Main offender

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Tim Anstaett is an extremist. When he takes the leap into a new project, he doesn't wear a parachute.

In the '70s, when Anstaett left Upper Arlington for the University of Florida, he took up bass fishing, became a licensed guide and co-authored the definitive book on fishing in the region. In the '90s and early '00s, he poured himself into distance running and raced in 11 straight Boston Marathons.

Anstaett is best known in these parts, though, for how he spent the 1980s: supporting the Columbus punk and alternative rock scene as a concert promoter and publisher of esteemed fanzine The Offense.

Almost two decades since the last issue of The Offense, Anstaett has returned to music for his latest fixation. His radio show, Yesterday's Top Secrets, airs four nights a week on WCRS, the low-power FM station operated by non-profit sustainability advocates Simply Living. The hour-long programs feature obscure and well-known tunes from the '60s, '70s and '80s.

"I guess I've got two motivations," Anstaett said. "One's just mostly to get the word out to everybody about this great music that they either weren't alive when it first came out, or they were still in diapers. It's the golden age of alternative music."

Anstaett's other motive is to stick it to commercial radio stations that wouldn't allow him on the air despite his best efforts over the past several years. He figured his extensive history in the local music scene would've helped him get a radio gig before now.

In 1980, Anstaett helped ignite the local punk and new wave scene by booking bands like The Cowboys at South Campus bar Mr. Brown's.

After a few months, he grew tired of concert promotion and started a fanzine instead. The first issue of TKA Offense debuted on April 11, 1980, fully handwritten and printed in the basement of the insurance office where Anstaett worked by day.

"I just slapped one together," he said. "And then I thought, well, let's slap another one together."

Soon the zines - semi-regular collections of reviews, interviews, quizzes and local scene reports from around the Midwest - became a hit. Despite (or perhaps because of) their homemade look and feel, the books gained distribution of about 1,000 copies in record shops around the country and even spread to England.

Anstaett later scaled back The Offense from thick booklets to brief, photocopied newsletters that he could produce quickly and frequently. Issues appeared less often as Anstaett moved back into concert promotion, this time bringing big-time underground acts like Pixies and Nick Cave to Columbus for the first time.

Anstaett has been reliving those days on the air recently, devoting episodes of Yesterday's Top Secrets to music and stories from old issues of The Offense. The programs are an intriguing window into an era before such things were chronicled ceaselessly in print and online - stuff that's too good to remain a secret.

"Yesterday's Top Secrets"

8 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday



For more on The Offense and Tim Anstaett's involvement with local music, click to the Sensory Overload blog at