Rita Houston, 1961-2020

We mourn the passing of WFUV musical director Rita Houston.

Rita was a titan of musical discovery and a champion of independent artists. She became synonymous with many emerging stars through her role as program director, host of the Friday night FUV show, “The Whole Wide” world and hosting shows at the “Bottom Line”. “Rockwood Music Hall” and “City Winery”. Rita was an integral presence in the New York music scene for more that 25 years yet she maintained a friendly, low key manner. First and foremost she was a valued fan of the music and an on air friend to the listener, someone worthy of great trust.

I will forever associate her with John Prine, Richard Thompson, Jason Isbell, Mumford and Sons, Kathleen Edwards, Ami DeDranco and an endless array of artists that I heard for the first time in my life on FUV. The music has meant a great deal to me, enriched me in ways that defy description. Rita went beyond herself to create a cultural solidarity on WFUV. A common language and unending bond.

I feel a great loss with Rita’s passing, like a part of me is permanently altered. Thank you Rita for the tenacity to fight on for so many years through a deadly physical challenge and still remain a symbol of hope and taste and dignity.

Thank you for the music: the whole wide world of it.

- Skye Whitney

Pop Journalist and Mad Men Binger

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