Rita Houston, WFUV D.J. Who Lifted Music Careers, Dies at 59

Ms. Houston majored in urban studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, in Geneva, N.Y., but was expelled for tripping fire alarms and...

Ms. Houston majored in urban studies at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, in Geneva, N.Y., but was expelled for tripping fire alarms and tipping over vending machines. “I went out big,” she told Mr. Arthur on his podcast. “I was in the wrong place.”

She worked as a waitress before finding work as a D.J. at Westchester Community College’s radio station, then at another station in Mount Kisco, N.Y., for $7 an hour. She left for a job at ABC Radio as an engineer, and worked with the sports journalist Howard Cosell and the talk show host Sally Jessy Raphael. The pay was far better than her low-wage radio jobs, but she missed being on the air. In 1989 she was back behind a microphone at WZFM in White Plains.

“Someone said to me, ‘I want to introduce you to the voice of God,’” said Paul Cavalconte, who, as the WZFM program director, hired Ms. Houston. “She was so engaging and charismatic, which worked on the radio and in personal appearances.” (WZFM is now WXPK.)

When WZFM’s format shifted from adult album alternative to modern rock in 1993, Ms. Houston was told that she had to adopt on-air name with an X in it. She became Harley Foxx. But, seeking more diversity in the format, she sought refuge a year later at WFUV, of which she had been a fan for some time.

“I just called the station and was, like, ‘Hey, can I work here, please?’” she told Mr. Arthur.

She started hosting the midday show in 1994, then stepped away from it after a few years to become the full-time music director. She returned to the air in 2001 to host “The Whole Wide World.”

In addition to her wife, she is survived by her sister, Debra Baglio, and her brothers, Richard and Robert. Another brother, William Jr., died in October.

Ms. Houston recorded her final show from home on Dec. 5, with Mr. Cavalconte, also a D.J. at WFUV, as the co-host. It was broadcast three days after she died.

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Newsrust: Rita Houston, WFUV D.J. Who Lifted Music Careers, Dies at 59
Rita Houston, WFUV D.J. Who Lifted Music Careers, Dies at 59
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