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Memories - Jerzy Kuśmider,

Polish Radio Program Director in  1984-1990


For the convenience of our English speaking readers - this story is translated from the original version using

Google Translator. Sorry for imperfections. 


By Mr. Jerzy Kusmider


I came to Vancouver from Toronto in October 1981 and immediately became actively involved in Polonia life.  During this time, there was a mass influx of new Polish immigrants, the so-called emigration "solidarity".  

In a short time, I became president of the Association of the Polish Engineers Branch in BC organizing courses for newcomers to help with the adaptation of professional engineers and technicians to requirements in a new country.  

I also was a co-founder of the Society of Friends of Solidarity in Vancouver and generally acted in various Polish organizations. 


During this period in Vancouver were two Polish broadcast radio programs with two independent radio stations:


1) Polish Radio Program - 1470 AM Radio Station CJVB which broadcasted every Sunday from 14:30 to 15:30 and was led by Stanislawa Małczyńską (popularly called "Stasia").  Immediately after the program, the half-hour program "Father Justin Rosary Hour from Buffalo NY" was broadcasted with previous consent of the US tape.


2) "Polish Wave of the Pacific" - Radio station CJJC, a program led by Marian Różewicz.  At the very beginning of my stay in Vancouver, even in the hot period of martial law in Poland, I worked with this program.  


I also worked with the newly created Polish television program on Channel 10 led by Andrew Włodyka.  This program gave its first half-hour broadcast September 21, 1981 but only ran for twenty-some shows.


The previous years of the history of Polish radio programs in Vancouver area can be also found in the book "The Poles in British Columbia." 


"January 18, 1976 a program was given the first "Polish Wave of the Pacific" under the auspices of the Canadian Polish Congress and the leadership of Marian Różewicz ... The program was broadcasted on station CJVB 3 December 1978, when due to disagreements with the management of the radio station moved NCP program CJJC station in Langley.


Dated December 13, 1981 radio resigned from the board of Congress patronage  and handed over the duties associated with the continuing program of the Federation of Women, Branch No. 4. The high fees for programs ($ 700-800 per month) as well as administrative expenses and lack of adequate commercial advertising, forced the Polish Women's Federation (the end of August 1982) to abandon the continuation of programs ... "

Despite the lack of support for the organization, and thanks to the personal efforts of Marian Różewicz program continued its activities.


 Stanislawa  "Stasia" Małczyńska in the book writes about past activities of the program on the station CJVB:

(Note: In this text, I noticed a few minor inaccuracies and inconsistencies, but for historical reasons I put it unchanged and comment.)


New Polish Radio Program CJVB station 1470 AM was founded in 1978 on the initiative of Mieczyslaw Latek, a friend of the owner of the station, which was Jan van Bruchem.  

Mieczyslaw Latek  was  a businessman. He led the Import-Export company and therefore  had little time to do the program. In carrying out the program helped him his son Wojciech Janusz Latek.  


In January 1981  Stasia Małczyńska took over running the program. She was a young woman with four small children. She has worked professionally  full-time while raising her children and was active in the life of the Polish community, especially the radio program absorbed a lot of time. She had to share the role of mother, wife, and social activist. The program was broadcasted live every Sunday from radio located in downtown Vancouver.

Toni Jochlin also helped, his task was to prepare and read the news on the air. Occasionally others were involved: Bogdan Idzikowski, Witold Witkowski and I . My wife Elizabeth, helped during a program broadcasts by being on duty on the phone. Listeners phoned with things: announcements, suggestions and comments, eg., That do not like the music, etc. Elizabeth corresponded with angelic patience and calmed the malcontents.


At that time, Poland was the martial law,  in Canada has not run out of time "paranoia" anti-communist. If someone wanted to harm someone he called this person "Communist." It was not just a matter of Poles. For example, in Canada's southern neighbor, not one movie star, a scientist or activist were destroyed only by attaching them to "patch" that is a "communist". That was the story on the American continent, and not concern only our Polish ethnic group.

Similarly, there were also cases of Stasia. For example, in one of the meetings in the largest Polish community organization in Vancouver, dissatisfied malcontent in a vulgar manner, publicly challenged her from the "communists" ... because I played the song on the air, "Beloved Country, the Beloved Country" by the "Mazowsze".

Anticommunist "paranoia" do not miss a Marian Różewicz, which as I mentioned ran radio program "Polish Wave of the Pacific". Keeping the program was very expensive. He tried to get the ability to give, practically free program from the station, Co-op Radio in Vancouver, but some thought then that the station is financed by "communist parties" and resigned from the negotiations with the radio station.


After three years, Stasia was tired of running the program, despite the fact that her husband Miecio supported her very Miecio and has assumed family responsibilities. She was looking for someone suitable who could take over the management of the program and offered me a job.

I knew well, and the situation in which she conducted under this program. I was a little apprehensive, but my wife Elizabeth promised to help me. Toni Jochlin agreed to continue to read the news section under my direction and as a result, I decided to sign a contract with the radio station.

Polonia in Vancouver officially learned about the change of leadership of the program, in July 1984, at the scout camp in Cultus Lake.


At the camp were invited numerous representatives of Polish organizations and activists from Vancouver.

During this camp there was a very sad event when at night, sleeping in a tent, died suddenly of a heart attack, Marian Różewicz scoutmaster, editor of the radio program "Polish Wave of the Pacific".


In the year 1984 when I took over the management of the program, the martial law formally ended, but still functioned very accurate censorship of the media. The communist authorities struggled to maintain the system and the obvious thing was to control the media Polonia.

Very loyal listeners of my program were sailors on Polish fishing vessels that often were in the port of Vancouver for a long time,  Messages that I passed in my program aired for many a sailor had an impact on the decision, to return to the country, or seek to remain in Canada?


The crews of these ships were hungry for real information from the country. That's why my program was the center of attention of various types of agents. Beyond the borders of the communist authorities had limited options, but all the time I had to be careful and to recognize those agents. Studied the book published in the West Fri. "Black Book communist censorship" written after his escape to Sweden censor and deportation of secret information about the activities of censorship in the media. I also read about the activities of the communist security services. Everything is easier for me to carry out the program and the constant struggle with various types of intrigues inspired by those services, either directly or through "podpuszczanych" polonusów unconscious. Some people with SB spinning around I recognized program, but I wanted more control rather than eliminate them, because next would appear, and I would have to identify them again.


Over the six years of the program terms and conditions of the radio station changed slightly in terms of fees and material requirements. The radio station was a private, non-financial corporations by the government or any Canadian organizations.  Air time was paid. Polish program was available one hour of time per week antenna.

Every Sunday from 14:30 to 15:30. After my program was broadcasted a half-hour program in Polish "Father Justin Rosary Hour Buffalo". This program was broadcasted with a tape recorded in the United States and had no connection to my program, I served the only radio control panel, which was included in the financial conditions of my contract.

Under the contract with CJVB 1470 AM radio paid a fixed weekly amount. We had to insert commercial and public announcements paid directly to the radio. Such announcements frequently had to be translated  into Polish.

The biggest problem I had with the so-called. "Canadian Content" that is, according to the CRTC (the government agency controlling radio broadcasting in Canada). I had to program insert songs and melodies of Canadian performers. At the same time the program was supposed to be 100% Polish-language. At the beginning of my management program was required 30%, then reduced to 10% of the Canadian tracks, which was more realistic to follow. In those days, there were very few recordings in Polish created by residents of Canada. Sometimes I had to cheat and  mark in the official log three of the ten songs usually played during the entire program as performed by Canadians.


It was worse, as from time to time I check, and I had to type in Annex log, titles and artist names. Then pulled out a few boards that I had available and I was OK with the requirements of the government, but at once risking to be criticized by the audience that once again the same "usia pees" folk band from Toronto, or instrumental tracks Cohen, a Canadian with Polish roots.

Similar complaints were flying too often as I played "Ave Maria," which was the most common wishes of the audience paying for announcements of the death of a person. On such occasions, the program got a generous subsidies, so I had to play and at the same time be exposed to criticism and comments. Another problem was that I only owned a gramophone record with the recording of "Ave Maria" had more than five minutes and I could not cut, because who pays it requires.

In those days there were no computers and current technological achievements. A CD began to showed up not until the end of my program management, but has not yet reached the radio station.


Everything was recorded on tape recorders with large reels. Music was an LP or cassettes. Classified advertising, for example, solid blocks of the program. Headlamp, termination, etc., Was recorded on large tape cartridges closed circuit. Similar to those used in those days cartridges "8-track".


  At home I had a tape recorder and mixer within a week I could at least in part to record the program. The recording quality was a little worse, because my apartment on the 11th floor of a skyscraper next to a busy street did not have a radio acoustics. Interviews and reports in the field were recorded on a cassette recorder.


 During the visit of Pope John Paul II in Vancouver in 1984, I was a reporter for accredited media coverage.

I recorded coverage during the ceremony and Mass at the airport in Abotsford. The Holy Father then flown by helicopter to Vancouver and I'm a bus with a lot of media reporters drove through police cordons at BC Place Stadium, where she was the next ceremony attended by John Paul II. I think few Pole in Vancouver, who was at the meeting with the Holy Father twice in these two distant places.

I did a report on the visit to Vancouver Cardinal Jozef Glemp.


 During the World Expo in 1986, I was an accredited reporter and for half a year the exhibition had access to the exhibition and accompanying events.

CJVB radio station, which she took part in a festive "Timmy's Xmas Telethon", during which the collected donations to charitable organizations to help sick children. Polish program also took part in the charity action.

During the "Telethon" program was broadcast from the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, where he held a variety of performances. A group of my colleagues actively helped me.



Every Sunday was a busy day for me. I started from the Polish Church of the Holy. Casimir in Vancouver. After the Mass. I met students who handed me the texts of advertisements, fees and subsidies to maintain the program. It was my good contact with the audience, because then there was no internet, even fax it was little known and mail correspondence supplied for too long. From the church quickly drove to the studio in downtown Vancouver.


Studio Assembly had available approximately one hour before the show. This time could prepare the material for the program. Usually recorded the only part of the text, comments, wishes etc. Sometimes I even had time to mount a few tunes

At 14:30 started my airtime. I walked into the other room and sat down on the main radio control panel. Chopin polonaise headlamp with was coming from the tape. I spoke to a live microphone. Likewise, live mixing the previously prepared tapes, music mostly from vinyl records and cassettes advertising with closed-circuit. Sometimes I had invited guests for interviews or comments before I recorded most often, but sometimes also let go live.


Messages were read live. At the beginning of my program management prepared and read Toni Jochlin. Then I changed the successive collaborators: Bogdan Idzikowski (Solidarity activist), Damian Balinowski (started with me and then did the same in Canadian programs, and in Hawaii).

Maciej Nowak worked with me the longest, but like most of my "news dirctor" was limited mainly to the message. For a long time until the end of my program management in addition to Matthias, helped me in different educational matters Joanna Komorowska.

In the meantime scrolled several other persons involved in the message or to help in other educational matters such as: Beata Szczęsna, Barbara Nodzykowska, Presidents NCP: Joseph Stawecki and Boleslaw Wiliński.

There were also those who helped write only until my letter of reference that they cooperate to the radio program and what it do. Any help for the program was very useful, but often I've had to be versatile and do everything ourselves.

Preparing email from Polish, Canada and the world is not so easy as it is now, because there was no Internet. The radio was a teletype release, but despite the tumultuous events in Poland, there was not much news. A lot of information was based on the Polish press from Toronto and the US, but of course it was very late. Many in the audience did not see it, because it still was the only source of information in Polish on the west coast of Canada. During the six years of my program, Poland experienced tremendous economic social transformation, was held "round table" in my program it was necessary to seek to pass as the latest news.

Standing colleagues preparing and reads messages from the cash paid symbolic compensation program for spent time. It was a form of continuity more incentive to work than the actual salary as the others to help me in the first came full of enthusiasm, but how to orient oneself that this is not a regular work is fun media quickly went.


Financing of the program, which is fundraising for me was more work than doing the same program. Only ads and advertising were not enough to pay the airtime.

My contract with the radio station was quite complex

Part of the ad was paid directly to the radio CJVB and I had a duty to put them in the program. Called for advertising. sponsors, or Polonia bussinesy and organizations affected cash charge of my program.

One of the major financial impacts of the program was a concert wishes: for birthdays, deaths, about which I wrote above, and other occasions. Listenes delivered texts and unfortunately often choose music itself, which sometimes interfere with the rest of the program, but it was paid and thereefore had to be done.

Usually before Christmas redeem additional airtime and well fitted with a special program of Christmas wishes. Income from fees for these requests was very important, because throughout the year allowed to make up sufficient monthly receipts.

The preparation of such additional program, which is to collect dozens of texts wishful, positioning them in the correct order, selection of Christmas music and comments, and recording it on tape required a lot of work. Giving that live on the air was practically impossible.

An additional difficulty was to study the possibility of obtaining the assembly, because my home is not all spool tape recorder was unable to do so. Not one ethnic CJVB station program did the same and often the only possibility to book studio was at night. My wife then often worked at night and we had a small child. We did not have anyone to leave the baby for the night and I pulled out the sleeping  baby, and drove  to the radio station, I placed the baby on the floor and at that time I could deal with the preparation of the program.

I had to cope in any situation and was very glad that I was not alone.  Joanna Komorowska helped me by adding your woman's voice to the voices intertwine two read requests.


The dinner-dance parties were also a great help in maintaining the program. I organized them mainly in the Polish Combatants Association premises Street in Vancouver Kingsway. This organization was more benevolent than the Polish Society of the program "Consent" .

Organizing concerts of Polish artists also funded the program. In addition to the above financial inflows had little touches, such as the sale of books, mainly "Polish Diary" published in Chicago. On the occasion of the sale and delivery to your home, getting grants for running the program.


Financial matters were big rebound in relations with Polish organizations in Vancouver. They wanted me to control and dictate what and how to do, what to send and how to run the program, at the same time did not want and were not able to cover all the costs. On the other hand, the radio, which had a private contract and personal legal responsibility did not agree on the control of the program by third parties. I had to play the matter diplomatically, but despite what some time rozpętywały is what I called the "radio war". I understood that this was largely unleashed by agents of the SB and unconsciously "provokes" of their people.


After several years of running the program I wanted to give up, but it was not the right people who could and wanted to take the helm. Who knew what consisted my leadership and under what circumstances Polonia worked, it was not interested.

The owner was very friendly, but "business is business", the organizations did not want to enter into contracts, because I had the experience of previous years.

I wanted to give up, but how it was done so as not to lose the personal authority and that the malcontents did not say that "kicked out of radio" and other slurs, are based on the experience I could expect.


Fortunately, in this situation, promised to change the radio station. Owner Jan van Bruchem going to retire and sell the radio. Preferably to sell a business need to show more influence in the accounts of the Polish program, which was all the time and so on concessional basis, pricing below the radio. Such a system has existed for years, because undoubtedly the Directorate radio station wanted to maintain more languages on the air, because the radio had a license for multicultural programs and counted every language and unfortunately from the Polish program, it was difficult to obtain higher revenues.

In the spring of 1990 years got a proposal to renew the contract with the much higher fees. I informed about this on the air program and asked for specific financial support.

July 1, 1990, she was given the last program under my direction and I announced to suspend transmission of the program for the summer until the appropriate financial guarantees, or find another willing person to carry out the program.

My co-worker several years to prepare and read the news on the air my program Maciej Nowak decided to try it and agreed to the new terms of payment much higher than I paid. I do not know how it would finance the program ... maybe some polonusom him and it seemed that I will go as a diaspora and organizations will support financially, which of course was not real.

During the suspension of the broadcasting program broadcast Sunday time was bought out by another program. The only thing that it was possible broadcast on Wednesday evening.


October 17, 1990, she was given the first program under new management Maciej Nowak. I helped him a little in the preparation of the program, but in a very limited form.


It soon became apparent that it has an explicit with your money to pay for the airtime. I personally, after many years of running the program, I had a good relationship with the owner of the radio. I gave him the financial situation and the situation of the new program director Maciej Nowak. Negotiated a cancellation of the high penalty for breach of contract. The owner agreed to pay a weekly speaking and only the current fees.

Analysing the reasons for the closure of the whole Polish Radio Program on CJVB Radio Station AM 1470 in Vancouver, I must say that undoubtedly large, given that the social and political changes that took place in Poland in 1990. The collapse of the communist system also changed the mentality of "paranoia" anti-communist. I will mention that when I started running a costly program on a private station, Marian Różewicz tried to negotiate with the station broadcasting the program, Co-op Radio in Vancouver. He resigned, because then it would be called a communist.

7 years later, the Polish community mentality has changed and may have been incurred Polish radio program "NOFA" broadcast station, Co-op Radio in Vancouver. This program exists to date, and is broadcast free of charge for airtime, only collected small donations from listeners of the program to cover minor costs.

After the closure of the program was to me a little regret that the program does not exist. I liked the work of the media, and in a short time, I began to think, "Polish Business in Vancouver". It was the kind of vintage phone book.


First published in 1991, was only a four-page, but later editions grew up and was usually 20 pages filled with small windows and Polish-American commercial advertising.

Soon the Polish-American newspapers began to appear, another Polish-language radio and television programs. Some of them work to date.

In 1999, I finished the issue of "Polish Commercial guide in Vancouver." The Internet has evolved and I realized my interest in media editing the web pages in Polish, which informs about the life of the Polish community in Vancouver. I also make a lot of movies that can be watched on You Tube. Many of these films are reports from the life of the Polish community in Vancouver.


This is what I wrote in the above study, it is only a small slice of the history of the Polish media in Vancouver. For modern readers and younger emigration lot of threads that touched may seem incomprehensible. Organizations and people and their mentality is changing, but more than a quarter of a century ago it was, we should not change history. I tried to write as closely as possible what I remember and what I sought in my archives. I did it for the sake of the memory of those who are still alive, and for future historians who may someday will analyze these very turbulent times of Polish immigration in Canada.


Jerzy Kuśmider

(February 2015)


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