New York radio mainstay Rita Houston, who served as program director and on-air host at Fordham University’s WFUV, died Tuesday (December 15) after a six-year battle with cancer. Houston had stepped down from her role at WFUV earlier this month to spend time with her family. She was 59.
Houston was program director at the New York City public radio station for more than 25 years. She first came to WFUV in 1994 from Westchester, New York’s WXPS, where she had hosted the program Starlight Express. After a stint as a midday DJ, she started the Friday-night show The Whole Wide World, giving her a platform to highlight new artists from around the world. A renowned tastemaker with an outsized presence in New York City’s live music scene, she would help shape the station’s programming from mostly folk and Americana to include modern sounds with a more global perspective.