Artists and fans remember the legacy of radio giant and music promoter Polito Vega, who was known to generations of listeners and considered instrumental in the rise of salsa and Latin music.

Vega, who was born in Puerto Rico, died Thursday at age 84. A funeral mass was held Monday at the iconic St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, the city that became Vega’s home in 1959 and where he became a pioneer in the Latin music scene. Vega was known as «el rey de la radio,» or the king of the radio.

“When you talk about the history of radio, and the birth of salsa and being a DJ and a promoter at the same time, that was Polito Vega,” entertainment reporter Jack Rico told NBC News.

His death was announced by La Mega 97.9, the Spanish-language radio station that Vega, one of New York City’s best-known radio personalities, helped catapult to success as a program director and host for more than five decades.

«Vega’s importance to Latin music cannot be underestimated,» wrote Leila Cobo of Billboardauthor of «Deciphering ‘Despacito’: An Oral History of Latin Music.»

«He was the most influential tastemaker in the country’s mainstream market since tropical music first became popular in the city in the 1960s and 1970s and extended into the 21st century,» Cobo wrote.

Rico noted that Vega was especially instrumental in promoting salsa music in the 1970s. Vega gave a great platform to legendary musician Johnny Pacheco, whose Fania All-Stars became synonymous with salsa music and who recorded with such icons as the late Celia Cruz and Héctor Lavoe through his Fania Records label.

Online, artists and fans marked his legacy. Latin Grammy-winning band Grupo Niche tweeted in Spanish that Vega brought the sound of Latin music to the capital of the world, referring to New York.

Vega was also a pioneer in the way he mixed DJs and live events, Rico said, like his salsa concerts at Madison Square Garden.

«You can call him the godfather of young Latino musicians; that was a model that a lot of young people began to emulate,» Rico said.

But Vega’s reach extended into Latin pop and other genres. As Cobo noted for Billboard, a 2012 concert at Citi Field in New York City to commemorate Vega’s 53 years on the air included superstars like Gloria Estefan, Daddy Yankee and Juanes.

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