National Cleveland Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum
605 East 222nd Street Euclid, OH 44123
Toll Free: 1-800-66POLKA
Tony Petkovsek, Cleveland's Polka Ambassador, differs in one important respect from
the many lifelong contributors to Cleveland-Style Polkas. Tony has promoted Cleveland-Slovenian
music and culture full-time his entire adult life. Hosting the longest running daily
polka show in America, Tony has been a vital force in the Slovenian community.
Tony grew up in Cleveland's St. Clair neighborhood in typical second generation
Slovenian style, complete with accordion lessons and plenty of exposure to Slovenian
culture. Tony's parents, Tony Sr. and Mary, an alumna of the Zarja Singing Society,
were the proprietors of the neighborhood's Birch Bar.
After time in college and broadcasting school, Tony made reality of the childhood
dreams he conjured listening to famous polka DJ Kenny Bass, Bill Randle, and his
mentor, Heinie Martin Antoncic, the Dean of Slovenian Broadcasters. Tony began producing
and broadcasting his own radio shows on November 23, 1961-- Thanksgiving Day --on
WXEN, Cleveland's "Station of the Nations." The rest is history.
Going to daily broadcasts in 1962, Tony became a continuous beacon over stations
WXEN, WZAK, NBN, WCPN, and WELW, along the way interviewing the likes of "Chip" Carter,
Roger Mudd, Lawrence Welk, Wayne Newton, and Charles Kuralt and sharing an audience
with President George Bush.
Tony has been one of the most creative promoters of Cleveland-Style Polkas ever.
In 1967, Tony originated the Polka Tour at Kollander World Travel, Inc., which has
since taken thousands of polka fans to every corner of the globe. Tony's anniversary
celebrations have evolved from a dance in 1963 into the national focal point of Cleveland-Style
Polkas. Each year, thousands of polka fans from all over America converge on Cleveland
to take in the many activities that encompass Thanksgiving weekend. And, for twenty
years, Tony's Polka Village was a unique and innovative combination broadcast studio,
polka record/gift shop, button box academy, and nerve center for Cleveland's Slovenian
Devoted to the community, Tony played seminal roles in founding the United Slovenian
Society, the Cleveland-Slovenian Radio Club (raising in excess of $250,000 for charitable
purposes), the East 185th Street Business Association (sponsors of the "Old World
Festival," one of the largest ethnic street festivals anywhere), and, of course,
the American Slovenian Polka Foundation, proud sponsors of the National Cleveland-Style
Polka Hall of Fame. In addition, Tony has served on the Ohio Arts Council, the appointee
of Governor George Voinovich.
Tony was selected the Federation of Slovenian Homes’ "Man of the Year" in 1966; was
inducted into the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1991 and the St. Joseph High
School Hall of Fame in 1987; and has been commended over a hundred times for his
many accomplishments and contributions.