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Photo by Lex Marvin

Photo by Lex Marvin

Unsung Heroes for German Radio

By Tina Kalenits

Wolfgang Wengler and his wife, Helga Wengler, came to the United States in the 1950s from Germany.

In 1982, Wolfgang Wengler took over the radio show, “German Melodies,” a radio station for WKTL-FM in Struthers, Ohio.

The show plays to a variety of people, Wolfgang Wengler explained, and it brings the history and music of Germany to the area.

“People call up, and they just love to listen to us because we are in the act, we don’t write anything down; everything is at the lip,” Helga Wengler said.

After coming to the U.S., Wolfgang Wengler owned and operated W.H. Wengler Painting, and his wife worked at Packard Electric.

They both worked many years and stayed married, having three daughters who now have children of their own.

Wolfgang and Helga Wengler are behind “German Melodies.”/Photo by Tina Kalenits

Then in 1982, Wolfgang Wengler met with the previous host for the radio program.

“I met a gentleman at the Stambaugh Auditorium. He was sitting in the corner playing a German record, and I start talking to him, and he invited me to the radio station in Struthers,” he said.

“And after a few times, I brought some records down, and he allowed me to play some records on the air and talk a little bit,” Wolfgang Wengler continued.

The sound of this German record caught his attention, Wolfgang Wengler explained, so he started talking with “this gentleman” and discovered he had a radio show in Struthers.

In 1982, Wolfgang started working with “this German fellow” and learned the ropes of radio, but only across a few sessions.

“One day he walked in, set up the show, and he says, ‘ OK, it’s all yours,’ and he walked out, and that was it,” Wolfgang Wengler said.

“And he never showed up again,” Helga Wengler added.

That was in 1982, and Wolfgang has run “German Melodies” since then, with help from his wife.

“At one time, maybe 20 years ago he called me, and he says, ‘I think I’m going to come back and take over the program again’ and I says, ‘I don’t think so,’” Wolfgang Wengler said.

That was the only time after the initial meetings in 1982 when Wolfgang Wengler took over that he had heard from this previous host.

“He actually had a religious program, so he still had a radio program but at a different station,” Helga Wengler said.

“German Melodies” is a 90-minute show that runs every Saturday from 10:30 a.m to noon.

“Well, after I done it a few times just for practice, I really got interested in it, and since I didn’t have any records at all, I had maybe five vinyl records, and I ended up having to buy all kinds of records and CD’s,” Wolfgang Wengler said. “And now I have probably mostly CD’s playing because of the easiness, but I do have probably over a thousand records.”

Before “German Melodies,” Wolfgang Wengler had no other shows.

In the future, he hopes his daughter will continue the legacy of playing German music and spreading a bit of history with Youngstown.

“Our daughter is doing the program right now once a month, and that’s probably our future. If we can’t make it anymore, she’s going to take over,” Wolfgang Wengler said.

“We hope so anyway,” Helga Wengler added.

“German Melodies” now reaches Cleveland, Beaver Falls, Greenville and Pittsburgh.

“You don’t get paid for nothing, not everyone has the interest like we do to keep this going, you have to be really dedicated to do the show for nothing,” Helga Wengler said.

“German Melodies” will continue to bring the German culture to the area in its 37th year.

“It has opened a lot of doors for us in the German community,” Helga Wengler said.