Richard Hake Dead: New York Public Radio’s WNYC Host Dies at 51

Richard Hake

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Richard Hake, radio host and journalist for New York Public Radio’s WNYC, has died at the age of 51. The radio host died suddenly at his home in Manhattan on Friday, April 24, according to WNYC News CEO Goli Sheikholeslami. Hake’s cause of death was not initially reported, but it has since been determined he died of “natural causes.”

Sheikholeslami shared the news of Hake’s death in a statement on WNYC’s website, and the CEO said she has been in touch with Hake’s family.

She said, “For all of us at New York Public Radio and in WNYC’s listening community, Richard was one of the first voices we heard every morning. As the host of Morning Edition, he brought us the news, welcomed the new day, and helped us get ready for whatever lay ahead. It was the position he always wanted, and he worked very hard to get there. He loved to say he ‘woke up New York,’ and he brought the same warmth and generosity to listeners that he shared with his colleagues every day.”

Hake had worked as a host, reporter and editor for WNYC since 1992, and he was the current host for the station’s Morning Edition. 

Sheikholeslami said, “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.”

The CEO finished with a statement to the WNYC staff. She said, “We know this incredibly difficult news is made only more challenging by our inability to be together in person. The newsroom is planning a tribute to celebrate Richard’s incredible legacy. The entire senior leadership team is here for you.”

Hake Is Survived By His Family, Including His Parents Richard & Joy

According to Hake’s obituary in the New York Daily News, the radio host is survived by his parents, Richard Hake and Joy Colombo, his stepfather Joseph Colombo, brothers Jack and Ryan Hake, sister Christine Hake, niece Kiera Tucci and nephew Cameron Tucci.

Hake graduated from Fordham University, and he contributed to various outlets throughout his career, including The Associated Press, BBC, United Press International, WOR-AM, WBGO-FM and WCBS-AM.

The New York broadcaster host won many awards in his career, according to the New York Daily News obituary, including from The Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press Broadcasters Association and The National Federation of Community Broadcasters.

Hake’s former colleague, Jim Schachter, shared a 2017 tweet from WNYC featuring decades-old audio of Hake’s report while on the Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island.

Colleagues, Friends & New York City Residents Share Their Thoughts About Hake After His Passing

After the news of Hake’s death was shared, New York City residents and his colleagues shared their thoughts on social media. A reporter for WNYC, Matt Katz, tweeted:

He said, “I loved kibbitzing with Richard Hake, on air & off, while we did pledge drives together on @WNYC Morning Edition. He’d let me take pics of him & the pledge giveaways. He’d approve the pics first, but he didn’t have to–he was a beautiful man, inside & out.”

WNYC’s Jennifer Vanasco tweeted:

Vanasco said, “Every morning – like so many of our @WNYC listeners – I woke up to the warm voice of Richard Hake. And for about a year, he sat next to me. He was so wry, and knowledgeable, and made you feel like you were the most important person in the world. I’m heartbroken.”

New York City council member Brad Lander tweeted:

He said, “Richard Hake felt like a member of the family, not just for @WNYC, but for NYC. We’re sending sympathy to his family & his co-workers on this cruel loss. But we’ll also feel the grief in our house every weekday morning for a long time to come.”

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