“Joni’s Jammin’ Polkas” debuted on the Polka Jammer Network on Monday, May 19, 2008 as a one-hour taped show. Joni was one of the last IJ’s to be appointed by Polkaman Jack Baciewski before his departure from the network in October of 2008. She moved to a live two-hour show on Tuesday nights that following month, and in January 2012, expanded to a three-hour live show. A lack of west coast listeners prompted Joni to revert her show back to the current 2 hour format in November of 2012.
Joni Zychowski Minehart, a native of Ambridge, Pennsylvania, just north of Pittsburgh, has been involved with polka music since birth. Her parents, John and Kay Zychowski met at a Frank Wojnarowski dance and her two older brothers, Jan and David, started playing music in their own band, the Polka Aires back in the late 60’s. Her brother, David, would go on to own WAM records and be involved with producing many of the most popular recordings of a generation.
Joni’s first memories of really getting into polka music are of sitting next to her parent’s stereo with album cover in hand and memorizing the Polish words while groovin’ to the melodies. She feels very fortunate to have grown up when the polka industry was in its heyday and because of her family’s involvement, got the opportunity to meet many of the talented musicians who are so fondly remembered as legends today.
She loves to sing and got the opportunity to do so when she joined her parish’s choir at St. Stanislaus Church in Ambridge in the late 1980’s. Under the direction of Brother Ambrose Ross, BHS, she was one of the choir’s Mass cantors, with her most special memories being that of Christmas Eve Mass when she and her brother, David, along with Randy Koslosky, Dave Dombrowski and John Huchrowski, well-known Pittsburgh polka musicians, performed the traditional Polish Koledy for several years. From this endeavor came the CD: “Polish Christmas Carols” – John Huchrowski and The Gorale Singers, which is currently distributed by The Music Zone at www.TheMusicZoneStore.com.
Joni is the proud mom of three children whom she and her former husband adopted from Warsaw, Poland in 2002: Andrew, Konrad and Paulina. She is bringing them up in the Polish polka tradition and hopes that the music becomes as special to them as it is to her. A volunteer specialist at a materials engineering society, Joni has the opportunity to travel and meet many people from around the country, something she also enjoys as she attends as many polka events as she can each year.
Her program originates from Baden, PA.