Carmela Laurignano likes to say she received competing career advice from her parents. “My father always said, ‘Go!’ and my mother always said, ‘Careful,’” says Laurignano, the Vice-President and Radio Group Manager at Evanov Radio Group (ERG).
So it is that the recipient of this year’s Rosalie Award honouring women in radio is an enthusiastic executive and part owner of four of ERG’s stations – and she cares.
Laurignano has fostered talent in the Canadian music and broadcasting industry. She has helped administer ERG’s $10 million-plus in direct contributions to Canadian artists, and has worked to provide them with indirect contributions such as airplay, on-air mentions, and performance opportunities.
Carmela is also a dedicated mentor to the next generation of broadcasting professionals. She introduced an internship program at ERG, and has helped to set up four separate ERG broadcasting endowments at Canadian universities and broadcasting schools.
And she made history as the first President of Proud FM, the world’s first gay-formatted radio station. It underlined the expansion ERG underwent from her debut in 1993, when it had one ethnic station (CIAO-AM Brampton) and an equity interest in CING-FM Burlington.
ERG now has 19 stations across four provinces, serving major, medium and small markets in a wide variety of formats. “Starting a radio station is like giving birth,” she says. “In the case of Proud FM, there was no template. “You need a vision, openness and faith in the people you’re working with. I believe in broadcasting from the street up.”
Laurignano got her first taste of street-conscious broadcasting at the multilingual CHIN Radio, run by the late Johnny Lombardi, one of broadcasting’s legendary characters. There she went from a part-time student to a Sales Assistant, Sales Manager, and, notably, Vice-President of Sales, Marketing and Promotions. She was among the first, if not the first, woman to hold a VP position at any radio broadcasting organization in Canada and was one of the youngest Vice-Presidents in the Canadian radio industry at the time.
Outside of ERG, she serves as Secretary of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Board of Directors, and is a board member for not-for-profit organizations, supporting community programs and partnership initiatives between business and organizations.
Laurignano believes a broadcast licence comes with social responsibility. “We have a duty to foster and create inclusive environments,” she said in her acceptance of the 2011 Trailblazer Canadian Women in Communications Award.
“We’re all stronger when we embrace and celebrate our differences, whether they’re cultural, linguistic, sexual-orientation or physical. Everyone has a right to be included.”
The Rosalie Award
The Rosalie Award was established to recognize Canadian women who have blazed new trails in radio. Rosalie Award recipients are women who are successful in the radio industry and are seen as leaders, mentors, and people making a difference in our business. There are usually two high-profile events where the Rosalie Award is presented: an exclusive invitational cocktail party as well as an award ceremony on the stage of Canadian music Week’s Gala event with Canada’s broadcast industry.
The Rosalie Award is named in honour of Rosalie Trombley, renowned Music Director at Windsor-Detroit Top 40 powerhouse CKLW-AM “The Big 8″, and the first-ever recipient of the Rosalie Award in 2005. The award recognizes Canadian women who have blazed new trails in radio.
Rosalie Award recipients are women who have had successful careers in the radio industry and are seen as leaders, mentors, and people making a difference in our business. Please visit our Past Winners page to learn about our distinguished Rosalie Award recipients.