Media Life: Placer grad’s no-nonsense e-mail spreads from Wall Street to world

By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Media Life columnist
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Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at Also hear Thomson most Fridays at 6 p.m. on Dave Rosenthal’s drive-time radio show on KAHI 950 AM. He’s also a regular guest on Capital Public Radio’s “Insight.” And you can catch up with Thomson on Twitter at AJ_Media_Life.



AUBURN CA - Placer High grad Matt Ross’ straightforward e-mail request to a Wall Street financial firm for an internship continues to gain mileage over the worldwide Web.

Ross, a 2009 Placer High grad who’s currently studying accounting at San Diego State University, pushed the send key Monday afternoon and some wild and wonderful things started to happen after Duff & Phelps received his e-mail in New York City.

By Wednesday, his humble request to “fetch coffee, shine shoes or pick up laundry” at Duff & Phelps was being reported on or pursued by media outlets on at least two continents – North America and Europe. By Thursday, you could add Australia to the mix.

The Journal has been part of the media circus, with City Editor Andrew DiLuccia fielding requests for photos from the Journal archives from Britain’s Daily Mail and contact information for NBC’s Today Show.

The Los Angeles Times reported on the viral phenomenon of the e-mail being described in headlines as the “best cover letter ever.” According to its story, a Duff & Phelps executive was impressed enough with the e-mail to send it along to colleagues, praising its refreshing candor.

Ross’ stated in his e-mail that he wouldn’t waste the firm’s time inflating his credentials, throwing around exaggerated job titles or “feeding you a line of crap about my past experiences and skill set align perfectly for an investment banking internship.”

The Times article said that someone leaked the e-mail to the Business Insider site and the Daily Mail in London soon “outed” Ross as the internship applicant.

Humble counts

Humility was also a big part of the letter’s appeal as it went viral.

“Humility opens the Door” was the New York Post’s online headline. Ross played down his credentials, saying that “The truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities.”

“We thought he had the kind of values we want – humility, transparency, a strong work ethic,” Scott Oblaw, a Duff & Phelps executive told the Post.

In Auburn, Ross was known in his high school days as a three sport star – baseball, football and basketball – as well as a high academic achiever and all-around “real” guy.

“Banking on Searing Honesty” was the headline the Sydney Morning Herald gave to writer Steve Colquhoun’s column praising the Ross e-mail.

“A little bit of unvarnished honesty can get you a long way,” the Australian journalist wrote.

While Ross hasn’t been reached yet to tell his side of the Internet feeding frenzy he has innocently found himself part of, the Times article hints at the opportunities it may have created.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy gets at least one call from every bank out there,” the Times quoted one financial worker as stating.

Life after Butch

The wonderful world of wheels lost one of its greatest local supporters last month.

Butch Gardner, who was perhaps known best locally for his “Cruisin’ Garage” show on KAHI 950 AM died Dec. 1 of a heart attack.

His crusty take on all things vintage, custom and hot-rodded will be missed but the show itself will live on, thanks to another luminary in the Auburn auto world, Newcastle’s Alex Blanca.

Blanca, who has been a fixture in the antique auto parts and auto parts business for more than 40 years, will be on the air with “Cruisin’ Garage and Swap Shop” this coming Sunday from 7:30 to 9 a.m.

Blanca had been serving as co-host for the past 1½ years on a show that has been part of KAHI’s weekend lineup for more than a decade. He’ll be aided by daughter Stacey Waldman, Newcastle’s Bob Sterns and engineer Mike Nichols.

“Butch is going to be greatly missed,” Blanca said. “We’ll be trying to put on a show that people will enjoy and find entertaining.”


Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at Also hear Thomson most Fridays at 6 p.m. on Dave Rosenthal’s drive-time radio show on KAHI 950 AM. He’s also a regular guest on Capital Public Radio’s “Insight.” And you can catch up with Thomson on Twitter at AJ_Media_Life.