October 7, 2000

Art Athens, 61, Host of Radio Shows

Art Athens, a veteran New York radio correspondent and host whose broadcasts sometimes made the news as well as reported it, died yesterday near his home in Hudson, N.Y. He was 61.

The cause was a heart attack, said his wife, Victoria.

As host of ''Ask the Governor'' and ''Ask the Mayor'' on WCBS-AM in New York from the mid-1970's until his retirement in 1995, Mr. Athens had unusual access to the top political figures in Albany and City Hall, and they rewarded him with an occasional scoop.

In February 1987, when Gov. Mario M. Cuomo stunned Democrats around the country and even some of his own top aides by declining to run for president the following year, he chose Mr. Athens's monthly ''Ask the Governor'' program to make the announcement.

Mr. Athens, who started in radio at 19 at a small station in Missouri, joined WCBS in 1974.

Besides his wife, Mr. Athens is survived by a daughter, Deborah Reis of Cornwall, N.Y.; four sons, Chris, of Brooklyn, Marc, of Hudson, Richard, of Albany, and Tom, of Derby, Conn.; and three grandchildren.