Virgin Radio listeners upset after morning shift sacked

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“Freeway” Frank Depalo and Natasha Gargiulo are gone, replaced by “Cousin Vinny” Barrucco and Shannon King.

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Virgin Radio 95.9 listeners are unhappy with the station after it quietly fired its morning “Freeway” crew Frank Depalo and Natasha Gargiulo last week, and Monday morning announced he had hired “Cousin Vinny” Barrucco and Shannon King to replace them.

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Barrucco returns to the station of his rival The Beat 92.5, which he left Virgin to join when it launched in 2011. He left The Beat in February, being shy about where he was going. It’s common practice in the industry to have a non-compete clause that prevents on-air talent from going immediately for a competitor, so Barrucco has been off the air for six months.

King comes to Virgin from Kiss 105.3 in Sudbury, Ontario, and before that, from Kiss 99.3 in Timmins, Ontario. She is originally from Guelph, Ontario.

Gargiulo and Depalo were told on Wednesday that their services were no longer needed and the station removed references to them from its website. On Thursday, they posted a video on social media chronicling “possibly some of the worst news we’ve had in our lives” that they were fired.

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“We’re still dealing with this, and it’s really difficult, painful and shocking at the same time,” Gargiulo said in the video before thanking listeners for their years of support.

They’ve been a team on the morning show since 2011, after former morning co-host Cat Spencer left for the all-new Beat.

Depalo and Gargiulo did not respond to requests for further comment on Monday. Owner Bell Media said “no interviews will be given at this time” with Virgin’s new morning crew or station management.

The station’s loyal listeners are not so discreet. Facebook posts about the layoffs generated hundreds of comments, some threatening to boycott the station or switch to The Beat, owned by Cogeco Media.

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“I will no longer be connecting to Virgin Radio,” wrote Elizabeth Harwood, in a typical commentary. “What a way to treat their employees. “

On Monday August 12, 2019, Virgin Radio 95.9 announced that it had hired “Cousin Vinny” Barrucco and Shannon King as their new morning crew.
On Monday, August 12, 2019, Virgin Radio 95.9 announced that it had hired “Cousin Vinny” Barrucco and Shannon King as their new morning crew. Photo by Bell Media /jpg

Virgin Radio has seen its audiences decline since The Beat replaced the old Q92 in 2011. That summer, Virgin had 20 percent of listening hours compared to 16 percent for The Beat, according to estimates from the company. Numeris notation. Two years later, The Beat became the most popular music station, and this spring it had an 18.8 percent share, exactly double Virgin’s 9.4 percent. Virgin had slipped behind not only The Beat, but also its sister station CHOM and even CBC Radio One.

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Adam Greenberg, another Beat alumnus, as content producer, joins Barrucco and King on the morning show. He swaps places with Lee Haberkorn, who resumes the afternoon car show from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. since 2011. Blair Bartrem, formerly of Q107 in Toronto but who worked for CHOM and Mix 96 in the late 1990s, is the new director of programs for Virgin 95.9, responsible for hiring on-air staff.

Charli Paige hosts lunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., which means that there is no more subscribed programming during the working day. Virgin had a Ryan Seacrest show in the early afternoon or noon since 2012. Her weekend show remains on the schedule. Kelly Alexander hosts weekend mornings and afternoons, and a national Shannon Burns show airs weekday evenings at 8 a.m.

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