Steve Carlesi…Gone. I Will Miss You, Man.

(NOTE: Your responses in the comments section below have been tremendous. I will be passing along each and every one of them to Steve’s family. Please contribute to the memorial fund that has been set up in Steve’s name. I have also designed a poster in Steve’s memory that can be purchased here. All money will go directly to his wife and children.)

One guy went out of his way to truly help me in life. His name is Steve Carlesi and you should read every word I have to say about him. I’ve exhausted my current supply of tears and my nose is packed with boogers and congestion. The only other thing I can do is simply write about Steve.

In the late 1990s I had a job working in the back room of Graphic Research Unlimited in Fanwood, New Jersey. The room smelled like this oil-based paint. I had a shitty little ladder and a radio with a coat hanger antenna. My job was pulling film for burning print plates. The press men were a funny bunch, but nothing compared to tuning into 102.7 WNEW and listening to the Opie & Anthony show. I always laughed. They were not typical radio “shock jocks” and had me calling friends saying “turn it on now!” Always funny. Every single day.

The tattoo I designed for Steve. He trusted me from the beginning to always do my best work.

In nearby Scotch Plains, New Jersey a comic book store called Little Shop of Comics had a customer named James Hannon. I also shopped at Little Shop of Comics. The owner, Steve (not Carlesi), put me in touch with James so I could design a logo for him. James was super happy with the Lantern Media logo and kept me in mind for the future. Fast forward a bit and Steve Carlesi needs to cover up a tattoo he hates. At this point, Steve C. does production work for Opie & Anthony. Hilarious sweepers and funny in studio appearances. I know absolutely nothing about Steve outside of his radio personality. Steve sends me a few photos of the existing tattoo and asks me to go to town. Mind you I have never designed anything meant to be stabbed into a human body with sharp needles and ink. The heat was on and I felt immense pressure to do this right.

Steve slim and trim. Kicking ass!

Steve loved the design and brought it to his tattoo artist who faithfully reproduced the design. People joked that it looked like a Journey album cover. I take that as a compliment to this day. It was such an honor that he endured the pain of getting that tattoo. That design also acted as a trial by fire. Now Steve trusted me with basically anything else that he threw my way. The radio show was mega popular and he needed a small army to keep up with the work behind the scenes. I loved being a part of designing banners, web sites, animations, etc. Whatever he needed I was ready, willing, and able to help with.

Heavy Metal

Steve and I weren’t terribly far apart age-wise. I think both of us should have been listening to far less 1980s metal than we ended up listening to. We constantly made fun of bands still kicking around with terrible lineups and even shittier albums. I was violently opposed to anyone wearing Ace or Peter’s makeup in KISS, but Steve always thought Gene was a marketing genius. (Let’s give some credit to Paul as well.) Countless hours spent chatting by AOL Instant Messenger and e-mail about these sorts of things. We also would spend hours coming up with hilarious web banner quotes. Steve was not allowed to use gratuitous nudity on his web site. Certain clients had web sites containing such material. This meant coming up with even more creative ways of getting people to click! And, damn it, people clicked those banners. They also got the attention of people like Blair Lazar who is still someone I work with to this day. Blair contacted Steve and wanted his banner guy. Steve was always looking out for me. If he could help me out, he always took the time to do so. This is where I became more of a friend to him. You could tell it was never just about business. That aspect took a back seat to the interaction we had about things that had nothing to do with the task at hand.

Stay Cozy

Back to the metal. Steve loved music. He was in a band and always loved talking about music. Never got tired of it. He knew that I played bass and was learning guitar, so one day he basically said “I have a ton of BOSS pedals, want ’em?” Ummmm….ok! So he ships me a box full of guitar effects pedals. Just BECAUSE! He was also constantly recording bits for Eddie Trunk’s radio show. Steve would send me .mp3 files of things that were just too insane to air. Always trusted me to listen them and not distribute. Never did. Never will. Steve also knew I was a massive Queensryche fan. When they finished recording “Operation: Mindcrime II”, Steve sent me the album before it was ever released. He also sent me Queensryche’s “The Art of Live” DVD once he was finished reviewing it. The dude was always thinking of me when it came to Queensryche and I loved him for it. My second to last e-mail to Steve was about Queensryche. Things never change.

 Behind the Scenes

I’ve always enjoyed knowing how things work. The radio industry is one of the most foul and wretched places to work. Unforgiving talent. Horrifying hours. Merciless co-workers. I felt like Steve was burning the candles at both ends and tap dancing in the middle of it. We’d talk during show hours about things that had absolutely nothing to do with the show. I cannot tell you how many times. It makes me laugh just writing about it because the Steve Carlesi AIM Show was usually more entertaining than the actual radio show. As time went on, I worked with people like Jeff Shain on new projects. Steve invested more and more in my skills and I never wanted to let him down. Between running foundrymusic.com and opieandanthony.com, Steve was always working. He got up at an unfathomable time of day to haul into work to book guests, cut more promos, update site content, etc. If there was one person that deserved a shitload of credit for keeping that show going it was Steve C. By the time he was acknowledged for being a crucial part of the show, I think it had run its course in his mind. However, he was always grateful for the experience and years of meeting his own musical idols.

The Gregg & Tony Show

Steve and I messed around with creating a fake web site for the alter egos of Opie & Anthony. Site was never launched, but the idea still makes me laugh.

Dinners at T.G.I. Friday’s in Springfield, NJ

Most of my conversations with Steve were over the phone, email or messenger. But during the planning stages for the Traveling Virus Comedy Tour, we would meet up at Friday’s to exchange media. I helped pull together years of footage into segments played on large screens between comedians. He’d always arrive in the infamous Prius and proved that tattooed tough guys are still concerned with getting decent gas mileage. His gastric bypass surgery made every meal just a few bites and then he was full. He was a good sport about waiting for me to finish my normal sized meal. It always came back to 1980s metal though. We couldn’t resist. Plus, the restaurant had vinyl records plastered all over the place. How could the conversation not turn back to music?

Opie & Anthony’s Traveling Virus intro (2006)

Beyond Radio

One of Steve’s interests beyond radio was getting into producing films. He never stopped coming to me for new adventures like his T. Stephen Carlesi intro (2009). I always liked the FoundryMusic logo, so I tried to keep his brand recognizable with the “Stay Cozy” teddy bear in the middle of the infamous Foundry gear. The intro appeared in at least one short film that I know of. He always had his hands in something that interested him and that is to be respected. Too many people rest on their laurels! He even re-released old Foundry songs on iTunes with a cover that I designed.

Foundry Retooled on iTunes

MJ, Aubrey, and Xander (X)

None of these words will add up to a particle of what Steve meant to MJ, Aubrey, and Xander. His whole life changed when he met MJ and Aubrey. It changed even more with Xander being born. I know that people will tell countless stories about the person Steve was and that will comfort the family as well as let young X know he was deeply loved by his father. Steve told me the downtime between gigs was great because he got in family time. He learned what really matters in time to enjoy it.

Final Words to Steve

I will legitimately miss you, Steve. I hardly ever cry and I opened the flood gates when I got the message from MJ. You lived beyond the average person’s life and I hope you will give each of us some peace with the memories you helped create. I close my eyes and wish MJ and X the most intense wishes to overcome this. There are going to be many moments when I will start writing to you or think about a terrible band reuniting for one last cash grab. “Gotta get Steve’s spin on this.” Most importantly, I owe the majority of my success in life to your kindness and faith in me. There is no replacing someone like you, but I know you have reunited with Sara and so many other gentle souls that have left us.

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43 thoughts on “Steve Carlesi…Gone. I Will Miss You, Man.

  1. This is an incredible tribute to your friend, Christopher.  Anyone who did not know him will feel like they do when they’re done reading this, as I do.   Some people go through this life and make barely a ripple.  Obviously Steve left his footprints everywhere he went, including in the hearts of the people who loved and cared about him, like you, a young man he took under his wing years ago and became a treasured friend.  May God look after him and his family and friends always.  And I hope that God has a sense of humor.  It sounds as if He’s going to need it with Steve around.

    • I certainly hope God has a sense of humor. Steve spent 37 years on earth and many of them were making people laugh.

  2. Well said my friend. Never easy to lose a friend and someone who was obviously a major force in your life. Prayer go out to his family and anyone who’s life he touched.

    • It’s very hard to process something so sudden. I am sure everyone will be sending nothing but the best thoughts to Steve’s family.

  3. I remember that tattoo, and I remember that studio–Steve taught me radio production while I worked at WNEW, and I worked in his studio on overnights. What a great memory your picture gave me. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you for this comment, Ginny. Helps to know you learned from Steve. He was always willing to do that for people. More importantly, he knew when to let someone run with their own ideas. That was one of his best characteristics. I hope you have found success and pass down what you learned to others. My responses to comments like this has me sounding like Obi-Wan Kenobi. I’m going to go slap myself silly.

      • I learned from him, and countless other people (interns) whom I have taught over the years have learned from him simply by my applying his lessons and sharing them. 🙂 I am still in the business, and have won a few awards for spot production and script writing; I am also an on air personality on two stations. One local to you. My start in radio was a crank call to the Ron and Fez show. But by start in my career was in the production studio of Steve Carlesi.

        • It’s a tough business and you learned from one of the best. Continue to do well and give it all you’ve got!

  4. Couldn’t believe it. Its so sad that Steve is gone.

    What you wrote was great, and from the heart.

    Hard not to tear up reading it.

  5. It’s weird when an O&A-er dies. I’ve been listening for so long it’s like they’re friends. Or at least frienemies. Sorry for the loss. Will they ever say how he died, or it will remain private?

    • I’m not sure what the family’s wishes are so I will leave it to them. It’s weird when anyone dies, but when it’s someone who A.) made you laugh all the time B.) became more than just someone from a radio show…it just packs an extra punch. He was nothing but generous and supportive of me through many years. I will always owe him a debt of gratitude.

  6. This was beautiful man. I’m a swedish O&A fan located in Stockholm, and it’s so weird how people so far away can affect your life. Reading this not only shines a light on the importance of true friendship, it shows how something so simple as a radio show can bring people together and send them on a life long journey together. Obviously I never knew Steve personally, but reading your words is really emotional. Your memories will always be real, and the things Steve helped you start will continue to grow in eternity. Much love.

    • Wow! Stockholm, Sweden. International love for Steve! I’m glad my words resonated with you. They’re true and I’ll probably end up writing more once the dust settles. I am working on a piece of art to pay tribute to Steve. My intention is to sell a limited amount of prints and send all monies to Steve’s family. It’s the absolute least that I should do for the man. Thanks again for taking the time to write, Oskar. Always remember to stay cozy and maybe have a martini for Steve Carlesi.

  7. Great piece. Sorry for your loss. Steve did some nice things for me over the years- pulling clips from shows that I was on and such, as well as sending me things from time to time. Of course, he was also such a great sport on the show and made for lots of laughs (usually at his expense!). My condolences go out to all of his family and friends as well as everyone on O&A.

    Matt from Queensbury

    • Thanks, Matt. He really did try and treat everyone the best he could. It’s impressive given his schedule/pressure that he managed to take care of the fans like he did. He was a machine at that. I believe he was a crucial part of the “golden era” of the Opie & Anthony show. I haven’t listened to the show in the years since he’s been off doing other things.

  8. Chris, “You” are of what you call Steve “Great” yourself. If Steve found a liking to you there was a reason. It’s very sad that our projects that may of put me in contact with him never pannned out but through you I know the type of person he was. Steve if you can hear me or read this I want you to know that you will always live in my heart and in the industies hearts. We just don’t forget. Rest In Peace Steve and Christopher you could of not wrote it any better than you did. You did good Chris did good.. God Bless Gregg Wieder..

    • Thanks, Gregg! You were one of those people Steve trusted with projects. He just knew who to trust. It was something innate that he had inside of him. It honestly is great to see comments like yours coming up on this site. I was just telling my wife that Steve would be most impressed that this page is ranking number one on Google right now. Steve would absolutely be floored with that. The circumstances blow big time, but it shows how much people took a liking to him and care about his family.

  9. Nicely written, Chris. I only knew Steve from the radio, but after reading your note, I have a whole new perspective on him. You’ve done his memory service in sharing these thoughts in this way. Cheers.

  10. 3 years ago I wrote to Steve in his role as producer to see if I could visit the O&A show. In 1 email he set up the visit. When I went in, he could have blown me off and treated me like I was a bother for him. Instead, he was gracious, professional, and treated me very well. Point is, he did not have to be nice, but he was. He could have blown me off but he made the day truly memorable for me. He was classy and just a really good guy. I will always remember the visit and his kindness. God bless you Steve.

    • He would definitely hook a fan up when possible. If he sensed you were a maniac, he would have probably still let you up because of the potential to be the next Big A or Twitchels. He had the right blend of go-getter and actual human being that is far too rare in radio or in this world. Period.

  11. Niece tribute piece. I’m a cop in NJ. A bunch of years ago, I had helped a former O&A staff member navigate his way through a minor court issue that he had to deal with. It was nothing other than spelling out a process that the person who didn’t understand the system was going to go through. It took 5 minutes of my time. A few days later I get a call from Steve. He had called to personally thank me for what I had done for one of his guys. It turned out that we were just about the same age and knew some of the same people. So we got to talking and became friends. Over the years since, he repaid my minor gesture of kindness 100 fold. My partner at work had a very sick infant at home and I wanted to do a fundraiser for the family. I asked Steve for help and he didn’t hesitate, He got some of the O&A regulars to perform for free. The evening was a huge success, primarily because of Steve’s help. After that he had gotten me a couple Jim Norton books signed, created an intro for a podcast that I help another friend with, and reached out to make sure I was ok after he heard I had been involved in a rather violent incident at work. I can’t say enough good things about him. I do know that I will miss him greatly.

    • Hi, Shawn. These are some of the best stories I’ve read about Steve thus far. I am hoping these stories endure and are retold to his family. He really used his position in a positive way. No matter how seedy or out of control the radio show seemed, Steve really knew what he was doing. Controlled chaos. My mind has trouble wrapping around how he did these types of things on a daily basis for well over a decade. I wake up at 7:00AM and whine like a bitch. He woke up at 4:00AM and had to commute to New York City to run a national radio show. No idea how he did it. Steve is probably throwing up in his mouth a little bit across the great divide about how we’re going on about him. Or maybe he’s basking in the glory of it all. Either way, it all came from a great place in his heart. I’m glad you pulled through that incident at work! Just by writing this, I know you’re one of the good guys out there keeping us safe.
      Keep fighting the good fight.

  12. Great tribute and I am so sorry for your loss. I only knew Steve from the radio show since I am from a faraway land but even the blind could see (or hear in this case) that he was a genuinely nice and hilarious guy. My thoughts go out to his family and friends in this difficult time.

    Regards,Erik from Finland.

    • Thank you, Erik. Even if you only knew him from the show you could tell how much of himself he put into it. He was a beast and more talented than most people knew.

  13. From the dots I have connected about Steve’s passing, to say that I am shocked & wholeheartedly saddened cannot sum it up enough. I wasn’t a super close friend, but loved Steve’s contribution to the O&A show & when he & Mj 1st got married & then when Xander was born, I spoke with him via FailBook & gave him advice to find good deals on things he’d wanted to buy for their home & baby. I guess I expected him to be like the other guys & treat me like crap, but he didn’t & was an absolute gentleman & just from the few back -n- forths we had, you could tell that he so deeply loved & badly wanted to give his wife & child the BEST, even if he couldn’t spend mega-bucks to do so. I would occasionally peek at his FailBook page to see what was new & it was nice to see him & his family enjoying life. I don’t know what happened during the last few weeks & can only speculate, but I wish God would give him a do-over because he was just starting on his adventure as the loving husband & dad. My husband caught me blubbering, leaking from the eyes & sleeving gallons of tears & snot last Friday (I rarely let him see me cry as I know it makes him feel bad because he can’t “fix” the situation & if it’s because someone has hurt my feelings, I fear he’ll stomp them a new A-hole, as the guy apparently loves me silly!) as I let myself grieve for that kind-hearted genius you were lucky to know & share your time with. The only thing I can do now is to donate some $$$ to a child based charity in his name. That makes me too sad to think of right now & I really hope Mj & others can remind Xander of just how great a guy his Daddy is as he won’t even be able to remember him on his own as he grows up & that just tears my soul to shreds. I hope you & all who knew & loved Steve will remember him with love & laughter. He is really a true “one of a kind” & the world is worse off without him in it.

    • Hi, Kerry, definitely donate if you can to the Steve Carlesi Memorial Fund: http://www.gofundme.com/vh0ew. All money will go direct to Steve’s family. Radio is a powerful format. Much more versatile than television. You drive with these people in your car. You hear them in the background while making dinner. An emotional reaction to a person you’ve never “met” just means he was as real as could be. Thank you for writing. I feel like Casey Kasem doing dedications. “RAMOOOOOOOOOOOOON CUT ME A SAD PROMO!”

  14. I’m a newer listener to the O&A show (and by newer, i have been listening for 4 years so i have a lot of catching up to do!) I am catching up on all shows, though, and just what a wonderful guy… This was so nice to read and everyones comments and love for him… I am sorry for everyone’s loss. Much love, prayers and thoughts to all who knew him, but mostly to his wife and child, who will know him through his friends and family’s kind and loving words.

    • Thanks, Amber. The comments section has been doing quite well over the past few days. These stories are humbling and it’s so great to see people recalling Steve’s positive effect on their lives.

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