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In Memoriam || Marylou Busch

sun 31 may 2020

Marylou Busch passed away on Thursday 14 May 2020. Marylou produced the programme Pluto for the Concertzender for many years.

Marylou Busch started her career at the VPRO as a producer and program editor and she was also the music programmer for HUMAN in Desmet in Amsterdam. In September 2008, after leaving the VPRO, Marylou started putting together programs for the Concertzender. She soon got her own program and presented Pluto, an alternative and varied music program with an emphasis on music that was still unknown. Marylou presented her last Pluto, episode 170, in March 2016.

Pluto was really pure Marylou. During the first period she delivered the production to the studio where it was edited or broadcast live by another presenter. However, Marylou was passionate and perfectionistic and she learned how to edit and present herself from her own studio in Amsterdam. From that moment on she was solely responsible from the first to the last minute for everything that happended on her own planet, Pluto.

First under the aegis of the New Music channel editor Kees van de Wiel and later under the aegis of the Crosslinks channel editor, the program grew into an important and distinctive alternative pop program. Marylou and I (as Crosslinks channel editor) sometimes had quite serious discussions about the content of the programme because the content is the identity of a program and is always the focus of the channel. Pluto was always about choices in terms of the music. Marylou was a “butterfly girl” and light-footed. This determined the colour of Pluto. I, as channel editor, was always somewhat critical of this, as I was a standard bearer for more uncomfortable and alienating music. Music as confrontation. However, perseverance and persuasion were strong qualities of Marylou and she finally broke my heart when she came up with the most beautiful and loving pop songs. Such music, which was largely unheard, also deserved a podium. That was Marylou’s greatest strength; playing delicate songs, sung intimately and with enchanting melody lines.

The production that has stayed with me most was the one on March 31, 2011 with her close friend and childhood sweetheart Edward Ka-Spel of The Legendary Pink Dots . Marylou entered the studio, at muziQ in Amsterdam, with Edward and Jorrit Roerdinkholder on the evening of the live special about Edward Ka-Spel. I had asked Marylou in advance to draw up a tight playlist, with a good timing of the songs, sort the CDs (which were physically present in the studio in those days) and write down the questions that she wanted to ask Edward. This was intended to provide the structure needed for both herself and for our technician.

But this was Marylou, and Edward was her childhood love, and there was a lot to discuss after such a long time … … the atmosphere around the table in the editorial room was tense. Ten minutes before the broadcast, the idea popped into her head to change the songs in the playlist. When the program went live, CDs, papers with texts and questions and playlists were all mixed up and in chaos. The tension was gone. It was a beautiful live production.

In the end, saying goodbye to making radio was hard for Marylou. From 2015 Marylou started to suffer from vague complaints. Production became an increasingly demanding task. Nero, her husband helped her. Good friend Jorrit Roerdinkholder became her sidekick in Pluto. At some point it didn’t work anymore, but she couldn’t stop listening to music and putting together playlists for radio shows. She was radio. She was Pluto. Discussion closed. However …… a real farewell broadcast, with all the pain of “having to stop” was suddenly no longer possible. In March 2016, Marylou had presented her last Pluto.

Alzheimer’s has been diagnosed with her. Marylou was admitted to a nursing home in July 2018. And in December 2019, her health suddenly deteriorated. Marylou was able to experience Christmas 2019 and the birth of her first grandchild in February of this year. But then there was Corona with restrictions on visits and all the rest. There was the loneliness and a few falls, which first confined her in bed, and finally led to her death. On May 14, Marylou quietly passed away. Marylou was buried privately at the Northern Cemetery in Hilversum.

On Friday 26 November 2010 Marylou Busch was presented with a Salto award for her programme Pluto during the annual Salto Awards ceremony in Comedy Theater in de Nes in Amsterdam.

Listen here to the Salto Award winning Pluto programme that was broadcast on Thursday 22 July 2010. This programme is from the period when Marylou compiled the programme and it was subsequently presented in the Concertzender studio by Diduïne van Delft.

Listen here to Pluto episode 170. Marylou’s final radio programme from 13 March 2016.

Photo: Marylou Busch; Pluto, Hessel Veldman, Crosslinks en Edward Ka-Spel, Legendary Pink Dots. (31 March 2011)