Polito Vega Obituary – Death: Polito Vega of La Mega 97.9 NYC radio legend Cause Of Death
There’s a recurring joke in the world of music that goes like this: two friends were strolling through New York’s Central Park when they stumbled upon Pope Francis and Polito Vega chatting merrily. The friends were stunned, and one of them quipped that if Vega was friends with the man in white, he must be a big shot.
In Al Bermúdez’s novel about life in a New York prison, he recounts a scene in which a Hispanic inmate tells him about the upcoming Sunday Salsa Festival with Polito Vega. The festival is a much-needed break from the daily grind of prison life.
At the Museum of the City of New York, a group of people unpacked a brochure commemorating the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s arrival on the river that now bears his name. The brochure features an illustrated guide to 400 of New York’s most important people, including Polito Vega. The book’s diverse and representative list includes luminaries such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller, Woody Allen, and Rudolph Giuliani.
These three scenes could easily be mistaken for a Woody Allen movie, but they’re all true. If Elvis was the king of rock and roll, Polito Vega was the king of radio salsa. With over 50 years in New York radio, Vega is an iconic and beloved figure, almost a part of the city’s DNA.
Hipólito Vega Torres, known to all as Polito, was born on the beach in Ponce, Puerto Rico, in 1938. As a child, he sold newspapers to make some money but dreamed of becoming a singer. He describes his childhood as typical, with a reluctance to go to school or work, and a passion for listening to the radio. Vega’s mother encouraged him to study or work, but all he wanted to do was sing. Vega’s love of music and talent for playing the guitar helped him win a singing contest in San Juan, which earned him his nickname.
In 1957, at the age of 22, Vega left Puerto Rico for New York, hoping to break into show business. He worked at the port and lived with one of his uncles in Manhattan, never imagining that he would become a broadcaster. However, he enjoyed making sounds and voices, and even practiced reading newspapers aloud. Vega’s passion for broadcasting was ignited when he heard a voice on a radio station that reminded him of a friend from Puerto Rico. The voice belonged to Julio César Cabán, who gave Vega his first chance to speak on WEVD-AM during a show called Fiesta Time. Although Vega was initially given only the task of announcing the time and station, he quickly worked his way up to hosting his own show.