Carla Marie and Anthony are living the dream. Their show, ‘Carla Marie & Anthony,’ runs like a start-up though they enjoy the backing of iHeartRadio. Their back-and-forth is up there with the repartee on the TV show ‘Friends,’ but they’re not scripted. The two draw on a lifelong friendship to fuel great conversations on air. They’re never short of interesting things to share because when they’re not on air, they’re out there living their best life, doing things like fancy-dress Yoga, or even just kicking it at Anthony’s apartment, watching ‘The Bachelor’ together.
How did they get here? “You have to do the hard work first,” says Carla Marie. “We are the one-man-band of media. We do everything from conceptualizing, editing, producing. Shout out Steve Miller at Rutgers who taught us that.” “I’ve had a manager say, ‘you worry about the dumbest things. You need to let go,'” adds Anthony, “and I was like ‘No, we worry about everything.’ It’s easy to focus on the big stuff. But we focus on every detail” from studio equipment and decor to awesome segments like their on-air quest for a third co-host. The auditions have catapulted the show’s ratings to the highest in four years.
Another wildly popular segment on their show is “Dirty Little Secret” (also available in podcast form), in which a caller tells the duo something scandalous. Why would someone share a dirty little secret on air? Because the show is a judgement-free zone where people can maintain their anonymity while spilling the beans. As Anthony puts it, “It sucks holding on to a secret. It does weigh on you. It’s stressful.” Given a sympathetic audience, most callers start out diffident, but by the time the conversation’s over they arrive at a completely different place. They’re certainly not being told what to do, but often they hear themselves tell their “dirty little secret” out loud for the very first time on the radio show, and they realize that either they’re okay with it or that they’re really not okay and need to make a change. “We ask uncomfortable questions, but it’s with a purpose, not just to use someone as a punchline,” Anthony says, “and when we edit things it’s for time, never to make it juicier” (which is good, BTW, because the dirty little secrets are juicy enough already.)
Turns out empathy is a muscle, one that Carla Marie and Anthony have built over years of lively conversation. Both of them credit their large families with teaching them how to jump in and state their opinions, and how to get along with people with whom they don’t necessarily agree. Anthony quotes Trevor Noah, who said on ‘The Breakfast Club’ that “racism doesn’t stand up to contact.” Talking to individuals and listening to them is an antidote to ignorance and judgmentalism. Carla Marie and Anthony developed their interviewing skills further when they worked on the Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, where the host would just listen to people and be compassionate. Over their years on air, they’ve clocked countless hours of daily interaction with people. They’ve become so adept at tag-teaming and sharing responsibilities as co-hosts and friends that Carla Marie jokes that they could run for president. (We wish they would!)
One of the unique things about their show is the extent to which Carla Marie and Anthony are equal partners in a world that remains largely male-dominated. Many radio shows have a woman on air as a sort of side-kick, but Carla Marie is not only an equal partner with Anthony, she also has her own podcast (Side Hustlers) and she’s way more active on social media than Anthony.
Social media is a valuable tool when used right. It allows Carla Marie to be in constant contact with her fans, who can see for themselves that she’s really doing all the things she talks about on air. Anthony adds that social media means the communication goes both ways. When one of their regular followers goes quiet, Carla Marie and Anthony wonder where they got to, and are delighted when they return and begin commenting and communicating with the team again.
Both Carla Marie and Anthony are active on Likewise because the app helps them curate what podcasts they’re going to listen to, for example. When industry standards for a new medium like podcasts have not yet been set, it’s great to have personalized recommendations to go off of.
“Real people, real friends, having real conversations,” Carla Marie says, enumerating the things she likes about Likewise. “Likewise isn’t auto-generated, it’s not some computer. That’s why we’ve connected with Likewise, we understand it, we’ve enjoyed watching it grow. I told a friend in New Jersey about it, and she said ‘Oh my god I need that. Do we have that in New Jersey?’ I told her we did and she better get on it. People I trust and care about and what they care about? That’s amazing! We need this.”
“When I go anywhere people always ask where I go and what I do,” adds Anthony. So I have a list of my favorite places. I also have a Binge and Learn list because I watch a lot of nerdy documentaries.”
Carla Marie agrees. “A lot of people ask me, ‘What are your favorite places in Seattle?’ for example, and I’m, able to say ‘here’ (and point them to a Likewise list). It’s also been so helpful to have recommendations from people.” When Anthony asked for sushi restaurant suggestions, for instance, he got a bunch of responses, picked Nijo and had an amazing dinner thanks to the Likewise recommendation.