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Wilmington's Clizbe brothers wouldn't let cerebral palsy destroy their dream of a career in music

TEN YEARS AGO, Joe Daddio, just starting out as regional Top 40 promotions manager for Jive Records, wondered why this kid named Craig Clizbe kept calling, asking for new music from the Back Street Boys and Britney Spears to play on his high school radio station.

TEN YEARS AGO, Joe Daddio, just starting out as regional Top 40 promotions manager for Jive Records, wondered why this kid named Craig Clizbe kept calling, asking for new music from the Back Street Boys and Britney Spears to play on his high school radio station.

Daddio did not know that Craig, like his identical brother Matt, had been physically disabled by cerebral palsy since birth, or that the Clizbes - aided by their able-bodied triplet brother, David - were hyperfocused on pop music radio as the path to a fulfilling life.

Or that 10 years after they first started bugging Daddio, the Clizbes - now 26 - would be running, a cutting-edge pop music blog that delivers star and rising-star interviews, new tunes and video with an exhilarating spirit that is a breath of fresh air in an industry that pursues "fresh" with a vengeance.

The Clizbes - whose DNA seems to be part Sherlock Holmes, part 1950s Dick Clark - came along at the moment in pop music history when record companies stopped suing and started pursuing the World Wide Web because it had suddenly become the primary source of whatever was hot and hyped and breaking.

A decade ago, of course, Daddio knew none of this. All he knew was that Craig Clizbe of student-run WMHS at McKean High School in Wilmington, Del., would not leave him alone.

"I was supposed to get Jive's new songs played on the big Top 40 stations like Q102 and WSTW, but I would keep getting calls from this kid who wanted me to treat his high school radio station the same way," Daddio said.

"There were times when I felt like Craig knew more about my artist than I did," Daddio said.

The Clizbe duo knew because they were glued to their computers, listening to new music and researching the lives of the singers and songwriters - searching for a way to enter that world.

They found it at Temple University when they created a Web site - - which featured interviews with local, unsigned artists and was small potatoes until the Clizbes' relentless research struck gold.

During his endless cold calls to record companies in hopes of landing an interview with a potential star, Craig chatted up an administrative assistant about Robin Thicke, whose first album sold only 63,000 copies.

"Robin was this white dude singing R&B, who had been writing with Usher," Craig said. "I was, like, 'Yo, this guy is awesome! And he's undiscovered!' "

When Interscope Records held a new release party at a Manhattan club for Thicke's second album in 2005, the administrative assistant remembered Craig's enthusiasm and invited him. He and Matt felt their moment had arrived.

At the party, Thicke's new songs were blasting so loudly that Craig had to shout into the singer's ear, "We came all the way from Philly to see you."

Thicke's eyes lit up. "Robin, like, grabs us both, gives us a huge hug and says we've got to do this interview," Craig said.

They arranged for Thicke to call their "studio" (aka their Temple dorm room) for the interview. Fellow-students Tony Chen and David M. Koch produced and posted it on

They got 60,000 hits, which was 59,500 more hits than they had ever gotten before.

Then Thicke's single, "Lost Without U," took off and Craig remembers thinking, "Now that he's big, I wonder if we'll ever see him again."

"Because of our physical disability," Matt said, " we had very limited access to professional paying jobs in the music business. Our Web site was our only chance.

"Now that Robin had become the biggest thing since sliced bread, we had to interview him again."

They went to a Washington, D.C., bookstore where Thicke was signing CDs.

"We're watching girls faint in front of him," Matt said, "when he spots Craig in the crowd and says, 'Hey, you're the brothers from Philly! How's that Web site?' And I think, 'Holy crap! He knows us!' It was an adrenaline-pumping day."

Many more such days followed since they graduated Temple and moved their "studio" back home.

"I learn that Jordan McCoy, a young blonde, blue-eyed white girl with a Disney-style pop sound, is signing with Puff Daddy's Bad Boy Entertainment," Matt said, "and that's weird, so I know she must be something."

The Clizbes reached out to McCoy on her MySpace page and interviewed her, which opened the door to interviews with Bad Boy artists Day26 and Danity Kane.

"I sent Bad Boy artists to the Clizbes because they are ahead of the curve on new talent before anyone else takes notice," said Kwasi Asare, Bad Boy's new-media manager until he recently became an independent consultant.

Asare is setting the Clizbes up with Blitz the Ambassador, the Ghana-born son of a United Nations war crimes tribunal lawyer who performs with a horn section and a dancer wearing a boom box over his head - just another workday in the Clizbes' world.

The current headliner is Jay Sean, a British pop star whose high voltage, gee-whiz amazement at his meteoric rise in America is matched only by the Clizbes' joyful energy.

Casey, the afternoon deejay on Wired 96.5 who has been a friend of the Clizbes since they all went to Temple together, just posted their Jay Sean interview on her Wired Web site blog.

"The Clizbes were, like, these little entrepreneurs at Temple, always networking, and now, looking at everything they've done, you would never know they are physically disabled," Casey said.

"They talk to more celebrities than I do. They're, like, 'Oh, we're talking to Robin Thicke again this week and I'm, like, 'WHAT?' "

At heart, the Clizbes are still those self-described "overeager geeky radio kids" they were in high school, refusing to believe they can't fly just because they can't walk without a cane.

"For two disabled individuals who have a hard time leaving the house because we can't drive, I guess we're doing OK," Craig said. "But we want to be 'American Bandstand' for the new media. And we want to make a living at it."

Their mom, Beth Gallagher, hopes that happens soon.

"We'll be driving along," she said, "and in an hour's time, almost every song that comes on the radio is by people who have been on the phone at my house, doing interviews with my sons.

"Our hope for Matt and Craig is that takes off financially, or leads to something in the music industry," she said. "I wish somebody would just give them a chance."