Introducing the Inaugural Gene Shay Folk DJ Scholarship

Gene Shay, retired host of The Folk Show

Two years after his final show with WXPN ended, folk music legend Gene Shay’s long and storied career as one of Philadelphia’s legendary radio personalities and the “Dean of Folk DJs”, continues to support the next generation of radio and folk industry broadcasters through his legacy. After the outpouring of camaraderie around the on-air tribute to Gene Shay on his last broadcast show on WXPN on February 1, 2015, Rich Warren (WFMT Radio / Chicago) and John Platt (WFUV / NYC) suggested the spirit be kept alive. In 2016 they met with Biff Kennedy (Charterhouse Music Group / Philadelphia, PA) and came up with a way to do just that – and have now presented the inaugural Gene Shay Folk DJ Scholarship, which will provide financial support for one new folk DJ to attend the Folk Alliance International Conference and more, every year. Continue reading →


Watch the folk community’s heartfelt singalong to honor Gene Shay

Still from footage of Gene Shay's Farewell show (
Still from Gene Shay’s Farewell show | via YouTube

Legendary Folk DJ Gene Shay was in for a big surprise after closing out his final Folk Show a few weeks back. Shay was led into a room with over 100 folk musicians who had prepared an enormous singalong for the DJ as a tribute to the man’s overwhelming contributions to the Philadelphia folk scene. After 20 years with WXPN, The Folk Show host retired to focus efforts on other projects he is involved in, but not before the folk scene would give him a genuine, heartfelt farewell. Continue reading →


See photos of Gene Shay’s 80th birthday tribute at the First Unitarian Church starring Tom Paxton, Janis Ian and more

Photo by Jayne Toohey |
Photo by Jayne Toohey |

Despite the snow and sleet falling from the sky on Sunday, a packed house of folk music enthusiasts, performers and friends of Gene Shay filled the sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church to celebrate the legendary folk DJ’s 80th birthday. The concert, which featured big names like Tom Paxton, Janis Ian, Tony Trischka and David Bromberg, was a benefit show for Sing Out! Magazine.

Shay retired from the XPN airwaves in early February – see photos from his final show here – in order to focus on other projects and organizations he’s been involved with over the years. As a long time board member of Sing Out!, this benefit fell into that category, and he showed up to the even decked out in a Willie Wonka-esque purple top had and scarf, jovial as ever. Below, check out a gallery of photos from the event shot by folk scene photographer Jayne Toohey Continue reading →


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 →


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 →


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

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 →


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 →


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 →


Listen to a 1967 recording of Joni Mitchell at the Second Fret

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell with Gene Shay (center) and Ed Sciaky (Shay’s left)

If you heard Gene Shay’s archived interview with Joni Mitchell last Sunday on the Folk Show, this will be a great companion listen (if you didn’t catch the show, listen back to it here). To accompany the on-air interview with Shay, his former assistant Ed Sciaky recorded Mitchell’s show at the Second Fret on Sansom St. in March of 1967. During the hour-long performance she sings “Morning Morgantown,” “From Both Sides Now,” and other favorites while explaining the backstories of each song in between. Listen to the recording below and read more about Shay’s retirement here. His next shift on the Folk Show is this Sunday, January 18th at 8 p.m.

Continue reading →