Cugine Corner - The Johnny Meatballs Blog
Cugine Corner - The Johnny Meatballs Blog
The Italian Howard Stern?
I’ve been interviewed on quite a few radio and TV shows, but I have to say, my four visits to “The Carlucci Show” have been some of my most fun and memorable experiences. Gregg Carlucci (or as I like to call him DJ Big Time) is the host of this outrageous (and totally unscripted) radio program—what I consider real reality radio—which has been running every Thursday for nearly 100 shows now. Gregg’s show is taped live from the Connecticut School of
JOHNNY MEATBALLS: Ok, Grizzly Greggy, now we’re gonna let your listeners get to know the man behind the microphone. I’m gonna start this little sit-down with a pretty obvious one…When did you first know you wanted to be in radio?
GREGG CARLUCCI: Well there's actually a few times in my life that I truly knew that I wanted to be in radio John. Firstly, when I was a little cugine running around the streets of good ol' Berkeley Heights, NJ...I used to hang out a lot with two of my friends from down the block. I can remember we used to play with one of those Fisher Price old school (well not so old school back then) little radio recorders with a microphone. Must have cost $10 bucks but I thought it was the greatest thing ever made. We would constantly record our voices and play it back over and over again. I absolutely loved this thing. I guess it's true, you know, usually the thing you most want to do as an adult is what you used to gravitate to as a small child.
Then, growing up through the years and especially during college, I loved to just add life to the party. I was always telling stories, doing skits and making people laugh. I really enjoy the feeling of performing, I guess you can say. My friends and family always told me I had "the gift of gab" and that I could talk to anyone. That was something that I never forgot and always took with me through life.
Finally, several times throughout my college football career at The College of NJ, I was asked to be on the
JM: Who was your first guest on The Carlucci Show?
GC: Actually, it was ironically the same first guest that I had on my first show, "The Looch & Leone Show". It was a band from Staten Island called "Woods of Arden". I was actually against it at first because I wanted to
JM: So how did you feel when you finally did that very first show? Were you nervous?
GC: That is an excellent question Mr. King of all Meatballs. I can remember the anxiety and nerves very, very well the day of my very first show in March of 2010. Everyone was telling me that they were gonna listen and wishing me well. I really felt a ton of pressure because I didn't want people to think it sucked and never want to tune in again. I really felt like I had one shot to prove to people that I have what it takes and to keep their attention. It's funny cause it really was the same nerves that I would feel before a football game or a wrestling match. And that's when I knew I had made the right decision to get into radio. You know, throughout my career since college, nothing ever gave me nerves, it was just...work.
When I drove to the studio, I had a smile from ear to ear and thought as I cruised down Route 80 East towards that infamous "Exit 64 Hasbrouck Heights", wow! 4 months of classes at broadcasting school and years of talking about this and dreaming, and I'm finally doing a "radio" show. Oh, and by the way that exit is by "Bada Bing" Johnny—don't let me catch you there...you're a married man! Ha-ha..anyway, I remember my co-host Erik Leone put on “For Whom the Bells Tolls” by Metallica to start the show off. (And for people who don't know this, I did The Looch & Leone Show for about 8 months before starting my own show entitled The Carlucci Show). Man that was the longest five minutes of my life. I was like a schoolgirl, like a kid on Christmas Eve. When he pointed to me that we were on, I got the most incredible feeling that I have ever gotten since...maybe running onto the field before a big game. I seriously had goose bumps. I don't remember what I said those first few minutes cause I was so nervous, I just spoke and rambled about how this has been my dream my whole life and in my final words, of what was my most likely annoying introduction, I said something that just came out with no thought. I said.."this has been a long time coming for me."
When people say they feel like 1,000 pounds has been lifted off their shoulders...that's how I felt John. We then proceeded to start “The Looch and Leone Show” and the rest is history. Or as Leone used to say.."Radio Gold" haha
JM: Nice! So you found your niche right then and there!
GC: Niche? Does a bear poop in the woods? Man, when that show ended and I realized that I was wearing a sleeveless shirt, (which I just had to do my first time..haha) instead of that boring, daily shirt and tie get-up...I realized that on a small scale...my dream had indeed come true Johnny! Money or no money..I had just done a friggin’ two hour radio show...on live radio...with listeners, in a real radio studio. There's no better feeling in the world then when you realize that all of your hardwork in life, all your let downs and failures throughout the years, all of the moves you made to get to where you want to be..has finally paid off...
John, I have held so many friggin’ jobs, moved a dozen times, and have been told "no" time and time again and was seriously starting to feel like I was failing in life. I say this because everyone else seemed to have their cushy jobs and own a home..and I felt like I could just never catch a break. Then I decided to take the world by the meatballs and go after my dreams. To do the stuff I was born to do, not the boring crap that I had to do. I was, of course, met with a large amount of "hey it's ok to dream..but you gotta pay the bills." Johnny, that's all I ever heard. So I said, "yeah I know, but frig it, worry about your own bills and I'll worry about mine"! And it's the coolest feeling to be doing the only thing in the world that you would possibly want to do. Well except play for the NY Giants, but my glory days have passed..haha. Oh..and maybe be Theee Self Proclaimed King of Meatballs..hahaa.
JM: Well there’s only one Meatball King! But it sounds like you made it to me bro.
GC: Yeah Johnny, I always tell people that I made it a long time ago. People think making it means money and super stardom. No, absolutely not. You think that HS football coach in some small town in America feels like he didn't make it cause he's not an NFL coach? Because he's not famous and making millions? No way man, he made it in the same exact way that that NFL coach made it because he's doing what he loves to do...period, and he's good at it. Anyone who does something that they love, has made it. I'm actually getting so friggin’ sick of people saying "call me when you make it," or " Well, until you make it, you have to do this," "what if you don't make it, then what," etc. etc. friggin' etc. The problem is, there's a ton of haters out there. Anyone who ever insults you or tries to make you feel bad about your decisions in life are friggin’ losers. They're misearable, they hate their 9-5 jobs and boring lives so they make themselves feel better by telling you how much of a chance "you don't" have at making it. Or how you should do things more like they are doing. I've heard it all. They're jealous that they never had the balls or motivation to go after what it is they really want to do. They just make excuses. They make me sick.
Making it means that you accomplished your goals. Actually, not even so much accomplishing them... but going after them. Even if you fail, you made it cause you tried. What is that saying? I'd rather fail trying then to have never tried at all or something like that. There's a million of those quotes out there. What is it.."every man dies, but not every man really lives"..Braveheart baby! But they're true. I'm not trying to be a friggin' motivational guru John, but I know struggle. I've made it on my own since I came home from college. I've been through the best of times and definetily the worst. But, through all of it, all of my ups and downs in life over the past couple of years. All of the BS I heard about how I should be living my life. I learned one thing about myself. I was motivated as all hell, and I had a gift.. and the thing that was keeping me down was that I wasn't content with my effort..period. I tried to be a cop for a little while. I was a football coach, and I was very proud to have gone after things that I always wanted to do. But I always knew something was missing and no one ever understood. They just thought I couldn't get my act together in the job world. Yeah, you know why, cause I hated the friggin' job world. Because just like alot of people can relate, the job world doesn't give a rat's butt about you. There's always someone who can fill your spot. And I know if I get paid to be in radio, there will be someone who can fill my spot there too (well at least in the probationary period) haha, but I made it cause I am finally doing what it is I really want to do. And it's organic now, because I don't have to worry about being fired or layed off. That's the beauty of internet radio John. That's why I'm content just doing it like this. I'm just a radio show at The Connecticut School of Broadcasting, but I interview people that I never imagined that I would have ever talked to, let alone meet. It's awesome.
All in all, if you're doing what you love to do then you are living your dream every day Johnny, that could be anything...being a hairstylest, a teacher, a cop..even a janitor. It doesn't matter. For me Meatball Man, I've lived my dream every Thursday Night for the last 26 months. So yeah...I feel like I made it. But I can't lie..getting paid for this and getting a few million listeners would make it all that much sweeter.
JM: And screw the haters! Haters are motivators!!!
GC: Not to belabor this point Johnny but I really want to say this. I've said some negative things to you about haters. I just want to make this perfectly clear. I never realized how good people really were until I started radio. Yeah, there are the haters and always will be..but man, I have the most incredible friends and family in the entire world. Since day one, mostly everyone I know and love has told me they that they respect me for going after my dreams and that (in their opinion) I am very good at what I do. I can't tell you the amount of calls, texts and e-mails that I have gotten from people close to me and even people I haven't spoken to in 20 years that have filled me with the confidence, support and motivation to become successful in radio. Trust me, I am nowhere near where I want to be right now, I am just humbled that you wanted to have a sit down with me. It's pretty cool. But if I do become big one day, I will never be that person who says.."to everyone who never believed in me...F U!". NO..it's completely opposite. It will be...THANK YOU for filling me with the love and support that I needed to get to the top in radio. They don't realize it, but everyone of their messages and encouraging words, even the constructive critizism...gave me just that more "desire" to step it up. It's an excellent feeling when mostly all of the people you know or love do nothing but compliment what you are doing. This isn't being arrogant Johnny, it's being grateful that people recognize your talent... next question meatballs!
JM: Well said paisan! So what are some of your goals and passions outside of radio?
GC: I have a ton of goals and passions outside of radio. Firstly, having played football my whole life, naturally I'm a huge NFL fan. So when late August rolls around, call me in January cause it's GMEN all the way baby!. And naturally, you know.. I would like to settle down someday and all that good stuff. I still have a lot of a single friends, and definetly still enjoy tearing up the town every now and again, but we're getting up there in age kid, it's getting to that point in life. As Pesci says, "Ma I settle down almost every night and in the morning I'm free..I love you!" haha. But in all seriousness, right now my show is the most important thing but yeah, I'd like to have little Carlucci's running around someday.
Lastly, I'd say another huge passion for me has to be for animals. Call me what you want but I'm a huge dog lover and I stand for animal rights. I'm not PETA, but I love what they do. I want to be able to use my voice to inform people about adoption and anti-dog fighting. I own a Pit and this stuff breaks my heart. Everybody wants to buy a nice little bred puppy for their family, because they think sheltered animals are screwed up. But what about those millions of neglected dogs and cats suffering everyday in shelters? They're just like any other dog or cat, they just happened to have caught a bad break. It really breaks my heart. Those animals will love you even more cause they know you saved them from a cage, or even death! I will do what I can both financially and vocally to promote adoption. One more thing, also for the world to treat our troops better. We wouldn't have what we have today if it wasn't for these incredibly brave men and women. I sure as hell wouldn't have the balls to do what they do. They put their lives on the line everyday and should be all treated as heroes. And that's that...
JM: No doubt. God Bless the men and women in uniform. Who would you compare yourself to or emulate in the entertainment industry?
GC: Look Johnny, I think people who listen to my show know this by now. I look up to Howard Stern...period. Really no one else. Listen I grew up listening to Stern. The man revolutionized radio. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't have the opportunity to just frig around and "say whatever" on my show. He started it all. You have to respect that. He IS the term "shock jock." I consider myself a shock jock. John, having this dream my whole life...I always knew that I wanted to do a brand of radio where I just goofed around and said whatever. But when I started listening to Stern back in HS (‘91-‘94 by the way) I really studied him. But, I didn't want to copy his bits and his format, that's what he does and that's the way it should be. There's too many radio hosts around this country who totally copy his show. And there's a lot who love to hate this man. He started the Lesbians in studio, he started the porn stars getting naked and riding the sybian, he started the whole "whack pack" of radio deal...I mean the list goes on. I always thought to myself if or when I get into radio...I def. want to be like Stern but I'm not going to copy his brand of radio.
Everybody does that and it's so annoying. I wanted my own format and my own brand. I didn't want to be the cliche radio host who has girls in studio taking off their shirts and making out, etc., etc. Don't get me wrong..I still may do that from time to time...haha. But seriously. I have a brand of radio that I think is unique to a lot of the radio hosts out there. And these hosts are great, don't get me wrong. And trust me, I'm not comparing myself to all of these successful men and women in the radio field. Who am I, I still haven't even gotten paid for this yet, and they made it. But I believe in this business you really have to separate yourself and make it yours to be that type of Howard Stern famous. The guy's a friggin’ rock star. Call this kissing his butt..I don't care. I'm honest and I tell it how it is. This guy makes celebrities scared. If this guy doesn't like somebody, then 20 million people feel that way. It's crazy. Now that's power! And he created this himself.
The one thing I take from Howard Stern is his ability to run a show period. He's hilarious, he's demanding, he knows what he wants and he does incredible interviews. He also loves and respects "his people." He knows there would be no show without Robin, Fred, Gary..etc. Howard's shows are always entertaining. That's what I always wanted to be as a radio host. I know my place. I am demanding of my panel, I do take this stuff seriously and I know how to flow a show. It may not be anywhere as entertaining as The Howard Stern Show, but shoot..give me a chance, I'm just starting in this field!
Basically, my format is absolutely no script. We get in the studio, people ask me what we're going to talk about and I always say: “no idea, just follow my lead kids.” Ask my "Crackpack"..they'll tell you..haha. I base my show on humor. It's a bar conversation with microphones. I like to say...it's a back deck conversation with a few of your funniest friends, with beers down the shore on a hot Summer day. Trust me, I hung with some of the best. I really honed my skills joking with these guys over all of these years. There's no politics, no sports, no news of the day. It seriously has been and always will be "just friggin’ around." Of course I interview guests a lot and want to take my show in that direction now, but it is what it is. I never have segments..like the first 15 min. we're gonna talk about this, then this..etc. Doesn't happen. Even when I have important guests...I simply don't prepare. I learn about them of course, but I don't show prep. I love the brand of radio where I feed off people and I see where it goes. Like with Vinny Vella and Beanie Sigel. I didn't write stuff down. I just asked them my first question and bounced off that answer which lead to a new discussion..etc. it's worked so far so I'm keeping it.
People look up to quarterbacks and baseball players, I look up to Howard Stern. I feel like my journey is kind of similar to his beginning. I'm not going to get into details but I have gone through a lot of crap throughout the course of my show and it really pisses me off. But just like Stern..I hope I can say go F yourself when it's all over. All in all, I don't wanna be like everyone else. I learned my mechanics from listening to Stern for 20 years, yes, but I want to do my own thing. And my incredible cast is the reason why I'm able to do this. Who without them I woudn't have this show. I’m talking about: John Pielli (Aka: The Sh!tpusher), Lee Edge (Aka: The Leesbian), Nick Curiale (Aka: Nicky The Door / The Stugots), James Flippin (Aka: Flippy), and not to mention Amanda, Gina, Papetti and of course Leone, and many more who have been involved from the beginning!!!
JM: Not to get off topic but obviously I’m a food guy so I gotta ask you, what is your all-time favorite food?
GC: My favorite food? I'm Italian. I love Mediterranean food. I crave "tomato sauce" and meatballs. I love salad and antipasta and oohhh jeeezzz, that garlic, oregeno and olive oil with bread. Ayyy yay yay!! Roasted peppers and fresh mozz. Ok I gotta stop Johnny...it's like sex to me!
JM: Who was your favorite / most memorable guest (besides me of course!)
GC: Besides you Johnny, I'd have to say my favorite guest to date is Joann from Bensonhurst. I mean this lady tells it like it is and she didn't miss a beat when I had her in studio. Outside of all her hilarious ranting, she is actually a tremendously sweet woman and I enjoyed getting to know her. The most memorable guests though have to be when I had Beanie Sigel and Vinny Vella in studio. I mean Beanie came with his friends and I had never interviewed a celebrity before so I felt very intimidated. But once the interview got started, I got comfortable with him and hit it out of the park. Beanie made it very easy on me cause he was such a nice guy and he made me feel like he was enjoying himself. I remember I kept thinking, wow I just took this show to a new level and that was cool. Finally, having Vinny in studio was incredible. Here I am watching “Casino” all of the years and when the hell would I think I'd be sitting across from this man on my own radio show. Wild Johnny, friggin’ wild. But you know Johnny, you get to know all of these people on a personal level and they're all extremely down to Earth and super friendly. That's what made these three guests just that more enjoyable to have in studio.
JM: Who is the one guest you would consider the ultimate to interview?
GC: Again..I can't just answer with one my meatball friend. There really are so many...there really are Johnny. But honestly, I'll give you my top 3. My ultimate interviews, and I'll get them Johnny..you wait my man. They have to be Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone and Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam. I don't even think I have to answer why. Their work speaks for themselves. All I know is that I have worshipped these dudes since I was a little Looch. “Rocky” is the best movie ever, De Niro has to be the best actor ever and Vedder in my opinion is the best singer ever. Enough said. But the alternates..haha would have to be Joe Pesci, Rudy and (God rest his soul) George Carlin.
JM: Would you ever consider doing a TV show?
GC: TV show...eeeehhh not really. But if the right opportunity came along..of course. But, I'm a radio guy..period.
JM: To close things out let me ask you this from a personal and professional standpoint…Where do you see yourself in five years?
GC: Five years...wow that is such the corporate interview question that I have been asked for twelve years. Except every time I'm asked that question in the sales field...I lie..haha. Now I can finally tell the friggin’ truth!
Five years, honestly hopefully my favorite girl, my pitbull Sierra is still alive and kickin'. That's #1. Johnny..haha. But..all in all..I'm going to be honest. Right now first and foremost is my career. So I hope I'm somewhere broadcasting in front of millions of people and making a little (or a lot) of money. I want to make an impact on people's lives and in this world. I want all of this hard work to pay off because I know I have what it takes and I just want that friggin’ shot that so many people unexpectedly stumble upon. I want to be a successful worldwide radio personality, period.
And being married with kids would be great. I would love that. But I still haven't found that girl who rocks my world. So we'll see. Does Megin have any single hottie friends..haha? Oh..and have a bunch of dogs! Thanks for sitting down with me my man. You know I love ya!! And you keep up the good work too my meatball paisan!