by Ted Lipien
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will open on July 23, 2021. Today I offer a recording from the Cold War Radio Museum to show how the Voice of America (VOA) Polish Service covered the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, California. The communist government in Poland, which was then still trying to suppress the independent Solidarity trade union and its human rights movement, ordered the Polish olympic team to boycott the 1984 Los Angeles Games to show the regime’s loyalty to the Soviet Union. The Polish Service of the Voice of America provided daily live reports for radio listeners in Poland from various venues where competitions were held in and around Los Angeles.
Letnie Igrzyska Olimpijskie 1984 w Los Angeles – 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles
Nagranie transmisji ze studia olimpijskiego sekcji polskiej Głosu Ameryki – 2 sierpień 1984 – Recording of Voice of America Polish Service Olympic Studio Transmission – August 2, 1984
The 1984 Games were boycotted by fourteen Eastern Bloc countries led by the Soviet Union, including communist-ruled Poland. The boycott was in response to the American-led boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow in protest of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Voice of America Polish Service reporter Mirosław Kondracki provided from Los Angeles live coverage of the 1984 Games. On August 2, 1984, he was joined in the VOA studio in Washington by Janusz Hewel and Piotr Mroczyk. Another VOA Polish Service reporter, Wojciech Minicz, also participated in the program.
As the Voice of America Polish Service chief at the time, I was incredibly lucky to have a group of such talented and outstanding broadcasters. Because of our small staff, they had to be experts in politics, sports and everything in-between. Anyone listening to the recording of their program in 1984, even those who do not speak Polish, can tell how professional they all were. Before joining the VOA Polish Service, Janusz Hewel had worked in Munich for the Polish Service of Radio Free Europe. At RFE, he was a host of a very popular music program. Piotr Mroczyk would later leave VOA to become the last director of RFE’s Polish Service.
The last on-air broadcast of the Voice of America Polish Service program was on July 28, 2000. A small group of VOA Polish Service broadcasters continued to provide reports from Washington for several radio and TV stations in Poland, but the feed service was also discontinued after a few more years.
Sprawozdawcą sekcji polskiej Głosu Ameryki na Letnich Igrzyskach Olimpijskich w Los Angeles w 1984 r. był Mirosław Kondracki. W studio Głosu Ameryki w Waszyngtonie audycję prowadzili Janusz Hewel i Piotr Mroczyk. Przed podjęciem pracy w Głosie Ameryki, Janusz Hewel pracował w sekcji polskiej Radia Wolna Europa, gdzie prowadził między innymi popularną audycję muzyczną Rendez vous o 6:10. Piotr Mroczyk był później dyrektorem sekcji polskiej Radia Wolna Europa. W transmisji uczestniczył również reporter sekcji polskiej Głosu Ameryki Wojciech Minicz.