The demon is loose. The legend is real.
16 October, 2023
Season 11, Episode 10
For Halloween, Re-Imagined Radio presents "Asezhia," by Marc Rose and Jerrel McQuen. An ancient jewel, stolen from a planet of great beauty and dark history, transforms into a hellish denizen with an insatiable hunger for death and blood. Even Emile Song, the telepathic Special Detective from Quaymet, the capitol of a galactic civilization, may be out of his reckoning as he goes up against a skeletal fiend that can vanish in a ruby mist.
Use the "Follow" button to download our RSS feed, and/or connect to our Spotify podcast page.
Use the "Share" button to share this episode podcast via social media and/or email.
Use the "Download" button to deliver a copy of this audio file to your device.
More podcasts of Re-Imagined Radio? VISIT our podcast website at Libsyn, or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Please rate and review our podcasts.
Broadcasts and streams by our local, regional, and international partners.
READ the Asezhia working script.
A textual description of what is heard in this episode.
Written by Jerrel McQuen
Produced, Sound Design, Music, and Post Production by Marc Rose
Linda Stroh as Abrah Shahad)
Kevin Quigley as Alex Hunt
Roland Marks as "Beast"
Marc Rose as Trickles
Darren Glades as Professor Durrick Henchard
Aaron Niles as Emille Song
John Summers as the Announcer
Graphic design by Holly Slocum
Re-Imagined Radio announcer is Jack Armstrong
Produced and Hosted by John F. Barber
"Asezhia" (Ah-SEIZE-sha) was created in 1989 by Marc Rose and Jerrel McQuen, for a commercial radio series called Shreek Show, broadcast on WKRL-FM, Tampa, Florida, and "about eight other markets" (Booth). Like anything interesting, "Asezhia's" background is complicated.
Rose moved to St. Petersburg, from San Francisco, in 1972. Two years later, 1974, in high school, he met McQuen and they began imagining worlds and ways to be in them. McQuen was inspired by graphic design and developed a distinctive, jewel-like graphic illustration style. Rose's inspiration came from several directions, starting with, he says, "The writings of Harlan Ellison, who we actually met and collaborated with on an early Dry Smoke & Whispers story in 1983. He was also instrumental in getting us on KPFK radio in Los Angeles, California."
Rose also credits the writings of Carlos Castenada, "particularly his first three books, when they were still considered anthropology. Those were huge influences."
"And I responded to old radio shows like Inner Sanctum, The Black Museum, and Harry Lime," said Rose. "X Minus One and Dimension X were great sources of inspiration as well."
Rose also found, and continues to find, inspiration in the music of Frank Zappa, Joe Zawinule and John McLaughlin. "The places Jerrel and I were imagining were often suggested by music I was composing at the time. Like Dry Smoke & Whispers which came from a suite I was writing for slide 12 string guitar and big band." More about this series in a minute.
Meeting McQuen, says Rose, was prophetic. "Literally from day one we shared a mission to unearth the places we were seeing in our imaginations. Kind of an intellectual excavation as it were."
"The very first thing Jerrel and I worked on, right out of the gate was a 'story' about a place called Farwan. You can see pictures of it at the Ensérné website, a repository for various things we have developed or are in the process of developing. There's an audio version of one of the Farwanese Fables, the one about a chap named Faberus Borendon and how he created a power source from the sound of children's laughter. From the beginning we were looking for ways to visualize this world. Jerrel is a really skilled graphic designer and so that became his challenge."
"The very first Farwan paintings were acrylic on artboard," says McQuen, "until I discovered I was physically allergic to metal elements in the acrylics. I switched to Photoshop and used only a mouse, no Wacom. I've been refining my techniques for nearly thirty years. All of the art featured on the Ensérné Media site is painted entirely in Photoshop using this technique. I can’t imagine doing it any other way."
"With the arrival of layers in Photoshop, I finally had a way to create the sheer complexity of texture and detail that makes Farwan a reality unto itself," says McQuen. "After that, CGI will take the trail I blazed and get it as close to the actual place as possible, considering the physics are at once denser and more transparent, as strange as that sounds. We can only hint at the silvery energy that exists in that realm. It's truly an elevated vibrational level."
In the late 1970s, McQuen and Rose were poised to publish a book about their imaginary world, Tales of Farwan. "That was our first book venture," says Rose. "Alfred Knopf was ready to publish it but a regime change brought in new folks who didn't see the potential in our work. That proved to be a bad decision for them later, as the market for alternate worlds and adventures exploded."
Dry Smoke & Whispers
"After problems getting Tales of Farwan published we pivoted to radio," recalls Rose. "There was an opportunity to produce something for a local radio station. I was mostly a musican at the time, so the switch to music and sound made sense to me. In mid-1978, Jerrel and I produced what we thought was a pilot for a show called Dry Smoke & Whispers Radio Theatre, which, like Farwan, was based on drawings and some musical compositions."
They imagined Dry Smoke & Whispers Radio Theatre as a series of stories in another dimension. On a planet called Quaymet. Their stories moved between the glittering spires of mega-city Etherboro, a hub for the rich and powerful of this world, and the "Neon Bowery" just across the river, where shady deals and nefarious characters plotted all manner of dangerous exploits. As heard on radio, each episode presented a very strong visual style: futuristic scenes crossed with the ethnicity of a 1930s Moroccan "Interzone" designed by William Burroughs.
Dry Smoke & Whispers Radio Theatre—the tag line calls it "A Mystery SF Cinema in Sound Adventure"—launched on January 18, 1980. The series premier episode, "The Riddle," was broadcast by Tampa, Florida community radio station, WMNF-FM. Dry Smoke & Whispers was heard on public radio stations in sixty markets and three countries and received grants from The National Endowment For The Arts and the Florida Fine Arts Council.
Harlan Ellison, author of 40 books and prolific columns of iridescent insight for Future Life and L.A. Weekly, visited the Rose family home, in March 1982. Writing about his visit, Ellison said, "I am amused and captivated at the professional quality and the depth of imagination. Rose tells me he's done over 145 different voices for the show; he writes all the music; every bit of sound effects and editing is done right here, [in his home]" unquote (Ellison 334).
When he returned to Los Angeles, Ellison carried with him taped episodes of Dry Smoke & Whispers, which he arranged to be broadcast as part of Mike Hodel's Hour 25, heard on KPFK-FM.
Dry Smoke & Whispers was broadcast continuously 1980-1983. Then intermittently until 1985 when Rose and McQuen paused all their radio storytelling, including Anomaly Calling, a new series then in the works. Fifty three episodes, thirty five lost to Hurricane Elana in 1985.
"We stopped production in 1985 mostly to do 'real world' work—and by that I mean 'make a living'—which required more time from both of us" says Rose. "We set Dry Smoke & Whispers aside."
Both during and after the intial run of Dry Smoke & Whispers, McQuen and Rose produced other radio shows. Anomaly Calling was a limited run series designed to be the "summer replacement" for Dry Smoke & Whispers. According to Rose, "It was an anthological series of ironic fiction."
Another side project for commercial radio was Bobb Sledd . . . Not a Private Eye which, says Rose, "was a hoot to produce but each two minute episode required far more than that in time and effort. Bobb Sled ran multiple times on syndicated air—meaning a group of shows emanating from all over the place—beamed across the country from a central location."
The pause from radio production was a short one. Just until 1988, when Rose and McQuen returned with a commercial radio series called Shreek Show, a half hour anthology series with a leaning towards science fiction and horror themed stories produced by Radio Cinema, an audio production and publishing company, in St. Petersburg, Florida. Radio Cinema was Rose's real world job. But on the side, he still had the bug for radio storytelling and wanted to try creating shows for commercial radio stations. So, as creator, producer, director, he worked with Tim Greenwood (director of product development), Tony Panaccio (artistic director), and Linda Stroh (public relations), to create Shreek Show. For these four, Shreek Show was a labor of love. Greenwood and Stroh worked as hosts on the Home Shopping Network television show. Panaccio, a newspaper night police reporter, wrote crime mysteries during the day. They all acted in Shreek Show episodes, contributed to the scripts, made coffee, and answered the telephones in their creative workspace.
"Shreek Show," said Rose in a newspaper interview, "is a mixture of horror, humor and terror. We're trying to scare people while they're laughing. And things move fast. We're not going to put you to sleep" (Hill 6F).
The projected 13-week series, the fun tagline, If you can hear it, it can SEE you., was introduced at Halloween, 1988. The first two episodes, "Character Assassination" and "Knudsen's Corner," both began with appropriate music and screaming, followed by a voice intoning, "'Shreek Show' is a fever-dream hallucination made real. . . . Listeners will be driven headlong down into an ever-tightening tunnel of absolute terror. Now you're in the crawl space between sanity and madness. This is Shreek Show."
Those first episodes where broadcast on nine radio stations. Four more episodes were in production. Shreek Show creators hoped other stations would pick up the series in March. Eventually, the Shreek Show series ran for about a year and was heard worldwide on commercial radio stations, including in the United Kingdom,. "Shreek Show had only seven episodes," according to Rose. "I believe it ran in maybe ten markets but the writing was on the wall that radio was not paying for content and was no longer interested in half hour slots, unless you were buying the airtime."
"Asezhia" (Ah-SEIZE-sha) was created in 1989 for Shreek Show. Called then "Vapors," it was written by Rose and McQuen. It was broadcast only once, and then shelved. Drawing on Dry Smoke &Whispers for location, characters, and atmosphere, with an extra helping of terror given the focus of Shreek Show, "Vapors" featured telepathic "Special Detective" Emilie Song and his partner, Prof. Durrick Henchard, still much in the mold of Sherlock Holmes and Watson, with a dash of Blade Runner by way of Casablanca for spiciness. But Song, based in Quaymet, the capitol of a galactic civilization, was perhaos out of his reckoning as he went up against a skeletal fiend that could vanish into ruby mist, a hellish denizen from the distant world of Asezhia.
Move To Portland
McQuen relocated to Portland, Oregon, in 1996. Rose followed in 1999, after wrapping up his business with Radio Cinema in Flordia. In Portland, Rose and McQuen quickly engaged with the local audio drama / radio storytelling community. They rebooted Dry Smoke & Whispers in 2004, says Rose, "for then XM Satellite Radio." They began with The Shadowman Saga. The Phantom of Delguire Manor followed in 2008. The Re-Imagined Radio episode, WRW Retrospective celebrates the Willamette Radio Workshop, founded and directed by Sam A. Mowry, and its connections with both Rose and McQuen. "I've contributed music and sound design wherever possible since 2005," says Rose. Mowry voiced The Shadow Man. Other members of Willamette Radio Workshop voiced other parts. LEARN more at the Dry Smoke & Whispers website.
And "Vapors"? Renamed "Asezhia," it returns in this episode of Re-Imagined Radio, it's first broadcast since its premier in 1989, a portent for a potential reboot of Dry Smoke & Whispers. We hope you enjoy listening.
Booth, Philip. "New Tampa Radio Series Is A Read Scream." The Tampa Bay Times. Oct. 28, 1988.
Harlan Ellison. An Edge in My Voice: Essays. Donning Books, 1985, pp. 333-336.
Hill, Judy. "'Shreek' Radio Shos Aims at Horror, Humor." The Tampa Tribune. Dec. 5, 1988, 1F, 6F.
Special thanks to Maureen Keller, Syliva Lindman, and Brenda Alling for promoting this episode of Re-Imagined Radio.
READ their Press Release
Asezhia web poster by Holly Slocum (240 x 356)
Asezhia cover graphic by Holly Slocum (820 x 360)
Asezhia landscape poster by Holly Slocum (1910 x 1080)
Asezhia square poster by Holly Slocum (2000 x 2000)
Asezhia full poster by Holly Slocum (2000 x 3000)
Tagline: Emile Song Returns
Description: For Halloween, Re-Imagined Radio presents "Asezhia," by Marc Rose and Jerrel McQuen. An ancient jewel, stolen from a planet with a dark history, transforms into a predatory terror with an insatiable hunger for death and blood. Even Emile Song, the telepathic Special Detective from Quaymet, the capitol of a galactic civilization, may be out of his reckoning as he goes up against a skeletal fiend that can vanish into ruby mist.
Program type: Episodic
Media type: Radio broadcast, live stream, podcast
Premier broadcast and live stream: 16 October 2023, KXRW-FM (Vancouver, WA), KXRY-FM (Portland, OR)
Recording availability: Podcast
Recording specs: Audio, MP3, stereo, 44.1Hz, 320kbps
Recording name: rir-asezhia.mp3
Categories: radio, drama, documentary, performance, story, fictional/non-fictional, holidays
Keywords: radio drama, storytelling, science fiction, Quaymet, Emile Song, Dry Smoke & Whispers, ShreekShow
Script: Original script(s) written/adapted, research, and commentary by John F. Barber
Producer/Host: John F. Barber
Sound Design/Music Composition: Marc Rose