Elgin's Keith Stras to stop on air polka twirl after 40 years
Back in 1977 at Schaumburg High School, Keith Stras at age 15 sent on a path to become one of the nation's foremost voices on Chicago's ethnic radio and has worked in every aspect of polka music for the last 40 years.
Next week he will leave the Chicago airwaves, a place where he has become a staple every Sunday morning. Elected to the Polka Music hall of Fame in 1999, he has been heard each week on the air in the Chicago area for the past 40 consecutive years, the last 19 over WPNA 1490 AM. He will continue to spin "Happy Music for Happy People" on Nationwide Sirius XM Satellite and The Polka Jammer Network. He is a member of the prestigious Broadcasters Hall of Fame. In addition, he will continue his emcee duties on the nationally televised Jimmy Sturr Show week on RFD-TV. While president of the International Polka Association based in Chicago, he grew the membership rolls to over 1,000, to date, a distinction that no other officer has matched. While on television in Chicago, Buffalo, N.Y., and Cleveland, Ohio, he creatively mixed polka music with comedy, local celebrities and game show stunts earning him televisions prestigious Emmy Award nomination.
In 2002, he walked the red carpet in Los Angeles to pick up a Grammy Award for the Best Polka Recording. In 1994, he opened K & C Entertainment in Chicago and brought the biggest polka entertainers to Chicago and brought busloads of people to venues around the country to participate in polka events.
In 2009, he ventured into the polkas in a new way, by forming Polka Confetti, building on his knowledge of the music, he sought out the finest musicians in the industry to form the group. They have appeared across the country, recorded both a DVD and CD, and their appearances on televisions Mollie B Polka Party has played to rave reviews.
Stras has been one of the most influential people in polka music for the last four decades. "It's been a great run, I've met so many great people and the polka have given me opportunities that others just dream of."