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.

Our former intern, Olivia Rudensky, was backstage at the 2017 Teen Choice Awards – she called in to the show the next night to chat about who she saw, including a random Scott Disick sighting!

It’s astonishing to look back at the events and people that Webster Hall has hosted over the years, from both a variety and historical standpoint. Politicians, unions, musicians, celebrities, students, ravers and pretty much anyone who wanted to be someone or been seen with someone filed in to the venerable East Village venue for decades.

But of course, especially in the ever-changing borough of Manhattan, all good things must come to an end. Brooklyn Sports Entertainment purchased the concert venue back in April and following Thursday night’s performance from Flushing emcee Action Bronson, it’ll close for renovations. The new Spectrum Hall, outfitted for sports and concerts exclusively, is expected to be finished in about two years.

For me, it’s easy to reflect on Webster Hall because I only have two distinct memories from the venue. The first came on November 23, a little over a month following my move to the city. I caught a performance from Long Island’s own Hoodie Allen (thanks Hoodie for the guest list hook-up). I’ll never forget running up to the balcony (VIP status, you know) and grabbing a Brooklyn Lager on draft just as Hoodie took the stage. The sold-out crowd exploded, singing along to every word from his debut EP “All American.”


The second took place a little less than a year later. I strolled down to the East Village with a camera man from 95.5 on September 30 to interview a then up-and-coming artist by the stage name of Lorde. Born Ella Yelich-O’Connor, the 16 year-old had just released her critically-acclaimed and soon-to-be GRAMMY Award winning debut album “Pure Heroine.” She was also about to headline three sold-out shows at Webster Hall, which is where her and I chatted before sound-check.


A couple things stand-out from that experience: for starters, we set-up for the interview on the aforementioned balcony which was still disheveled from the previous night. I didn’t really mind though, save the tampon wrapper that was on the ledge and in our camera shot. If my memory serves me correctly, my friend Nikki who at the time worked for Republic Records handled its disposal (thanks again Nikki!). As for the empty plastic cups, those were purposely left there because… Webster Hall.

The other unforgettable part of that day was Lorde pulling a 180 during the interview regarding comments she had previously made about her label-mate and now-BFF, Taylor Swift. In hindsight, it wouldn’t be the first-time she’d have to walk-back a statement about Swift but nonetheless, Lorde found herself in the headlines due to an interview with Metro, a publication back in her native New Zealand.

“Taylor Swift is so flawless, and so unattainable, and I don’t think it’s breeding anything good in young girls. ‘I’m never going to be like Taylor Swift, why can’t I be as pretty as Lorde?’ That’s f–king bulls–t,” she said at the time.

The following Monday in Manhattan, the artist sang a different tune when I asked about who she believes is setting a good example for teenage girls.

“Taylor Swift is a really good role model, and I think what she’s saying is pretty cool,” Lorde replied. “Yeah, I think (her lyrics are) empowering. I think it’s cool.”

Lorde also addressed the situation, albeit non-directly, via her Tumblr that day. However that video of the “Royals” singer talking about Swift eventually went somewhat viral, gaining almost a half-million views to-date. It’s one of 95.5 PLJ’s most-viewed YouTube clips ever, empty plastic cups and all.

I recently had the chance to sit down with Epic Records artist Tom Walker. His EP “Blessings” is out now. We chatted about his music, covering Imagine Dragons and his hometown of Manchester during our conversation inside New York City’s Stage 17.