Rich McLaughlin, WFUV’s Program Director, has been a team leader in terrestrial and digital broadcasting for over 20 years. Most recently overseeing catalog programming globally for Amazon Music, McLaughlin has had more than one homecoming to this radio station — but his latest return as PD is his most poignant.
In June 2021, McLaughlin succeeded his mentor and friend, the late Rita Houston, and he now looks to FUV’s future, building upon her legacy and creating his own. “The opportunity to serve a station and university deeply embedded in my DNA is especially meaningful,” says McLaughlin. “FUV’s reputation for music discovery is well earned. The depth of industry partnerships with artists, labels, venues, and cultural organizations is extraordinary. The engaged community of music lovers who support its mission as listeners and donors is second to none. I’m grateful for the chance to guide WFUV’s next programming chapter.”
McLaughlin has always had an intuitive sense for what’s next in music and radio. Joining Amazon in 2016, he led US rock programming strategy. He designed the original rock programming platform for Amazon Music Unlimited. Before Amazon, he oversaw programming strategy for iHeartMedia’s digital station platform, successfully expanding the company's digital brands across all genres. McLaughlin also led content strategy for the launch of iHeartRadio’s first-ever podcast platform, building partnerships with artists, managers, major music labels, and broadcast networks. McLaughlin’s first post-undergraduate role was at Sirius Satellite Radio’s original station platform. In addition to programing Sirius's Alt Nation and Left of Center (now called Sirius XMU), Rich helped architect The Spectrum, Lithium, Faction, and several other stations.
But it was Rich’s early roots at WFUV that drew him back to the radio station where he first began, encouraged by Rita, while he was still an undergraduate at Fordham University in the late ‘90s. He returned to FUV a decade later to launch and develop “The Alternate Side,” the then-nascent digital and terrestrial platform, before setting off to explore new territories again.
“The education I received from Rita is evidence of her mission accomplished,” he explains. ”Rita taught me that success achieved at the expense of authenticity is failure in disguise. The path she paved allowed for missteps along the way, and always led me back to what’s real. Rita's spirit, fearlessness, and love of music continues to inspire.”
Rich’s own music tastes are eclectic and expansive, zigzagging from Dolly Parton, Phish, and Nas to St. Vincent, Black Pumas, and Solange. But Michael Stipe and R.E.M. have always meant a lot to him — in fact, R.E.M.’s gig at Madison Square Garden on June 24, 1995 was the second concert Rich ever attended.
A double graduate of Fordham (B.A. 2001, MBA 2010), McLaughlin, a Bronx native, lives on Long Island with his wife, Sarah, their three children, a dog, and a cat. The Rose Hill campus has always been a talisman in Rich’s life and heart: he met his future wife in a music history class at Faculty Memorial Hall, and the couple were married in 2007 at University Church by former Fordham President Fr. Joseph A. O’Hare. An avid reader, McLaughlin also admires the teachings of Henry David Thoreau, Alan Watts, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Fred Rogers.
And apologies, NY Yankees fans, Rich’s favorite baseball team is the Mets: “My oldest son’s middle name is Seaver, like Tom, and my youngest son’s first name is Shea, like the stadium.” But Rich is happy to watch any ballgame in person, especially after a year of pandemic restrictions and empty stands.
McLaughlin’s own life during lockdown found his entire family breaking out of quarantine to relocate. “We moved back to New York from Seattle in September,” he explains. “Shortly after, we found ourselves on an impromptu, three-month cross-county road trip from Jacksonville, Florida to California and then back East. One day, our dream is to buy an RV and live life on the road!”