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Broadcaster Talks Rock Music With Pelham Students

PELHAM, N.Y. – Music students at Pelham Memorial High School got a chance to learn about rock ‘n’ roll, Woodstock and the glory days of radio when award-winning broadcaster Pete Fornatale addressed them in the auditorium Thursday.

Fornatale spoke to the students about his lengthy career that began in the infancy of FM radio. He told tales of his relationship with Paul Simon and his encounter with Jimi Hendrix. But he drove home the true message of his presentation early.

“What I wish for all of you is that you find your bliss, that passion that is going to drive your life,” Fornatale said.

Fornatale, who recently wrote a book entitled “Back to the Garden” about Woodstock, drew laughs from the crowd as he interspersed video clips throughout his presentation. He played an audio clip of his announcing ticket sales for Woodstock, a video of Laurel and Hardy dancing to Carlos Santana’s “Oye Como Va” and a man juggling to the tune of The Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers.”

He opened his talk with a video clip that featured him grappling with another famous radio personality.

“Wrestling with Howard Stern on national television is one of my claims to fame,” Fornatale said to the students.

Fornatale’s relationship with rock ‘n’ roll goes back to his childhood. He said that while most people’s first encounter with death occurs when their goldfish dies, his was the death of Buddy Holly in a plane crash at the age of 22.

“Culturally, rock ‘n’ roll changed America and the world,” Fornatale said. “It is a uniquely American art form.”

Forty years after he first got on the air at WNEW-FM, Fornatale still works in radio at WFUV at Fordham University, where he went to college.

“I pinch myself that I get to live out my dreams and still do,” Fornatale said.

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