Pikal has had popular radio show for 50 years, been entertaining for more than 70
Wally Pikal with his co-host John Mons doing the Pikal Patch program on KDUZ radio. Photo by Tom Hauer.
For a half a century KDUZ radio listeners have tuned in to hear the chuckles of Wally Pikal on his show The Pikal Patch heard every Friday morning at about 9 o’clock.
To honor Wally on this achievement Wally and his band, Wally Pikal and the Dill Pickles, will perform at the Hutchinson Mall on Oct. 23 starting at 11 a.m. And from 1:05 to 1:30 p.m. there will be a live, special Pikal Patch broadcast with radio host John Mons on 1260 KDUZ radio. During this open house event, Wally will be honored for his 50 years of laughter and music on the radio.
Wally remembers starting with the radio station by advertising his Wally Pikal Music Store in 1964 and being asked, by the then general manager of KDUZ, Heinz Fruck, to bring his music talent to the airwaves. Wally agreed and has since brought millions of smiles to his listeners. “I don’t plan on quitting until I have to,” Wally chuckled. “They like me here, and I like it, too.”
He was born on Feb. 15, 1927, on a farm near Brownton, and his only sibling was a brother Roy who is now deceased. He played his first musical instrument, the trumpet, when he was a freshman at Brownton High School.
While a senior in high school, Wally played his first professional job with the Jerry Dostal Band on New Year’s Eve in 1944. He soon figured out how to play two and even three trumpets at the same time. In 1950 he began the Wally and the Dill Pickles band, and his first performance, professionally, was at the Orchid Inn Ballroom in Sleepy Eye. He has performed old-time polka music around the world and has made numerous appearances on various television shows. You probably remember the Beer Barrel Polka. That was one of his favorites.
Wally, on the right, chuckles as Lawrence Welk hugs Wally’s wife, Alice. Welk is one of many celebrities Wally has gotten to know. Photo contributed.
In 1948 he married Alice, and they celebrated 67 years of marriage on Sept. 8. They moved to Hutchinson in 1950 when he opened up his music store. They raised three children, of whom, he says, with a laugh, “are one of each,” when asked if they were boys or girls. Alice and Wally have three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They currently live on Lake Minniebelle which is just a few miles north of Hutchinson.
Wally attended McPhail Center for Music, but realized he was never going to be the best musician at the school so he thought he had to do something different to get attention and started taking cues from Barnum and Bailey. In an article in the Litchfield Independent Review, he said, “I made up my mind I wanted to play two trumpets,” he recalled. “I worked at them at home for about two years and a little at a time built up my lip.” Wally then felt he had to do more to get on the shows like The Mike Douglas Show so he figured out how to play three trumpets at one time.
Wally’s current band members include Mike Wendolek, Harvey Becker, Jerry Kahle and Larry Roepke. They still do about a hundred performances a year. He also plays trumpet for veterans’ funerals with the Hutchinson Honor Guard unit.
One recent event, Wally recalled, was a couple from Bowlus, Minn. They had him perform at their 60th wedding anniversary because he was the entertainment at their first wedding dance.
In 2001, Wally Pikal, The Music Man, was inducted into the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame. “I can still play two trumpets,” Wally said. “I can’t play three. I am running short of wind.”
“It’s been music all my life. No matter what business I was in, music was part of it,” Wally said.