by Kelley Bregenzer
When Bob Pantano– legendary Philadelphia DJ celebrating 40 years as host of the venerated “Saturday Night Dance Party” on 98.1 WOGL FM—sees potential in you, you run with it.
That’s exactly what DJ Eric Bartello is doing. His new radio show on 98.1’s sister station, Today’s 96.5 FM, debuted live at Adelphia Nightclub in South Jersey on Sept. 22.
“All your favorite dance music from the throwbacks to the new tracks”—Bartello’s “Friday Night LIVE!” is a galvanizing concoction of music from the ’80s, ’90s, and today. It’s a perfect complement to Pantano’s long-running (the longest-running, in fact), show, reaching a slightly different age range.
But for Bartello, it’s not really about the decades in which the songs he plays were created, it’s about creating an atmosphere, a feeling.
“Music, I think, affects people in an emotional and psychological way more than any other medium…all good DJs have a sense of empathy. They put it out there and it comes back to them,” he said.
And as long as he can keep the dance floor packed and electrified, Bartello is a happy man.
“After I leave Adelphia, I’m just on a high. There’s no chemical in the world that can recreate this kind of natural high.”
Bartello was introduced to Pantano through a mutual friend, but not before paying his dues. At a mere 15-years-old, his DJ career began at his mother’s club in South Philly, Club Sentimental. Too young for the night crowds, Bartello DJ’d afternoon parties and gatherings.
Since then, Bartello’s done everything from producing to working with the Philadelphia Mummers Fancy Brigades, sometimes struggling to find his breakthrough opportunity.
“Bob had and even now, has, the number one radio show in the Philadelphia region,” he said. “Imagine my excitement, when after struggling all this time as a DJ, waiting for something to happen, and Philly’s number one DJ says, ‘Hey give me some mixes and I’ll play them on my show!’”
With early success and the backing of a radio-business veteran such as Pantano, Friday Night LIVE! holds a promising future. But DJ’ing is a craft and as far as Bartello’s concerned, there’s always more work to be done.
“I can’t rest on my laurels, because I still have those empty dance floors in the back of my mind.”
Tune into Friday Night LIVE!, broadcast live from Adelphia, every Friday from 9 p.m.-12 a.m.