Natasha Gargiulo and Freeway Frank Virgin Radio’s Morning Duo

Dossier on Italian-Canadians in the Media

2012/11/29 - Written by Aicha Cissé
Natasha Gargiulo and Freeway Frank Virgin Radio’s Morning Duo
Natasha Gargiulo and Freeway Frank Virgin Radio’s Morning Duo
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Freeway & Natasha In The Morning has awakened and entertained Montreal radio listeners for almost a year now. Freeway Frank (Franco Depalo) and Natasha Gargiulo took over the reins on the radio show in early 2012 and have since then built an army of loyal listeners.  

The show has been a ratings winner, making Virgin Radio 96 the no.1 English music station for both Francophones and Anglophones in the city. With undeniable on-air chemistry, Depalo and Gargiulo use their energetic personalities to inject a good dose of laughs and entertainment into Montreal’s FM airwaves. “It’s been my dream to host a morning show in my hometown of Montreal since I was a kid. I feel very blessed,” explains Depalo.                 

With a career which spans over two decades, Depalo remembers being fascinated with radio and the theatre of the mind at an early age. His father initially tried to discourage him from pursuing a career in media because “they didn’t put Italians on television.” It was a harsh reality Depalo was confronted with from the very beginning.                   

“When I first started, I was asked to change my last name to an English-sounding name to appeal to the listeners at the time,” says Depalo. Despite facing many hurdles in the competitive industry, he persevered and overcame career setbacks to become one of the most popular radio personalities in Canada.                  

“My dad was glad I proved him wrong. Even though he didn’t speak English, he used to stay up all night listening to my shows. He was very proud and it meant the world to me.”                    

Hailing from Monteal’s West Island, Natasha Gargiulo was introduced to broadcast media by her father Giovanni, a well-known anchor in Montreal’s Italian community. For Gargiulo, being the daughter of a respected anchor did not mean getting plucked from obscurity and rocketing straight to the top. She still had to pay her dues.                           

“The fact that my father was an anchor didn’t give me connections. I had to prove myself and work my way up like everyone else. It took years of hard work but I enjoyed every minute of it along with the lessons I learned,” explains Gargiulo.                             

In addition to her successful radio work, Gargiulo enjoys a successful career in television, as a national correspondent for Entertainment Tonight Canada. “To be given the opportunity to co-host the morning show on the station I grew up listening to as a teenager and now mother, is a dream come true,” says Gargiulo.               

Both Depalo and Gargiulo pride themselves on being able to represent their community with honour and pride.                             

“Italians sometimes get a lot of bad press. It feels good to get positive recognition because we worked very hard to get to where we are,” mentions Depalo. “It’s great that there are so many Italians working in the media. We’re everywhere!” jokes Gargiulo. “In the same way the French are trying to preserve their language, Italians working in the media are holding on to their tradition and trying to preserve it. So we definitely see more efforts to appeal to the Italian community.” Both hosts embrace the fact that they are immersed in different cultures and languages in their everyday lives. They especially love being able to speak three languages on-air.               

 “We’ll throw in some French and Italian occasionally and we’re proud to be able to do it because that’s what this city is all about. It’s the norm to speak many languages,” says Depalo.

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