Archives For Red Carpet Radio

Back in 2016, I was chatting with David Cook during our broadcast backstage at The 58th GRAMMY Awards. That previous November I saw David headline Gramercy Theater, and hung out backstage with him and the legendary Steven Van Zandt after the show. Just a few months after, we were talking about the performance and Cook described to me why of his top 10 shows, at least half of the list is comprised of New York City dates.

“There’s just no pretense,” he explained. “If you’re bad, they’re going to let you know. And if you hit it, they’re going to let you know. I love that honesty.”

Later in the conversation, we were talking about Cook’s pending return to “American Idol,” the show that catapulted him to stardom. While he was in LA that week, Cook was taping a segment for the competition, which was in its final season on Fox. He mentioned running in to another “Idol” alum, Constantine Maroulis. So off the cuff, I asked Cook if he’d ever consider Broadway.

“They are some of the most grandiose productions, they’re amazing,” the singer said of the shows he attended. “If the opportunity came up and it was the right role, hell yeah I’d do it, for sure.”

About two years later, the opportunity came up and the role was right. Billboard broke the story on Thursday that Cook will make his Broadway debut in “Kinky Boots.” He’ll play the role of Charlie Price, the son of the factory owner who takes over his father’s business.

Cook’s run commences April 3 and goes through May 5. His new EP, “Chromance,” is out today (Friday).

A secret is safe with Long Island’s Hoodie Allen. Just ask his friend, Ed Sheeran.

“I knew for a little bit. I had to keep my mouth shut,” Allen said regarding Sheeran’s recent engagement to longtime girlfriend Cherry Seaborn. “I did a good job too; I think I passed the test of just zipping it up and not letting anyone know.”

There was no pun intended on Hoodie’s zipper comment, nor on his adjective use when describing the couple.

“It wasn’t that much of a shock because they’re perfect together,” the emcee, born Steven Markowitz, said. “I love them both so I was really happy.”

I ran in to Allen on the red carpet of The GRAMMYs outside of Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. The hip-hop artist, who was there alongside girlfriend Sadie Newman, took over Bulova’s Instagram Story for the award show weekend. Bulova is the official timepiece partner of The GRAMMY Awards; it was Allen’s first time attending the event.

“Overwhelming,” he responded when I asked what he thought of spectacle that is a GRAMMYs red carpet. “I don’t know (because) if it’s just cold out or the adrenaline but yeah, this is pretty cool.”

As for what is currently on the artist’s plate, he just wrapped a world tour in December and is currently working on his next mixtape. Allen noted that he’s been bouncing between the road and the studio so there could be both new music and concert dates in store for his fans this year.

At The 60th GRAMMYs on Sunday, one of the night’s more poignant moments was delivered from a likely source: the live performance of “1-800-273-8255” by Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid. If you caught the trio’s rendition of the single at the MTV Video Music Awards then you knew it would be a can’t-miss part of the show. Just as memorable was Logic’s sermon that he delivered following the piece; he later revealed the Recording Academy asked him to speak there.

Still the song and its success are rather unlikely. It began when Logic, born Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, noticed fans on tour and online reacting to his music and story in a way he didn’t expect: by saying it changed or saved their life. The reactions inspired Logic to head in to the studio and channel that energy in to a track that he would eventually entitle with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

“I never thought in a million years thought that that song would take me (to The GRAMMYs),” Logic said at The Garden following the ceremony’s conclusion Sunday night. “I love to make fun music, all types of hip-hop and even over trap beats.

“And I always thought it was something more like that, like a more fun or clubby or happy kind of vibe that would get me on that stage. So I can’t believe that I made a song that I never thought would ever do any of that, just from a place in my heart, strictly for my fans and anybody it could reach – and the fact that it actually reached them… it’s crazy.”

The track was up for “Song Of The Year” and lost to Bruno Mars’ “That’s What I Like” but to Logic, it didn’t seem to matter much.

“I mean, I won. That’s how I feel!” he told me and the rest of the Media Center at The Garden following his performance. “This is insane.”


Bonus: I asked Alessia Cara a few questions following her GRAMMY win for Best New Artist.

Now that I’ve had a few days to process everything, some news and notes from my first ever GRAMMYs red carpet…

– The GRAMMYs red carpet is reminiscent of one for a big movie premiere in that it’s quite expansive, filled with top level stars, chaotic in spurts and covered by outlets of all shapes and sizes. Jayde Donovan and I were holding down the fort for our radio network, Westwood One. We were towards the end of the media lineup – to our left were The Garden social media team and WWD.com. To our right? A Japanese TV outlet that is clearly big across the Pacific because seemingly everyone stopped or attempted to stop and say hi to them.

– Always appreciate Scott Borchetta, the head of Big Machine Label Group, making a few minutes for us. He joked that NARAS had quite the wildcard on their hands sitting country group Midland in the front row. On a more serious note, he thought Taylor Swift had a good chance in both categories she was nominated, especially Best Country Song for writing Little Big Town’s “Better Man.” She came up empty for that along with “I Don’t Want To Live Forever” from “Fifty Shades Darker” in the Visual Media category, one that Borchetta believed is a “flip of the coin.”

– When we flagged Victor Cruz over and he revealed to Jayde that he was presenting the “Despacito” performance, my first thought was, “Oh, the irony!” Of course, it was two seasons ago that Cruz along with Odell Beckham Jr. and other Giants players flew to Miami the week before a playoff game to hang with Justin Bieber in Miami. Not only would the G-Men lose to the Packers, but some would point to the incident as the reason why Cruz wasn’t brought back to the team.

A post shared by Westwood One (@westwoodoneinc) on


– Speaking of “Despacito,” I think anyone and everyone who had anything to do with that song and wasn’t named Justin Bieber was on the red carpet. The producers, the artists, the principle songwriter, the guy who opened the studio door… it was incredible!

– The white roses Jayde and I wore were donated by 1800Flowers.com and the whole movement was championed in part by one of our colleagues, Melony Torres – very cool.

A post shared by 95.5 PLJ (@955plj) on


– It always amazes me that sometime the biggest stars are the ones most generous with their time. With that said, it was cool to see Tony Bennett spend a few minutes chatting with Jayde.

A post shared by 95.5 PLJ (@955plj) on


– Loved catching up with Long Island’s own Hoodie Allen, who told me he knew about his buddy Ed Sheeran’s engagement for a whole and to him and those around Ed it came as no surprise. I wonder if Hoodie is in charge of the bachelor party…

– Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife told us that city officials worked hard to get The GRAMMYs to The Garden. Later, when I asked Recording Academy President Neil Portnow about New York as a host city, he went out of his way to mention the administration sang a rather different tune, stating tonight wasn’t the time to address the challenges working with them.

A post shared by 95.5 PLJ (@955plj) on


Although for me, the best part of our interaction with Mr. Mayor was after I shook his hand, when I told the Boston-born lifelong Red Sox fan, “Let’s go Yankees.”

I’m sure the Mayor appreciated it as much as Mr. Portnow’s comments.

Believe it or not, one of the more inspirational moments I experienced on The GRAMMYs red carpet involved interviewing Danny Gokey. You may remember the singer as the third finalist on the eighth season of “American Idol.” After an introduction so vast on a show so popular, it usually becomes difficult for artists to be known for anything other than appearing on the TV competition. That usually leads the contestants to either embrace it or spend the rest of their career attempting to erase it.

Gokey took a path less traveled: a career-reinvention of sorts. However his goal was far deeper than shedding a label or scoring a hit record.

“I got to create from what was on the inside of me at the beginning,” Gokey, standing alongside his wife Leyicet, told me. “What I tried to do was create an impact.

“We’re all created uniquely. I know a lot of times we deal with insecurities like, ‘Oh man, that person is getting a lot more looks than I am,’ but really people have to think, ‘No, what you do – no one else can do.’”

Gokey further explained that by people not conforming to others’ standards and staying true to themselves, they will be able to travel to places never imagined. And for the singer, that place was The 60th GRAMMYs, earning his first career nomination in the Best Contemporary Christian Music category for his album, “Rise.” Gokey attributes the album’s success to his record label, BMG, affording him the freedom to practice what he preached. It serves as yet another example that the most impactful art is the most honest.

Even before he won The GRAMMY for Best Remixed Recording, DJ/producer Latroit knew he would be taking home a gramophone of some sort.

“My mom made a GRAMMY statue cake,” he told me last Thursday during an interview for Westwood One’s coverage of music’s biggest night. “No matter what happens, I’m leaving with a GRAMMY statue! I can eat the one I have though.”

The artist, born Dennis White, hails from Detroit but noted that family from across the country had descended on New York for his first nomination. Latroit won with his remix of Depesche Mode’s “You Move.” The award was handed out during the Premiere Ceremony, which took place inside The Theater at MSG.

“My friend Jason Bentley was working on a project with (‘You Move’) and he is familiar with my sound and thought maybe something interesting would happen there,” Latroit explained. “He asked the band if they would like a Latroit remix, someone said yes, asked if I wanted to do it and I fell over because I wanted to do it.”

For Latroit, this was far from the average collaboration.

“There was a ton of pressure because I knew these guys were going to hear my interpretation of their song and their fans are devout fans,” he noted of Depeche Mode. “It was important to me to create something that really spoke to and rose to the occasion of Depeche Mode’s legacy.”

That legacy includes five GRAMMY nominations and now, a song that led to an awarded gramophone – of both the edible and non-edible varieties.

Fresh off rehearsing on The GRAMMYs stage, Bebe Rexha dropped a rather unsurprising yet noteworthy tidbit: her mom and Jimmy Fallon are basically BFFs.

“He’s actually cool with my mom,” the songstress replied when I asked her if she had any face time with Fallon following her performance of “Meant To Be” on “The Tonight Show.” “They were in the dressing room for like 30 minutes, my whole team was in there, but I had to run and go listen to the mix and I was like, ‘I don’t know what they’re doing.’ It was funny.

“I feel proud of that song,” Rexha added regarding the performance featuring Florida Georgia Line, “so every time I can perform it, it’s like a moment.”

The Brooklyn-born artist reiterated that the song is a departure both for her and for pop music at the moment. It inspired Rexha’s transition to a new project called “Expectations,” which she still plans to release this year.

But this past weekend, she was at home, getting ready to attend and perform at her first GRAMMYs.

“I’m like, ‘What? The GRAMMYs are in New York? Yas!’” she exclaimed. “I’m talking to Cyndi Lauper and she’s like (mimics New York accent), ‘Yeah, yunno, I gotta put my in-ears in, I gotta do all this,’ and I’m like, ‘Yes! I feel like I belong now,’ because people usually make fun of my accent.”

Rexha joined Lauper, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels and Andra Day in supporting Kesha’s performance of “Praying” at The 60th GRAMMYs on Sunday, in what was the most poignant moment of the show.

Woke up early (or perhaps, stayed up late?) to join my friends at the PIX11 Morning News and talk about this year’s GRAMMY Nominations. Of course we covered some local artists who received nods, the major categories and who might have been snubbed. A big thanks to Dan, Oji, Betty and Marcia for having me!

For the sixth consecutive year, I covered the start of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on the Upper West Side by the talent trailers, starting my morning with a Starbucks hot chocolate on 82 and Columbus and ending with a photo of Santa before returning to my apartment for video editing.

But for the first time, that trip to-and-from my perch involved more than a walk two avenues over. Sure, the commute time from the Financial District to my old hood affected my alarm clock, but it didn’t stop me from feeling the holiday spirit and enjoying the time-honored tradition of the parade.

A lot of things felt different about my latest trip out to Los Angeles for The 2017 American Music Awards. I think a lot of that was rooted back in New York; I didn’t book my flight until about two weeks out and it was my first cross-country trek since I packed up and moved downtown in to my new apartment. The move, along with a change in schedule at work and my marathon training/completion have all hindered me from settling in to a new routine. That’s fine; I am flexible and can work around life events. But it doesn’t mean it comes easy; especially relative to my prior routine.

For example: my dry cleaners and wash-and-fold also handle my alterations. Most of their services could be turned around in 24 hours and they are located a block away from my old apartment on the route I’d walk to take the subway to-and-from the studio. The woman who cuts my hair is also still on the Upper West Side and was a five minute cab ride from my prior place.

I now live 30-40 minutes away from both. Grocery shopping? Still haven’t found a one-stop-shop in the hood. Cobbler or computer repair technician? Probably will still go to my old stomping grounds uptown for those.

Before I moved, I had trip preparation down to a science; it actually got to the point where my getaway day (24 hours before my flight) because rather relaxing because I was able to accomplish every errand necessary the prior weekend. On this trip, my getaway day was jam-packed and there were at least two or three tasks I didn’t complete.

When I landed in LA, I had to drop off dry cleaning (which I forgot to pickup), shop for clothes and buy a wireless keyboard from Target because my laptop’s enter button is broken (need to find a new computer guy). Then, I attempted to compensate for the craziness of the lead-in to the long weekend by not going out as much during my trip. The positive from this is that I was able to both publish all of the content I hoped for while also getting a little bit of sleep; the negative is that socializing with colleagues can be one of the more important and enjoyable parts of the experience.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Friday and Saturday went as planned with one caveat: I feel like for whatever reason, perhaps one aforementioned, I was focused more on the content and my radio show than myself. For example, I don’t think I stressed as much about my wardrobe this time around. I also never really went out of my way to get good photos of me on each day in front of the step-and-repeat. But I encountered another curveball on Sunday: my job responsibilities changed. For the first time in my five years of covering the AMAs, I did not have a red carpet or one-on-one room assignment. Heck, I didn’t even have a credential; rather a VIP ticket in the orchestra level of the Microsoft Theater. So I used my free time during the day to get a little more work done and check out my Buffalo Bills, who happened to be in town and playing the Los Angeles Chargers in StubHub Center.

A post shared by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


The positive? I got to experience my first live NFL game on the west coast, support my hometown team and check out a new venue.

The negative? I’m a Buffalo sports fan, and sadly nothing has felt different about that since I was a kid.