Jerzy Owsiak

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Jerzy Owsiak in 2010

Jerzy Owsiak (born 6 October 1953 in Gdańsk) is a Polish journalist and social campaigner. He is a founder and President of the Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy (WOŚP), one of the largest non-governmental, non-profit, charity organizations in Poland. Owsiak is the main initiator and activist for the group's Grand Finale, an annual worldwide festival involving music and other components intended to raise money for the medical care of children suffering from urological and kidney diseases. He is also the creator of Przystanek Woodstock (simply: the "Woodstock Festival"), a large rock music festival that takes place in Kostrzyn, to thank all the volunteers and supporters who take part in the Grand Finale each year.

Owsiak is married to Lidia Niedźwiedzka-Owsiak, the Medical Affairs Director for the WOŚP. He is also a stained glass maker, and he has qualifications in Psychotherapy.

Life and activity[edit]

At the age of eight, Owsiak moved with his parents from Gdańsk to Warsaw. Here, he graduated from high school with an economic profile, and later attempted to achieve a place at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. When he was a teenager, he was a member of the society of the hippie subculture in Masovian Voivodeship. His fasciantion of this subculture let to his idea of the "Woodstock Stop", an annual rock concert held in Poland.

Artistic career[edit]

Due to his acquaintance with Wojciech Waglewski, Owsiak became well known in the music circle. Since 1988, he has attended Voo Voo concerts. He has played at some of them with his band, Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Chińskich Ręczników, and he started to run his programme in Rozgłośnia Harcerska (the Scout Radio Station).

After the termination of his work in Rozgłośnia Harcerska, his next undertaking was the broadcast of "Brum". He ran it in the 1991-1994 period in PR Program III. It was only broadcast on Fridays. Between 1994 and 1999, it changed its name to "Się kręci". Later, he undertook the broadcast of "Kręcioła" on PR Program I and attended meetings with listeners on Saturday mornings in RMF FM. However, all of these broadcasts ended only after a few broadcastings, because of conflicts with the station authorities.

Between 1991 and 2007, Owsiak cooperated with Telewizja Polska, a public broadcasting corporation, operating throughout Poland. Since December 1991 he has been preparing a TV programme, "Róbta, co chceta, czyli rockendrollowa jazda bez trzymanki" for TVP2, which has been renamed to "Dziura w koszu" since summer 1994, and later to "Kręcioła" in 1996.

In 2007 he began working on the radio again. On 4 July 2007 he ran, for the first time, "Dźwiękoszczelny magazyn Jurka Owsiaka" on the WAWA radio station. The show was later broadcast on Eska Rock radio station, until 4 April 2010. In 2007, he also undertook the production of the youth channel, O.TV (Owsiak TV), which is available on the Direct-broadcast satellite, platform n.

Owsiak is the co-author of the "Orkiestra Klubu Pomocnych Serc, czyli monolog – wodospad Jurka Owsiaka", a book which comprises an extensive interview made by Bartłomiej Dobroczyński. He also acted in the TV soap opera "Klan" as himself and in the "Autoportret z kochanką" by Radosław Piwowarski.

Organization of concerts[edit]

At the end of the 1980s and the 1990s, Owsiak was engaged in the organizations of many rock concerts. He organized a series of marathon music concerts, which all had a common feature – his characteristic "stammering" announcing, and the participation of best Polish Punk rock bands of that time. These concerts were, among others:

  • Letnia zadyma w środku zimy – in Stodoła club, Warsaw – 27 January 1989 (organization debut), 1991
  • Zadyma na Torwarze, Warsaw 1989
  • 50 Rock'n'Rolli Na 1 maja – in Fugazzi club, Warsaw 1992
  • Warsaw-Berlin 2 Step – Agrykola, Warsaw 1993

In 1991 and 1992 he ran the Jarocin Festival, along with Walter Chełstowski. In the same team they also organized the first Przystanek Woodstock in 1995 in Czymanowo near Żarnowiec.

Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity[edit]

In 1993, Owsiak founded the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity along with Lidia Niedźwiedzka-Owsiak and Bohdan Maruszewski, which is now one of the largest, non-government, non-profit, charities in Poland. The main objective of the charity is "Health Protection and Saving Children's Lives through Providing Medical Equipment to Public Hospitals".

His first fund-raising participation was organised spontaneously after an appeal of the cardiosurgeons from "Centrum Zdrowia Dziecka", for financial support in the purchase of medical equipment. In 1992, Owsiak invited doctors to his programme "Brum" broadcast on PR Program III, and repeatedly reminded its listeners in every edition about paying money on a given account. This action was also continued during the Jarocin Festival the same year.

There was lots of positive feedback from these actions, and in March 1993, thanks to the initiative of Owsiak and Walter Chełstowski, GOCC officially came into existence and its first Great Finale was organised on January 3, 1993. Since then, the Great Finale has taken place every year and Owsiak is the main organizer and compere of TV programme under the same title, broadcast on TVP2.

Splitting with TVP[edit]

Owsiak split with the TVP after 16 years of cooperation. He ran programmes such as the annual GOCC Great Finale, "Kręcioła", "Bezpieczne Wakacje" and "Róbta co chceta". On 6 October 2007, a new channel on DTH platform n belonging to ITI Group, was launched.

The decision to split with TVP was made by Owsiak because, as he says, his programmes were not broadcast enough, and the Great Finale of this year was limited only to several five-minute-long entries.

Criticism[edit]

The activity of Owsiak is often a subject of criticism from the right. He is often accused of promoting the motto "róbta co chceta" ("do whatever you want"), which can be interpreted as an encouragement to hedonistic lifestyle and moral relativism. A subject of criticism is also Owsiak's approval of some religious associations during Woodstock Stop (for example The International Society for Krishna Consciousness) which, according to some, is a threat for teenagers.

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • European of the year 2006

Filmography[edit]

  • Historia polskiego rocka (2008, documentary, directors: Leszek Gnoiński, Wojciech Słota)

External links[edit]