FROM THE BEGINNING...

Jim Ebner in 1983 Polka Parade broadcast photo

Polka Parade materialized from a unique combination of chance and circumstance. Before Polka Parade, Milwaukee had many other polka radio shows that came and went, including the likes of WTMJ's Heine and the Grenadiers, WMLO's Old Timer's Party, and WMIL's and later WYLO's Fritz the Plumber. In 1982, as chance would have it, Jim Ebner was working as program director for WYMS, a Milwaukee Public Schools radio station, and it was here that Jim unwittingly became the "father" of Polka Parade.

Jim Ebner's position with WYMS radio came about as a direct result of earlier television work with Milwaukee Public School (MPS). In the 60's and 70's, Jim hosted a TV Science show for elementary students, and taught thousands of students some of the basics of their incredible environment. When classroom TV fazed out, Jim was transferred to the school system's radio station, where Jim soon learned how to produce and direct a wide variety of community radio shows. Because ethnic shows were the standard weekend program format, Jim's involvement with Latino, German, Greek, Serbian, Croatian, Italian, Ukrainian, Hmong, and Native American programs was established. Many of these cultures offered lively polka music as a regular part of their weekly shows.

Unquestionably, heritage contributed to the birth of Polka Parade. Jim's parents, American born, were first generation citizens; but his Swiss-German and Czech immigrant grandparents brought their Old World music here along with their culture, and their Victrolas. As a child Jim enjoyed these perky tunes, often rocking himself to their delightful energies.

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