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Roll out the barrels ... 'Polka Time Again' celebrates its 1000th program

UPublish story by Johanna Perrino

The producers of popular WCTV cable program, “Polka Time Again” will be producing their 1000th program on Wednesday, October 16th at 11:00 am at The Slovene Center Ballroom, located at 70 14th Street NW in Barberton. Nearly 300 free tickets have been distributed for this event and even more walk-in polka fans are expected to attend.

“Polka Time Again’s” 1000th program celebration will include live music by The Magic City Button Box Showcase, with a special dedication to Frank Spetich, the first guest on the Polka Time Again show. Wadsworth’s Mayor Robin Laubaugh will present a proclamation to Kovack and Gabrosek recognizing their accomplishment. The program will be taped by WCTV - Wadsworth Community Television - from 11:30 am - 12:30 pm. The music and dancing will continue into the afternoon, with sandwiches available for purchase after the taping.

The story of Polka Time Again began in early 1994. Gene Kovack was taking his weekly accordion lesson with his mentor, Frank Spetich. The conversation turned to the old television show, “Polka Varieties”, and how much the program was enjoyed, and missed, by polka fans in Northeast Ohio. A light bulb went off in Kovack’s head as he realized that he lived in a community (Wadsworth) that had a community access television studio (WCTV), where residents can produce their own television show for free. Spetich encouraged Kovack to move forward with this idea of producing a local polka show to fill the niche that had been empty since “Polka Varieties” had gone off the air in 1975.

And so “Polka Time Again – Memories of a Sunday Afternoon” was born on April 12, 1994.

The late John Kricancic provided the first videotape used on the show, which was hosted by Kovack and Spetich. The show was only 17 minutes in length.

The following week, Joe Gabrosek, another student of Spetich, took over as co-host, and the rest is history. Nearly 20 years and 1000 shows later, Kovack and Gabrosek still continue to produce this weekly, one-hour program to entertain Northeast Ohio’s polka enthusiasts.

In addition to playing videos of Cleveland style polka music, the show features music from Slovenia, Italy, Germany, Austria, and polka bands from the entire United States and Canada. A great number of videos have been contributed by Victor Habjan from Hanover, Canada; Roman Possedi of Las Vegas, and Joe Gordina of Hermitage, Pennsylvania. It also features interviews with local musicians, polka news and schedules of all the meeting places for polka dancing and jam sessions.

Many outstanding polka personalities have been guests or performed on the show including Frank Spetich, Joey Tomsick, Paul Yanchar, Milan Ricanovic, Joe Novak, Ken Novak, Bob McGuire, Jim Kozel, the Moscow Nights, Joe Chermyl, the Al-Ray Combo with Ray Kovac and Al Romain, Del Rezek, The Accordion Man – Ralph Szubski, I Gagliardi Italiano, Matt Shaffer, Ce Ce Gable, Father Perkovich, Doppel Adler, Don Tortolla, Pat Hutch, Al Battistelli, Norm Kobal, Ron Sluga, Joe Stradiat, Anthony Rolando and Valerie Vacco, and the To-Kay Orchestra. The Magic City Button Box Showcase has also recorded two in-studio performances to be used on the program.

“Polka Time Again” has become one of the area’s most popular public access programs. It is produced at and broadcast on WCTV (Wadsworth Community Television) Channel 15, and available for viewing online at MY.PEGCENTRAL.COM. It is currently also shown on Cable 9 in Macedonia, Hudson Community Television, Clear Picture Wooster, Armstrong Cable in Medina, Massillon Cable, Brunswick Area Television, Austintown Community Television Channel 19, The City of Mentor and Perry. It is was also available to Time Warner Cable customers in all of Northeast Ohio prior to Time Warner ceasing the acceptance of public access programming. The program has also been requested for playback in Warren, Michigan, and viewed in states are far away as California, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.

In the past 19 years, the show as received many WCTV Clapper Awards for best public access show, best entertainment show, and best series. They have also been awarded several regional and national video competition awards for excellence in programming from the Alliance For Community Television. They were also presented with mayoral proclamations for celebrating milestone programs, They are the first producers in WCTV’s history to reach 1000 shows - an admirable number of accomplishment. Their love of polka music and their bright personalities provide the essential foundation necessary to make their television series so successful. And their fans love them!

In 2012, Kovack and Gabrosek had another milestone in their television and polka music careers. They won the National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame Achievement Award for Support and Promotion of the Polka Music Genre. They are nominated for the same award this year, as well as the 2013 Trustees Roll. Those winners will be announced on Saturday, November 30th at the Polka Hall of Fame Awards Show in Euclid.

In addition to producing their weekly program, Kovack and Gabrosek have enjoyed playing their accordions as members of The Magic City Button Box Showcase and the Sokol Serenaders. They have both also served on the Wadsworth Cable Commission, and Kovack is a past member of the Wadsworth City Council.

If you require more information about Polka Time Again, please contact Johanna Perrino at WCTV at 330-336-7919, or email wctv@wadsworthcity.org.


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