|Birth: ||Aug. 23, 1945|
New York, USA
|Death: ||Apr. 26, 2012|
New York, USA
A well-known New York deejay, historian & writer who for almost 50 years championed the spirit of musical freedom on the radio airwaves, died Thursday at Beth Israel Medical Center at age 66. He had suffered a brain hemorrhage April 15 & had been in ICU for the last week.
A native of the Bronx & a graduate of Fordham, Fornatale started his deejay career Nov. 21, 1964, hosting "Campus Caravan" on Fordham's WFUV. He continued "Campus Caravan" until 1970, by which time he was also working at WNEW-FM as one of the pioneer free-form deejays on early FM rock radio. "For the first time, we could play music on the radio the way we played it in our lives," he said last year. "It wasn't just the top 40 played over and over. You could play longer tracks, you could play older tracks, you could make the music fit together.
In 2001, he returned to non-commercial WFUV, where he hosted a free-form show he had started in 1982 called "Mixed Bag." He also hosted a weekly in-depth interview show & frequently tied both shows to historic or contemporary themes. His last "Mixed Bag" show on April 14 was commemorating the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.
"This is just the right amount of radio to be doing," he said last year. "I have this show every week where I can say what I want, but I don't have to be scrambling to fill four hours every day. That gets harder as you get older."
He developed close relationships with artists like Paul Simon over the years and was also active in several charity organizations. That included World Hunger Year, which was co-founded by his friend Harry Chapin in 1975 & is now run by cofounder Bill Ayres as WhyHunger. Fornatale raised money and hosted WHY events for many years.
He also wrote a number of books on music, including a history of Woodstock & a biography of Simon & Garfunkel. He often hosted shows on WNET & was a consultant on music projects for MTV & VH1. He said last year he was always fascinated by "the real stories of what happened with music & songs. So much gets mythologized, but to me the real story is almost always better."
He won the Armstrong Excellence in Broadcasting Award in 1983 & received AFTRA's Media & Entertainment Excellence Award in February at the Plaza.
Fornatale was born & raised in the Belmont section of the Bronx, known as Little Italy. He graduated from Fordham Prep before he attended Fordham & after graduating he spent two years as a teacher before going into radio full-time.
Survivors include his ex-wife Susan & their three sons, Peter, Mark & Steven.
Created by: JohnRobert Mauney
Record added: Apr 26, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 89170537
"There was magic in the radio, enchantment in the ether.A power born of mind and brain, and yet a part of neither.A power to be reckoned not in kilowatts or joules,A means to let a single voice touch half a million souls."Rest in peace Pete.We do love you...(Read more)|
Added: Apr. 17, 2013
Pete Fornatale, Alison Steele, Scott Muni, Rosko and Murray The K -- great NY radio voices. Pete, you were among the best because you deserved that place beside each of them. A pleasure to listen to -- and the many times we saw you on PBS you were the epi...(Read more)|
Added: Nov. 9, 2012
Rest in Peace...|
Added: Apr. 30, 2012
|There are 2 more notes not showing...|
Click here to view all notes...