WNZK, Annette Raczkowski, Interview, January 19, 2007
WNZK, 690/680 AM is a radio station ! A look at the program list indicates a dedication to celebrating Detroit’s ethnic communities with the same passion that Visionalist Entertainment hopes to bring to the ‘Our Story of…’ project. With programming seven days a week, 24 hours a day, WNZK (under the management of Mr. Sima Birach) offers live broadcast feed from a roster of local ethnic communties, including Polish, Albanian, Arab, Macedonian, Indian and Armenian.
We had the opportunity to film a Saturday morning show, Polish Varieties, hosted by Jurek Rozalski. First established in 1930, Rozalski took over show management in 1978, shortly after immigrating here from Bydgoszcz, Poland. His mission, he claims, “is to service Polonia… Polish Americans… not to compete with American radio.”
Saturday’s show centered around an interview with Ms. Annette Raczkowski , an eloquent spokesperson for Polonia. An attorney of standing, who represents many Poles due in part to her fluency in Polish, has grown from a somewhat disgruntled Polish American kid, trying to fit her heritage into her American world, into a ready advocate for Poles all over Detroit and Michigan.
Born here, but of Polish immigrant parents, Raczkowski experienced nearly every ‘cliché’ we’ve come to track among Polish American children—all the teasing about her multi-letter last name, the obligation to attend Polish school on Saturdays, her membership in the Polish scout group… even her marriage in St. Josephat church in a ceremony conducted in Polish. “Now, looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing,” says Annette. “It offered me more than I knew at the time… not only an understanding of my heritage, but a connection to the past. When I was a kid, it wasn’t ‘cool’ to be Polish. Now, I think it’s a little different. Many more Detroiters converse in different languages, and I think Pope John Paul II did wonders for making Polish a respectable nationality to brag about.”
“I am amazed at the changes my grandparents and parents must have encountered over the years, coming here to the States… They went from an existence without electricity or hot water in the home to the age of cell phones and internet.”