The Big Beat 12-26-86


Set the wayback machine to December 26, 1986. The place? “A place called space”, Chicago Illinois. Nope, there are no tweets, no Snapchat or Facebook, no Internet (Al Gore hasn’t invented it yet), not even email, hey there’s not even Grunge. You want to know what’s going on? What bands are playing where and when? You pick up a Reader or an IE (Illinois Entertainer) and/or on Thursday night at 10 o’clock you tune into WXRT’s the Big Beat hosted by a young (or somewhat younger) Johnny Mars, the man who at the time, for a time, had a finger on the pulse of alternative music scene in Chicago.

This year I thought I would dust off and serve up this treat, from the ghost of Christmas past. Pulled from old cassette tapes of the show, I would pop one of these into my Sony Walkman (make sure it’s rewound) strap it to the belt, and head out the door to catch the (L) red line into town. Yes, what’s old is indeed new again. See how many you can name, but don’t worry if you can’t guess them all. Mars will fill you in with names, titles and some enjoyable banter along the way. I always loved the show’s opening theme, with the commercials and the club listings, it’s like an audio time capsule from 30 years ago. Enjoy the tape and Happy Holidays from your friends at

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