Pete Fornatale dead at 66, longtime DJ

Pete Fornatale's, a disc jockey with WFUV, is

Pete Fornatale's, a disc jockey with WFUV, is seen posing in his studio in Fordham University in the Bronx, New York. (February 16, 2008) (Credit: NEWSDAY/Robert Mecea)

Pete Fornatale, the New York radio voice of his generation -- and several subsequent generations, died today after a sudden illness.

Fornatale, who was 66, lived in Port Washington for many years but had moved to Rockaway Park. As a rock-and-folk-oriented disc jockey, Fornatale's signature format was to mix in lesser known artists and album cuts beyond the day's hit singles. But he also interviewed and wrote books about many of the superstars of his era -- from Simon and Garfunkel to the Rolling Stones.

Fornatale got his start in radio at Fordham University in 1964. At 19, he created WFUV's first rock and roll show, "Campus Caravan."

His first job in commercial radio was at WNEW/102.7 FM in July 1969, just weeks before the Woodstock Festival. He was a mainstay at that legendary rock station, whose DJs included Scott Muni, Dennis Elsas, Dave Herman and Alison Steele. He later worked at WXRK (K-Rock). In 2001, he returned to WFUV, where he hosted "Mixed Bag" -- also carried on satellite radio. He continued hosting the Saturday afternoon program until he fell into a coma about a week ago, following a cerebral hemorrhage.

Fornatale was writing a book about 50 years of the Rolling Stones at the time of his death. His son, Peter Thomas Fornatale, an author and freelance book editor, said it is "98 percent completed."

His son said yesterday that his father's funeral would be limited to family and close friends. He asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to WhyHunger. He added that a tribute concert would be held "at some point," advising fans to check petefornatale.com.

He is survived by his former wife, Susan, and two other sons, Mark and Steven.

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