Polka broadcaster Walk hits milestone

Staff report


Local radio broadcaster Larry Walk is celebrating the 55th anniversary of his Happy Polkaland radio shows this month.

Happy Polkaland first aired May 1964 on WNIO-AM as a half-hour show, and soon expanded to three hours every Sunday.

Due to its success, a Saturday morning show followed on WKST-AM in New Castle, Pa., and a Saturday afternoon show on WFAR-AM.

Over the decades, Walk’s show has been featured on multiple stations. It currently can be heard on WHKZ AM-14401 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays; and also on WSOM AM-600, 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays. The show is also streamed at 600wsom.com.

In 2004, Walk’s wife to be, Diana, joined the show. Their marriage lasted until her untimely death in 2015.

Walk started producing and promoting the Penn-Ohio polka festivals in the Idora Park ballroom in 1967.

With the closing of Idora, Walk moved the festivals to the Yankee Lake ballroom for two seasons, then to Conneaut Lake Park’s ballroom.

Due to the success of the festivals, Walk produced the Penn-Ohio polka festivals in other venues, including Pittsburgh, Butler, Pa., and East Liverpool.

He has booked, entertained and emceed the Penn-Ohio polka cruises for the Gateway Clipper Fleet in Pittsburgh for about 50 years and continues to do so this season with a four-hour Sunday afternoon cruise scheduled for Aug. 4 featuring Lenny Gomulka and Chicago Push (for reservations, call 412-355-7980).

Walker entered the International Polka Association Hall of Fame in 1994, and was named “Outstanding Career in Broadcasting” by the Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2012.

He received the United States Polka Association Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

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