Anglo-Polish Radio

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ORLA.fm logo since 2015
ORLA.fm logo since 2009

Anglo-Polish Radio (also known as Radio ORLA and ORLA.fm) is the only bi-lingual radio station for Polish and English-speaking audiences in the United Kingdom and Ireland[clarification needed]. The station also broadcasts to listeners in Poland. It is based in London. Bi-lingual journalist George Matlock is Radio ORLA's founder.[1] Since May 18, 2015, the station is exclusively a podcaster (a broadcaster of on-demand content in English and Polish languages).

ORLA.fm launched on 18 May 2006 after the British Broadcasting Corporation's decision to close many European language radio services in December of the previous year.

ORLA.fm is a community-based radio station which also accepts advertising and covers major Polish community events and champions the "little person" too. Its advertisers have included the UK's National Health Service, RyanAir, Wal-Mart's ASDA, Jet One and Wirtualna Polska.

The launch date was chosen because the station wanted to demonstrate a positive and landmark event in Poland's history. 18 May is the birthdate of the Polish Pope John Paul II, arguably the most famous Pole internationally.

The radio station aired more English music than Polish, largely based on what its listeners have said they wanted to hear. Often Polish audiences could hear English music on the playlist which had yet to appear in Poland! Uniquely, the station adopted a music rotation system airing music from the last 50 years. So in January it was January 1960, January 1975 and so on. In February, the playlist was from the past 50 years of chart music in February. But Radio ORLA.fm also broadcast more chill-out and alternative music.[2]

In 2014, a strategic review of the station by its founder concluded that listeners were mostly drawn to the station by its unique content, such as interviews and news reports, and that there was a saturation of music radio stations competing with on-demand music vendors such as Spotify and other content providers such as YouTube. The decision was taken to relaunch as an on-demand content provider, dropping music and the live stream.

ORLA.fm London routemaster bus since 2010. It can be hired by advertisers

Radio ORLA.fm has been a partner of Hayes FM 91.8 in west London since September 2007, when Hayes launched, and provided Hayes with the weekly English-language cultural show "London Bridge" hosted by presenter George Matlock and "Fine" Art Skupienski. A recent addition has been Briton Kingsley who offers his take on Poles. London Bridge ceased to broadcast in 2014 although podcasts of many of the shows are in the process of being rolled out on the station's on-demand platform.

The station's first studio was in Haven Green, right next to Ealing Broadway rail station and housed in the same building as the publication "Polski Goniec", with whom the station had a short-lived collaboration before the magazine launched an ill-fated online and FM radio station.

Among milestones...


  • ORLA.fm was the first Polish radio station to broadcast in FM solely to London when it partnered with Hayes 91.8 FM in September 2007. Until then, Polish programming on FM had been BBC Radio Coventry's one-hour a week show in the Midlands region since 1990 (ended in 2012) while short-lived Radio Supermowa in London was the first to broadcast a show on DAB but not FM in 2005 for six months.
  • ORLA.fm was the first to "mobile" broadcast among any Polish language radio stations in the UK when in 2008 it set up a mirror studio inside the "Positively Poland" exhibition at Kensington Olympia in London. The station was able to broadcast from the pop-up studio into the venue for three days of the event as well as live via connection to its Ealing Broadway studios. It even managed to broadcast a live concert from Polish legendary jazz guitarist Jarek Smietana, and the final day of the event, on May 18, 2008, coincided with the station's second birthday, so a Polish lancer ceremoniously cut the cake.
  • ORLA.fm was the only radio station in mainland United Kingdom to ever interview long-serving Polish Ambassador Barbara Tuge-Erecinska on a visit to the ORLA.fm Ealing Broadway studios in spring 2009. The ambassador's only other studio visit previously had been to the BBC radio studios in Northern Ireland.
  • ORLA.fm was the inaugural media patron of the Polish Jazz Cafe POSK since March 2007.
  • ORLA.fm celebrated its first five years as a broadcaster with an official party at the Polish Embassy in London on 29 November 2010, which coincided with the release of a limited edition souvenir CD pressing for guests chronicling landmark interviews by ORLA.fm as well as a snippet of the very first-ever show, which broadcast at 1800 hours on 18 May 2006. The embassy function was a half-day event and included a panel and audience recording for an edition of London Bridge presented by George Matlock from the embassy. The show was dedicated to the memory of Irena Anders, the actress and widow of Polish General Wladyslaw Anders, who had just died.
  • ORLA.fm first honorary patron was named in 2010 after the Smolensk air crash to be Lady Karolina Kaczorowski, the recent widow of the last Polish president-in-exile Ryszard Kaczorowski. Lady Karolina has maintained the association ever since.

Since January 2010, Radio ORLA.fm moved to a studio at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College, where it trained media students aged 16–18 years in radio reporting and production work.[3]

Early logo of ORLA.fm from 2007

But it was never all just about music. The station has interviewed Polish Presidents (Kwasniewski, Kaczynski, Komorowski) as well as the last Polish president-in-exile, the late Ryszard Kaczorowski, and an interview with Lech Wałęsa failed because of technical problems on a live broadcast outside London. The station has also interviewed sports and music personalities, actors, producers, club DJs, and even co-produced a 4-part bi-lingual biography of Prince Michal Kleofas Oginski, reportedly the composer of the Polish national anthem. The narrator was a direct descendent of Oginski, Iwo Zaluski.

Other cultural events have included a radio play about Frederik Chopin on his last tour, a visit to Britain, with musical performances by Peter Katin and others on the very same two pianos which Chopin performed on in the UK.

In January 2012, ORLA.fm launched an iPhone APP and in October 2013 an Android APP so that listeners can tune in and do other things while on-the-go on their smartphones or tablets.

In October 2013, ORLA.fm launched a marketing and content alliance with London-based Polish quality newspaper Nowy Czas.

Since the 2014 strategic review, ORLA.fm has focused on on-demand podcasts and its website is HTML5-compliant, ensuring content can be easily streamed or downloaded from any browser on devices like smartphones and tablets. However, an APP for Android is likely to be developed in 2016 to allow listeners to organise their on-demand content.

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