(CelebrityAccess) — Manuel “Paco” Navarro, a former disc jockey for the New York radio station Disco 92 WKTU FM, who was later imprisoned for his role in a conspiracy to sell controlled substances, has died. He was 82.
“It is with a heavy heart that we inform all of Paco’s passing this morning at 11:23 a.m. at the Hospice, We are respectfully asking Friends and Family of Paco to consider making a donation to his fund me page in lieu of flowers for his memorial service,” a statement posted to his GoFund Me page said.
Navarro had been battling stage four pancreatic cancer, as well as dementia and Alzheimers in recent years, but was best known for his tenure on New York radio during the golden age of disco.
A native of Puerto Rico, Navarro got his start in Spanish language radio and by the mid-1970s had secured a role at New York’s WJIT, where his radio voice and outgoing personality had garnered a major audience for him in the market.
When WJIT’s sister station WKTU transitioned to full disco, Navarro began hosting the 6-10 PM timeslot, and he became one of the most listened to DJs in New York.
However, as disco quickly faded from the scene in the early 1980s, Navarro, who was closely associated with disco, found it difficult to adapt with the times. He left WKTU in 1984 when the station changed format and returned to Spanish language station WJIT as programming director, but in 1986, left that job as well in the face of declining ratings.
″He really didn’t quite fit in [with the new format],″ former WKTU colleague, Jim Harlan told the Associated Press at the time.
After he left WJIT, he unsuccessfully attempted to launch other businesses, including marketing and seafood. He also tried his hand in the drug and in 1987, he pleaded guilty to his role in a scheme to distribute heroin. The guilty plea reduced a potential 20-year sentence to 4-10 years.
After his release, he returned to the radio, primarily on Spanish-language WADO and WNEW-FM, according to Medium.
Navarro’s family has asked that in lieu of flowers, well-wishers donate to his GoFundMe campaign to help defray expenses related to his treatment and final expenses.