Polka World Today started in 1984 when Gene Retka was approached by WYRQ 92.1FM radio station program manager and ad salesman to purchase ad time on the station. Since Gene was selling Medicare Supplement and other insurance products for the senior market, he asked if the station ever considered POLKA Music for a show that could be sponsored. Gene wanted to target market his ads to the population he was selling to. After some consideration, the station told Gene that they would give his a 13 week try. If that did not go over, the show would come to an end.
Gene wasn't sure what to do but with the encouragement of friend and fellow musician, Tom Mrozinski of the famous Mrozinski Brothers band and Aleatoric Recording Studios, Gene decided to try to do the show.
Gene asked if he could do the announcing and was given permission to do so. So July 15th, 1984 the show began running from 10:00 to 10:30AM. Time flew by and at the end of the 13 week run Gene asked if he was done and the answer he received was "Could you do a one hour show instead of a half hour show?" Gene said sure! After another year the program manager asked if he could do a four hour show running from 10:00AM to 2:00PM. Gene agreed and this went on for a couple of years but unfortunately, sports money to precedence and the show was constantly being pre-empted for Minnesota Twins baseball and Minnesota Vikings games. Seeing this was an annoying issue, especially for the listeners, the station and Gene scaled back to a 2 hour format running from 10:00AM to 12:00 Noon. With this change, the show was still running into the problem of be pre-empted. In 1996 the owners of WYRQ purchased their competition, KLTF and KFML and moved the operations of WYRQ to the studios of KLTF. With that change, the decision was to move Polka World Today to the AM side on KLTF and moved the time slot to 9:00AM to 11:00AM. This change meant losing the quality of the FM Stereo station but on the flipside, now Polka World Today would broadcast out 60-80 miles instead of the 30 mile radius of WYRQ.
Today, listeners enjoy Polka music with no interuptions and can hear it further away. And now for those who are beyond the signal reach of KLTF, the show can be heard on the internet by logging into fallsradio.com and following the links.
Polka World Today differs from most polka show in that it is mostly live every Sunday. Gene still gets to church by only recording the last 30 minutes of the show.
Listeners are invited to call in requests for birthdays, anniversaries and get well wishes. Gene has found that listeners, for the most part, enjoy hearing their names on the radio. The best compliment you can pay a person is knowing their name and calling by the same.
Gene has a son, Michael who he has been bringing to the station with him since 1996. One Sunday, while Gene was talking on the microphone, h noticed that the station computer and all the commercial decks shut down. Here little Michael shut the power switch off on a equipment rack for the studio. Thank God the turntables still worked. Michael was asked to join the staff at KLTF/KFML/WYRQ by station owner, Chris Grams to help with broadcasting area sports. What got the attention of Chris Grams about Michael was on July 15, 2010, while the station was broadcasting live from the county fair during a tribute at the fairgrounds for long time friend and band leader, Gilly Maus, who had passed away a few days prior, the equipment to broadcast the music of Maus' band, The Country Polkateers from the DJ booth at the fair broke down and the tribute show could not continue. Michael was running the board at the station and took it upon himself to keep the show going with the recordings that we had at the station of the Country Polkateers with commentary as well. The next day, Michael was the talk of the town for the good job he did with only the experience he had leaned from Gene on Polka World Today. He was hire as a result and Michael felt that was a was a nice compliment.
Michael has been exposed to Polka music since he could walk, attending his first Polka fest at Seven Springs Pennsylvania in July of 1998. the he was exposed the the best bands in Polka, like Eddie Blazonczyk and the Versatones, The Polka Family, John Gora and the Gorale, Stas Golunka and many others. He has gained a good knowledge of who is who in the polka field and has also learned how to do the Hop Polka. He was initially taught to dance by Cheryl Stanek from Little Falls. Later all the ladies from 9 to 90 were asking him to dance. If you see him at a dance ladies, just ask him for a go around the floor.