Natasha and ‘Freeway’ Frank finally talk about being sacked by Virgin Radio


Almost a year after being fired as morning hosts, Natasha Gargiulo and Frank Depalo are still upset that they couldn’t say goodbye to listeners.

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Almost a year after being fired by Bell Media, former Virgin Radio 95.9 “Freeway” morning hosts Frank Depalo and Natasha Gargiulo are still in shock at how it happened.


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“As soon as we got out of the building we were completely erased,” Gargiulo said in a recent FaceTime interview alongside Depalo.

Depalo added: “There was no press release, no internal memo, no thanks for all those years we were there and worked really hard for them and organized charity events. We have always portrayed them in the best possible way. We haven’t done anything unethical. There was no just cause… they said it was a corporate restructuring. … They never gave us a reason. They never told their audience they cared so much. They talk about this audience every day, about how we have to super-serve them and we have to share our lives and share the details of our lives every day and make that personal connection with the audience. Then they erase you and you no longer exist. To me, it was just amazing that they did it this way, without even a chance to say goodbye.


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They often became personal on the air, with Depalo talking about his wife and the couple’s struggles to have children. Gargiulo opened up about her divorce and then raising her daughter as a single mother.

Bell Media, owner of Virgin Radio 95.9, fired Depalo and Gargiulo on August 7, just minutes after the morning show ended. Days later, the company announced that the new morning hosts were “Cousin Vinny” Barrucco and Shannon King. Barrucco had been the man of the morning on rival station The Beat 92.5.

“There was a perception that Frank and I had done something terribly wrong and that it was damaging our reputation,” Gargiulo said. “And they didn’t do anything to clarify that.”

Gargiulo said that in the nine years they’ve done the show, she always felt treated differently by management because she was a woman.


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“My relationship with Martin Spalding has not been very easy and I think the reason is that I am a woman and I have no problem saying it,” said Gargiulo, referring to the Bell Media executive who fired her.

Spalding is the regional vice president and general manager of local radio and television at Bell Media here.

“I can honestly say that in the Montreal (Bell Media) station specifically under the supervision of a few people, it’s a big boys club,” Gargiulo said. “There is no pay equity, a lot of gender inequality. For a woman who has been on the morning show, with her name that morning for nine years, Frank deserves all the respect, praise and recognition he receives, but I haven’t even received one. quarter. I speak (money and respect). … One day we were in an office and there were four other men in the room (including Depalo) and there was a conversation that took place and I think we were just talking about what was bothering Frank and I. I decided to raise my voice and say, “Listen to a radio that targets a lot of women, I find that we are not doing enough to support the women who work for the company. And (Spalding) didn’t appreciate that… (he) turned to me and said, “Natasha, don’t pull that empowerment card because every time you do, I love you less. “


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The two are currently before the Canada Industrial Relations Board, with a written hearing on the unjust dismissal expected in the coming months to try to resolve the dispute between them and Bell Media.

“Given that we are in an ongoing litigation process with Ms. Gargiulo and Mr. Depalo regarding their departure from Bell Media, we cannot comment specifically on this matter,” Bell Media said in a statement.

“We can confirm that we are not aware of any complaints about issues (raised by Gargiulo),” the statement continued. “However, we take these issues very seriously. Bell is committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, including gender equity. We encourage employees to speak to their leaders or HR representatives about any issues with other team members and to take appropriate action to address those concerns.


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Depalo said the months after the dismissal were tough for him and adds that the months before that weren’t easy for him either, as he kept hearing rumors that they were going to be dismissed.

“For a company that preaches mental health (via the Bell Let’s Talk campaign)… they do a really bad job practicing what they preach, especially with us,” Depalo said. “They gave me anxiety for all these months (before the layoff), they intimidated me by reminding me how grateful I should be to have this job. For me, this is simply inappropriate. … The reason I was angry and bitter was because I didn’t feel like I got the right start,… they didn’t care about this audience and they didn’t care about we.

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