Remembering Paco Navarro: A New York Radio Legend. Disco. Dance. Diversity

KOP pays tribute to Paco Navarro, the legendary New York DJ who brought the sound of disco and dance music to a large loyal diverse listenership. He passed away earlier this month at age 82.

Paco Navarro

 

The New York Times wrote the following about Navarro’s passing

Manuel Francisco “Paco” Navarro , a disc jockey who became the sultry voice of disco in New York City in the late 1970s, helping WKTU-FM become the highest-rated radio station in the city, died on Aug. 8 at a hospice facility in Saddle River, N.J. He was 82.

Mr. Navarro spent much of his career playing Latin music on Spanish-language radio stations in Los Angeles, New York and his native Puerto Rico both before and after his time at WKTU. He used the name Paquito Navarro (his given name at birth was Manuel) when he was the host of a salsa show on WKTU’s AM sister station, WJIT, before moving to WKTU in 1978.

WKTU had played relatively mellow rock music, reaching a minuscule share of the New York market, before Mr. Navarro arrived. At the time, many stations programmed mainly Top 40 hits (as many still do). The rock ’n’ roll station WABC-AM had long dominated the New York airwaves with star D.J.s like Harry Harrison, Dan Ingram and Bruce Morrow, known to audiences as Cousin Brucie. Many stations played disco records, but few if any had experimented with an all-disco format.

“Unlike his former WJIT delivery — higher pitched and with words tripping out at an awesome clip — his WKTU voice is a deep, lyrical, Latin-accented bass that combines playfulness with unabashed sensuality,” the New Jersey newspaper The Record said in 1978.

Within months WKTU had become the highest-rated station in the New York market, deposing WABC.

“All of a sudden we were the establishment and the kids who were around then were looking for something that said, ‘I don’t want to listen to my father’s music,’” Mr. Ingram was quoted as saying in an article about WABC’s history in The New York Times in 2002.

KOP welcomes veteran record producer, event promoter and radio programmer Eddie Mercado to speak about Paco’s passing and the revolutionary mark he made on the radio from New York City to the world. (Interview starts around the 50-minute mark.)

A GoFundMe page has been made respectfully asking Friends and Family of Paco to consider making a donation in lieu of flowers for his memorial service. A personal account of Paco Navarro by former New York Daily News writer David Hinckley can be found here.

Headlines this week include:

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