Thursday, April 26, 2012

My Tribute to Pete Fornatale

I found out the very sad news today that radio legend and author Pete Fornatale died from a stroke.  For several days we knew he was ill, but was not aware of the seriousness of the illness.  There is biographical information about Pete at:

Rather than rehash the biographical information I would like to devote this journal entry to my experiences with Pete.  I didn’t listen to him that much  during his early days, but in the 1980s he had weekend shows called Saturday Morning 60s and Mixed Bag. Both of those shows were a must listen.  Fortunately I have some tapes of these shows.  My favorite show had to be the Bob Dylan Birthday Bash every May.  One year he ranked the artists that covered Dylan songs.   On October 16, 1992 there was a concert in Madison Square  honoring Dylan for his 30 years in the music business.  Roger McGuinn, Neil Young, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Eric Clapton and Dylan himself sang My Back Pages.  Pete called them the “Mount Rushmore of Rock n’ Roll.”

Pete spent most of his career at WNEW-FM, but spent some time at 92.3 K-Rock when it was a classic rock station.  He started his career as a Fordham student at WFUV  and returned there several years ago to do his Mixed Bag Show Saturdays from 4 PM to 8 PM.  I tried very hard to listen to at least parts of the show every week.  Pete had to be the “King of the Theme Set”.  He could find enough songs with a theme to fill the four hours.  Right now I am listening to the archived version of Pete’s last show devoted to the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  It is quite unfortunate that the Digital Millenum Copyright Act limit’s the number of archived show that WFUV could offer listeners.

Let me add a few personal notes:

About 3 years ago I received a phone call at work from Karen stating that Pete had phone the house asking for me.  He got my name and phone number from the list of donors to WFUV.  He confused me with Martin Slutsky who was the vocalist for a group called McKendree Spring.

In April 2010 Pete appeared at the Long Island Radio Day at CW Post.  Many of the “Meet and Greet Crowd” including Alan Berman, Mary Shaw, Patrick Guice, and Linda Cohen among others were there to hear Pete talk about Woodstock.  He was so friendly as he spoke to everyone before his talk.  Above is a photo he took with my family.  He succeeded in making Lee smile for the photo.

Rock n Roll Heaven will be gaining a distinguished voice.  New York radio will never be the same.  Thank you Pete for all your years on the radio dial and rest in peace.

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