Part #1 (National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame)
Paul Wilcox, 1925 - 2010.
Every Sunday afternoon, polka fans across the Midwest invited Paul Wilcox into their
homes. The television and radio personality hosted the hour-long "Polka Varieties,"
syndicated from WEWS in Cleveland for 27 years, from 1956 to 1983. The show featured
various popular bands that played Slovenian-Style polkas and waltzes, Polish, German,
Italian and Czech-style music. Wilcox led the only television program for polka music
in the U.S. at that time. He passed away in Florida on Friday, June 18, at age 85.
From 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., families and polka-lovers tuned their TV dials to Channel
5 to enjoy top names in Slovenian and nationality music, such as Richie Vadnal, Johnny
Pecon, Cilka Dolgan, Wally Chips and Ed and Gilda Cifani. "America's Polka King,"
Frankie Yankovic and his Yanks were the first band to perform on the show and remained
popular guests throughout the run of the program. Wilcox also introduced performances
by local Slovenian cultural groups, including the Zarja Singing Society, the Kres
Dancers, and the SNPJ Slovenian Junior Chorus. During its later years, "Polka Varieties"
reached 30 television markets and broadcast Slovenian entertainment into thousands
of homes. Wilcox and Yankovic teamed up to lead more than sixty polka tours to Slovenia
and worldwide. For his promotion of polka and nationality music, Wilcox was added
to the Trustee Honor Roll of the Polka Hall of Fame and Museum in 2003. "Paul Wilcox
was a legend in polka television," said radio host Tony Petkovsek, chairman of the
American Slovenian Polka Foundation which operates the Hall of Fame and Museum. "He
was also a great fan and promoter of Slovenian music and culture." Wilcox was a distinguished
flyer in the United States Air Force in World War II and a POW during the Korean
Conflict. He began on radio in 1947. His career included the "Paul Wilcox Polka Radio
Show," which he hosted from 1973 to 1988 on various stations in Cleveland. He was
also a news and sportscaster at WEWS, Cleveland's ABC affiliate, in the 1960s. He
retired to Florida in 1990.