IF YOU GO
What: 50th anniversary celebration of Larry Walk’s “Happy Polkaland” radio show
When: 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Kuzman’s Lounge, 1025 S. State St., Girard
Admission: $10 at the door
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Fans and friends will gather at Kuzman’s Lounge in Girard on Saturday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Larry Walk’s Happy Polkaland radio show.
Walk, whose real name is George Lesnansky Sr., started the weekly show in 1964 on WNIO, and it was an immediate success. These days the show airs every Sunday from 8 a.m. to noon on WKTX-AM 800, and continues from 1 to 4 p.m. on WSOM-AM 600.
The show streams live on 600wsom.com and is rerun at 6 p.m. every Tuesday and 3:30 p.m. every Thursday on polishnewcastleradio.com.
Walk is also known for his Penn-Ohio Polka Festivals, which took place regularly at the old Idora Park Ballroom, moving to Yankee Lake, and winding up at Conneaut Lake Park. The last one was four years ago.
The events would sometimes attract close to 2,000 paying customers.
Saturday’s event at Kuzman’s will be a Penn-Ohio Polka Festival reunion, featuring members of Maddy’s Polish Princes, a Niles band given its first break by Walk in the late ’60s when he put them on the bill at Idora.
Also performing will be headliner John Gora and Gorale of Canada and Richie Gadowski and Pure Honky of Cleveland.
Walk saved all of the original signs from the Idora festivals and will have them on stage with him at Saturday’s event. There also will be old posters advertising the festivals hung throughout the room, and original flyers will be placed on the tables, which patrons can take home.
Walk and his wife, Diana, do the Polkaland radio show all by themselves. They work out of their home studio and send it via microwave to the station’s transmitters. The couple also sell and produce all of the ads.
After 50 years, Walk said he is still going strong and has no plans to retire. “Diana joined the show 10 years ago, and she loves it,” he said. “There is no end in sight.
Walk said his show’s radio signal extends from Pittsburgh to Cleveland and into West Virginia.