Polito Vega, a legendary figure in the radio industry, passed away on March 9th, 2023. His contributions to radio as a pioneer and his warm personality will be deeply missed by his fans and colleagues alike. As an icon in the industry, his legacy will continue to inspire and influence generations to come.
Keep reading to discover more about Polito Vega’s life, his passing, the circumstances surrounding his death, and his impressive career in radio.
Who was Polito Vega?
Polito Vega was an iconic figure in the radio industry, whose influence spanned decades. Born on August 3, 1938, in La Playa de Ponce, Puerto Rico, he moved to New York City in 1959 to pursue a career in radio. Radio was his life, and He was known as “The King of the Radio” in NYC, earning a loyal fan following through his charismatic on-air presence and love for music. Polito Vega was a popular radio host who hosted “Fiesta Time,” an hour and a half show on WEVD and later on WBNX. He hosted the show every morning of the week, which was later renamed “100% Salsa” in 1973. While most other Latin music radio stations played bolero, Vega’s show introduced salsa to the airwaves and became a vital part of the genre’s rise to popularity in New York City.
Wow this is crazy 😢 A fallecido POLITO VEGA 😭 pic.twitter.com/v3M3k7thCD— World Latin Honey (@WorldLatinHoney) March 9, 2023
How did Polito Vega die? What was his cause of death?
Polito Vega was a legendary figure in the radio industry, and his passing on March 9, 2023, was a significant loss for his fans and the industry as a whole. Vega’s legacy spanned over five decades, and during this time, he touched countless lives through his passion for music and radio. He was known for his infectious personality, his dedication to his craft, and his ability to connect with his audience through his shows. His contribution to the radio industry was immeasurable, and he was often referred to as “one of the greats” by his colleagues and fans alike. While the cause of his death is yet to be disclosed by his family and close friends, his fans around the world have continued to pay their respects, honoring his remarkable career and his love for music that allowed him to touch so many lives. As we wait for an official statement from his family, we can only continue to celebrate his legacy and the impact he had on the radio industry.
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Polito Vega’s Radio Career
Vega’s radio career began with his commentary work and being forced to work the night shift, where he honed his microphone skills in an isolated radio cabin.
Vega’s talents extended beyond the radio, as he also worked for Telemundo television for three years, hosting the show Club de la Juventud. Despite his foray into television, he always returned to the radio, which he believed was his true calling. Vega’s first show was Fiesta Time in 1960 on the WEVD-AM radio station, which quickly became a fan favorite. Vega’s love for music and his knowledge of different genres earned him respect and admiration from his listeners, and he became a pioneer in Latin radio in the United States.
During the early 1960s, the radio scene in New York City was dominated by guitar music, trios, and boleros, with little representation of Latin music. However, Polito Vega, a pioneering DJ, played a vital role in changing this trend by introducing salsa music to the airwaves. Vega’s contribution to the genre began when he played the first salsa single, “El Campeon” by Johnny Pacheco, brought to him by Jerry Masucci, founder of Fania Records. This was followed by the hit “Che Che Cole” by Willie Colon, which marked the beginning of salsa music in New York City. Vega supported the genre throughout his career, and his influence helped bring salsa to the forefront of Latin music.
Vega’s contribution to the genre was celebrated in the first-ever salsa concert at Madison Square Garden, which featured a star-studded lineup of Latin music icons, including Gilberto Santa Rosa, Victor Manuelle, El Torito, Olga Taon, and Tito El Bambino, among others. The concert was a testament to Vega’s legacy as a pioneer of salsa music in New York City.
Tributes to Polito Vega
El famoso locutor puertorriqueño radicado en New York, "Polito" Vega (@politovegaelrey— Molusco (@Moluskein) March 9, 2023
) falleció hoy a sus 84 años.
Vega fue el propulsor de que los ritmos latinos, desde el merengue hasta el reggaetón, se escucharan en la radio hispana de Estados Unidos.
Descanse en paz 🙏. pic.twitter.com/p1FeIZDRBJ
Freddie Valentin Wrote,
OPolito Vega New York #1 Latin Radio Disc Jockey has earned his Wings fly high Polito until we meet again you have been missed will be missed but never forgotten the Latin Industry has lost a great DJ and the Best Master of Ceremony. RIP
Alex Delgado Wrote,
One of the greats of radio: Polito Vega dies. From Ponce , but based in New York since the ’60s. Nicely remembered for making the intro to Christmas Assault by Willie Columbus and Hector Lavoe (press play to listen). The info was published by DJ Barón Lopez and confirmed to me by the announcer “El Rubio Boris” from NYC. Polito was part responsible for Latin music playing on “New York” radio. According to me, he was in delicate health because of his diabetic condition. RIP Polito Vega “Walking ! “
Danny Diaz Wrote,
RIP to the king of radio the man responsible for many peoples careers like Celia Cruz, johnny pacheco, ismael miranda and so much more this is the man who started Spanish radio introducing merengue, mambo, cha cha cha, and eventually Salsa,