By the early 1980s, stations specializing in what had been known as free-form radio were bringing in business consultants who urged less variety in records and more control over the disc jockeys. Mr. Fornatale later complained that he and his colleagues had been demoted from chefs into waiters, “and fast-food waiters at that,” as he told The Record of Bergen County, N.J., in 1999.
Thankfully, WNEW held out long enough for me to hear Fornatale's Mixed Bag through the late 80's and early 1990's, but it was easy to notice the change happening on the airwaves around him and within that station.
Before mp3's and social networking, I relied on what little good was left in commercial FM and on a lot of college radio to learn about new music, and to get more than a superficial "classic-rock" sampling of older music. Pete Fornatale was one of this Jewish kid's favorite Sunday School teachers.
I'm a little late posting about his passing, but here's the NY Times obit.