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Richard Hake, Longtime WNYC Radio Reporter and Host, Dies at 51

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Richard Hake, a WNYC news host, reporter and producer for the last 28 years, died on Friday at his apartment in Manhattan. He was 51.

Goli Sheikholeslami, the chief executive of WNYC, confirmed Mr. Hake’s death on Saturday. A cause of death was not yet known.

“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,” Ms. Sheikholeslami said, adding that he loved to say he “woke up New York.”

Mr. Hake produced and created live radio feature segments for WNYC that focused on breaking news, culture and artistic sound portraits.

His work was also featured on local and national NPR programs, including, “Morning Edition,” “Weekend Edition,” “All Things Considered” and “On the Media.”

Mr. Hake earned awards from The Associated Press Broadcasters Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and other organizations for his feature and documentary work, including the “Coney Island Cyclone Anniversary” and “The Perfume of the Bronx.”

Karen Frillmann, Mr. Hake’s editor and colleague at WNYC for nearly 20 years, said he was a “very local, young man, who brought his passions for New York to the WNYC newsroom.”

“He was unflappable as a broadcaster,” she said, adding that he excelled at breaking news. “He really had an appetite for everything that New York offered.”

Ms. Frillmann said he had a presence and a warmth and was never concerned about hearing himself on the air. He was “first and foremost a communicator” who “wanted to get information to people,” she said.

“He was just a great broadcast professional,” she said. “He just made it sound so easy.”

Richard Scott Hake was born on Jan. 4, 1969, in the Bronx, to Richard James Hake, a New York City police detective, and Joy Mekeland, a clerical worker and secretary. His parents divorced in 1986, and Ms. Mekeland married Joseph Colombo, an IT consultant, in 1994.

Mrs. Colombo described her son as a social person who also loved theater. In December 2011, he made his Broadway debut as a chimney sweep in “Mary Poppins.”

Mr. Hake is survived by his father and mother; his stepfather; and two brothers, Ryan and Jack; and a sister, Christine.


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