Rita Houston, WFUV D.J. Who Lifted Music Careers, Dies at 59
Ms. Houston studied urban research at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY but was expelled for setting fire alarms and tipping vending machines. “I made it big,” she said to Mr. Arthur on his podcast. “I was in the wrong place.”
She worked as a waitress before finding a job as a DJ on Westchester Community College radio and then another station in Mount Kisco, NY for $ 7 an hour. She joined ABC Radio as an engineer and worked with sports journalist Howard Cosell and talk show host Sally Jessy Raphael. The pay was far better than her low-wage radio jobs, but she missed being in the air. In 1989 she was again behind a microphone at the WZFM in White Plains.
“Someone said to me,” I want to introduce you to the voice of God, “said Paul Cavalconte, who hired Ms. Houston as WZFM program director.” She was so dedicated and charismatic, which worked on the radio and in personal appearances. “(WZFM is now WXPK.)
When the format of WZFM switched from an adult album alternative to modern rock in 1993, Ms. Houston was told that she would have to adopt an on-air name with an X on it. She became Harley Foxx. In order to achieve more diversity in the format, a year later she sought refuge with the WFUV, of which she had been a fan for some time.
“I just called the station and thought, ‘Hey, can I work here, please?'” She said to Mr. Arthur.
She began hosting the lunchtime show in 1994 and resigned after a few years to become a full-time music director. She returned to the air in 2001 to host “The Whole Wide World”.
In addition to her wife, her sister Debra Baglio and her brothers Richard and Robert survive her. Another brother, William Jr., died in October.
Ms. Houston recorded her last show from home on December 5th with Mr. Cavalconte, also a DJ at WFUV, co-host. It aired three days after her death.