Pete Fornatale

Pete Fornatale

Peter Fornatale (August 23, 1945 – April 26, 2012) was a New York City disc jockey and author of numerous books on rock and roll. He is considered a "pioneer of FM rock,"[1] who played an important role in the progressive rock era of FM broadcasting.[2] He was the first person to host a rock music show on New York City's FM band, commencing November 21, 1964 on WFUV. By broadcasting progressive rock and long album tracks, he was noted for introducing a musical alternative to Top 40 AM radio in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Billboard called his station "a legend, affecting and inspiring people throughout the industry."[1]

He gave early exposure to country-rock bands like Buffalo Springfield and Poco, and did one of the first American interviews with Elton John.[1] In 1991 he was co-host of "Paul Simon Live in Central Park" and was often called to be an expert guest commentator on PBS specials, including those featuring Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Roy Orbison, Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor and others.[3]


Starting with WOR-FM in 1966, FM was demonstrating a large rift from AM broadcasting. Fornatale was a key figure in this trend with his weekly program, "Campus Caravan," which was heard on Fordham University's WFUV from 1964 to 1970. He began professionally in 1969 at WNEW-FM and also worked at K-Rock (née WKTU). He returned to WFUV in 2001 and was heard weekly on his shows, "Mixed Bag" and "Mixed Bag Radio," which is also on XM satellite radio. He won the Armstrong Excellence in Broadcasting Award in 1983.[4][3] Mr. Fornatale received AFTRA's Media & Entertainment Excellence Award in February 2012 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.[5]

He was a native of the Belmont section of the Bronx and attended Fordham Preparatory School and Fordham University, where he received a B.A. in Communication Arts in 1967. He was a member of the board of World Hunger Year.

Fornatale wrote several books, including The Rock Music Source Book, Radio in the Television Age, The Story of Rock 'n' Roll, and All You Need Is Love. He was also helped write The Elvis Collection trading card series. In addition, he has written many feature shows for radio and television about Rock, including the syndicated Rock Calendar, episodes of MTV's "Rock Influences," and the international television series Deja View. His latest book is Back to the Garden: The Story of Woodstock.[3]

He hosted rock-related programs on WNET, PBS's station in New York City, and was an on-air consultant for rock music shows and specials on VH1, MTV and HBO.[3]

In June 2010, Fornatale joined the crew of The Voice of Peace Network [6] with his show "Back To The Garden" in support of[7] His show features Pete reflecting on some of his favorite friends and musicians.[8]

In the summer of 2011, Fornatale toured the Northeast with two different multimedia programs to support his most recent book releases. The show titled "Back to the Garden: The Story of Woodstock" focused on Fornatale's experiences as an on-air personality during that period, and it is highlighted by Woodstock-related anecdotes based on events that occurred throughout the DJ's lengthy career as an interviewer, DJ and author. The program titled "How Terribly Strange to be 70" looked at the tumultuous history of Simon & Garfunkel, beginning with their early years when they performed as the duo 'Tom and Jerry'. He was working on a book on the Rolling Stones at the time of his death.[9]

Mr. Fornatale died at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City at age 66 on April 26, 2012. He had suffered a brain hemorrhage April 15, 2012 and had been in ICU.[5]

His legacy show "Mixed Bag" on WFUV is still on the air on Saturday nights and is currently hosted by Don McGee.


  • The Story of Rock 'n Roll (William Morrow & Co, 1987) ISBN 0-688-06277-6
  • All You Need Is Love: And 99 Other Life Lessons from Classic Rock Songs (Topeka Bindery, 2003) ISBN 0-613-65637-7
  • Simon & Garfunkel's Bookends (Rock of Ages) (Rodale Books, 2007) ISBN 1-59486-427-6
  • Back to the Garden: The Story of Woodstock (Simon & Schuster, 2009) ISBN 978-1-4165-9119-1

As co-author:

  • with Joshua E. Mills: Radio in the Television Age (Overlook, 1980) ISBN 0-879-51106-0


  1. ^ a b c Douglas Martin (April 27, 2012). "Pete Fornatale, a Pioneer of FM Rock, Dies at 66". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-04-29. Mr. Fornatale was at the forefront of the FM revolution, along with WNEW-FM colleagues like Scott Muni, Rosko, Vin Scelsa, Dennis Elsas, Jonathan Schwartz and Alison Steele (who called herself 'the Nightbird').
  2. ^ Heyer, Paul; Crowley, David (2006). Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society (5th Edition). Boston, Mass: Allyn & Bacon. p. 230. ISBN 978-0-205-48388-4.
  3. ^ a b c d WFUV Staff Profile: Pete Fornatale Archived 2012-04-30 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Todd Leopold "Whatever happened to rock 'n' roll radio?" Feb. 7, 2002 [1]
  5. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^[permanent dead link]
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