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Go behind the scenes of Gene Shay’s Folk Show farewell and hear a playback

Gene Shay, host of The Folk Show, retired yesterday after 50 years on the radio and 20 years on WXPN | Photo by John Vettese
Gene Shay, host of The Folk Show, during his final broadcast. He retired yesterday after 50 years on the radio and 20 years on WXPN | Photo by John Vettese

Gene Shay joked in the middle of the afternoon yesterday that he was in the middle of the longest retirement show any DJ has ever had. But the celebration was hardly unwarranted; Shay has been a guiding force in the Philadelphia folk community since the 1960s. He co-founded the Philadelphia Folk Festival and has hosted his Folk Show on various radio stations in the city – including XPN, where he had been for the past 20 years.

Yesterday, Shay’s broadcast career drew to a close with laughter, tears, some of his favorite music from over the years, and a surprise singalong featuring 111 musicians and friends from the Philadelphia area folk music community. Continue reading →

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Listen to Gene Shay talk to Bob Bumbera of the XPN Morning Show

A Gene Shay bobblehead doll
A Gene Shay bobblehead doll

This Sunday will be Gene Shay’s final Folk Show. After more than five decades as a guru of the genre on the Philadelphia airwaves – 20 of those years spent on WXPN – he is stepping down from his broadcaster’s mic to retire. This week he spoke with Bob Bumbera of the XPN morning show, who says “[Shay’s] name is synonymous with the music genre he has supported and cultivated for half a century.” Continue reading →

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25 locals (plus!) come together to sing for retiring XPN Folk Show host Gene Shay

ShayFestFaces
Photo by Lisa Schaffer

“Sing For Gene Shay” is a new tribute song to the “Dean of Folk DJs” Gene Shay in honor of his retirement this Sunday, February 1st as the host of WXPN’s Folk Show. Written, recorded and produced under the name of “Friends Of Gene,” 25 local musicians and a team of four producers and engineers came together to pay a loving tribute to Shay, who has been on the air for 50+ years hosting folk music in Philadelphia. Continue reading →

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Hear an archival performance from Richie Havens and new sets by Kicking Down Doors and Lover’s League on Sunday’s Folk Show with Gene Shay

Richie Havens | Photo by Heinrich Klaffs
Richie Havens performing in 1972 | Photo by Heinrich Klaffs

This past Sunday night on WXPN, long-time Folk Show host Gene Shay took his penultimate turn at the microphone with a show that, once again, mixed the old with the new.

While Gene dug into the archives for a 1967 interview with the legendary Richie Havens, as well as a 1977 interview with Germantown’s own Lew London, the show also contained performances by two standouts in the Philadelphia folk scene of today: Lover’s League and Kicking Down Doors (both of whom play the Winter Doldrums Festival at World Cafe Live on February 7th). Continue reading →

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Hear archival interviews with Ramblin Jack Elliott, Doc Watson and more on The Folk Show with Gene Shay

Ramblin' Jack Elliott | Photo by Douglas R Gilbert
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott (at right) looking over with Bob Dylan | Photo by Douglas R Gilbert

WXPN’s long-time Folk Show host Gene Shay continued his final run of shows behind the broadcaster’s mic on Sunday night, January 18th. In addition to live performances from Aaron Nathans and Michael Ronstadt as well as The Wannamaker Lewis Band, the show featured two interviews from Gene’s personal archives. Continue reading →

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Hear archival interviews with Joni Mitchell and Tom Rush on last night’s Folk Show with Gene Shay

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell

Last night on WXPN, long time Folk Show host Gene Shay began his final run behind the mic with a dip into his archives as well as a showcase of the present-day folk world. The show included a live session from long-running West Chester trio Mason Porter, as well as a revisit of sessions with Tom Rush from 1994 and 2001. In addition, Shay dug into his archives for a 1967 interview with Joni Mitchell, originally broadcast on WMMR. Continue reading →

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“A Godfather of Folk”: The Folksong Society weighs in on Gene Shay’s retirement from the air

Gene Shay | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Gene Shay | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

“Who’s he going to hand the baton to? Who’s the next Gene?” wonders Lisa Schwartz. “Because he just knows so much. … Everybody knows him, everybody loves him, he’s got an incredible ear.”

The president of the Philadelphia Folksong Society was reminiscing about a man she described as “a well-deserved godfather of folk,” Gene Shay, who this week announced his retirement from the airwaves. Sunday, January 11th, is the first of his final four runs hosting The Folk Show on WXPN, with his final show coming on February 1st.

“I can’t imagine a Sunday night without him on the airwaves,” Schwartz says. Continue reading →

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“The Dean of Folk DJs” Gene Shay will retire from the airwaves in February

Gene Shay | Photo by John Vettese
Gene Shay | Photo by John Vettese

An icon of the Philadelphia region’s music community, “Dean of Folk DJs”  Gene Shay will retire from the airwaves this winter after more than five decades on the air. The bittersweet announcement was made by WXPN this morning that his final turn at the helm of The Folk Show will be on February 1st.

Shay, who debuted on Philadelphia radio network WHAT in 1962 – and has hosted the folk show on WXPN since 1995 – says retirement affords him the time to travel and take on special projects that remain important to him. “[It] will allow me to enjoy spending more time with my family,” he says. “It gives me an opportunity to do more for the organizations that I have been working with over the years, such the American Composers Forum in Cleveland, the National Recording Academy in Hollywood, and other organizations.”

The weight of Shay’s departure is being felt by his colleagues; his retirement from broadcasting leaves big shoes to fill. Continue reading →