Steve Carlesi has some of the funniest, wildest and most insane radio stories you’ll ever hear. After working with famed shock jocks Opie and Anthony for 12 years and a brief stint with Danny Bonaduce (he was only five months into his job when the announcement was made that the station would flip), he has now joined the Times-Shamrock radio family as the production director of Rock 107, FM 92.1 and ESPN Radio. A native of New Jersey, Carlesi was inspired by famous shock jock Howard Stern, and knew a career in radio was for him. His career has taken him to New York City and Philadelphia, at CBS, Infinity, Sirius XM, to name a few, and he has met more celebrities than you’ll see featured on tonight’s Inside Edition. From Gene Simmons and Bret Michaels, to Tony Bennett, Jonah Hill, Mike Myers, Judd Apatow and Lita Ford, the list just goes on and on. He even got a compliment from Sharon Osbourne when he met her and Ozzy. Sharon called me “lovely,” which I thought was very flattering,” he said, chuckling. Meet the one and only Steve Carlesi…
What was your first job in radio?
I was an Oldies jock.
Do you like Oldies?
No. I had to use the cheat cards. I knew the ’80s oldies, like Mr. Mister, Toto, Richard Marx and stuff like that, so when it was my shift I would lean really heavy to the ’80s because I knew it. When it came to Elvis and The Four Tops and … I can’t even tell you what … (laughs) I would fake it the whole time.
How did you connect with Opie and Anthony?
Ultimately, I had known Opie and Anthony through their time in Boston because I was a bouncer for many years and I worked security at their events – not a good way to make money. You get punched in the face. Not fun. And I have a broadcasting degree from BU (Boston University), and it just so happened that when Opie and Anthony got fired from WAAF in Boston, I had just moved to Jersey. I was in a band. It wasn’t going anywhere and I said, ‘I’m going back to the New York area.’ So I moved back and heard them on the air, contacted them and said, ‘I don’t know if you remember me, but here’s my name’…..I got hired and I worked my way up from production guy to executive producer and I was with them for 12 years.
That must have been quite an experience.
When you work for a show like Opie and Anthony, you get subjected to a lot of risky situations. I did 30 hours in jail for riding on a glass-sided bus with strippers. It was called the Voyeur Bus and it was a glass-sided tour bus filled with strippers, and I was on there with Lewis Black, Jim Norton and a few other people like Jay Mohr, and Jeanne Moos from CNN was on the bus with us. We were having a blast. We were driving up and down 6th Avenue and we’re thinking that we’ve got police escorts, we’ve got guys chasing the bus, we think we’re unstoppable. It was great! We didn’t realize that we were interrupting a presidential motorcade.
We simultaneously (PO’d) Bill Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Bernard Kerik. They threw us in jail so fast. I remember we were coming back up, and to this day, I think Jeanne Moos from CNN got off the bus at City Hall and walked into the mayor’s office asking for a reaction and the mayor was like. “You’ve got what going on?”
What were you charged with?
Promotion of an indecent event. They held us for 30 hours on a bogus charge, put us in what is called The Tombs. That’s a holding cell in downtown Manhattan where all the dregs go. There were guys there who were busted in their bare feet just blowing snot rockets on the ground. It was gross! And Lewis Black and Jim Norton at the time smoked, and obviously you can’t smoke in jail, so we had these two irate comedians going through nicotine fits the entire time. It was completely unbearable. And after 30 hours, they brought us in front of the judge and the judge looked at the charge and said, “What are you people doing here? Get out of my court.” And that was it. It was a bogus charge just to get us off the street.
This sounds like a crazy job.
When you work a job like that, without sounding too cliché, you have to go to work every day knowing that it could be your last. It’s not going to last forever and that’s the mantra I would teach all of my producers and all of my interns. Listen guys, understand, this is a cool job; we’re not celebrities, we are by no means famous, we just have cool jobs. And this job could end tomorrow so enjoy it, embrace it and do the best you can.
After O and A, you worked with Danny Bonaduce. What was that like?
He was one of the nicest human beings I have ever worked for. He actually said to me at one point, “Did they actively seek somebody who’s as crazy as I am to be my producer?” Apparently, they did (laughs) because he and I were sort of kindred spirits. You know, it wasn’t uncommon to see Danny go out to Dunkin Donuts at 4 a.m. and get us all breakfast sandwiches. It was just his nature. He would be up at 2 in the morning emailing us show prep ideas because that was his show prep time. But Danny also wouldn’t walk in the building until about 90 seconds before it was time to go on the air. We went on the air at 5:30. At 5:28 I would be standing at the door looking at the elevator saying, “Danny, Danny, please walk in. Please walk in.” And he’d come out of the elevator and I’d yell, “Danny, 90 seconds! Come on!” And he’d go, “I have time to get a soda. Relax.”
During this time, you were living in Philly while your wife and son were living in Scranton. That had to be tough.
That was, not to put too fine a point on it, heartbreaking. I just couldn’t handle it. So as much fun as Bonaduce was and as nice a guy as he was, I couldn’t bear to be away from my family. So when I found out the station was flipping, I called up my wife and I said, “Don’t move,” because she was on the verge of moving to Philly. I said “Keep your job. I’m moving back to Scranton. I don’t care if I have to change careers – we are not leaving.”
And here you are.
They say in this business timing is everything, and really, timing was everything.
— julie imel