Michael Kiwanuka and band (photo by Gus Philippas)
A nationally recognized tastemaker filled with a broad knowledge and passion for music, Program Director Rita Houston shapes the musical direction of WFUV's acclaimed and unique music format. Firmly based in the greatest city in the world, Houston's music mix brings 'rock for grownups' diversity to the left end of the New York radio dial.
Well-known for her rapport with artists, Houston books the on-air interviews, hosting a number of them herself. She also serves as Executive Producer of the FUV Live concert series, curates the WFUV at Zankel Hall series, and produces annual benefit CDs of performances from WFUV's Studio A.
After years as a popular midday host, Houston shifted her on-air presence to create 'The Whole Wide World with Rita Houston,' which airs Friday nights from 7-10pm, showcasing her famously wide-ranging taste in music and often features live sessions with artists from around the globe.
Out of the studio, Houston was instrumental in the "Required Listening" series of shows at the Bottom Line in Manhattan's Greenwich Village (R.I.P.), showcasing new and underappreciated artists for an eager audience. She also served as host of the "In Their Own Words" series there as well, renowned interview-and-performance evenings with influential songwriters talking about their ideas and influences.
Houston is often seen out and about at clubs and festivals -- determined to turn listeners on to new artists, she goes out three or four times a week to catch live shows. Houston is always on the lookout for the next Damien Rice or Norah Jones -- artists who deserve to be heard by larger audiences, first heard in New York on FUV.
This talent and tenacity is recognized by her peers: Houston is a two-time Radio & Records (R&R) Music Director of the Year, three-time designate of Gavin's Music Director of the Year, and she has also been awarded the Deems Taylor Award for Broadcast Excellence. In 2001, Houston enjoyed acclaim as part of the WFUV team as they were named Album Network 2001 Major Market Adult Rock Station of the Year, Gavin's Station of the Year, and the 2001, 2002 and 2003 FMQB Progressive Noncommercial Radio Station of the Year. In 2009 Rita was the Honoree at the Emelin Theatre's Benefit Gala in Mamaroneck, NY.
Houston came to WFUV in 1994 from Westchester's WXPS - also known as X107 - where she hosted 'Starlight Express,' a show close in style to FUV's. After anchoring the midday there for six years, she left the station to join FUV, where her discerning and varied tastes have found a welcome home. A Westchester native, Houston moved to Nyack, NY from the East Village in 2002, to plant basil and perfect her fireplace skills.
WFUV is close to home for Rita, and working here allows her to live "in the best music city of all."