Widely respected rock historian and veteran disc jockey Pete Fornatale helped define progressive rock radio in the early 1970s. But before he made his mark at WNEW and K-Rock, he got his start as a Fordham University student working at WFUV. His Mixed Bag show ran on 90.7 FM from 2001 through his passing in 2012.
Fornatale grew up in the Belmont section of The Bronx, just a few blocks from Fordham, and graduated from both Fordham Prep and Fordham University. He was a lifelong New Yorker whose career celebrated rock music through radio, television and the written word.
Pete's fans share their memories and thoughts on the Pete Fornatale Fans page on Facebook.
Fornatale was the author of several books, including The Rock Music Source Book, Radio in the Television Age, The Story of Rock 'n' Roll, All You Need Is Love and Back to the Garden: The Story of Woodstock. He was also the primary writer of The Elvis Collection, a 600-trading card series on the life of Elvis Presley, and wrote numerous radio and television features, including the syndicated Rock Calendar, several episodes of MTV's Rock Influences, and the international television series Deja View.
Television fans might also recognize Fornatale: He co-hosted the 1991 HBO telecast of Paul Simon Live in Central Park and has regularly served as expert guest commentator on PBS specials featuring Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Roy Orbison, Peter, Paul and Mary, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor and others.
His work was recognized with many awards, including the coveted Armstrong Award for Excellence in Musical Programming (1983). He was a board member of World Hunger Year, the organization co-founded by Harry Chapin, and served as co-anchor of the annual Hungerthon broadcasts for many years.
Got kids? 3 grown sons. The oldest (Peter Thomas) edited my last two books; the middle son (Mark) works for big FUV fans and supporters The Skurnick Brothers in Syosset, NY, and the youngest (Steven) is an NYPD police officer.
What are two or three things we might find you doing away from the station? Mainly, working on ideas for future Mixed Bag shows; riding my bike on the longest boardwalk in the world in Rockaway Beach; and doing covert spying for Russian radio stations (Please keep that last one to yourselves.)
What would WFUV listeners be surprised to know about you? That I was almost talked into changing my name when I started in commercial radio, to "Peter Noel."
Name a song that defines you. "Rockin' My Life Away" by Jerry Lee Lewis
What would you have become if you didn't have a career in radio? A starving poet.
Do you cook? I can hardly boil water, but I love to eat a great seafood risotto with a bottle of Aglianico from the Basilicata Region of Italy followed by a glass of Amaretto on the rocks.
What wacky thing would you do if you had the time (or guts)? See a game at every Major League ballpark in the American & National League (The "guts" part is that I don't like to fly).