’m glad I had the chance to know him.

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.skm_284e16100915170_0001

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 RobotLanternRobot_004

Rob’s experimental site, Weird Energy, was a net radio station with a varied blend of other people’s music. Listen to Robomix 23 or Robomix 32skm_284e16101815080_0001

Above, 2 images created by robO

More early Post-Void Radio Theater scripts (Rob with Peter, Stu, Jeff)…aswezero106106

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kleenexunder108

kleenexunder109

Sound Inspirations: From Freberg to Firesignals

Creative inspiration for some members of LCS’ Post-Void Radio Theater originated listening to record albums by The Firesign Theatre and Stan Freberg. The recent passing of FT’s Phil Austin, and the death of Stan Freberg (wrote & starred in network radio’s last great comedy series–replacing Jack Benny who left radio for TV) prompted discussion between Post-Void participants investigating the why of radio as means of expressing themselves. What were the listening influences of Peter Stenshoel, Damon Mathews, Jeff Pike, Stu Mathews & Jerry?

Peter: Old time radio was already in my blood. Along with Freberg. 50974-fullFirst album heard was Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, the year it was released! (1961) And Bob & Ray.

00314926Damon: Bob & Ray forever! Bob & Ray were, still are, and probably always will be my shining stars. I took an interest in old time radio so far back you had to get episodes on LP records. But cassettes arrived about two minutes later & I was off & running after that.

Jerry: No Stan Freberg…no Bob & Ray…no Jerry! They blew my mind discovering them. (We sadly note the recent passing of Bob Elliot, of Bob & Ray)

Peter, Damon, Jerry

Peter, Damon, Jerry

Jerry: My buddy Mark Masyga and I started taping OTR on cassette around 1972 when re-runs were programmed on commercial radio: Lacrosse, Wisconsin AM radio ritually re-broadcast The Shadow, Green Hornet, Lone Ranger, Fibber McGee & Molly. Then-current CBS Radio Mystery Theater was text book “here’s how it’s done” and I kept a log of each episode title for quite a while. Now you can listen to them at archive.org.

Peter: Miriam and I discovered CBS Radio Mystery Theater on Far East Network the 3 months living in Tokyo. A really fun ritual!

Stu: I think I was just seven, maybe eight years old (’61-‘62) when my grandmother Jewell Vowel thrilled me by sending me a “miniature” transistor radio for my birthday. I found out that I could put the radio under my pillow, and then, laying my head with my ear directly over the speaker, I could keep it low enough. That’s when I had my most fascinating listening sessions…listening to places like Philadelphia, New York, and Chicago. It’s where I first heard the Motown sound and the girl groups that were popular, including the first time I heard The Supremes.  To me, it didn’t seem like these sounds were coming from a specific place.  The experience seemed so mysterious to me that I felt these songs and the announcers were just “out there,” like voices from outer space (imagine that).

Jerry: Also KAAY-Little Rock. Freberg’s 1957 network radio show re-played on WCCO-FM, I strung a copper wire across the kitchen ceiling & on good nights in Winona listened intently.

Damon: Stringing wire in the kitchen to get WCCO is such beautiful music to my ears! I spent a good chunk of childhood fascinated with both the content and technology of radio.

Peter: I got a crystal radio set for my birthday when I was ten. That was just awesome. Later, the famous Jim Gilbert was my then not-famous science teacher who started a ham radio club with a few of us radio heads. Again, superb fun and thrills. My Morse code got good enough so I had my own “rig” in my room and I was WNOBJX.

Damon: That’s great that you got to be a ham in the days when it was really unique to connect to other countries. I had a Heathkit receiver that I built when I was about 9.

Peter: I also “built” a Heathkit receiver (my Dad did most of the soldering!) which was part of my rig. Bought a used transmitter…so cool! My Heathkit receiver allowed me to hear shortwave radio. Voice of America played Frank Zappa’s Concerto for John Luc Ponty.

Jerry: Looking for the elusive & interesting radio signals in the old days…like spelunking in a dark cave! The heart would race when happening upon something interesting!

Peter Bergman (d2012), Phil Proctor, Phil Austin (d2015), David Ossman

Peter Bergman (d2012), Phil Proctor, Phil Austin (d2015), David Ossman

Stu: Now that Peter Bergman & Phil Austin have passed away, I feel compelled to emphasize that, although I consider the Post-Void Radio Theater to be our own, there’s no use in denying how brave this foursome was to commit to their muses and boldly go where no comedic group had gone before, and not give a damn whether people approved or not. For me, they were The Beatles of a new kind of unfettered creativity that could be called as much Performance Art as it is Comedy. It is so vivid to me, my memory of the evening that Peter & David Stenshoel invited me to listen to a double-vinyl album they had acquired, called Dear Friends. We lounged around in their parents’ bedroom listening to four full album sides of four guys just doing whatever the hell they wanted to do, on the radio! I would never have been inspired to actually try to be funny – live – on the radio if I hadn’t heard Dear Friends, the only Firesign vinyl album that is just them goofing around on the airwaves. It was magic. It was more than magic. It changed my whole life paradigm. And I haven’t been the same since.

Jerry: I was living in Waverly, Iowa working at a radio station, off-hours at home could pick up Rochester, Minnesota late night FM playing whole sides of rock music albums without interruption, they played FT’s Nick Danger from their second LP.

Peter: I was speaking with a fellow at NPR West & he pointed out FT pre-dated Monty Python. FT credited The Goon Show as inspirations. $_35Maybe 1966 first heard The Goon Show and so I was well-primed when my brother David woke me up to hear the very surrealistic second side of FT’s Waiting for the Electrician. You didn’t have to be literate to enjoy it although you could understand more references if you were. FT’s David Ossman really admired the European avant-garde of the ’20s. And the ’50s. Ionesco, Beckett.

Jeff: Being absurd on the radio is so much more effective than almost any other medium. Radio triggers the imagination so easily. They pitched it at this low-brow level with TV, mystery novel references.

Peter: We could all instantly understand something of what they were doing, and yet there was always a mystery to it too. That absurdism translates beautifully in that medium.

Jeff: Funny, without being heavy-handed, that’s what Firesign Theatre really did. Obviously we were influenced by them. They were so unique, and they mapped out these huge terrains. I’ve gone back and bought all their albums.

Stu: If The Firesign Theatre had not happened, The Post-Void Radio Theater–and Little City in Space Show–would not have happened.

 

Dreams & UFOs

Visions of UFOs in dreams voiced by the dreamers: Miriam Stonehill; Stuart Mathews; Brian Anderson; Peter Stenshoel; Bob Zander; news bulletins from Little City in Space with Jeff Pike & Damon Mathews on a special titled Dreams & UFOs, broadcast May, 1981. A 1991 cassette (below) was offered at UFO Expo West in L.A., where Peter & Miriam also sold their alien head refrigerator magnets. Archive Bonus Tracks feature a commercial for Whitley’s Bed & Breakfast; a dream by Marc Myers; and Peter’s unusual experiences around a Stephane Grappelli concert, UFO Over Hollywood Bowl.dreams ufos

Enhanced Brain-Mix by Peter Stenshoel. Additional voices of Jerry Modjeski; Susan Murawski; Roger Colby; Craig Lang.

Listen to Post Void Visions: Dreams & UFOs Internet Archive logo

The Post Void: Damon,Peter and Stuart

LCS promo photo - Stu&DwPeterTVThe Post-Void combo that has probably done the greatest number of Little City in Space radio shows is Damon Mathews (left), Peter Stenshoel (on TV) and Stuart Mathews (right). (Photo by Gordon Mathews)

They were present (with Jeff Pike) when LCS started in 1978; after a two year sojourn in Japan, Peter re-joined as a regular in 1983; Damon, Peter & Stu performed in the Little City in Space movie; andDamon-Peter-Stu after LCS left KFAI in 1985, the trio spent many hours creating audition tapes for National Public Radio.

Little City in Space *Download Revue # 13 Post-Void political satire: crazy candidates vie for votes. Damon, Peter & Stu use their floating space platform to deliver hilarious speeches. Listen archive.orgInternet Archive logo

*Stu Mathews, Chuck Isle host Download Revue: Shows from LCS’ past, plus new material from members of the Post Void Radio Theater. A feature of KFAI’s Musical Transportation Spree.

JUST ARCHIVED: Early LCS! December 1978 – January 1979 see comments on Scorchedear’s Little City in Space Page for links to airchecks.

January 21, 1979 – Little City logoStuart, Damon & Peter welcome KFAI listeners to orbiting satellite LCS-1. Gems of mirth at the birth of the long-running show. Listen to 1-21-79 at archive.org

Little City in Space Download Revue #1

The broadcasts of the Download Revue (2001-2006), courtesy of KFAI’s Musical Transportation Spree, were hosted by Little City in Space co-founder Stuart Mathews, and Chuck Isle, LCS fan since 1979. They accessed the memory library of the Bob-2000 computer to re-play old LCS radio shows; also feature new contributions from The Post Void Radio Theater, as well as the talents of Mark Masyga.DSCN9440-daBoyz

(l-r: Jerry, Mark, Stuart, Chuck)

Download Revue #1:  Valentine’s Day 1981 aboard the Little City in Space, with special KFAI guest Helen Highwater; Kari Gold; Eunice Stenshoel; Alex & Adam Merchlewitz. The Post Void Radio Theater, Jeff Pike, Damon Mathews, Peter Stenshoel & Stu Mathews read public service announcements, news, sports, joblines & weather for LCS, with The Paul Bunny Report.

Sponsored by Mister Marble Head; Chicken Box; Lou Freedom’s New Used Transformation; and Toast.

Listen to Download #1 at archive.orgInternet Archive logo

More Download Revues & Best-Of Collections: see Comments on our LCS page!

4 Post-Voiders: Jeff Pike, and Golden Cage Volume One

The stories of iconic, pivotal and tragic music legends comprise “The Death of Rock and Roll,” a book by Jeff Pike (Faber & Faber, 1993).

Prior to that, Jeff was a co-founder of The Post-Void Radio Theater circa 1977, a script-writing collective that started meeting two years prior to taking Late Nite Magic on KFAI and changing it to Little City In Space. Some people who started LCS shared “space” in houses and apartments, and played in a band, The Infinity Art Unit. Pictured pre-Void, Jeff (left) and Stu Mathews (right) met via fellow scriptwriter Peter Stenshoel.

The other member of the collective, Rob Ordahl, hosted Late Nite Magic on KFAI. His time slot was taken by Jeff, Stu, Peter and Damon Mathews, and broadcasts from satellite LCS-1 began December 17, 1978.  Pictured  at KFAI, Peter (left) stands over Late Nite Magic host Rob (right) in a solid state of hypnagog.

Jeff Pike (right) exited The Post-Void to pursue full-time writing in 1981, but his enduring contribution to LCS includes the ad he wrote for Meat Heap, made from alien body parts.

At last archived, The Golden Cage of Radio Volume One showcases Jeff’s on-air anarchy with his interruptions as Fred, an insurance salesman, and pompous Professor Wadsworth, during Peter’s interview with Burd DeComps (Johnny Olson). Compiled and created for LCS 18th Anniversary, Vol. One also features Weekend Upchuck with the Post-Void News Team (Damon, Stu, Pete, Jeff & Johnny) In Briefs; Jerry as Occam E. Razor; and David Stenshoel, pre-Boiled in Lead, singing and playing on his brother Peter’s musical commercial for Martian Marriage Cigarettes.

Listen now at archive.org

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