David Olney (Photo by Jamie Kalikow)
Over his 50-year career in professional radio, John Platt has been, among other things, a disc jockey, a program director, a producer, a marketing and promotions director, and a communications director. He's also witnessed the evolution in music over the decades. Now retired from full-time employment, he's devoting his time to his weekly Sunday Supper program and enhancing the world of contemporary folk music.
John got into radio as progressive rock was gaining a foothold on FM radio in the late '60s. He was working as the program director of the Princeton University radio station when, thanks to being in the right place at the right time, he began his professional career at WMMR in Philadelphia. After graduation in 1970, Platt headed to Chicago, where as program director and air personality he helped launch the eclectic music format at nationally-renowned WXRT. He stayed in Chicago through the decade, a fertile time for folk music there, as the careers of Steve Goodman and John Prine took off.
At the close of the '70s, John moved to New York as the program director of another legendary station, WRVR. After the station changed ownership and format in 1980, John produced several national radio series and wrote for MTV until he hooked up with Pete Fornatale at WNEW-FM in 1985. He produced Pete's influential Mixed Bag program (later known as The Sunday Show on K-Rock) for 11 years, filling in when Pete was on vacation and interviewing artists such as Tom Waits, Randy Newman and Bonnie Raitt. All the while John was working full-time as the Promotion & Marketing Director at WNEW-AM and WYNY and later, having converted to public radio, as the Marketing & Communications Director at WNYC. It was his work with Pete Fornatale which prompted WFUV to contact Platt in April 1997.
For 21 years until October, 2018, John divided his time at WFUV between full-time management positions and host of a weekly program, originally "Sunday Breakfast" and later "Sunday Supper." (It continues to air Sundays from 5-6pm.) The show has featured theme sets, artist salutes and artist interviews, ranging from icons like Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and Graham Nash to up-and-comers such as the Milk Carton Kids, Red Molly, and the Brother Brothers.
John's commitment to emerging artists led to the creation of On Your Radar, a monthly showcase he curates at Rockwood Music Hall in New York City, as well as regularly hosting concerts throughout the metropolitan area. That commitment has also inspired the not-for-profit New Folk Initiative and the website newfolk.org as a platform for his on-air and online endeavors within the folk community.
The father of two grown daughters and grandfather of three, he lives on Long Island with his wife of more than 45 years, Sheila Sheffield Platt. He is active in his church and community.