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Bill with Contest Winner
Joe Skiba
I believe I have the signal honor of having worked with all the Polish language announcers on local Utica NY radio stations. And they were all great stand-up gentlemen of the first class. One of them was Joseph (Joe) Skiba. We worked at WRUN in Utica. Talk about personality, mannerly and full of fun - it was Mr. Joe. Always with a smile on his face, always with a funny story to share, he was Mr. Personality. Lest we forget, the foreign language broadcasts became sources of revenue for the local radio stations as it did with radio broadcasting stations around the country. I constantly remind everyone that the operation of a radio station was a business proposition. The owners of the local radio stations hired personnel to do all that was necessary to attract advertisers to their station. In so doing, they hired, broadcast engineers, salespersons who sold air time to prospective advertisers, hired men (and later women) to voice the advertiser's messages, usually referred to as "spot announcements"

Louis Bienkowski, Michael Dziedzic and Joseph Skiba were not employees of the radio station from which they broadcast. The usual routine of these men was to canvass loal businesses so as to sell time to these advertisers, Joe would compose the words of the advertisement as directed by the "customer". When the payment for such advertising was received, the amount was divided between Joe Skiba and WRUN. Joe Trela did the same thing at WKAL in Rome, but he was also employed at that station as a radio time salesperson. That is, he sold air time to a prospective advertiser for the radio station and then canvassed certain advertisers for inclusion on Trela's Sunday morning show. But back to Joe Skiba.

Bill with Contest Winner
Joe Skiba with his parents and brothers.

Joe was the oldest son of immigrants, George and Mary Skiba. Joe was one of twelve children (yes, 12). Joe was born in Poland in 1910, his family moved to the US and to Utica in 1913. He became a proud US citizen in 1923. He was a graduate of local schools and from the Utica School of Commerce. Joe was not accepted for US service due to a perforated eardrum. But the Skiba family was paid great honor when a PLAV post was named in honor of brother Walter Skiba. Joe remained faithful to his family's roots, he stayed very close to Polish culture, language and traditions. He began his radio career at WRUN, Utica as a weekly host of his popular Polish language program, Polonaise. The program was an instant hit. It began as a one hour Polish program on Sundays but then expanded to both Saturdays and Sundays. At the same time, he operated a store on Lincoln Avenue from which he sold guess what Polish records, a variety of other items, religious pictures, rosaries, gifts, Polish greetings cards, newspapers and, yes, he also sold penny candy. The store was located near Holy Trinity Church on Lincoln Avenue and it became a West Utica fixture. Joe had help from his family in the store's operation.

The Skiba Boys
The Skiba boys.

Probably the most important service Joe Skiba provided was acting as liaison between the members of the Polish community in Utica, New York and their family members in Poland. There was a large immigration flow from Europe and especially Poland which country had experienced brutal suffering at the hands of he Nazis. These immigrants were referred to as "DP's". Joe was a tremendous help in assisting Americans of Polish descent who wanted to return to visit Poland after the war as well as assisting new arrivals from Poland by providing services as a translator for letters. Those who remained in Poland after WWII were in great need so they looked to their American relatives for help. He received a great deal of help from the Polish American Relief Agency. And it was during this period that the Skiba's Travel was started.

Joe Skiba was huge success in whatever endeavor he pursued. He was huge success as a human being; he was a huge success as a husband of Stella Osla; he excelled as being a father for daughter Geraldine; he was a spectacular success in being the respectful son of parents George and Mary Skiba; he became a successful business person; was renowned as an outstanding radio celebrity because his listeners loved him and the Polish music he featured. Joe Skiba was called home to the Lord at the early age of 60 years on September 15, 1970.

I have not been successful in obtaining Joe Skiba's photograph but I'll keep trying. I want a picture of Joe Skiba on this site with that Great, Grand Smile!


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