WFUV program director and DJ Rita Houston has died after a long battle with cancer. She was 59. Chuck Singleton, the station's general manager, shared the sad news via a moving tribute on WFUV's website, writing, "Rita was the north star of WFUV’s sound and its public service, guiding the station’s musical direction for decades. She was a New York original, a trailblazing woman of exceptional talent who shaped a unique style behind the microphone — informed and informal, intimate, warm, genuine. But also, one of tremendous joy."

Rita celebrated her 25th anniversary at WFUV in 2019 and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said she's left an "indelible mark" on the city, “bringing joy to listeners throughout the five boroughs, providing a platform for new talent that deserves to be heard, and enriching the cultural vitality of our city.”

Read Chuck Singleton's tribute in full below. Rest in peace, Rita.

It is with great sadness that we at WFUV share news that we have lost Rita Houston, our much-loved program director and iconic DJ to generations of listeners — listeners who regarded her as their radio friend. Rita left this world this morning, December 15, 2020, in the loving company of her wife and our colleague, Laura Fedele, and her family. Our hearts are with Laura, with Rita’s sister Deb, her brothers Rich and Rob, and their families, and the family of her late brother, Bill.

You may know that Rita had been fighting cancer for six years. Her courage and resolve were an inspiration. Cancer or no cancer, she gave her all every day — to her dear Laura and their family, to her friends and colleagues, to WFUV and our listeners, and to artists and music lovers everywhere.

Rita was the north star of WFUV’s sound and its public service, guiding the station’s musical direction for decades. She was a New York original, a trailblazing woman of exceptional talent who shaped a unique style behind the microphone — informed and informal, intimate, warm, genuine. But also, one of tremendous joy.

In 2019, when she celebrated 25 years at WFUV, Mayor Bill de Blasio congratulated Rita for the “indelible mark” she has made on New York as an epicenter of creative expression, “bringing joy to listeners throughout the five boroughs, providing a platform for new talent that deserves to be heard, and enriching the cultural vitality of our city.” That was our Rita, and so much more.

Together, we will remember and celebrate her in the weeks ahead. But right now, Rita, we see you on that stage with Sharon Jones, Bowie, Prince, and especially your beloved John Prine, emceeing the most heavenly edition of Holiday Cheer for FUV.

Rest in Power, our very dear friend.

Chuck Singleton
General Manager, WFUV