The Radio Trailblazers gathered at Toronto’s Rosewater Room on Tuesday night, in conjunction with Canadian Music Week.
The volunteer organization celebrates and supports women in radio through education, inspiration, and mentorship and annually hands out the Rosalie Award to a woman who has blazed trails in radio. The Rosalie is named for legendary CKLW Windsor music director Rosalie Trombley, whose success and influence as a radio tastemaker inspired the award.
This year’s honouree is Carmela Laurignano, vice-president and Radio Group Manager at Evanov Radio Group.
Laurignano, who helped grow Evanov from just one to 19 stations, told Broadcast Dialogue it’s nice to receive recognition.
“It’s a reflection of the fact that the company has allowed me to pursue this path and opened the gates so I could achieve this. It means validation from my peers and that’s important,” said Laurignano.
Laurignano said she never felt being a woman in the male-dominated world of broadcasting was an impediment, but more of “a circumstance.”
“I could not take the same approach as a man most of the time, so there was some sort of accommodation along the way, but the goals were just the same. How you get to it? You travel the road you’re given. It may take you a bit longer to get there, but it’s that perseverance of just doing it. If you have something you want to achieve, you’ll figure out the shortest way to get there,” said Laurignano.
Laurignano, who began her career at CHIN Radio Toronto as a sales assistant and later became the first woman to hold a vice-president position with a Canadian ethnic broadcaster, says while it’s a different landscape for women entering radio now, the industry still isn’t where it needs to be.
“There’s more equity and equality across the board, but more and more businesses are recognizing that hiring women is good for business…those who are moving in that direction are realizing the benefit.”
She also spoke of the importance of work-life balance.
“I have maintained a personal life. It was a conscious effort. I recognized that you have to have the balance – if you don’t enjoy what you do, your chances of success are not as great. If you’re so focused on the success, you get lost in the potholes instead of having that long range view,” said Laurignano.
Also recognized Tuesday night was Humber College student Heather Williams, who received the Renee Roth Memorial Award.
Williams is just embarking on her career to work in promotions at Rogers’ Fort McMurray stations.
In a time of change in the industry, Williams said she’s going in with her eyes wide open.
“Yes, it is daunting in the sense that there is a shift to online, podcasting…all of these things, but I feel that because of the advantage of my youth, I’ll be able to be shaped into this new version of the industry without preconceptions of what radio has been,” said Williams.
Williams said she was honoured to win a scholarship bearing the late Renee Roth’s name. Roth’s 20-year career in radio sales started at Q107 and Talk 640. She later became General Sales Manager at Corus Radio Toronto in 1998.
“She was a hard-working individual and it’s nice to know that there are people out there that see her in me and that’s such a huge honour,” said Williams.
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