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I joined “Chasing News,” which airs weeknights on Fox in New York and Philadelphia as well as weeknights on My 9 in New Jersey to chat about my recent interview with Vinny Guadagnino. The fine folks in the newsroom there were most-interested in the part of our conversation where we dove in to the current political climate surrounding President Trump.

Semi-related: If you ever wondered what my living room looked like… voila!

I spent all of last week silent on Facebook, which no one probably noticed for a number of reasons: I was active on other social networks, I was still frequently in touch with family and friends and of course I was on live on the radio every weeknight.

To me, it felt weird. Last weekend I returned to Syracuse to catch the Orange (don’t get me started on the tournament snub) beat Georgia Tech and attend the annual WJPZ reunion dinner. On Monday I joined my friends on TV at “Chasing News” to talk about my Vinny Guadagnino interview. Wednesday I made the trek down to Brooklyn to watch the Orange lose in the first round of the ACC Tournament (and probably cement that aforementioned snub). And of course, I spent the week counting down the days until my trip to Las Vegas Tuesday, which yes I know might not even happen now with this pending blizzard.

But guess what? None of it mattered this week.

Saturday I was leaving the bookstore inside the Schine Student Center on SU’s campus when I looked down to see a new text notification on my BlackBerry. It was from a coworker with a link to an article on Billboard’s website.

My former colleague, Tommy Page, was found dead in an apparent suicide. I immediately felt numb.

I first met Tommy in May of 2009. I lived in Wilkes Barre, and was as Tommy would later refer to me, “a baby DJ.” At the time, Page was working A&R at Warner Bros. Records. He was so excited about his new act, a boy-band called V-Factory, that he decided to personally bring them by the studio for an interview.

Tommy and I hit it off right away, but to be honest a lot of it was more circumstantial; I think he immediately took a liking to me or at least gave me the benefit of the doubt because he was close with my Program Director at the time, A.J. He also was a bit fan of 97 BHT, particularly the station’s position in the market as the younger, hipper pop station that wasn’t afraid to lean rhythmic or electronic (example: WBHT broke Lady Gaga in the metro when other stations across the country declared that “Just Dance” was “too dance-y” – whatever that jargon means).

And of course, Tommy loved Northeastern Pennsylvania. He raved about his vacation home in East Stroudsburg, and also had recently purchased a fixer-upper in Jim Thorpe.

Tommy and I would spend 2010 through 2014 crossing paths at various events, either in New York or out in Los Angeles. I remember my first GRAMMYs; I attended Billboard’s after-party at The London in West Hollywood. Tommy was its publisher at the time, and immediately left his conversation when he saw me just to come over and say hello. That meant a lot.

Then in 2015, he joined our company as a Senior Vice President of Brand Partnerships. I enjoyed this because not only would I see Tommy in our building occasionally, but I’d get to work with him at some of our signature backstage broadcast events, including the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards in addition to the aforementioned GRAMMYs.

The weekend after our first BBMAs working together in Vegas, Tommy and I both headed down the shore to Point Pleasant for 95.5 PLJ’s Summer Kick-Off. We sat down at the client party and talked about where the company was moving before he tasked me to help write a spec promo for an upcoming event we were working on called “Malibu Mansion Live.”

I’ll never forget, while music played and people partook in the open bar, Tommy and I sat alone in a corner of the room and wrote the script; Tommy throwing out ideas followed by me feverishly typing away on my BlackBerry and reading lines out loud to see what if any changes he wanted.

After a few more revisions, that promo was eventually voiced, produced and presented to company executives and our marketing department. The following November, Tommy and I were in Malibu for the two-night promotion that featured country singer Cam (who he sang “Happy Birthday” to while I walked out with a makeshift cake/candle for her), Nick Jonas, Tori Kelly and Fall Out Boy.

As the second, successful night winded down, Tommy pulled me aside.

“Remember when we first started talking about this and we wrote that promo in Point Pleasant?” he asked. “The whole thing came to life. It was like you and I wrote a hit record together.”

Of course, it was Tommy and his team that did all of the hard work. But coming from a guy who scored a number one hit in 1990 with the single, “I’ll Be Your Everything,” that compliment really struck a chord with me.

That was a unique trait of Tommy’s; working with others and making them feel like they belonged. It’s one of the reasons he was adored by so many, and certainly it’s one of the reasons why I and many others will miss him.

“So You Think You Can Dance” is returning for season 14 to the 18-30 age group with an old friend of the show’s back in the mix: Mary Murphy.

“We’re putting people on the Hot Tamale Train!” an exuberant Nigel Lythgoe commented on my radio show last Friday. The show’s co-creator and judge called from Los Angeles in what is now seemingly an annual tradition after the competition’s renewal. “I’ve got to say, I’ve supported Mary. I’ve got a great chemistry with Mary that I love. She can beat me up and hurt me and I can be rude to her, and that’s all part of the fun of the show.”

Both Lythgoe and Murphy were in Brooklyn earlier this month for auditions alongside Vanessa Hudgens, the former Disney star who as of late saw herself star both on Broadway and in “Grease: Live”.

“She’s just the triple-threat,” gushed Lythgoe about Hudgens. “They can act, they can sing, they can dance. Therefore for a start, they recognize the amount of work that goes in to being a great performer, and number two the talent that is required.”

The former “American Idol” producer was pleased with the talent he saw in Brooklyn, going as far as to make a rather bold prediction.

“I would suggest, and I’m not going to name names, that one of the kids we saw there is going to be the overall winner,” Lythgoe said. “There was a young man there that was outstanding.”

There have only been two other contestants that made Lythgoe feel that way: Carrie Underwood and Season 11 “Dance” winner Ricky Ubeda. Not a bad group to join.

It’s a story all-too-familiar these days in music: two artists collaborate without even meeting, let alone stepping in the same studio.

The latest example of this that we talked about on the radio show involved Brielle Von Hugel. The Staten Island native has three singles on Spotify with over a million streams: “Naked,” her featured vocals on Nervo’s “Alone” and the B.o.B-assisted “Stronger.”

Not only has Von Hugel never met the artist, nee Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr., but originally she didn’t even intend for him to have bars on that particular track.

“I originally wanted B.o.B to be featured on another song that I wrote,” the singer/songwriter revealed during an interview on my show last week. “So my team sent over my music just so he could get a feel of my style; he actually liked ‘Stronger’ better.”

Von Hugel was honored that he wanted to jump on any track, and so she gladly obliged to his request. The B.o.B-version is a Spotify-exclusive; a rap-less rendition is available everywhere else.

Also out is her latest, “Naked,” a song that deals with feeling comfortable in your own skin. The track was influenced by the bullying that Von Hugel experienced both as a kid and as she continued her music career, a path that would eventually take her to “American Idol” before becoming a member of Postmodern Jukebox.

“I feel like now more than ever I’m so comfortable in my own skin,” she noted. “A lot of great things are happening, so I really sing that with truth and I love the message.”

Von Hugel just wrapped a U.S. tour with PMJ and now heads to Europe for a four-week jaunt where she’ll tally only three days off. When the artist returns to Staten Island in May, she’ll continue working on new solo material.

After setting sail with Train on its cruise and performing with Pat Monahan, my buddy Marc Scibilia dropped a new music video for his single “Summer Clothes.” He wrote the song back in our hometown of Buffalo. The video pays homage to old Americana and Western New York using stock footage and home videos from the Scibilia family. Marc even snuck in a few Snapchat-inspired clips as well to give the piece something that almost anyone could relate to; kind of like the song’s message.

“My dad, every couple weeks when I first moved to Nashville would always call me,” the singer/songwriter recalled. “We would talk for 20 minutes; just catch up. And he’d end every conversation with, ‘Hey, one more time, what’s your address?’”

Scibilia found this funny because his dad never sent him mail. After reflecting on it, he also found a song because of it.

“So I unfolded this song that’s kind of about my family, kind of about my hometown but it’s really about someone that really wants to call someone and just has an excuse like, ‘Hey, I just called to send you something,’ but they just want to talk because they miss the person.”

The family will get to see Marc in action when he brings his “Summer Clothes” tour to Buffalo. It’s his first headlining trek, and it kicks off on April 13 in New York City’s Mercury Lounge.
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Vinny Guadagnino successfully transitioned from a MTV reality show that covered he and his castmates drunken debauchery to a show that chronicles he and his mom traveling the country and eating different types of food.

But for the Staten Island native who is still proud to call New York home, the move is far from finished.

“As long as it’s a good product, I don’t have to be in the biggest thing,” Guadagnino explained during a wide-ranging sit down interview on my radio show. He even mentioned that he turned down multiple offers, including big paydays, because he’s “not a great, trashy reality star.” “I’m really not saying I’m too good for anything. I really believe in myself as an entertainer because I’m such a huge comedy nerd.”

Guadagnino also stopped short of saying he has any regrets about the process thus far.

“It’s actually kind of fun, like you were on this big show, and now you have to kind of like, weave your way out of it and on to the next thing,” he said. “Now, you’d be an idiot if you said, ‘Oh that show was not good,’ because people (still) want to talk to me.”

But after that, Guadagnino perhaps best exhibits the difference in mindset between he and his former “Jersey Shore” cast members.

“Every interview is now an audition, every TV show you go on is a stage and now you can just prove it to the world,” the New Yorker continued. “It’s interesting. It’s hard, but it’s fun.”

And while there were the inevitable tough moments on the road with his mom, overall Vinny enjoyed filming “Vinny And Ma Eat America” for The Cooking Channel with his mother Paola. The two are great on camera, and Guadagnino is hopeful for more episodes following the March 11 marathon that aired of the first batch.

Speaking of transitions, the show follows mom and son as Paola travels to new cities and tries cuisines she’s never had before (basically anything that doesn’t fall under the Italian genre). Guadagnino said one of the highlights was his mom eating and actually enjoying sushi, although he is doubtful it makes the “Feast of the Seven Fish” Christmas Eve dinner menu.

I don’t like holding on to a lot of physical mementos, especially ones that would require a UPS label or a potential over-packed suitcase.

This is primarily in reference to the award shows that I cover but extends to any other trip I make or event I attend. First, I have the priceless memories of those experiences. Second, if I do save something, it’s usually a hotel room key, a press credential or a ticket stub. I’ve saved the latter since first attending baseball games and wrestling matches as a kid. I read in Rolling Stone once that Springsteen also saves his room keys and I thought to myself, “If he isn’t too cool for that then neither am I.” Press credentials are also nice because like tickets and room keys, they are small, but they are also unique.

But this past GRAMMYs, something changed. It started on my first day in Los Angeles. I attended an event that Wednesday night (something I have never done before) so I could speak with Recording Academy President Neil Portnow and Conan O’Brien. Afterwards I had drinks with a colleague and we talked about all of the various award shows and “radio rows” that I’ve had the privilege of covering. I always tell people that despite the fact I’m at a lot of these, I never assume that I’ll be at the next show and I never take any of them for granted.

The conversation I had with that co-worker drove those points home on to a different level. I hope it reflected in my work, but I and my producer can tell you it was definitely reflected in my work ethic. Don’t get me wrong, I always bust my butt on the road. But this time there was a different pace and diligence to the process. I covered events, conducted interviews, hosted shows, Skype’d in a few TV hits and edited, edited, edited which was only followed by more editing… and a lot of distribution throughout the social networks, our dot-coms and most importantly, the airwaves.

We wrapped radio row that Friday – its official title is “Westwood One Backstage” – and my producer Jay asked me if I wanted an official GRAMMYs poster that he had all of the interviewees sign. We’ve done this in the past and I almost never take it home. First, I can’t be bothered with anything that doesn’t involve completing my work for the week and second, it’s not like I can shove it in a suitcase.

But again, this time was different. And I thought to myself that a year from now, I might not be at The GRAMMYs. So maybe I should take a second to reflect, be thankful and perhaps take another memento home – one that would look pretty cool on the wall framed, I might add.

On Sunday Jay and I attended The GRAMMYs, and as we walked out he handed me a program. The GRAMMY program is more encyclopedia than playbill in size. The old me would have discarded it; but this time was different. It found its way in to my luggage, which I had to check anyways because that’s what happens when you travel across the country for a week to work.

The poster made it home too thanks to the J.W. Marriott’s business center and the aforementioned UPS. It’s hanging in my bedroom.

When I had that chat with my colleague the night before radio row began, I retired back to my hotel room and told myself that no matter what happens, I better push myself to new limits and leave it all out there.

And by the end of the trip, I felt I had at the very least accomplished that… so I wanted to make sure I took a piece of it back with me too. I’m glad I did.

A few weeks ago while I was in Los Angeles for The GRAMMYs, I received a Facebook message from Mary Friona. She is from my hometown of Niagara Falls and was a reporter at the NBC affiliate in Buffalo, WGRZ. Mary now runs a website called “Totally Buffalo” which features people, places and events throughout Western New York. She occasionally will interview someone who works in or hails from the area and holds a unique job; I was honored when she reached out to see if I would participate.

There are definitely a few “frequently asked questions” in this one (people almost always inquire when first meeting me about my favorite and least-favorite interview) but there are also a few stories that I rarely-if-ever tell. Check out the post here!

Panic! At The Disco is on the “Death Of A Bachelor” tour, headlining sold-out arenas across the country. But for lead singer Brendon Urie, the album cycle is basically finished.

“I’m literally trying to jump right in to the next record cycle,” the front man told me backstage at Mohegan Sun Arena before the trek’s opening night show. The interview was conducted for Mohegan Sun’s Facebook page. “I know that seems crazy but I’ve got a bunch of ideas I’ve been working on for the last couple months. I’m seriously pursuing recording them in the next month or two.”

The “Victorious” singer is also going to try his hand again at projects that don’t exclusively involve music.

“Theater really interests me and acting really interests me,” he continued. “I’ve done a couple of auditions, a few years ago, and they didn’t go so hot. So I want to try and redeem myself a little bit.”

The fact that Urie wants to branch out might be a testament to how gratifying and fulfilling the band’s latest LP was. “Bachelor” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with the highest first-week sales for Panic! yet. It also earned Urie a “Best Rock Album” nomination at this year’s GRAMMYs.

“That was a huge milestone,” he said of the nod. “I was filled with so much happiness. I was just like, running around… did a lot of drinking that night to celebrate.

“But it was amazing, man. It’s definitely put a nice little hat-tilt to this tour.”

Speaking of drinking, Urie joked (or maybe semi-joked?) that as far as essential tour items, beer definitely makes the list. He also revealed a Panic! pre-show ritual: shots.

“We did one night where we tried whiskey,” he explained before laughing. “This is going to sound so weird but, we were on stage and we all just kind of looked at each other and we all felt grumpy.”

The remedy? A switch to double-shots of tequila. Urie said it puts the band in party-mode in part by killing the group’s “hyper-awareness.” Judging by the rave reviews that the show is receiving so far, it seems to be working.

Dua Lipa’s success makes her want to work harder. It does not make her want to leave the place she’s called home since birth though.

“I travel so much so I like being at home in London,” she replied when I inquired if she would relocate any time soon. “I like that being my base.”

London is where Dua Lipa is recording a majority of her work, including the vocals for Martin Garrix’s “Scared To Be Lonely,” and where she flew to after The GRAMMYs to spend Valentine’s Day.

“It’s overwhelming and exciting,” Lipa said both looking back at her past few months, which saw “Blow Your Mind (Muah)” chart at pop radio in the States, and ahead of her first U.S. headlining tour. “It’s exciting when I see some of my songs being received so well… it gets me excited for the next thing.

“The second I do something, I want the next thing to be better than the last,” she added when I followed up about if the success is changing her as an artist. “I want to always be progressing in the right direction; seeing things grow.”

At the moment, Lipa is seeing the country on a trek that started February 24 in Chicago and wraps March 17 in San Francisco. She’ll hop on a quick six-date Europe tour in April and then head back stateside in June for Bonnaroo.