With so much at stake, Mark Kuhns, known to his music loving fans as On-Air radio personality “Marko Polka”, found himself mourning the closing of his beloved radio station WQTW 1570 – Latrobe, PA. He couldn’t believe that it was the end of the road for Latrobe Pennsylvania’s first radio station. With the closing of the doors and the silencing of the small 1,000 Watt AM Radio Station, he decided it was time to take the his weekly Sunday morning show, “The Marko Polka Show” to a new level . . .Internet Radio, and with that, MarkoRadio.com was born.
Mark’s vision was to take a small weekly listening base that the local AM radio station would cover, which was approximately a 100 mile radius, and stretch it across the world. The Station started out slowly with the building of a home based radio studio in a his master bedroom, moving his bed to a smaller second bedroom. He would start his adventure using some spare computers and a polka music library that he had collected over his 30 plus years of broadcasting, growing to well over 100,000 songs. He painstakingly loaded each and every album into the computer, one song at a time.
He found his first hurdle was to overcome have fast enough internet to stream the show from his home. He made the necessary arrangements to do so and began his broadcast journey into Internet Radio. But, the story certainly doesn’t end there!
Mark thought of an idea that had he had never seen and/or heard of before, not only broadcasting the music on a “radio station” type format over the Internet, that’s already been done, he thought about making it like a TV broadcast at the same time. Mark soon found himself using his smart-phone to broadcast his every move and action, during the show, on his Facebook page using the FacebookLIVE app. The show was not only a hit on the radio stream service, it was a hit on Facebook and the audience became very interactive with the show, by sending him requests and comments by way of Facebook.
Mark continued to broadcast the show with the spare computer and smart-phone, when his long time friend Ed Gould showed up, unannounced, caring his lap-top computer and a few cameras 30 minutes before the show started on that Sunday morning. He showed Mark that he could have multiple camera angles and great quality graphics as well. It turned out to be what the boost that the show needed, as now the viewers didn’t have to view the back of Mark’s head during most of the show, and it also put an end to Mark having to do a 180 degree turn speak to his video audience.
While the station was growing with technology, the costs associated with the show grew as well. The streaming company that Mark was using left the station silent as they were shut down for failing to pay the necessary copyright royalty fees that the company agreed to pay as part of their contract with MarkRadio. This not only left MarkoRadio silent, it left every Internet Broadcaster, who was using their service, silent. Mark turned to the Pittsburgh based Internet Streaming service, “Live365.com” remedy the issue so he could get back to his audience.
As the stations musical library continued to grow, the spare computer that he was using to broadcast the show began developing issues with handling the daily load of broadcasting. Mark started experiencing issues which led to the crashing of the database system that was required to broadcast the music. After many months and countless hours of trying to remedy the problem, Mark was forced to upgrade the station with more powerful computers. With everything, finally, straightened out and running properly, Mark continued to broadcast the show every Sunday morning.
In March 2020, the Covid 19 Pandemic hit the world. Mark quickly realized that he needed to do more to help lift the spirits of his ever growing audience, as everyone was getting depressed with all of the lockdowns and lack of normal daily activity. He decided to begin broadcasting every day, and as much as possible. There was no set schedule to the daily broadcasts, he would just start the show whenever he felt it was time to give his beloved fan base a necessary “pick-me-up” and the show would come to be called “Pop-Up Polkas” simply because the show would pop-up on the Internet at any time.
In September 2020, Mark received word that Facebook was ceasing ALL FacebookLIVE broadcasts containing any music, due to copyright laws. Mark was forced, once again, to overcome unforeseen obstacles. He was forced to change his video streaming service from Facebook to MixCloud.com. The transition was first viewed by Mark as crippling move, but turned out to be a better move than first thought. His viewing audience grew by over three times the average weekly viewers that he was getting on Facebook, as MixCloud is not restricted to “Members” as with Facebook.