After an absence of more than three years, Italian-American radio is once again gracing the local airwaves, thanks to a handful of passionate business folks and others who are proud of their heritage.
Since Nov. 13 an Italian-American radio show produced and hosted by Melissa Cannavo-Marino has broadcast each Sunday at 8 a.m. on WILM 1450 AM.
Cannavo-Marino kicks off the hour-long show with “Matinata Musicale,” a bi-lingual program of Italian and Italian-American music. That is followed by the “Italian Heritage Forum,” and “Italian-American Herald on the Air,” which cover all things Italian—heritage, culture, folklore and current events.
“The response has been huge,” Cannavo-Marino says. “I got an email from a woman who said her students love it because they get to hear the Italian language and it’s something for them to practice, listen to and understand.”
In addition to the musical portion of the show, Cannavo-Marino interviews local Italian-Americans who serve the community. The final segment is a cultural forum when guests share their knowledge of Italian culture. One segment featured Ralph Pepe of Concord Pike Liquors explaining how different wines connect to the various regions of Italy.
“The radio show is a way to give back to the Italian community,” says Cannavo-Marino. “There is so much demand for all this Italian culture. It was the Italian businessmen who said, ‘We’d love to get into radio.’
“It’s definitely blown up way past what was initially expected.”