Stanley I. Nastal Papers, 1922, 1934-1954


Stanley (Stanislaus) I. Nastal was born in 1899 in Starawies, Poland, located in the farming country of the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. As an after-school job, young Nastal worked with an English company drilling for oil near his home. Eventually, the foreman of the company successfully persuaded Nastal to leave Poland and travel to North America. In 1913, Nastal made the trip to New York with financial assistance from the foreman. Intending to settle in Canada, Nastal instead held a series of jobs that took him from New York to Pennsylvania to Kentucky. During World War I he served with the Polish Volunteer Forces of the Canadian Army, eventually earning the commission of captain. After the Armistice, the Polish Volunteers, also known as Haller's Blue Army after their commander, General Joseph Haller, were sent to the eastern part of Poland to fight the Bolsheviks.

Nastal returned to the United States in 1922, and became involved in the organization of a veterans' organization for the Polish volunteers. The following year he settled in Milwaukee, where he married Helen Leonarski. From 1925 to 1929 Nastal worked as a journalist for the Detroit Polish Daily Record and the Milwaukee Nowiny Polskie. In 1929 Nastal was chosen as the “voice” of the Polish radio program sponsored by the Nowiny Polskie on radio station WRJN, Racine. The Depression soon cut short Nastal's budding radio career, and he next spent several years importing motion pictures from Poland and scheduling screenings in Polish communities throughout the Midwest and Northeast. In 1932 Nastal was again on the air, broadcasting with Frank Zolynski over WCBD, Waukegan, Illinois. Three years later Nastal joined the newly-organized Milwaukee radio station WEMP, where he became program director and business manager. Until 1946 Nastal hosted Our Polish Hour (Nasza Polska Godzina) every morning and afternoon, and specialty programs such as Theater of the Air and the Original Polish Amateur Hour. In 1946 WEMP curtailed its foreign language broadcasting, and as a result, Nastal and a group of investors formed a new radio station devoted to ethnic programming, WFOX. The first program on WFOX was broadcast August 15, 1946.

Stanley I. Nastal did not live to see his new project mature, as he died from heart disease on September 6, 1947. His position at WFOX was subsequently filled by his son, Stanley H. Nastal, with assistance from his widow, Helen. The son continued his father's Polish-language programming until 1955, when a combination of declining revenues and changes in programming concepts and listeners' requests forced many ethnic media to eliminate the use of foreign languages.