Remembering DJ and producer Peter Marcketta

PETER MARCKETTA

PETER MARCKETTA

[Editor’s note: Peter Marcketta, host of HomegrownRadioNJ.org‘s “Not for Nuthin’ ” show, died on Monday at the age of 55. With the permission of the Internet radio station, I am posting, here, its beautiful appreciation of what Marcketta meant to it, and to the New Jersey music scene.]

“Go out and do something nice for somebody, visit a shut-in, make a call to somebody who might be lonely. It’s what you give, not what you take that counts.” That’s how DJ Peter Marcketta always ended his on air time slot, twice a week. Marcketta, host of Internet Radio Station HGRNJ.org’s “Not for Nuthin’ Radio Show,” passed away this week.

The staff and global listeners of HomegrownRadioNJ were shocked and deeply saddened by the news that Marcketta suffered a fatal heart attack on Monday, at age 55. The founder and general manager of HGRNJ, Todd Mills, worked very closely with Peter, building, painting and decorating the charming and funky home studios of HGRNJ in Boonton (as well as the original location in Blairstown). Peter brought in dozens of posters, vinyl LPs, rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia and tchotchkes that adorned the studio, most of them acquired at yard sales.

Mills said about Marcketta:

Peter was one of the people I depended on most at HomeGrown. He was always thinking of ways to make the station better, always staying on top of whatever popped up and needed tending. When I really began to feel that I was burning out due to the overload of issues that would periodically pop up, it was Peter that injected new life into the process. He was always looking out for the station and the DJs … and often for people he didn’t even know. I can recall one time that he had put a bunch of DVDs and VHS tapes out in front of the station on the sidewalk. A young woman came up and started to look through the stuff. He went out and spoke to her, then he went inside got her a bag and helped her load up on all the items she wanted. That was nice enough  … but he also got her a VCR out of the back room that we happened to have lying around. If he knew you needed something … he would find it for you … no matter who you were. He had a way of making you feel like you were at home wherever you were. He was a kind, dependable, generous soul and he loved to make people smile. He was an uncle to my kids, a good friend to me, and a steadfast supporter of HomeGrownRadio. He has left a void in so many lives and I don’t think that void can be filled by any single person. He is missed by everyone whose life he touched.  RIP my friend … your air shift has ended.

Dozens of musicians, some internationally renowned and many heretofore unheard of except at the local open mics that Peter frequented, graced the live performance stage of HGRNJ in Boonton, at events that Peter was instrumental in hosting and producing. Peter interviewed and/or hosted an amazing array of artists, such as Henry Paul of The Outlaws, Jonathan Edwards, Willie Nile, Dan Bern, Rusty Young of Poco, and NJ/NY local favorites such as Billy Hector, the Damian Calcagne Band, Nadïne LaFond, The Small Town Sheiks, Deena Shoshkes and Jon Fried of The Cucumbers, and many others.

Deena had this to say about Pete:

Pete was so supportive and appreciative of my music, and went out of his way to include us in the HomegrownRadioNJ family, and that meant so much to me. He always made it so much fun to come to the studio. It was always a party, with delicious snacks and drinks. And he helped to create the marvelous atmosphere in the studio with the beautiful posters and funky treasures he collected. He gave us the space to do whatever we wanted to creatively, and he believed in the value of what we were doing. That was a great gift. I’m really going to miss him.

Peter championed artists who might not have easy access to airplay on terrestrial, corporate-formatted radio, like Keith Kenny, Yarn, The Hawk Owls and Maribyrd. All these artists and more were frequent guests on Peter’s show and special events such as HGRNJ’s “First Friday” and “Sunday Afternoon Showcase,” as well as many HGRNJ anniversary events, the most recent being the station’s 10th Anniversary Music Festival.

One of Pete’s fellow DJs and co-producers, Bob O’Donnell, said:

Pete was a force of nature. He knew rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, blues, bluegrass, standards, punk and country as well or better than many of the high-profile DJs from the New York FM radio market. Pete’s knowledge and musical acumen could be compared to the heyday of 1970s DJs, from legendary stations like WNEW or WLIR or WPLJ, before they all went commercial and formatted. Personalities like Alison Steele, Pete Fornatale and Richard Neer were his models and he excelled at his radio craft. As a live show producer, Pete always strived to treat the artists well, and fairly, often paying for artist’s backstage hospitality, food and beverages, or a meal, out of his own pocket. And he wasn’t too proud to clean up the station after a gig, either. Pete was a good friend, a generous soul, and a brother and comrade in the DIY Internet Radio Revolution that is happening on a global scale today. He leaves a void that will be hard to fill.

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