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Fischer, Ochs earn folk music honors

Fischer, Ochs earn folk music honors

ALBANY -- Wanda Fischer, host of "Hudson River Sampler" for 36 years on WAMC-Northeast Public Radio, has been selected to the Folk DJ Hall of Fame by the International Folk Music Alliance.

A Guilderland resident, Fischer heard the news earlier this week when she was contacted by the Folk Alliance International in Kansas City, Missouri.

"I am overwhelmed and blown away," said Fischer, who grew up in Weymouth, Massachusetts. "Some of the people already in there were the real shakers and movers in the industry. Rich Warren, from WFMT in Chicago, and Gene Shay of Philadelphia. It is a real honor."

Inducted into the DJ Hall of Fame with Fischer were Bob Harris of BBC Radio and Matt Watroba of WKAR in East Lansing, Michigan.

One of Fischer's mentors, Dick Pleasants of WUMB in Boston, was inducted last year shortly before passing away.

"He was the person responsible for me even thinking about getting into radio," Fischer said of Pleasants. "When I had the opportunity to do a radio show in Worcester (Massachusetts), I told him, 'Dick, I don't know if I can do this.' He just said back at me, 'yes, you can.'"

Fischer will officially be inducted into the Folk Music Hall of Fame at the group's annual awards ceremony Feb. 13 in Montreal at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel.

"I am definitely going to be there," said Fischer, who also recently published her first novel, "Empty Seats," about growing up in the Boston area as a Red Sox fan. "They have it for five years in the U.S. and then in the sixth year they do it in Canada. I'm looking forward to it."

Also being honored in Montreal in 2019 will be Sonny Ochs, winner of a Spirit of Folk Award. These awards are annually presented to celebrate people and organizations actively involved in the preservation, presentation and promotion of folk music.

Ochs was born in Scotland, grew up in Long Island and the Buffalo area, and taught junior high English for 20 years, finishing up her teaching career in Richmondville. She currently lives in Middleburgh and has produced folk music concerts at various venues in the Capital Region, including the Mabee Farm Historic Site in Rotterdam Junction.

The sister of popular 1960s folk musician Phil Ochs, Sonny Ochs has also hosted a radio program called "Folk Music & Other Stuff" since the 1980s.

Among the major performers inducted into the Folk Music Hall of Fame in 2019 will be Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen.

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