Rest in peace, Rich Conaty: 1954-2016
Rich Conaty discovered the timeless music of The Big Broadcast [more] in 1971 as a high school junior living in Queens, when he stumbled upon Mark Adler's show 'Genesis of a Record,' broadcast from Hofstra University. "I'd stay up late, fiddling with the dial, wondering what was out there. All of a sudden, I'm hearing this crazy music from the '20s," he remembered. And he liked what he heard. That summer, the enterprising Conaty got himself an internship at Hofstra's WRHU, thus beginning his radio career - and his love affair with classic pop and jazz.
When he began attending Fordham University the following year, Conaty wasted no time in joining the staff of WFUV and finagling his way into co-hosting a Sunday night program called 'In the Mood.' "It started out as a forum for student government, but as they ran out of things to say, they started spinning old records," he recalled. By January 1973, Conaty found himself sole host of the still-evolving show and renamed it 'The Big Broadcast.' He and the program were on the air in New York through 2016.
Throughout his radio career, Conaty had several opportunities to meet some of the artists whose records he plays on the air. "Over the years, I got to see Bing and the Mills Brothers in person, interviewed the two surviving Boswell Sisters, got drunk with Cab Calloway, and spent an evening listening to Tin Pan Alley tales from "Star Dust" lyricist Mitchell Parish," he recounted. We hope he's swinging in heaven with his old friends now.