Richard Hake, longtime New York City radio host, dies at 51

Saturday, April 25, 2020
In this undated photo provided by New York Public Radio, WNYC radio host Richard Hake is shown. Hake worked at the station for nearly 30 years and was the host of Morning Edition.
Matthew Septimus/New York Public Radio via AP-AP

NEW YORK CITY -- Richard Hake, a public radio host and reporter for nearly three decades who liked to say that his morning updates "woke up New York," has died.

Hake's station, WNYC, said the 51-year-old anchor died Friday at his Manhattan apartment, where he'd been working in recent weeks as the coronavirus crisis kept station personnel from their office.

Goli Sheikholeslami, the president and CEO of New York Public Radio, announced Hake's death in a memo to staff on Saturday. She said the cause has not been determined. She said a tribute is being planned.

"Richard worked at WNYC for nearly 30 years as a host, reporter, and producer," Sheikholeslami wrote. "He was an extraordinary broadcaster and journalist who had a passion for excellence and who took great pride in serving our audience. We will remember him very warmly."

Hake's voice was recognizable to many New Yorkers as the host of WNYC's Morning Edition program, providing local news reports and interviewing the region's news makers. He also contributed reporting to national programs, including NPR's All Things Considered.

During a fundraising campaign about a decade ago, the station gave out coffee mugs featuring Hake's mug - a drawing of him reading the news.

The son of a former Bronx police detective, Hake graduated from broadcast journalism powerhouse Fordham University in 1991 and got a glimpse of his future as a morning drive newscaster and reporter at the campus radio station, WFUV FM.

In his Twitter profile, Hake noted his unique role in the bustling Big Apple, writing: "I wake people up and tell them stories on the alarm clock, the app, streaming, in the shower, in the car, etc."

Last month, as coronavirus cases surged in the city and officials told office workers to stay home, Hake set up a makeshift studio in his one-bedroom apartment, complete with an art deco "on air" light and various microphone flags bearing the station's logos over the years.

"He got us through blackouts. Elections. Sandy. I know the whole city's heart breaks for the Hake family," WNYC planning editor Kate Hinds tweeted. "I'm so grateful that I got to work with him for as long as I did. Thank you for your legacy, Richard."

Hinds, who joined Hake on air Monday mornings to preview the week ahead, added: "The city is diminished without him. I know I am."

Andrea Bernstein, a reporter and co-host of the station's "Trump Inc." podcast, described Hake as "the beating heart of Morning Edition" and called Hake's death "crushing."

"I will miss him horribly. I already do," she tweeted.