Carmela Contarino is one ex-pat who has found her feet and is making a mark in the UK.
Before heading to London, Carmela had stints at Triple M, Radio West, Mix 106.5 and Edge 96.1
She tells radioinfo about what she is doing and how it feels to be lockdown so far from home. “Iso, quarantine and COVID-19” have given her a chance to reflect on the past five years.
“The current climate has everyone missing their family, friends, their old life, but for myself, being in London during this time has felt kind of normal, and if even possible, lonelier at the same time.
I have been living in London for 5 years now. I bounced around from radio to TV contract work: Britain’s Got Talent, X Factor and Capital FM, before landing a full-time gig at Bauer Media.
I feel lucky to be working in the UK (especially in media) but to be honest, the money is less, the hours are longer, and the people/working environments are a hell of a lot different; bringing in massive waves of home sickness from time to time.
London in lockdown (even with it starting to lift) hasn’t helped either. Conditions in the UK have been a lot stricter than in Australia. For the first 9 weeks, we were only allowed to leave the house to buy essentials and go for an hour’s worth of exercise; police and helicopters would roam the streets and parks to make bloody sure of it too.
Your bubble was only to be the people you lived with; so, in London that means being trapped weekdays and weekends in a share house with people you hardly know or like! Not to forget to mention the crazy lengths we’ve all had to go to secure loo roll, all whilst having Nando’s and McDonald’s closed at the same time.
Currently, social distancing is still firmly in place, no one is getting their hair or nails done, for at least another month. And pubs, PUBS, the pure machine that keeps this country running and its people sane, well they don’t look to be open till the end of year.
There’s been so many, many moments, where I wanted to throw the towel in, pack up my stuff and head back to Australia, but for some reason I persisted and I guess, I am now really glad I didn’t.
These days, Carmela feels like she has landed her dream job with the Bauer Media Group in London. She is the company’s only talent booker and their entertainment content producer.
In non-industry speak… I organise and secure the celebrity interviews (tv, music and film) for all of Bauer’s radio and print brands, including KISS, Absolute, Magic, GRAZIA and heat (to name a few), and create/produce/distribute that content to its wide range of platforms.
My day-to-day role consists of meeting and chaperoning talent from Anne Hathaway to Justin Timberlake and taking them through their carefully curated hour/90 minutes of press with our radio and print brands (which I had negotiated prior).
These interviews can range from a traditional pre-recorded breakfast style one (2 hosts and talent), to an ISDN with another radio show in another location around the UK (just me sitting in the studio with the talent connecting the line, panelling etc.), to a live interview, a podcast format and then some filmed content for our digital and social channels (which I had to sort crew to set-up the studio, shoot, edit, etc) .
I have planned, operated and produced a schedule like this for some of the biggest names in showbiz, from Hugh Grant, Matthew McConaughey, Kit Harrington and Jason Momoa. The radio staples like Little Mix and Rita Ora to whoever was just booted out of Love Island that week.
The aim is to provide my brands with as much relevant entertainment content and to service that to our 20+ million audience asap. Of course, as wonderful as this sounds, it comes with its last-minute dropouts, talent hissy fits and tardiness. A LOT of back and forth with film reps, agents, managers, and music labels/pluggers, and our own content directors, producers and radio stars.
It’s exhausting but it’s a bloody thrill. I don’t believe a role or formula exists like this in Australia, so every day I pinch myself. I know a lot of other Aussies who are currently working in radio in London or New York feel the same way.
Carmela is one of many hard working Aussie media ex pats working on the world stage. At this time it is more difficult than usual for them, but Aussies like Carmela continue to learn from and influence the international media industry.