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Media: January 2011

| January 3, 2011 | 7 Comments

Blast From The Past: Triad Magazine

I recently scoured local record stores for 7-inch vinyl with Grinderman drummer Jim Sclavunos — who found plenty of records to play at the band’s L.A. after-party.

And I found a cache of vintage issues of Triad magazine, which was like a trip back to 1970s Chicago. The mag was produced by Triad radio — a progressive, free-form, nightly program airing on WXFM-FM (105.9) from 1969 to 1977. The eclectic Triad playlist included John Cage, Sun Ra, the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Albert Ayler, Kraftwerk, Alice Coltrane, Last Poets, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, 13th Floor Elevators, King Crimson, and Hawkwind, as well as lectures by such ’70s icons as Alan Watts and Sri Chinmoy.

The magazine evolved from Triad’s program guide. An issue from 1977 included reviews of Steve Martin at the Arie Crown Theatre and Iggy Pop at the Aragon. There were also ads for Job rolling papers, The Alley, and Dog Ear Records, as well as a “File”-like column called “Odds & Sods” — proof that some ideas are timeless.

But what caught my eye was a feature by Tom Riedlinger called “Sex Pistols — Pretty Vacant? Roger Ebert says No.” The long piece details Ebert’s work on a feature-length screenplay about the Sex Pistols, which was to be directed by Russ Meyer and produced by Malcolm McLaren. Apparently Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious were big fans of Meyer’s Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls — for which Ebert penned the screenplay — and wanted the same team to work on their film.

In the article, Ebert aptly pointed out the difference between American and British punk rock (the British version is class-oriented, while “American punk is largely cosmetic in terms of appearance; essentially, the music is rock ‘n’ roll surrounded by fashions in clothing and graphics”). When asked if punk rock resonated with him, Ebert said, “It doesn’t speak to me in the sense that it voices my feelings and aspirations. It speaks to me in the sense that it voices the feelings of another part of society.”

He described the movie as “a vehicle for about 12 songs, something that would combine their music with an image of the Sex Pistols as they really are — making Uriah Heep look like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.”

Although Marianne Faithfull was cast as Vicious’ mother, the film was never made. Only one scene was shot — in which a deer was killed. “There is more than one account of what went wrong,” Ebert wrote on his blog last year — where you can read the entire screenplay (blogs.suntimes.com/ebert). Learn more about Triad at pages.ripco.net/~saxmania/triad.html

FEDER ON THE MOVE: Former Sun-Times media critic Robert Feder will move his column to the Time Out Chicago Web site starting January 3rd.

Feder surprised fans when he quit his popular Chicago Public Media (CPM) home in November. The year-old blog was the centerpiece of CPM’s Vocalo Web site — not to mention the one with the highest traffic.

During his year with Vocalo, Feder relentlessly went after Chicago Tribune management for its unconventional leadership style and the systematic destruction of heritage radio station WGN-AM (720). Fittingly, his crusade (and his story about a sleazy after-hours poker party in Col. Robert R. McCormick’s former office) was picked up by the New York Times. Eventually the entire cabal — including Tribune senior vice president and chief innovation officer Lee Abrams and CEO (and former radio executive and shock jock) Randy Michaels — was canned.

Feder’s sole news post after the blog was moved to WBEZ-FM (91.5)’s Web site was a triumphant column about the firing of WGN-AM (720) program director Kevin “Pig Virus” Metheny and on-air host and convicted felon Jim Laski.

“When I wrote my first post for the Vocalo blogs in November 2009, I couldn’t have imagined what an exciting and eventful year would follow,” Feder wrote in a farewell entry.

Frankly, we’re glad that Feder will not be covering radio for a site owned by a radio station, public or not. And we’re a little surprised by the lackluster quality of CPM’s new blog site. One expects better from Chicago Public Media COO Alison Scholly — who was former vice president and general manager of Tribune Interactive.

Feder says he’s pleased to be online, where — unlike at, say, a newspaper — readers can comment and create an ongoing dialog. “Making the transition from newspaperman to blogger really opened my eyes to the unlimited potential of online journalism and the unexpected rewards of engaging readers in a ‘daily conversation’ about the media,” he said.

ODDS ‘N’ SODS: Feder graduated in 1978 from Northwestern University’s venerable Medill School Of Journalism, which is poised to change its name to the Medill School Of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. One can’t help but wonder what namesake Joseph Medill would think. Under his editorship, the Chicago Tribune took a strong stand against slavery and became the leading Republican newspaper in Chicago. After the Chicago Fire of 1871, Medill was elected mayor, and created the city’s first public library and reformed the police and fire departments. One suspects he wouldn’t like the term “marketing” much, either.

— Cara Jepsen


Category: Columns, Media, Monthly

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  1. FGFM says:

    Robert Ebert was the original punk rocker.

  2. Dennis Anderson says:

    I’ve got to read the Roger Ebert Triad article.

  3. Dfactor says:

    I’ve got about 5-7 Triad mags in my old mag collection – there was a great parody of the punk movement featuring a group of kid punkers… fun times.

  4. Cara says:

    Did you listen to the radio show? What was it like?

    It’s one thing to read the playlists – another to have actually heard it….

  5. Brian says:

    Hi Cara (& everyone),

    Go here:


    To listen to actual air checks from Triad Radio.

    Happy listening…

  6. Cara says:

    Thank you, B! It’s amazing….

    and was that Ken Nordine I heard on one of the ads?

  7. sally duros says:

    I loved Triad and used to listen to it and Radio Free Chicago all the time. I have several copies of the little booklet that Triad originally used as a program book. You could find it in head shops and record stores but not in coffee shops because Chicago did not have many of them back them.

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