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Rita Houston
Born(1961-09-28)September 28, 1961 [1]
DiedDecember 15, 2020(2020-12-15) (aged 59)
PartnerLaura Fedele
ShowThe Whole Wide World
Station(s) WFUV
Country United States of America

Rita Houston (September 28, 1961 – December 15, 2020) was the Program Director of Fordham University’s public radio station WFUV and the host of the show The Whole Wide World. [2]

Houston was considered a "tastemaker" in the radio world, helping guide WFUV's musical direction for decades. [3] She was instrumental in the Required Listening series of shows showcasing new and lesser-well-known artists at The Bottom Line club in Greenwich Village; she also interviewed songwriters for the club’s In Their Own Words series. [4] She anchored National Public Radio's coverage of the Newport Folk Festival for several years and helped NPR with their best-of-the-year lists, as well as sometimes appearing on Morning Edition. [4]

Houston came to WFUV in 1994 from WXPS, where she had worked since the late 1980s, hosting the program Starlight Express. [5] She was known for showcasing new talent, such as David Gray. [5] She began as a DJ in the midday slot, and launched her own Friday night program, The Whole Wide World, in 2001. [5] On this show she continued to showcase new talent including Joan Osborne, Adele and Brandi Carlile who stated "Rita was the very first person to play my music on the radio". [5] She became program director in 2014.

Houston died of cancer in December 2020, having stepped down from her role at WFUV earlier in the month. [6] In March 2021, Houston was honored during the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards in memoriam segment. [7]

Further reading


  1. ^ "Rita Houston 1961-2020 WFUV". Retrieved 17 December 2020.
  2. ^ Manning, Kara (2020-12-15). "Rita Houston: Apostle of Artistry". WFUV. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  3. ^ "Rita Houston, Curator of Eclectic Sound on New York's WFUV, Dies at 59". Variety. 15 December 2020. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  4. ^ a b Verel, Patrick (2020-12-15). "Rita Houston, WFUV Program Director and National Music Tastemaker, Dies at 59". Fordham Newsroom. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  5. ^ a b c d "Rita Houston, Beloved DJ & Tastemaker at New York Radio Station WFUV, Dead at 59". Billboard. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  6. ^ Ruiz, Matthew Ismael (16 December 2020). "Rita Houston, New York City Radio Mainstay, Dead at 59". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  7. ^ "Recording Academy In Memoriam 2021". 2021-03-14. Retrieved 2021-03-22.