The Radio Show Now
Broadcasting since February 7, 1997, Prime Time Polkas is heard Saturdays from 11AM - 12:30PM on 620 AM WKHB Radio with 5,500 watts of power serving the southwestern PA area including the entire Pittsburgh market plus parts of Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland (view KHB's coverage map). KHB's FM translator is broadcasting on 94.1 FM serving the Mon Valley area. Hosted by Pam & Jerry Zagar and Don Rutkauskas, we specialize in playing the best of Slovenian / Cleveland style polkas and waltzes in a professional-style format; with MORE MUSIC, and LESS TALK! You may hear an occasional Polish, German and/or Italian tune thrown in for diversity. We produce this program with you, the listener, in mind. Featured are a lot of the newer music including premieres of new recordings and interviews with the musicians that produce them. From time to time, special guests show up unannounced and add to the spontaneity of this show. We certainly hope you enjoy our show and if you do, please tell your friends wherever they are!
"More music, less talk..."
IN THE BEGINNING...
The show's intitial broadcast actually began at 620 AM WHJB Radio in Greensburg, PA on Monday, July 7, 1996. Jerry was hired to produce a daily one-hour show from 5-6 PM by then-station owner Mel Goldberg. In coming up with a title for this new show, Jerry thought of "Drive Time Polkas" because of the time slot. Pam mentioned "Prime Time Polkas" and the show was born. The program's run on WHJB was cut short by the sale of the station to its current owner who moved in and overhauled the station format in October 1996.
After a few months off the air, Pam & Jerry were coaxed into reforming the show by Don Rutkauskas, this time at 540 AM WWCS Radio in Canonsburg, PA. With Don's help and a consistent backing of sponsors still with them to this day, the show began its WWCS broadcasts on Friday, February 7, 1997 and continued every Friday from 5-7 PM for four years to rave reviews of the "more music, less talk" format.
On February 11, 2001, the WWCS ownership decided to lease its entire airtime schedule to Mickey Mouse and Radio Disney, once again leaving "Prime Time Polkas" and many other ethnic programs without a voice. But two weeks later, the show was back up on the frequency it first began, 620 AM (now WKHB) Radio in Pittsburgh on Saturdays from 2-4 PM. And as of December 21, 2002, the show has moved earlier in the day on KHB from 11 AM until 1 PM.
Joined by good friend and polka musician/fan Don Rutkauskas, Pam & Jerry have produced a very successful "different" type of polka program featuring as much news, requests, dedications, and (most importantly) MUSIC as possible, regularly playing three, four, five, EVEN SIX TUNES in a row. That fact alone is virtually unheard of in usual polka radio. Professionally produced sweeps, IDs and jingles are added to keep the show fresh, exciting, and air-worthy. Pam, Jerry and Don are committed to bringing their listening audience the best of polkas and waltzes over the Pittsburgh radio airwaves and worldwide over the internet for many years to come.
Pam (Day) Zagar
Pam knew at an early age that she wanted to be in radio. While attending Point Park College in Pittsburgh, PA, she majored in broadcast journalism and interned at KDKA Radio. Upon graduating, she worked full-time at various radio stations in the area including KDKA, WTAE and WJPA doing news, DJ and production work. In 1992, a friend told Pam of an opening at WWCS Radio in Canonsburg, PA. She sent a resume and was hired. Part of her job was to run music, news and produce other programming on air. This included filling in multiple time slots six days a week with a self-produced polka show. The number of listeners of her polka broadcasts grew with every single show. At one time at the height of WWCS's polka popularity, she produced a weekday morning drive time polka show for four hours incorporating the latest news, weather and traffic reports; a daily afternoon show from 3-5 PM; plus an extremely popular night-time show from 10-midnight. During this time, she was promoted to station manager.
With all of this happening and barely having a life of her own, she decided to move on to another radio job at WJPA in Washington, PA, doing news in 1994. While there, she pushed hard for a weekly polka program. Her badgering of the program director finally paid off and she began her new show entitled "The Polka Powerhouse" at various times during the weekend. At one time, her show was heard eight hours per weekend, Saturdays and Sundays, noon-4 PM. It was during this time that her professional broadcasts were bringing more and more listeners to the station and attracting national sponsors such as Miller Brewing and the Slovene National Benefit Society (SNPJ) plus locals Sygan SNPJ Lodge #6, Tomsic Motors among many others. But AM airtime was quickly becoming short supply due to various sports programming obligations, so Pam suggested moving the show to their sister station, 95.3 WJPA-FM, Sunday mornings from 9 AM-noon. Pam's first "Polka Powerhouse" FM broadcast took place on the first week in January, 1996. FM broadcasts of polka shows on commercial market radio stations are certainly rare to the say the very least, but this show grew immensely popular with the polka crowd AND the non-polka crowd. Listeners still remark that this show was the best of its kind, bar none. But after about seven months and a successful run, the show was cancelled as the program director wanted to return to the full-time oldies format and not have WJPA known as a "polka station."
Pam then joined Jerry on his "Prime Time Polkas" weekday show on WHJB in Greensburg for a few months between July and October 1996, but only on Fridays. That show was cancelled when the station was sold and the format changed. A few months later, with the persistence of good friend and polka fan Don Rutkauskas, they were summoned back to the business and to where Pam's polka broadcasting career began...WWCS Radio. Now broadcasting on 620 KHB Radio in Pittsburgh, Pam and Jerry are now happily married and continue their pursuit in presenting quality polka programming to a large listening audience.
Jerry's interest in radio broadcasting began while in college as a listener to Pam's daily polka shows on WWCS beginning in 1992. It was obvious that Pam didn't have too many recordings to work with starting out, so he self-produced cassette tapes of polka and waltz music from his collection and sent them to her. It wasn't too long after that they finally decided to meet face to face on Saturday, January 7, 1993 while her show was on the air as Jerry was a "special guest" for the day. They dated regularly from this point on.
Jerry's broadcasting career gained much needed experience while helping Pam with her "Polka Powerhouse" shows on both AM and FM out of Washington, PA during 1995 and 1996. He then was hired to do his own weekday show in July, 1996 on 620 WHJB Radio in Greensburg, PA from 5-6 PM entitled "Prime Time Polkas" featuring Pam regularly on the Friday editions. This show lasted just a few months as the station was sold and the program schedule overhauled. It was at this point that Pam and Jerry both became disenchanted with the radio business and decided to take a break, albeit a brief one.
With continuing support of polka people (and one Mr. Don Rutkauskas in particular), they decided to go for it again, this time at WWCS. They originally wanted a two hour time slot on Saturday or Sunday, but no "prime" times were available. Then the idea was brought up about a Friday night polka show. After thinking about it for awhile and realizing that there was indeed a "hole" in the market for a polka show during that time, they contacted station manager Sam Dellorso, made the deal and signed the contract. Officially signed to WWCS Radio, "Prime Time Polkas" continually delighted polka listeners from all across southwestern Pennsylvania and parts of West Virginia and Ohio until the station's format change on February 11, 2001. The show continues to be heard on 620 KHB in Pittsburgh, the place where "Prime Time" was born, on Saturdays from 11AM - 1PM and since March 19, 2011, from 11AM - 12:30PM.
Did you know that Don was once a polka DJ on a radio station in Butler, PA? That and much more info. to be revealed in Don's upcoming(?) bio.
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