Pete Fornatale, the man at the forefront of the progressive radio movement on FM in the late 1960s died yesterday after complications from a stroke at Manhattan’s Beth Israel Medical Center. He was 66.
Fornatale was an institution in New York radio, and at Fordham University’s WFUV. The Bronx native graduated in 1967 with a B.A. in Communication Arts. Fornatale remained on the school’s station until 1969. His future would soon be tied to WNEW-FM, with two decades at the station that long billed itself as the place “where rock lives!”
Another legendary air personality, Dennis Elsas worked with Fornatale at both stations. He was at the microphone yesterday informing listeners of Fornatale’s passing. Their friendship started 45 years ago. Still a student at Queens College, and working for the school’s radio station, Elsas found Fornatale by mistake on his alarm clock.
“I really enjoyed the show,” Elsas tells FishbowlNY. “…That accidentally hearing of his show, and liking what I heard, was the formation of a relationship, and we quickly saw that we had a lot in common.”
Fornatale had a misstep when he attempted to join WNEW in 1967, as he recalled to me in 2009.