Sad news today.
Pete Fornatale, a legend in New York and one of the originators of progressive FM radio, has left us.
To those of you who knew Pete but were unaware of his passing, I am sorry to bear such news. For those of you who never had the chance to meet Pete, or were unaware of what he meant to so many radio listeners ... or of his significance in my life ... I am sadder still that you will not have the pleasure to know him.
Right now, his friends and family are asking for prayers and positive energy from everyone who knows Pete, and from those whose lives were ever touched by his words or the music he played for them in the 40+ years that he has been on the air in New York and on Sirius/XM. Peter deserves the most graceful of transitions.
Over the course of the past six years, Pete Fornatale became a dear friend to me. He also became my 'business' associate, though developing and presenting our programs together could never have been called 'work'. He got my jokes ... all of them ... even the most intensely geeky music-related ones. And those of you on this list who know me well all realize that this made Pete 'a member of the gang'. And he was. Those of you who met Pete during our own version of the 'never-ending tour' picked up on that right away. He was also, truly, 'one of the good ones'. And every person who I watched meet Pete during the course of our travels walked away thinking the same thing: "Wow, he's the same nice guy in person that he is on the radio!"
Pete holds a unique place in my life. He is someone who has inspired me since my childhood. He was a voice on the radio that was seemingly ever-present. I remember my sister's 'hippie' friends grooving to the words he said, and to the music that Pete and his fellow jocks played in the early days of WNEW when I was a small child in the Bronx. Going forward, I also remember how Pete and his station-mates were there to comfort a grieving generation of New Yorkers when we lost John Lennon on that horrible night over thirty years ago. (And who knew that he left the station each night - or K-Rock each afternoon - to come back to the same town I lived in? In fact, some of the friends I grew up with who are reading this probably knew Pete, or members of his family, and may not have realized who he was at the time!)
Pete Fornatale was one of the radio personalities who, along with the likes of Denis McNamara, Harry Harrison, Dan Ingram, Bruce Morrow and Dennis Elsas, inspired me to pursue a degree in Broadcasting. That decision shaped many aspects of my life that would follow ... and for that I am grateful. Pete continues to inspire me. He always will. We had things left undone. And I am going to move forward on a number of those things, carrying with me the energy borne of the trust and confidence that Pete placed in our ideas, and in how we approached achieving our goals. It won't be the same in any way. But it will, I believe, be a help to me, and to the many friends - those he knew personally and those who he never met - who will miss him.
After many, many years, the Beach Boys - one of Pete Fornatale's all-time favorite groups - have reunited and recorded a new album. The lead-off single is called "That's Why God Made The Radio". Pete didn't have the chance to hear that new single while he was still here and fully aware. But somewhere he is smiling. Pete is one of the people who made it quite clear to us ... time and time again ... just exactly why God made the radio. To spread music, warmth, humor and love.
In the spirit of Peace, Love and Music to you all ...