Jack Zolnierowski and his wife, Leslie Clark, refer to their favorite tunes as "happy music." What is this music that brings a smile to their faces and joy to their lives?
"Polka music," Zolnierowski said. "A lively music set to a 2/4 beat that focuses on the dance called polka. It is the happiest music this side of heaven."
Zolnierowski and Clark celebrate polka music from 2 to 4 p.m. every Sunday on their radio show, Polka Party Express, on WMNF-FM 88.5. They are known to their listeners, or "Polkateers," as Wackie Jackie Z and Mrs. Wackie.
From 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, you can join this "Wackie" couple at the St. Petersburg Polish Club as they host the All Star Polka Party to raise money for WMNF, a community radio station supported by listener donations.
Zolnierowski describes the event as a way to bring the community together to appreciate polka.
"If you want to have some good old-fashioned fun, surround yourself with nice people, forget your troubles for an afternoon, create a great memory and help community radio, this is the place to be," he said.
Those attending will have the opportunity to listen and dance to polkas, waltzes and ballroom tunes.
Featured musicians include Joe Oberaitis, Jan Cyman, Richie Krudzel and Wackie Jackie Z. Anyone who wants to join them for a jam session is invited to bring their accordion, concertina, trumpet, sax or other instrument.
Dr. Erik Raichle of South Pasadena is planning to attend the event to support his favorite radio program. He said he could easily be a "groupie" for the show.
"The music and the show is a diversion; it's wacky fun. They play top-of-the-line, quality music and when they get together, they are like Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. They are each other's comedian. I really enjoy it," he said.
Zolnierowski's love of polka has spanned nearly his entire life; it's a love he inherited from his father. As a child, polka music could be heard in his Rochester, N.Y., home day and night. By age 4 he learned to play the drums, and later on he performed with major polka bands.
He has been hosting Polka Party Express with his wife for 2 1/2 years. The program is popular with more than 18,000 listeners and is the only one of its kind in the bay area. He credits his wife with the show's ongoing success.
"She brings a certain class and energy that is missing from most polka shows, or radio shows in general. If you ask me, she is the real star of Polka Party Express. Me, I'm just Wackie," he said.
Last Monday, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio presented Zolnierowski and Clark with an official document proclaiming the day as WMNF Polkateer Day.
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If you go
WMNF's All Star Polka Party
When: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Where: St. Petersburg Polish Club, 1343 Beach Drive SE, St. Petersburg
Tickets: $5; can be purchased in advance by calling WMNF at (813) 238-8001 or by e-mailing [email protected]