Gene Shay

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Gene Shay (born Ivan Shaner, March 4, 1935 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American radio personality.[1] He is a representative of Philadelphia's folk music scene. He has produced weekly folk radio shows since 1962 (now on WXPN and his final show on WXPN was February 1, 2015; previously heard on WDAS-FM, WMMR, WIOQ and WHYY-FM). A founder of the annual Philadelphia Folk Festival and its emcee since its inception, he has been called the "Dean of American folk DJs"[2] by The Philadelphia Daily News and "The Grandfather of Philadelphia Folk Music"[2] by The Philadelphia Inquirer. Shay also serves as a host for the online "Folk Alley" stream originating at Kent State University station WKSU and carried on WXPN's website.


His early interviews with Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, John Denver, Tom Waits, Phil Ochs, Bonnie Raitt and Judy Collins are almost legendary—some of these recorded interviews have been bootlegged.

Shay was the first to bring Bob Dylan to Philadelphia in 1963 for his debut concert. As an advertising writer and producer, he wrote the original radio commercials for Woodstock. He helped design the famous "smiling banjo" logo for the Philadelphia Folk Festival and years later came up with the name World Cafe for the nationally syndicated series produced by WXPN and distributed by National Public Radio.

For a few years he edited and published Singer-Songwriter, a newsletter that had subscribers in the United States, Canada and Japan.

Awards and achievements[edit]

He received a lifetime achievement award from the Delaware Valley Music Poll in 1994 and was inducted into Temple University's Radio, TV & Theater Hall of Fame on October 25, 2005.

He is a partner in Sliced Bread Records and has produced a number of folk music collections for that label. The most notable may have been What's That I Hear, The Songs Of Phil Ochs, a tribute album featuring Phil Ochs songs interpreted by more than a score of popular folksingers, and the Philadelphia Folk Festival 40th Anniversary Anthology, a historic 2 CD collection of recorded Festival performances from Pete Seeger, Bonnie Raitt, Fairport Convention, John Prine, Arlo Guthrie and many others. The Moses Rascoe Blues album he produced for Flying Fish Records was considered for a Grammy nomination.

Shay served as a Charter Board Member of the North American Folk Alliance, served on the Board of Sing Out! Magazine, the national folk music quarterly founded by Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger in the late 1940s, and he is a voting member on the Board of Governors of NARAS in Philadelphia.


  1. ^ "The Folk Show". Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Folk Alley with Gene Shay now heard on Sirius XM The Village". Folk Alley. Retrieved 22 January 2011.

External links[edit]