WFUV-FM (90.7), Fordham University’s non-commercial radio station, raised $700,000 at its first Spring Gala on Tuesday, April 29 at Sotheby’s auction house in New York City.
The station honored recording artist Emmylou Harris as well as CBS journalist Charles Osgood (FCRH ’54) and voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers Vin Scully (FCRH ’49), both of whom started their careers at WFUV.
The event was emceed by ABC News anchor and correspondent Elizabeth Vargas. Academy Award-winning director Jonathan Demme, CBS Sunday Morning anchor Bill Geist and former Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Ralph Branca presented lifetime achievement awards to the honorees.
Harris performed a set of songs, including John Lennon’s “Imagine,” drawing a standing ovation from the 400 guests, including Les Paul, Joan Osborne and Phoebe Snow. Sotheby’s auctioneer C. Hugh Hildesley led a live auction. The event was co-chaired by Henry Barkhorn, John A. Herrmann and Lisa Shalett.
At a press conference before the ceremony, Scully said that his award was even more meaningful than the honorary degree he received from Fordham in 2000, even if, he noted dryly, his life is not over just yet.
“Lifetime achievement is pretty heady stuff. It seems like the wolves are getting close to the campfire,” he said chuckling.
Harris, whose six-song acoustic set served as a warm up for her upcoming national tour, called WFUV the archetype of stations that play her music, Snow and other artists “that are kind of out in left field.” So close is her relationship to the station, Harris said she could not pick just one appearance or performance at WFUV as her favorite.
“It’s all kind of a blur, after all the performances and all the years of touring, but I just know when they say, ‘Hey, they want you to come play the WFUV thing,’ of course I’m going to go out there and play it because they played me so much,” she said. “I’m happy to give back whatever I can.”
Jonathan Demme, in his introduction of Harris, noted that he has jumped into his car with his dog at 11:30 p.m. and driven aimlessly around Rockland County just so he could listen to WFUV.
Paul, who was there as a guest of DJ Rich Connaty, said listening to Connaty’s weekly show “The Big Broadcast” is an extremely important ritual for him.
“We faithfully listen to it, and arrange our schedule to listen to it, because I hear all the people that I used to work with. Practically every name he mentions, I’ll say to my lady friend, ‘Yeah, I worked with him,’” Paul said.
In his acceptance speech, Scully recounted a trip to the Vatican with Ralph Branka, in which Pope Pius XII granted them an audience.
“He turned to Ralph, and he said, ‘Where are you from, my son?’ And Ralph said, ‘Mount Vernon, New York, your holiness.’ He said, ‘Oh yes, I remember,’ because he had been to Fordham a couple of years before.
“And now I’m standing there, because my moment’s coming, and I’m going to remember everything. And now he turns, and there I am. My throat is dry, my knees are shaking, my palms are sweaty and he looked at me and he said ‘Are you with them?’ and I answer, ‘Yes, your holi-’ and he left,” Scully said.
“So all my life, whether it was doing Major League Baseball, NFL Football or PGA Golf, I have always felt, ‘I’m with them.’ When WFUV is ever mentioned to me, or I read about it, believe me, I say, ‘I’m with them.’”