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Ihor Pelykh could have turned 50 today: the life of the legendary TV presenter who died in a terrible accident 14 years ago

Darya SkubEntertainment
Ihor Pelykh made a breakthrough in modern journalism.

A small studio called Radio Ternopil, 1997. "What can you do?" the director Oksana Yatsynovska asked the unknown Ihor Pelykh. "I can talk," he replied laconically, mentioning the only experience as a shoe repairman and a little bit of work at another radio station. As it turned out later, he was a masterful speaker, such a good one that he became a television legend, a professional journalist and producer. He didn't need scripts or preparations. Pelykh knew how to improvise...

This year, on February 3, the presenter would have turned 50. Unfortunately, fate decreed otherwise. At 35, his life was cut short by a terrible accident in Kyiv. In an article by OBOZ.UA, we decided to recall what kind of person Ihor Pelykh was like on screen and in daily life.

Hot-tempered youth

Ihor was born in Ternopil and had a rather difficult childhood. His parents divorced, so the boy lived some time with his mother, and then his father. After finishing the 8th grade, he studied to become a shoe repairman at the Ternopil Higher Vocational School of Services and Tourism. "I remember reading a lot as a child and being a guy with a completely non-mathematical mindset. I had a hard time with the exact sciences, and if the lesson was not related to letters, I always cheated. A lot of time in my childhood was spent on the street, despite all my parents' attempts to get me to listen to some music," Pelykh described his childhood in a simple and frank way in an interview with the NGO Detector Media.

Ihor Pelykh could have turned 50 today: the life of the legendary TV presenter who died in a terrible accident 14 years ago

He earned my first money at a shoe factory. At the same time, he managed to practice freestyle wrestling and play bass in the rock band Nameless. By the way, the band has trained many young and creative musicians, including Serhii Nedashkovskyi (drummer of the band S.K.A.Y.) and Oleh Lomakovskyi (formerly a drummer of the band Haidamaky, and now defending Ukrainian lands from Russian invaders with arms).

In an interview for Vsem.ua, the leader of the rock band Zorian Bezkorovainyi shared how he remembers Pelykh, "At one time, Nameless was the first band in Ukraine to perform with peculiar performances... Imagine the shock when some other strange movie was broadcast on the wall behind the musicians. This, by the way, was Ihor's idea. He really appreciated all kinds of video stuff. His passion for video at the time influenced him to become a TV journalist... He was proud, ambitious, and self-loving enough to accept help from us. Ihor achieved everything in this life on his own."

Bezkorovainyi and Pelykh were united by something more than music. The two met in 1989 and became members of the youth organization SNUM (Union of Independent Ukrainian Youth).

"We used to paste leaflets together calling for the declaration of Ukraine's independence. As a result, we spent two days together in a Ternopil detention center, where we became true friends and like-minded people," Zorian shared his memories with Open.ua.

How he won the minds and hearts of listeners/viewers

Ihor Pelykh began his career in the media at the Ternopil Regional State Radio Company, where he hosted the youth program Veselyi Rodzher for a year. In 1997, he moved to the FM station Radio Ternopil, where he was given more freedom in the way he presented information (of course, he chose informal, sincere and relaxed reporting).

In the late 90s, Pelykh decided to further his career, so he moved to Kyiv. In the capital, he studied at the Institute of Journalism at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv from 1998 to 1999, where he improved his skills in public speaking.

Immediately after graduation, he worked as an announcer at Radio Capital. Two years later, he became a TV presenter on the 1+1 channel, where he hosted the interactive program Ne Vsi Vdoma (he was cast thanks to his future wife, Oleksandra Lozynska, whom he met on the Internet). While the younger generation was unlikely to see these episodes, the older generation will never forget them. Even though Pelykh often joked and talked fast, he was loved for that.

As usual, the program's guests were young Ukrainian artists, including vocalists Kuzma Scriabin, Sviatoslav Vakarchuk and TNMK. It is immodest to add that the format and presentation of the show helped these and other stars to improve their recognition. What is the secret? Ihor's unconventional, friendly communication with the guests of the program, as if there were no cameras around.

Ihor Pelykh could have turned 50 today: the life of the legendary TV presenter who died in a terrible accident 14 years ago

When the program was canceled, the TV presenter was not too upset and, together with his mother-in-law, came up with an interesting idea for the next show, Halopom po Evropam (on ICTV). In short, Ihor had to catch people on the streets and look for those who had a foreign passport (back in the early 2000s, not every Ukrainian had such a "treasure"). The way the host stopped passers-by deserves a movie of its own! The lucky ones had the opportunity to go on a seven-day vacation to one of the world's resorts with their beloved or with a stranger. However, they had to complete some quests before traveling.

The new project lasted for four seasons. During this time, Ihor managed to win the hearts of a large cohort of fans. He broke stereotypes about camera filming and appropriately added tracks by Ukrainian musicians to the stories. In addition, he managed to get even the most modest strangers talking. Where did this skill come from?

"As for television, we started doing this when we were children, in Ternopil. We used to put a microphone cord and a broken camera lens into an old backpack and imitate a reporter's shooting. We approached people on the street, choosing the most prominent personalities, and asked all sorts of provocative questions while choking on their laughter. Then they would run away, laugh enough and go hunting again," said musician, composer and TV presenter Andrii "Nichlava" Pidluzhnyi, who "met" Ihor in the hospital, in an interview.

He added, "Ihor was the same in real life as on camera, which is absolutely open, honest, cheerful... He was such a sunshine person! Ihor was also a huge patriot. He was one of the first to be taken to the police for hanging a yellow and blue flag instead of a red one! Ihor was among the students who went on hunger strike and in the forefront of the Orange Revolution."

Ihor Pelykh could have turned 50 today: the life of the legendary TV presenter who died in a terrible accident 14 years ago

Pelykh closed the travel project on his own initiative. The reason is that the channel's vision of the Orange Revolution was different. As viewers were waiting for a sequel, he and Fozzy (a member of the TNMK band; real name: Oleksandr Sydorenko) launched another successful show, Na Svoiu Holovu (2004-2007), and created the Rohy i Kopyta Production studio.

The hosts became friends not only on the set but also in real life. This is evidenced by the lyrics of the song "Fidel" by TNMK, recorded in 2015, "Pelykh is still alive... I'm a child, I'm still a kid." With these words, Fozzy hints that Pelykh can remain forever alive in the hearts and memories of people who knew and loved him. In 2019, the artist released another track in honor of his friend, "Zioma, Ne Chudi". On February 3, 2023, on Ihor's birthday, Fozzy posted an archive photo of Pelykh sitting on a bed in his room, with Oleksandr Polozhynskyi, the former leader of the Tartak band, next to him. "What's up, Ihor? Happy birthday," the author wrote.

Fozzy does not forget about his friend's family. In December 2023, he pleased his fans with a new song "Znaidy Mene". The video features Ihor Pelykh's son Ivan. By the way, the 21-year-old has been defending Ukraine from the Russian invaders since the beginning of the full-scale war.

Ihor Pelykh could have turned 50 today: the life of the legendary TV presenter who died in a terrible accident 14 years ago
Ihor Pelykh could have turned 50 today: the life of the legendary TV presenter who died in a terrible accident 14 years ago

Oleksandr Polozhynskyi, who left the Tartak band and joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine (mentioned above), gave a comprehensive answer about Ihor's professionalism, "During one difficult period when Ihor was unemployed, he complained to me about dishonest TV producers to whom he offered his projects: they listened to his ideas, took the projects he had written, and then tried to implement them without him. And none of these projects were successful. This was because these producers did not understand one thing: only Pelykh could make Pelykh's project successful."

On screen, the host often looked frivolous, but this is a misconception. In fact, he always analyzed which format would be interesting for the audience. He also filled the stories with joyful emotions (which were so needed in the turbulent noughties). Pelykh formed the budget for the programs, looked for sponsors and channels to cooperate with. How did he manage all this? This man could do anything?

"It is very important not to be afraid to delegate some authority to the team, to individuals. To give them the opportunity to feel that they are responsible for it, that they have to cope with it, that they are important. Every producer needs a "gut feeling," regardless of whether it's a producer on television or in show business," Pelykh said.

He also had bigger projects in mind (for example, filming a movie). However, he did not have time to realize these dreams... Ihor tragically died on May 8, 2009, in a car accident in Kyiv. He was a passenger in a Volkswagen Passat. The car was hit by a Honda, and Pelykh died on the spot from the injuries he sustained in the collision. He is survived by his wife, Oleksandra Lozynska, and three children, his son Ivan, and daughters Solomiia and Ustyna.

Ihor Pelykh could have turned 50 today: the life of the legendary TV presenter who died in a terrible accident 14 years ago
Ihor Pelykh could have turned 50 today: the life of the legendary TV presenter who died in a terrible accident 14 years ago

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