As you'll often hear in reference to the more than 50-year-old polka dance show, “Bandwagon” is quite possibly the longest-running televised music program in the world.
Having been begun by KEYC News 12 to celebrate the launch of the station in the fall of 1960, the show might have changed venues over the years. But viewers have often commented that watching an episode of “Bandwagon” is like looking back through time.
The tradition of couples showing up dressed to the nines to dance along to traditional polka music had very much remained intact for more than half a century. The 30-minute show, taped for years by KEYC the first Monday of every month at the Kato Entertainment Center, is aired 11:30 a.m. Saturdays on KEYC and 10 a.m. Sundays on Fox Mankato, said Tania Cordes, owner of the ballroom.
But during the past year, “Bandwagon” has gone through some tough changes, including the death of its longtime co-host Dick Ginn last year at age 68. Then in December, Ginn's longtime co-host Tom Goetzinger announced his retirement. And the show has also lost advertising.
“We haven't had a steady sponsor for the show for a long period of time,” said Marvin D. Rhodes, KEYC general manager. “We've been paying for everything out of our own pockets.”
Cordes was coming in as the new owner of the Kato Entertainment Center in January, trying to gain her footing in a new business. KEYC had already decided to cut back on taping the show to six times per year due to the lack of sponsorship, and Cordes noted on her end that the ballroom was lucky to break even for hosting “Bandwagon” because attendees didn't pay to attend and didn't buy many drinks.
In the midst of all the changes, “Bandwagon” didn't tape at all in February or March, and reruns were aired instead.