Meet Ian Zolitor, the new host of WXPN’s Sunday night Folk Show

Ian Zolitor | Photo by John Vettese
Ian Zolitor | Photo by John Vettese

The search for Gene Shay’s successor is over. After three months with a variety of interim hosts, Ian Zolitor was named the new permanent host of the WXPN Folk Show today. He will host the weekly show on Sunday nights from 8 to 10 p.m.

Zolitor, 30, has been Shay’s production assistant for the past two years, but his ties to the folk world go back much further.

“I grew up going to the Philadelphia Folk Festival,” Zolitor tells me over coffee at Earth Bread and Brewery, not far from his East Mt. Airy home. “I listened to Gene’s show on my radio. And my dad had boxes of tapes of Gene’s show from before I was born, so I also listened to those, developing my musical taste from that.”

He came on as Shay’s production assistant in April of 2013; as Zolitor puts it, he simply approached him out of a desire to learn more about folk music and folk radio. He hung out, observed and helped out where he could, and as he spent more time at the Folk Show, he became more hands-on, operating the broadcast sound board and coordinating live guests.

Reached at his Lower Merion home, Shay says he is “thrilled and delighted” that Zolitor would be following in his footsteps. “He has the interest, he has the knowledge, the background and the disposition to continue what I tried to do with the music I love,” Shay says. He describes Zolitor as humble, friendly, eager to turn to Shay for advice and well-versed in folk.

Zolitor credits growing up in a very musical household with his interest in folk. 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 →


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 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 →


The Folkadelphia Concert Series kicks off Feb. 6th w/performances by The Spinning Leaves and Hezekiah Jones

FolkadelphiaThe Folkadelphia Concert Series—co-presented by the Philadelphia Folksong Society and WXPN—will celebrate its inaugural show on Sunday, February 6th, at Johnny Brenda’s and feature performances by local favorites The Spinning Leaves and Hezekiah Jones. The concert series is organized by WXPN’s own Fred Knittel, who—in addition to co-founding the vinyl-centric local label Be Frank Records—hosts the weekly folk-music show Folkadelphia on Y Rock every Tuesday night from 6-8 p.m. The other shows in the three-concert series will feature Lewis & Clarke (Sunday, Feb. 20) and Meg Baird + Arborea (Sunday, Feb. 27). Each concert will include a discussion with the performing artists at the venue that afternoon; the artists will then appear on The Folk Show with Gene Shay (8-11 p.m. Sundays) later that night.

For more information on the series, visit the Johnny Brenda’s website.