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Folk DJ Hall of Fame

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.

2020 Inductees


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 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.


2019 Inductees


“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.



2018 Inductees

DIck pleasants

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

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

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.




2017 Inductees


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.



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.



Original Inductees







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.


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