Chart Beat Podcast Guest Rita Houston on New York's WFUV: 'It's a Rare Place in the Radio World'

Chart Beat Podcast featuring: Rita Houston
Cindy Ord/Getty Images for T.J. Martell

Chart Beat Podcast featuring: Rita Houston

The station's award-winning program director chats about shaping rock radio in New York City.

As program director of adult alternative WFUV (90.7 FM / wfuv.org), Rita Houston might be the most influential person in New York when it comes to breaking new rock music in the city.

"I'm so happy about the latitude we have at WFUV to follow our hearts," she says. "Imagine playing music that you like … and it works."

On the latest episode of the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast, Houston joins host and Billboard co-director of charts Gary Trust and Billboard's rock charts manager Kevin Rutherford to talk about her 22-year legacy of music discovery, by both new artists and veterans, at WFUV (which broadcasts from the Bronx campus of Fordham University, the ­station's licensee).

"Growing up in New York, progressive radio loomed large," Houston says. "That informed me and, I think at WFUV, it's a part of our DNA to keep that kind of radio alive."

Over a nearly hour-long chat, Houston touches on the challenges that public radio stations face regarding securing donations, as well as how stations of all formats continue to court younger listeners. Also covered: her least favorite meet-and-greet/interview (we won't shame the artist here … but you'll find out if you listen ...) and her No. 1 favorite: "I was asked to host a Leonard Cohen listening party at Joe's Pub two or three years ago. It was just amazing to sit next to him and talk to him."

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Ultimately, says Houston, and to WFUV's advantage, given the station's fondness for variety, listeners today may be less confined by specific genres than ever, having grown up in a digital era in which "music lovers in their 20s and 30s have had as much access to Otis Redding ... Jimi Hendrix … and Joni Mitchell ... as someone in their 60s.

"Smart stations have realized that the rulebook has gone out the window."

A sampling of previous episodes:
Perez Hilton / Dave Cobb & Jed Hill on Americana MusicSiriusXM's Kid Kelly / Original MTV VJ Martha Quinn / RCA's Joe Riccitelli on Britney Spears & Justin Timberlake / Mike Curb / Hit Songs Deconstructed on Drake & Selena Gomez / Fred Bronson / Chart Beat Founder Paul Grein

Enjoy the entire latest Chart Beat Podcast and check back for more upcoming episodes with label execs, radio programmers and personalities, songwriters, producers and more, as we look at why what's on the charts … is on the charts. And, to receive every episode automatically in your inbox, subscribe to (and rate) the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast on iTunes!