Rich Conaty in 1973 and 2016 (photo by Gus Philippas).
We’re saddened beyond words by the death of our dear friend and colleague, Rich Conaty. Rich was a fixture at WFUV for more than four decades, beginning as a Fordham student. A kid from Queens with a passion for the jazz and popular music of the ‘20s and ‘30s, he chose Fordham because it had a good radio station, and he made it better every day that he was here.
Rich took over an existing Sunday night program in early 1973, renamed it The Big Broadcast, and was the host for more than 2200 shows. Each was filled with meticulous salutes to composers, singers, and bandleaders, along with listener requests, all drawn from his voluminous record collection and leavened by his encyclopedic knowledge. Even though Rich hardly ever played a post-World War II recording, the show never felt like a dated museum piece, because of his passion for the music. That passion was infectious, attracting a devoted audience that ranged from 8 to 80 and included a number of well-known writers and musicians.
“Rich is gone far too soon, at just 62,” said Chuck Singleton, WFUV’s general manager. “The Big Broadcast was Rich's life. He was a rare breed: the real deal as a broadcaster, a truly great DJ who was adored by many fans and supporters. Like his fans, we’ll miss his energy, enthusiasm and good nature. He did everything with high standards and an open heart. If there’s any consolation, it’s the thought that Rich might be sharing a ‘Hi De Ho’ with Cab Calloway on some bandstand in the sky.”
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