Barb Heller - Host
Barb lives in Canton, NY and is a popular host on North Country Public Radio (NCPR). With degrees in biology and chemistry from St. Lawrence University, Barb did the most logical thing after graduation, she became a folk singer. She played and taught guitar and put together four albums: a duo album with Tom Richter, a collection of originals, one just for kids, and an instrumental Christmas album of guitar arrangements with Danny Gotham. When Gotham left his duties as host of a bluegrass show on NCPR 15 years ago, he suggested that Barb apply for the job and, with a little rearranging of the schedule, she accepted the challenge and added “DJ” to her skill list. In true upstate New York tradition, her first husband (who passed away in 1997) was a dairy farmer and, when she remarried, she chose a retired artificial inseminator of cows. Barb is a familiar face at the Gray Fox Bluegrass Festival, where she regularly serves as emcee.
Elena See - Host
"It's folk music all the time!" That's one reason Elena is so pleased to be working with Folk Alley. She first connected with her inner folkie while working as an assistant producer for Minnesota Public Radio's "A Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor. She also worked as the sound engineer for Keillor's daily literary program, "The Writer's Almanac." From Minnesota, she headed to the wilds of Maine to work as the music director for Maine Public Broadcasting, and then to the bustling city life of Washington, DC where she programmed the classical music channels for Sirius XM Satellite Radio. Currently, Elena works as a national host and producer for one of the nation's largest classical music services -- C24 which, since it's based in Minnesota, brings her home.
Gene Shay - Host
For more than 45 years, Gene Shay has been the Philadelphia folk scene's most visible representative, producing folk radio shows every Sunday since 1962 (currently on WXPN). A founder of the Philadelphia Folk Festival, he has been called the "Godfather of Philadelphia Folk Music" and "the dean of American folk DJs." Gene brought Bob Dylan to Philadelphia for his regional debut and wrote the original radio spots for Woodstock. Years later, he came up with the name "World Cafe" for the series produced by WXPN. For his own label, Sliced Bread, he produced The Philadelphia Folk Festival 40th Anniversary anthology and "What's That I Hear," a critically acclaimed Phil Ochs tribute album. Gene served as a Charter Board Member of the North American Folk & Dance Alliance; serves on the Board of The Philadelphia Folksong Society, The First Person Arts Foundation, The American Composers Forum and is a voting member on the Board of Governors of NARAS in Philadelphia. In 2005, he received Temple University's coveted Lew Klein Award for Excellence in Communications and was entered into the University's Radio & TV Hall Of Fame.
Jim Blum - Host
Jim has been sharing his love of folk music as a radio host on WKSU-FM for almost 30 years. Judy Collins called him, “A national treasure.” He also serves on the team that runs the Kent State Folk Festival. Jim grew up in the northeast Ohio Snow Belt and still lives there today. He’s nestled 500 feet from the road in a timberframe house, which he helped build. Jim is single but has a family of eight cats—Skoki, Bodo, Beedie, Lils, Arlo, Francis, Kiri and Liese1—and three dogs—Harriet, Callie, and Josie (named by listeners in a contest). Jim graduated with a B.A. from Kent State University, has been in over 30 plays, played bass in a bluegrass and swing band, and used to be a landscaper. It is his passion for the environment, animals, and, of course, folk music that keeps Jim busier than he sometimes wishes. This passion is broadcast to listeners along with Jim’s special mix of music. Jim, a vegetarian, also enjoys sampling India Pale Ales, playing contract Bridge, attending auctions, gardening and mountain biking.
Kim Ruehl - Music Writer & Critic
Kim Ruehl is a freelance music reporter whose criticism and feature articles have appeared in Billboard, Seattle, and CityArts magazines, as well as online at NPR.org, NoDepression.com, and About.com Folk Music. She lives in Asheville, NC, where she's writing a book about Zilphia Horton - the rural Tennessee teacher/musicologist who influenced Eleanor Roosevelt and Rosa Parks, helped turn "This Little Light of Mine" into an activist anthem, and introduced Pete Seeger to "We Shall Overcome."
Linda Fahey - Senior Director of Content
Linda Fahey joined the Folk Alley team in the spring of 2005. Her love for folk and folk-blues started early on while growing up in the folk-drenched Boston area. Her passion for music continued while pursuing degrees in her two other loves - field botany and forest ecology. From 1993-2000, while teaching natural history and environmental science at a small private college in the Adirondack Park of NYS, she presented and promoted folk and acoustic blues concerts in and around Saranac Lake. An unexpected twist of fate led to a job offer from Garrison Keillor to work for 'A Prairie Home Companion,' so she made the big move down from the mountains to the urban flatlands (and the relatively balmy climate) of St. Paul, Minnesota. While in St. Paul, she worked for Keillor for three seasons as his Associate Producer (aka talent booker), produced some live Keillor 'after-hours' radio specials, called 'Night Out', and the 'Live at the Fitz' concert series at the Fitzgerald Theater. After PHC, Linda went to work for the Twin Cities-based folk label Red House Records. Today, when she's not focused on all things folk, Linda is usually hiking or snowshoeing with her husband and 2 dogs (Luna and Savannah) in the Adirondacks, paddling her sea kayak, or obsessively following the Boston Red Sox. Go Sox!
Matt Reilly - Host
Matt Reilly, a Texas native, began his radio career in Austin, TX, working for KGSR, one of the country's most respected Triple A stations. He also spent time in front of the camera as a VJ on Austin Music Network, a local music video channel. In 2004, Reilly moved to Philadelphia to work for WXPN, a national vanguard in Triple A music. While there, he served as the station's Assistant Music Director and hosted the shows Jamnation, The New Music Show and The Indie Rock Hit Parade. Reilly and his wife, Jennifer, returned to Austin in July 2008 to be closer to family and enjoy the balmy Texas winters. He is currently the Program Director for KUTX, a recognized leader in eclectic music.
Matt Watroba - Host
Matt Watroba started his life in radio quite by accident. In the Summer of 1986, he found himself in the studios of Detroit public radio, WDET, promoting an upcoming music festival. By November of that same year he took over as host of the three hour folk music show on Saturday afternoons. He called the show “Folks Like Us” and this began a successful run of over twenty years. In that time, Matt has played thousands of songs, interviewed hundreds of musicians and became the voice of folk music in Southeast Michigan. As a performer, Matt has played festivals and concerts all over the U.S. and Canada. As a solo, with his group Jukebox Folk, or with his longtime musical partner Robert Jones you’re likely to find Matt wherever you find community music. Concert halls, schools, libraries, churches, senior centers, concerts under the stars—you name it, Matt’s played it. He also helped develop and host the local talk show, Detroit Today—a public affairs program featuring live conversations with interesting people in the news, from the arts and across the political spectrum. Matt is excited about sharing his passion for music and public radio with the listeners of WKSU and Folk Alley.