The new Miss America may still be growing accustomed to her crown and sash, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t already plotting out her life post-reign.

“From there I’m going to go to law school, so I’m going to use the scholarship dollars I earned through Miss America – which is actually over $45,000 prior to winning (Miss America),” Cara Mund told me as we stood atop the Empire State Building. “So I’ll be out of student debt, I’ll be able to go to law school and hopefully run for office one day.”

However before that, Mund faces a whirlwind year that will push her to every corner of the U.S. as a motivational speaker, ambassador for the Children’s Miracle Network and public figure; her deal as the new Miss America includes a six-figure salary and an appearance contract with dick clark productions, which produced the competition telecast in addition to “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” the “American Music Awards” and the “Billboard Music Awards.”

“I think each Miss America makes the year her own,” Mund responded when I asked if she had a chance to receive any tips or guidance from previous crown-holders on what’s in store. “And so while they can give me tips, they’re going to help me figure it out along my way too.”

Mund is the first contestant from her state to crack the Top 5, let alone win it all. The Bismark, North Dakota native graduated from Brown University in Rhode Island and interned for Sen. John Hoeven in Washington D.C. The new Miss America’s resume also includes four summers of training courses with the Radio City Rockettes.

“It was right at Radio City Music Hall and it was (The Rockettes’) summer intensive,” Mund explained. “So I did it for four years, I was getting ready to audition. Didn’t work out because I was too short but I ended up going to Brown instead so it was a good tradeoff.”

She was also able to use some of the skills learned with The Rockettes on the Miss America stage, so suffice to say, everything happened for a reason.

I caught up with Fifth Harmony’s Normani Kordei on the red carpet of Miss America 2018 in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. Kordei was there to support her friend Miss Texas Margana Wood; Normani herself was a former Miss Teen Texas. The artist chatted about the quartet’s self-titled LP, the group’s VMA performance and more.

It is always great catching up with “Extra” New York City host AJ Calloway, who is holding down the city and traveling the globe to interview the biggest names in entertainment for the TV show. Calloway called in Thursday and chatted about a few of his more recent stories, including singer Fergie, actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and Tom Cruise – an actor who Calloway has gotten to know quite well over the years.

Catch “Extra” weeknights at 7 pm on NBC New York, channel 4.

Fresh off covering Miss America in Atlantic City, I swung by the “Chasing News” studio in Trenton to join a panel on the notion that politics is permeating almost every type of content we consume, including both sports and entertainment.

Of course, my views here are just those – my views, and no one else’s. A big thanks to Chasing News for having me.

When I think back to the Miss America red carpet earlier this month at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, a number of moments and interactions immediately come to mind…

– This was my third consecutive year covering arrivals and the carpet was in a new location within the hall; a floor I didn’t even know existed let alone had visited!

– The obligatory red carpet photo.

– Chatting with Normani Kordei of Fifth Harmony, which was a complete surprise. She was the last person I spoke with there and was in attendance because she is good friends with Miss Texas, Margana Wood. Kordei was once a Miss Teen Texas in the Miss America Organization.


– Sage Steele, one of the co-hosts, was there on the first NFL Sunday of the season. The next morning she was scheduled to co-host SportsCenter AM. Seemed like quite the feat.


– Her co-host for the program was the venerable Chris Harrison, who doesn’t seem to mind people bugging him about “Bachelor” drama and gossip.


– Sam Haskell is Chairman and CEO of the Miss America Organization. I remembered after Savvy Shields won last year; in the subsequent press conference he mentioned how happy MAO was with the pick. This year, I was sure to ask Haskell how exactly he is able to get to know every contestant ahead of time.


– Speaking of Savvy – what’s next for the outgoing Miss America?


– Country music superstar Thomas Rhett was one of the celebrity judges tasked with picking her replacement.


– And Miss North Dakota’s contingent erupted when Cara Mund was crowned Miss America 2018 inside Boardwalk Hall.

For my third consecutive year, before traveling to Atlantic City for the Miss America competition, I chatted with some of the contestants and celebrity judges. The participants from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island called in along with Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri and first-time judge/country music superstar Thomas Rhett.

It’s officially fall, but this match was called by the refs just after Labor Day. Billboard Editorial Director Jason Lipshutz called in to the show and confirmed what we all pretty much knew: “Despacito” is 2017’s “Song Of The Summer.”

I’m not sure where to begin on this one.

Yunno what? Let’s start at the beginning. It was August 1, 2007. I was living in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Everything was new: the city (a college town that was slow to evolve because of local traditions), the state (running the gamut from the bad: ‘Wait, the state runs the liquor stores and I can’t buy a six-pack at the gas station?’ to the good: ‘Sheetz! Wawa!’) and of course the job.

Probably one of the most frequently asked questions I field, followed by “Who was your favorite celebrity to interview?” and “Which celebrity was a jerk?” is, “Why would you move to Wilkes-Barre for a Top 40 radio show?”

First, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton metro is a top 80 market for radio and top 50 for television. Second, the cost of living is low. Third, there’s a venue in the area to host almost any size show. Fourth, you’re pretty close to both New York and Philadelphia.

And so in the summer of 2007, a kid fresh out of Syracuse University with a fake tan, curly afro and questionable soul patch packed up his Kia Rav 4 and drove with his father to Wilkes-Barre. My Dad bought me new furniture and helped me find a studio apartment in downtown (excuse me, Center City) Wilkes-Barre, right by a new movie theater that the locals seemed pretty excited about.

I could have never imagined what would transpire over the following 10 years, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Look, 10 years at any company let alone the first one you work for out of college, is a long time. But 10 years at the same media company… on the same radio station? That’s practically an eternity.

So a few weeks ago, I returned to Scranton and spent a weekend celebrating the accomplishment: a decade on 97.1/95.7 BHT and 10 years with Cumulus Media.

It’s been an incredible journey. Here’s to it not ending anytime soon.


So Taylor Swift, Jack Antonoff and Right Said Fred founding member Fred Fairbrass walk in to a bar. No, this isn’t the set-up for a cheesy joke; rather a foreshadowing of what’s to come the next time all three are in the same city.

Sure the aforementioned artists are an unlikely trio; about as unlikely as the idea of Swift interpolating “I’m Too Sexy” in to the first single from her highly anticipated seventh sixth studio album “Reputation.” And yet the similarities between the 1992 chart-topping hit and “Look What You Made Me Do” were immediately noticed on the internet, well before it was revealed that Fred along with brother Richard and Rob Manzoli received co-writing credits on the track.

The deal was brokered through Right Said Fred’s publishing company Spirit Music Group, whom the band has been with “for ages.” The relationship is so strong that Fairbrass blindly allowed SMG to negotiate with Swift’s team before he even knew of Taylor’s involvement. Eventually he figured out who made the inquiry and was able to hear the final result.

“Well what we like is that the song is pretty cynical,” Fairbrass explained to me via telephone from across the pond. “The original idea of ‘Sexy’…the lyrics are made to be cynical. We were making fun of the hedonism of the late 80’s and early 90’s when we lived in New York. So (Taylor) sort of channeling that cynicism… we’re very pleased that she spotted it.”

In addition to heaping praise upon the song and the artist, Fairbrass also noted that working with Taylor’s team has been a delight.

“PR have been great,” he noted. “And Taylor and Jack have sent us a thank you note and some flowers which was very sweet, and they want to hook up and party and celebrate at some point which would be nice.”

Right Said Fred recently released a mash-up of the two songs; the group is slated to drop a new single in late October.

Attorney Jill Stanley called in following Taylor Swift successfully defending herself and counter-suing in a civil lawsuit over the firing of a radio DJ in Colorado. The DJ sexually assaulted Swift; Stanley credited not just the evidence but also the singer’s image and testimony in talking about the verdicts.