Folk DJ Hall of Fame
The Folk DJ Hall of Fame has been established to recognize radio DJs who have made an outstanding contribution to the preservation, promotion, and presentation of folk music, and who have demonstrated and inspired leadership in the broadcast field.
FAI members can nominate a candidate here.
Angela Page has hosted Folk Plus since the early nineties on hydro-powered WJFF 90.5 FM Radio Catskill in Jeffersonville, New York. A blend of music from the contemporary folk scene, Angela draws from her experience of music gathered from over years of running college folk venues in the late 70s, the SpeakEasy in Greenwich Village through the early 80s, and her involvement with the production of the Fast Folk Musical Magazine. Angela has been a North East Regional Folk Alliance (NERFA) showcase judge for both the formals and Tri-Centric Showcases, as well as the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. She presented at various conferences including Folk Music Ontario and reviewed for SingOut! Magazine. Angela believes that “the definition of folk music can vary as greatly as the difference in space between a living room and a stadium. Each week I explore a theme with the music and artists that I call Folk”.
Dr. Jonathan Øverby is a Wameru Chief, artist, lecturer, ethnomusicologist, producer, and radio host. He began his broadcast career as a student on-air at WAUK in Milwaukee. His four-hour program entitled “The Road to Higher Ground with Jonathan Øverby”, is heard weekly on the NPR News and Music Network of Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR). His world music research and guided tours have seen him travel the globe, and inform his latest WPR program “The Odyssey Series”. The University of Wisconsin conferred Dr. Øverby with the title of “Distinguished” Wisconsin Public Radio Broadcaster and later presented him with the “Wisconsin Idea” Award for his “outstanding contributions to service and education to society, and the quality of life in Wisconsin, the nation, and the world.” Dr. Øverby holds that “people might better understand the human condition through varied traditions of sacred world music, which may have the potential for building bridges between diverse groups while illuminating and celebrating cultural diversity and the inclusion of marginalized groups.”
Manolo Fernández has been producing his program Toma Uno every weekend since 1973 to highlight the folk-roots music of America. Since 1982 it has been featured on different radio stations of Spanish public radio (Radio Nacional de España). He has released three compilations of the music of his show (Sin Rodeos, Toma Uno-Radio Con Botas, and Lo Mejor de Toma Uno) and was awarded in 2009 in the Media category by the European Country Music Association (European CMA). In addition to his work on radio, he’s been employed on television networks such as CNN+ and Non Stop People, as well as wrote columns, articles and interviews on newspapers and magazines including Billboard, Cash Box, El País, ABC, Diario 16, El Mundo, Ya and Ruta 66, among others. He has worked as a consultant and specialist in marketing for several record companies (like RCA, Warner, MCA and EMI), advised and hosted music festivals, spoken at conferences, and taught at the Instituto de RTVE.
JoAnn Mar is a veteran radio announcer, producer and host of Folk Music & Beyond, heard every Saturday from 3 to 5 pm on KALW 91.7 in San Francisco, California. The show is in its 33rd year and features folk, Celtic, and global roots music and interviews. In her spare time, she is a radio documentary producer/journalist and news reports and features have aired on NPR, Voice of America, The Charles Osgood File, Pacifica Radio, and AARP’s series Prime Time Radio. Topics covered include prisons, end-of-life, women’s issues, the plight of immigrants and public education. In 2006, Mar received the prestigious George Polk award for investigative reporting on prison privatization. More recently, she was the recipient of a 2007 media fellowship from the Open Society Institute and produced the in-depth, award-winning documentary “Prisons In Crisis: A State Of Emergency In California.”
Chopper McKinnon founded ‘Canadian Spaces’ on CKCU FM in Ottawa in September, 1980. He produced and hosted the program for 33 years, giving airplay and encouragement to countless singer-songwriters and other musicians along the way. Every Saturday morning, he invited the show’s loyal listeners – known as the ‘Space Cadets’ – to ‘put the kettle on’ and enjoy live performances and relaxed, in-depth interviews with musicians from across Canada and beyond. As Canada’s longest-running folk radio show, ‘Canadian Spaces’ continues to be a vital hub and sounding board for musicians locally, nationally and internationally. CKCU created the Ottawa Folk Festival in 1993 in response to the size and enthusiasm of Chopper’s audience. Chopper died in 2013 and is sorely missed by the Ottawa music community and his extended listening audience.
MARY KATHERINE ALDIN
Mary Katherine Aldin began her career in public radio in 1976, when she began producing, hosting and engineering a Sunday night blues show, “Preaching the Blues,” on KPFK, the Pacifica Radio outlet in Los Angeles. About a year later she added a folk music and bluegrass show “Alive and Picking,” which she hosted on community radio station KCSN. She continued hosting both shows for many years. When KCSN went to a classical format, she migrated the folk show over to KPFK. She continues doing “Alive and Picking/Roots Music and Beyond” on Saturday mornings and is now in her 44th year on the Southern California airwaves. In addition to her work in radio, she has produced and annotated over 200 albums of American roots music for several labels, including MCA/Universal, Rockbeat, Vanguard, RCA/BMG, MCA/Chess, Rhino, CBS/Sony and Smithsonian-Folkways. She has also contributed essays to several books on folk music and blues.
American Routes creator and host Nick Spitzer is a veteran of college and underground radio from Philadelphia’s WXPN-FM and WMMR-FM to Austin’s legendary alt.country KOKE-FM. He has been a documentary record, film, festival and exhibit producer for Arhoolie, Rounder, and Folkways Records as well the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, PBS’s Great Performances, NPR’s All Things Considered and ABC’s Nightline among others. A former Louisiana state folklorist, Nick directed the radio concert series Folk Masters at Carnegie Hall and the American Roots Independence Day broadcasts from the National Mall. He is a professor of folklore and anthropology at Tulane University in New Orleans.
Holger Petersen is a record producer, label owner, broadcaster, author, educator, festival producer, album collector – and serious music fan. Since 1969, Holger has hosted Natch’l Blues on Alberta’s public radio broadcaster CKUA. At 50 years, it’s one of the world’s longest-running blues programs. He also hosts Saturday Night Blues, now in its 33rd year, across Canada on CBC Radio One and CBC Music, and across North America on SiriusXM 169. He has been interviewing blues and roots music artists since the late ’60s, including Doc Watson and Mavis Staples. He was named ‘Best Public Broadcaster’ by the Blues Foundation in Memphis in 2009. In 1975 he co-founded Canada’s Stony Plain Records. The label has won fifteen Juno Awards and has been nominated for six GRAMMYs®. The label celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2016. Holger is a founder and past Artistic Director of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. He was named to the Order of Canada in 2003 and is a recipient of two honorary ‘Doctor of Letters Degrees’ presented by Athabasca University (2004) and the University of Alberta (2012) in recognition of his contributions to Canadian Culture and Public Broadcasting. His first book of interviews ‘Talking Music: Blues Radio and Roots Music’ was published in 2011 by Insomniac Press. His second book ‘Talking Music2: Blues and Roots Music Mavericks’ was published in 2017.
“Whispering” Bob Harris OBE has been at the very heart of UK music scene for the best part of fifty years. He has established a worldwide reputation as one of the most trusted and influential broadcasters of his generation – described by Radio Times as “…one of the greats of British contemporary music broadcasting” and by The Mail On Sunday as “a national treasure.” Few people have taken as many bands into mainstream consciousness as Bob Harris – from his groundbreaking work in the 1970’s on BBC Radio 1 and the legendary Old Grey Whistle Test TV shows to his current program Bob Harris Country on BBC Radio 2. Iconic artist Robert Plant stated, “He champions the unknown, the obscure and legendary with equal zest and detail.”
As a radio host and performer, Matt Watroba has spent most of his adult life sharing his knowledge and passion for folk music with just about anyone who would listen. He made his radio debut as producer and host of the popular Folks Like Us program, a show that ran for over two decades on Detroit public radio. He has interviewed hundreds of performers, from Pete Seeger to Townes Van Zandt, and he has hosted and produced syndicated shows for Sing Out! Magazine and Folk Alley. Matt has contributed programming to WEMU in Ypsilanti, MI, WKSU in Kent, OH, and is currently on WKAR in East Lansing, MI.
Born in Tennessee and raised in the Boston area, Wanda Fischer learned about folk music as a child from her father, who was a close friend of members of the Carter Family. During the 1960s, she frequented the Boston-area coffeehouses, sometimes as a performer, sometimes a spectator. In 1975, she volunteered at a community radio station and found herself doing a folk music show on the air for four years. After moving to the Albany, New York area in 1982, WAMC-FM, a major NPR affiliate, finally acquiesced and gave her a spot on Saturday night, following A Prairie Home Companion. She’s been on the air since then with The Hudson River Sampler for the past 36 years, for a total of 40 years in radio. She still plays and sings sometimes, for fun now.
Pleasants began his career hosting folk music programs on radio stations around Emerson College in Boston. Pleasant helped to start and manage the first full-time commercial folk music station and has launched and led many iconic music events and venues in the Northeast including Summer Acoustic Music Week, the Boston Folk Festival, and the South Shore and Woods Hole Folk Music Clubs. For the final 15 years of his on-air radio, Pleasants hosted a daily radio show on UMass Boston’s public radio station, WUMB.
Fiona Ritchie MBE has hosted one of NPR’s most popular music programs, The Thistle & Shamrock, each week for over three decades. Ritchie joined NPR member station WFAE-FM in Charlotte, NC, in 1981, soon after graduating from from Scotland’s University of Stirling, and in 1986 became the full-time producer and host. Ritchie launched Radio Scotland’s world music series “Celtic Connections” in 1993. In 2018, her Thistleradio music channel was designated “Best Music Show: Country/Folk/Blues” in the Online Radio Awards.
Mary Cliff is the long-time host of Traditions radio show. Traditions explores the diversity of folk music, including bluegrass, blues, ballads, ethnic, topical and political. Cliff fell into radio in 1966 as a typist, and began hosting in 1968. For 35 years as a WETA staffer, Cliff produced and presented classical and other music, news, public affairs, and interviews.
The late host of the world’s longest-running radio show Oscar Brand’s Folksong Festival on WNYC-AM 820 in New York City, which ran for 70 years.
Ottawa based veteran music journalist, broadcaster and host of Folk Roots/Folk Branches radio show, which was heard on Montreal’s CKUT from 1994-2007.
HOWARD AND ROZ LARMAN
The late hosts of FolkScene, a highly influential syndicated music program started in 1970 on KPFK-FM (90.7) in Southern California. FolkScene is now hosted by Roz and Howard Larman’s son, Alan Larman, his wife, Kat Griffin, and the show’s longtime engineer Peter Cutler and his wife Deborah Hand.
Gene Shay was frequently referred to as the “Dean of Folk DJs.” His career spanned more than five decades on six different radio stations in the Philadelphia market. Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Phil Ochs, and Tom Waits are just a few of the artists he interviewed early in their careers, a tradition that he continued throughout his lifetime.
Beyond his radio work, Gene brought Bob Dylan to Philadelphia in 1963 for his debut concert, was a co-founder of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, and co-owner of Sliced Bread Records. Gene was present at the creation of Folk Alliance International, and he was given FAI’s first Folk DJ Lifetime Achievement Award. Above all, he was a friend and mentor to countless artists and DJs.
In his honor, the Gene Shay Scholarship was established to annually send a Folk DJ to their first FAI conference.
Rich Warren grew up in Evanston, Illinois. When he left for the University of Illinois in 1968, he created the radio show Changes on a local station, an unabashed imitation of The Midnight Special. Since 1974, Rich has recorded a thousand folk music concerts and produced and hosted the WFMT Folk Music Festival. In 1983, Rich became a co-host of The Midnight Special, and later became its sole host in 1996. In 1999, he launched Folkstage, a live concert series from WFMT’s Levin Performance Studio. Rich has also contributed to newspapers and magazines as a freelance technology writer, and as a reviewer for Sing Out! magazine. In 2008, Folk Alliance International honored him as Folk DJ of the Year. In 2017, he was inducted by FAI into the Folk DJ Hall of Fame.