by Nathan Lerner
Held in Wiggins Waterfront Park and at the Susquehanna Bank Center, both on the Camden waterfront, the XPoNential Festival will begin this Friday, last for three days and include more than 30 artists. It will be produced by radio station WXPN.
Mt. Airy resident, John Vettese, will play a key role in the musical extravaganza. The 35-year old is the station’s social media coordinator, editor of The Key, the station’s blogsite, and co-host of the WXPN Philly Local show, heard every Tuesday from 9 to 10 p.m.
In 2009, the Ambler native moved to Mt. Airy, where he still lives with his wife and their two cats. He recalled, “When I was looking for a house, lots of other music scene folks told me to buy in South Philly or Fishtown, but Fishtown is the opposite of affordable anymore, and choosing between the Northwest and South Philly…I mean, it was obvious. I like trees.
“Having grown up just on the other side of the Philly border in Montgomery County, going through Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy to Lincoln Drive was the route I’d travel into the city growing up. So, it had that additional level of familiarity and comfort, and Chestnut Hill has a rich food and drink scene. I also think Hideaway is one of the best record stores in the city.”
Growing up, Vettese imagined a career involving music and the media. While attending Wissahickon High School, he would record cassette tapes of make-pretend radio shows with a cousin from South Jersey, and as a young kid, he had the usual ’60s’ pop influences such as Simon and Garfunkel and The Beach Boys. One of his cats is even named Garfunkel.
While still in high school, Vettese wrote CD reviews for a locally distributed, free music magazine called Rockpile. He attended Temple University as a journalism major with a photo concentration and an English Lit minor. After college, he covered music and art and provided photography for Philadelphia City Paper for 12 years, as well as several other publications.
Since it’s part of his WXPN job, when did John first became active with social media? “I don’t look at it as becoming active on social media since it’s always been there in my life. Before Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, there was MySpace, Friendster, LiveJournal, and if you want to go really far back, AOL and Prodigy.”
In 2006, Vettese started volunteering as an internet radio DJ on what was then Y-Rock on WXPN, the alternative rock-centric stream. He recalled, “In addition to picking up audio engineering in this roundabout and unexpected kind of way, I volunteered at the station in a few other capacities — answering phones at fund drives, flyering at concerts and pulling shifts during XPoNential Fest broadcasts.”
Vettese eventually got a gig doing online civic education writing at Penn’s Annenberg Public Policy Center while continuing to freelance for City Paper. But as City Paper started scaling down its print size, he began doing more and more web-exclusive writing for them, mostly concert reviews.
In 2011, Vettese started getting paid as a part-timer at WXPN, and in 2012 he became a full-time employee, editing The Key and managing the station’s social media.
According to John, “The Key involves writing posts and articles, working with a staff of contributors to edit and assign and plan out coverage. I look like it as an in-depth source covering the Philly music community. Kind of a digital music magazine.”
Vettese is looking forward to the upcoming XpoNential, the station’s signature event. He enthused, “You’ll leave with a handful of new favorite bands to check out!”
For more information on the XPoNential Music Festival, visit xpn.org/xponential-music-festival.
Nathan Lerner is an avid music fan. He welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.