Ralph Howard, Veteran Radio Newscaster And Husband Of Julie Halston, Dies At 77
Ralph Howard, the celebrated news anchor whose voice and measured tones were fixtures on New York City radio for over 30 years on stations 1010 WINS, WCBS, WMCA and with Howard Stern on SIRIUS XM, died on Tuesday, August 7 in Manhattan, according to his wife, the Broadway actress Julie Halston. Mr. Howard was 77 years old. The cause of death was lung disease. In 2008, he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, but received a life saving lung transplant that allowed him to resume his work and daily life.
Although born in New York City, Mr. Howard spent his formative years on a dairy farm in Watertown , NY after his mother's divorce and subsequent re-marriage.
He became infatuated with radio at an early age and was determined to be on-air in New York City.
His career started at WOTT Radio in Watertown where he covered all manner of local events including school dances, store openings and county fairs. From there he became a disc jockey known as The Real Ralph Howard for WPDM-Potsdam and was particularly adept through persistance and charm of getting celebrities who were passing through to record promotional spots for his program: Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson and George Shearing, among them.
Determined to break into larger markets , he came to New York to finish his degree at Columbia University and did free-lance radio reporting for The Associated Press, CNN and ABC, often simultaneously. He became an in-demand reporter and soon landed gigs anchoring at WBBM and WIND in Chicago.
Still eager to work in New York, he returned in 1975 as a morning anchor and personality with his show AM57 for WMCA. When the show ended he became a news anchor for WCBS Radio, which led to the job for which he was most known: the afternoon anchor for 1010WINS, where he would remain for 18 years.
Mr. Howard handled the afternoon drive, breaking news stories, special events and all local and national elections. In addition , he interviewed hundreds of theatre stars, film stars , playwrights and cabaret performers for special entertainment spots that ran all weekend on WINS.
Favorite interviews included playwright Paul Rudnick, comedienne Phyllis Diller, singer Cassandra Wilson and Ms. Halston, with whom he fell in love -- and vice versa -- over the microphone at the WINS studios when the actress taped an interview to publicize the Charles Busch play RED SCARE ON SUNSET Off-Broadway. The couple was married in 1992 at the Alogonquin Hotel. Their wedding reception -- "We don't need another blender," the invitation read -- was a fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, raising $15,000 for that then-young organization.
Mr. Howard had proposed to Ms. Halston in a most unusual fashion: one evening during the run of her solo show Julie Halston'S LIFETIME OF COMEDY -- during which she did verbatim, comic and colorful readings from The New York Times Vows column -- Mr. Howard had pasted a large handwritten note inside the newspaper that read, to her surprise, "Julie, will you marry me?" The audience broke into applause and cheers when Mr. Howard stopped the show to climb onstage and formally propose. Their own wedding was the subject of The Times' Vows column in August 1992.
Mr. Howard's on-air specialty was breaking news, and his coverage of 9/11 was considered outstanding and comforting to an embattled city. He received emails, letters and notes from strangers, celebrities and neighbors thanking him for his calm , steady reporting at such a difficult time in the city's history.
The event however, took a personal toll on him, annd he suffered from PTSD and major depression that prompted his retirement from news in 2002.
Three years later he was coaxed to return to the airwaves when Howard Stern moved to Sirius XM Satellite Radio . Mr. Howard was the anchor for the Howard 100 News Team and said later that it was his most enjoyable job. He remained there for almost 9 years until he retired in 2013.
Mr. Howard's first marriage to Teri Larkin ended in divorce. He married Miss Halston in 1992 and she survives him. He is also survived by his children Noelle Herzig ( Stephen) , Nathan Howard, Nicole Howard , Jillian Howard Martin ( Todd) and Lindsay Howard Masterson ( Brett) . He is also survived by 11 grandchildren and 6 great -grandchildren .
In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. Service will be at The Riverside Chapel on Sunday, Aug. 12 at 3 pm .
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