“Still going strong after 47 years,” best describes Chet Zablocki. His “Polish Festival” radio program is still in the same time slot on WTOD – 8:30 a.m. until 12:00 noon. In the late ’50s and early ’60s the show was heard seven days a week, and later changed to Sunday mornings.
Chet was born in 1920, and at an early age he showed a love for music. At age 15 he started a polka band and began to entertain his family and neighborhood friends. In 1942, he married his childhood sweetheart Helen Zdawczyk, and after serving in the Air Force, he and Helen started many adventures in the world of polka music. In 1946, they established Ideal Radio, which was a TV and Appliance and Record store where they featured polka records. In the 1950s Chet and Helen moved to a new location and Musicale Studios was born. In 1951, Chet recorded his first record on Continental Records which featured him doing the vocal on “Johnny from Poland.”
In 1953 he started his own recording studios, and Musicale Records pressed out such artists as Johnny Lipinski, Ed Markowiak, Marsha Data, and others. In 1963 Chet began to publish a local polka newspaper called ‘The Polka Star,” which informed local patrons about polka music.
Throughout the many years of broadcasting, a number of dances and benefits were held, and Chet was the first to bring many polka greats to the Toledo area. From the ’50s through the ’70s he met and worked with such polka greats as Frank Wojnarowski, Ray Henry, Wait Solek, Li’l Wally, Eddie Zima, The Ampol-Aires, Frankie Yankovic and numerous others.
In 1968, “The Helen ‘N’ Chet Polka Party” as it was known, suffered a loss with the passing of Helen. Chet continued the program alone for five years, sometimes with assistance from his sister Carol. Chet remarried in 1973, and the show now was known as the “Sharon ‘N’ Chet Polka Party.” It continues in the same time slot, and does today. From the 1950s to the present, the program has crowned a local girl each year as “Polka Party Polka Queen.” Along with the radio program Chet presents many benefits for the American Cancer Society, The Diabetes Foundation and others. He is the Executive Director of the Central LaGrange Senior Center. He has been honored by many local clubs and organizations.
For most of these 47 years of continuous radio broadcasting, the show originated from his home in the studio he built, which is now entering it’s 48th year. The Polka Party is very much a part of his life and the love for the show is only surpassed by the love of his family, his family is what keeps him going in the polka industry. We wish him well, and that he may reach his golden year of broadcasting in April of 1997. For his outstanding efforts in the promotion of Polka Music Chester “Chet” Zablocki was enshrined into the prestigious IPA Polka Music Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 6, 1994.