John LaBarca, a well-known radio DJ from Connecticut who presented “Italian House Party” for many years on several stations, including WICC, passed away last week at the age of 76. Numerous families had Sunday traditions centered around LaBarca’s unique show, which was devoted to Italian music, food, history, and storytelling. LaBarca shared his roots with both new and seasoned listeners by bringing the “Italian House Party” to WHLI on Long Island in recent years.
“It was his enthusiasm and his larger-than-life personality. John had this way of telling a story, any story, and he could just bring the characters to life,” said Jon Daniels, program director at WHLI.
“It was just a very unique show. He was the first to do it,” explained former WICC host Tim Quinn. “Everything that Italian Americans did growing up is discussed on ‘Italian House Party’ and usually with some good humor as well, and I think that’s what made it such a very popular show.”
For 20 years, Quinn and LaBarca co-hosted the WICC morning drive on Monday through Friday.
“We had huge ratings, and we had a lot of fun. And we were back in the days before television even started broadcasting school closings. It was only on the radio. Well, on days when we had school closings, we were the most popular guys in the world if in fact your school was closed that day,” Quinn recalled.
LaBarca has frequently been the subject of interviews with News 12. LaBarca described his approach to broadcasting in one interview. When I speak on the radio, LaBarca stated, “I always see one individual and try to enter this person’s heart and thoughts.
You could always tell he enjoyed what he did. He was passionate about what he was saying. He cherished the music. He was a history buff. He cherished the tales and the way they brought people together. And to this day, people approach us and say, ‘I listened to the “Italian House Party” with my grandparents when my grandma was making sauce on Sunday,'” Daniels said on News 12.
Similar sentiments filled LaBarca’s Facebook page as friends and fans learned of his death.
“I’m positive that will be his legacy—the ‘Italian House Party,’” Quinn said. “What you heard on the radio was what he was in person. He was loud. He was boisterous. He was a hugger. He was a lover. He just made you feel like you were the king of the world.”
Due to poor health, LaBarca’s show at WHLI has been suspended. According to Quinn, prostate cancer caused his death.