Hearing the fond memories of Steve Carlesi on today's Jim & Sam made me very happy. It also helped me remember the simple fact that CelebrityNetWorth.com would not exist today without Steve C. He had a huge impact on my life both by helping me set up CNW back in 2009 and by giving me one of the best moments of my life. He was just such a cool guy. Always willing to help. Generous with his time and advice. Here's how it's all connected:
Back when I was in college, I listened to O&A on WJFK every afternoon while I probably should have been in class. After studying finance and accounting at Georgetown for four years, my one clear goal after college was to get an unpaid internship at O&A. That made my parents super happy considering they had just spent $150k on my education.
I soon discovered that you actually need to be IN COLLEGE (preferably at a broadcasting school) to get an internship at XM. I was crushed. So instead of moving to New York after school, I moved to Los Angeles where I ended up getting a minimum wage job at the viral video website Break.com.
Undeterred in my goal to break into the O&A universe, at some point in 2005 I started sending firstname.lastname@example.org periodic cold emails containing Break.com video links that I thought would be funny to play on the air.
One day, Opie played a video I had sent. After playing the video, Opie said something like "What's the name of the website where this came from? Break.com? Everyone go check out Break.com." I almost fell out of my chair.
For the next year, Steve and I would email each weekly to talk traffic, trade links and generally catch up on web stuff. We built up a friendship.
At some point in 2007 I was visiting a friend in NY and I told Steve I'd love to meet up for lunch. We met up at a pizza place near the studio and he was the coolest/nicest dude in real life.
A few months later, I visited NYC again and again invited Steve to lunch. By now he knew that I was a big O&A fan and really was dying to see the show in person. So of course he told me to meet him at the studio before lunch. This was a dream come true, years in the making. I was so excited and happy. I couldn't be an intern, but I had found a loophole backdoor to the O&A universe.
But it got crazier.
I head up to studio right on time, check-in (with Master Po, which I thought was hilarious) and was led back to Steve's office. I sat down in a chair trying to look cool and collected. I was neither of those things. 10 minutes go by and then Steve finally pops over and says, "You want to go on the air with the guys?". At this point I shit my pants.
When I finally catch my breath, I say yes and somehow get my legs to walk into the studio where I'm greeted by Opie, Jim and Vos. All three are staring at me wondering who the fuck I am. I must have had to stupidest shit-eating smile of all time.
Steve introduces me as the guy from Break.com, throws some headphones on me and we were off. I was on air for around 10 minutes. We took a few calls from Break.com fans. I answered some questions about how the website worked. Honestly, I don't remember a second of it. I had to listen to the replay 40 times to understand what happened.
I say this without sarcasm or exaggeration: That was one of the happiest moments of my life. And it was alll because of Steve C. He knew what he was doing. He knew it was late in the morning of a slow show. He knew it was beyond a dream of mine. When it was done, he told me I did great (which I didn't believe) and we went to lunch at the same pizza place.
Fast forward to 2009 and I'm still working for Break.com but I have an idea for a website where I create pages that estimate the net worths of celebrities. I was going to call it CelebrityNetWorth.com. The only problem was I had zero concept of how to create an actual website. So I emailed the only person I knew at the time who had created their own website, and that was Steve C.
Steve walked me through everything over dozens of emails. Taught me about wordpress, Godaddy, hosting companies, traffic link trading, SEO… the gamut. He also introduced me to a friend of his who ultimately got my first version of the site designed, built, hosted and launched. The first traffic backlink I ever got was from FoundryMusic.com.
I was obviously saddened when I heard of Steve's passing. He had actually helped a dozen web guys like me over the years and we were all distraught to hear the news.
I want to end on a happy note and just simply say that Steve Carlesi really was the best. He made a dream of mine come true back in 2007 when he put me on the air with O&A. He helped me launch CelebrityNetWorth which in a few years would be big enough to allow me to quit Break.com. I haven't had another job since. I am extremely grateful to Steve C and wish he was still here so I could tell him that in person.