I’ll never forget the second time I met Zendaya. It was in the press room after the 2013 American Music Awards. I had already chatted with Ariana Grande and was waiting for an influx of other big names: One Direction, Taylor Swift and Rihanna to name a few.

The fellas of 1D headed straight to Jimmy Kimmel’s cameras where they taped a skit with Kimmel’s sidekick/security guard Guillermo. I had chatted earlier in the night with both Harry Styles and Niall Horan, so I wasn’t expecting them to stop by again. Rihanna, who Bill Maher presented with the first ever “Icon Award” that evening, walked in to the photo area. Swift was the show’s big winner; she made the rounds before giving me a few minutes of her time.
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Towards the end of the night, as Rihanna was heading out of the press room flanked by her entourage and security detail, a then-17 year-old Zendaya was walking in the opposite direction.

The teenager, nee Zendaya Coleman, can recollect what happened next “vividly.”

“(Rihanna) stopped. She gave me a hug and she was like, ‘I love you girl,” an enthusiastic Zendaya recalled when I brought this up to her recently. “She was so positive, so nice.

“It’s so cool for people like her, who obviously are…incredibly successful, empowering women, and on top of that she just stopped to say hi to me. She didn’t have to do that!”

The kindness and humility shown by the “Diamonds” singer certainly left an impression on Zendaya that she now strives to pay forward.

“My thing is, no one will ever catch me not being nice to people,” Zendaya explained. “I don’t ever want somebody not to have a good taste in their mouth about when they met Zendaya or how they felt when they met me.

“I like for people to leave me feeling positive.”

In this week’s edition of “Trend Hungry Tuesday” – Resident Fashionista Jessie Holeva highlighted a trend she saw on the Academy Awards Red Carpet: plunging v-neck dresses.


Visit Trend Hungry to find the latest fashion 411 on a skinny budget, and catch Jessie every Tuesday evening on the air!

Photo: https://www.instagram.com/costafrancisco/

Photo: https://www.instagram.com/costafrancisco/

A weird combination of events led to a string of nights out for me. In perhaps the most evident sign that a good time was had: the amount of photos I have from the weekend is scarce. But regardless, here are a few with context.

So when I signed off the air on Friday night, I headed to the East Village. There is a bar there that I’ve been wanting to have a drink at called Kelly’s. The pub positions itself as a “hockey bar” and specifically as a drinking establishment that supports the Buffalo Bills and Sabres along with the Chicago Bulls and Cubs.

Interesting mix, but I didn’t ask questions. The deep fryers stay on late, the Labatt Blue Light is cold and the Sabres were on a west coast trip – meaning the game didn’t start until 10:30p p.m.


Of course I showed up to support my team, and they even won! A great time along with a few chicken wings were had, and I’m looking forward to returning soon. Afterwards, I bounced around the East Village with a friend before making my way back uptown with a pit-stop at a go-to of mine, Jimmy’s Corner. It’s a dive bar in Times Square and it is fantastic.

It also wouldn’t be the last time I visited that spot over the weekend, although I did finally get to meet THE Jimmy.

On Saturday I made a rare appearance in Brooklyn. I ate thai food in Williamsburg with my old college roommate who I hadn’t seen in forever and his girlfriend who I hadn’t seen period. They have dated now for about two-and-a-half years but due to a number of circumstances, namely travel and schedule, I didn’t meet her until Saturday. She was lovely and it was great to catch up with both of them.

Then I literally walked around the corner from the restaurant to a house party my friend was having for her birthday. The plan? Stay for an hour or so, then head back to the East Village because the Sabres were still on the west coast.

What actually happened? I hailed a cab home around 4 a.m.

Sunday I made my way back to Brooklyn (who am I at this point?) to grab dinner with the birthday girl. We ate at this cozy little spot in Brooklyn Heights called Armando’s; the place has been around since the 20’s and Marilyn Monroe and some of the Dodgers were known to hang out there. We left the restaurant just as the Academy Awards were starting; the fine folks at OK! TV invited us to their viewing party in midtown at Refinery Rooftop, so we obliged.


That is the second and final picture that made its way to the Internet from my weekend. Although after the party I did have yet another opportunity to snap a picture in Jimmy’s Corner, but taking pictures in dive bars usually isn’t my style.

Olympic Gold Medalist and Dancing With The Stars champion Shawn Johnson stopped by to chat about the upcoming AT&T American Cup. The event, which opens the calendar Olympic season for gymnastics, takes place March 4 and 5 at Prudential Center in Newark. Tickets are on-sale now.
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Johnson also talked about storing her gold medal and Mirror Ball Trophy away and planning for her wedding this April during our interview.
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Mike Posner really did take a pill in Ibiza with the intention of showing superstar DJ Avicii that he was cool.

“One-hundred percent autobiographical,” the “Cooler Than Me” singer responded when I asked how true the song was. “(Avicii) didn’t take (a pill), but I took one to be cool.”

SeeB, a Norwegian production duo, remixed Posner’s version of “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” and now it is rocketing up the airplay charts. The remix cracked the top 20 on pop radio last week.

Coincidentally, it was a remix that first launched the Duke University alumnus’ career on to the airwaves. Minneapolis-based producer Gigamesh reworked Posner’s original rendition of “Cooler Than Me” to the version that we came to know and love in the summer of 2010.
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Almost six years later, Posner is back on the airwaves. He’s under a new record label (Island) and has not only Avicii, but a country music star to thank for his latest success.

“I was in the studio with my friend Jake Owen,” Posner recalled. “I played him a different song and he goes, ‘What inspired that tune?’”

Posner replied that he “made it up.” Owen paused for a moment and then offered up a serious question.

“(Owen) looked at me and he goes, ‘Why don’t you just tell the truth?’”

That night, Posner hopped aboard a plane and wrote “I Took A Pill In Ibiza.” It makes perfect sense that it all happened in the air; the song will probably serve as the lead single for Posner’s full-length follow-up to his 2010 debut titled, “31 Minutes to Takeoff.”

In this week’s edition of “Trend Hungry Tuesday” – Resident Fashionista Jessie Holeva talked about looking fashionable while you stay fit.


Visit Trend Hungry to find the latest fashion 411 on a skinny budget, and catch Jessie every Tuesday evening on the air!

Photo: instagram.com/leamichele

Photo: instagram.com/leamichele

There were a lot of “firsts” on my latest trip to Los Angeles: my first time running 14 miles while on the west coast, my first time leaving an item behind at the dry cleaners, my first time covering an award show weekend without attending said award show and my first time flying back and having to travel directly from the airport to the radio station so I could immediately hop on the air.

This and more explains why for the first time, I’m just jotting down stories from the jaunt to cover GRAMMYs weekend… about two weeks after the fact.


Working out is one pre-trip routine; another is visiting H&M Times Square the night before I fly out. In the past, this would be a necessity to pick up a few clothing items last-second. Recently it’s become more of a customary trip because I actually plan ahead and shop for most of my clothes weeks before so I can purchase online.


Regardless, I found a few shirts and made my way uptown. I settled in to my apartment with a coffee, caught up on work and packed. My flight was at 7 am out of JFK so I pulled an all-nighter and slept on the plane.

Having the day in Los Angeles ahead of work obligations was fantastic. Through Amazon Prime I ordered a tripod, almond milk and a case of water for my room. At the Ralph’s supermarket nearby our downtown hotel I picked up produce, a few vegan breakfast items, snacks and hummus. I also made time to drop off the dry cleaning that I would eventually forget to pick up.

After unpacking my suitcase and putting away my groceries, I fit in a nice 5 mile run, then showered and prepared for our GRAMMY broadcast orientation. It took place on Thursday night in the hotel, complete with beer, wine and passed hors d’oeuvres. The night continued with a few colleagues at a posh sushi joint downtown and ended with me passing out instead of meeting up with friends (remember – I pulled an all-nighter and was still on east coast time).


Friday started relatively normal: woke-up on time, fit in a quick jog, grabbed breakfast, prepped and changed. I walked over to Staples Center around 11:30 am for our noon broadcast; in addition to setting-up our space for the weekend I had to meet with network execs and representatives from Twix. For the two-day event myself and TV host Rocsi Diaz would serve as brand ambassadors on site for the candy, interviewing artists about both their music and Twix. Of course this was in addition to my responsibilities with my four radio stations.


Perhaps the most poignant from Friday that didn’t see the light of day: the chat Rocsi and I had with GRAMMY nominee Charlie Puth. I asked Charlie who he would thank if “See You Again” scored one of the three awards it was up for. He responded with his mom, Wiz Khalifa and Paul Walker. Rocsi asked a great follow-up about Paul and Charlie revealed that he never met the late actor, but through the song formed a strong bond with “Furious 7” star Vin Diesel. The two often swap stories regarding Walker and the person who Puth originally wrote the song about and Charlie told us the similarities are striking.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


The broadcast is four hours of insanity: handlers moving artists in and around your interview area, pre-taping for radio stations, taping for Twix, posing for photos, brokering scheduling deals to snag time with celebrities, the interviews themselves and then a lot of hand-shaking. I usually wash my hands at least twice during the time I’m there.


The nice thing is that we always wrap with what one executive in our company termed “mandatory fun” – a live artist performance that’s catered with beer, wine and food. On Friday we were treated to a set from Mike Posner.

Typically this is the point where I would retire to my room for the night and edit photos, video and audio until I couldn’t see straight. Instead, I uploaded a photo slide show and a few interviews and then had to get ready for Friday night’s festivities: Rooftop Live at Perch downtown. The evening included music by Audien and a performance from the Joe Jonas-fronted DNCE.


By the way, DNCE is fantastic live.

This is definitely where my weekend turned: I was out late, still on east coast time and my itinerary for the weekend was not letting up. I slept-in Saturday and instead of going for a run, used my morning to continue uploading content from Friday. Then, it was off to Staples Center for round two. The big differences between Friday and Saturday are that on Saturday, I’m not on-deadline with four radio stations and many more artists come by.


As far as interviews, it was nice to chat for the first time with Nick Fradiani, BØRNS and the lovely Hailee Steinfeld. “Mandatory fun” included a rousing performance from Nathan Sykes.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


I taped a few more things for the weekend radio shows and then packed up. Again, usually Saturday night would be spent editing non-stop. Instead, I edited quite a bit, grabbed that 3 mile run I skipped earlier and got ready for a night-out. A friend of mine from Niagara Falls, Allyson DeMunda, was performing at the legendary Comedy Cellar in West Hollywood. I had never been to the venue and I wanted to support her, so I trekked out to WeHo for the evening. She was fantastic, as were some of the others, including “America’s Got Talent” season eight runner-up Taylor Williamson. By the time the show wrapped and I found an Uber, Los Angeles already had its last call, so it was back to my room to upload more content and get a good night’s rest.


The elevators in our hotel were out-of-order Sunday, a lovely surprise to wake-up to. Naturally, I was on the top floor. I packed a bag with gym clothes, walked down the stairwell, and checked it at the lobby. Then I headed back to Hollywood for brunch with a buddy of mine – we also watched Syracuse beat-up on Boston College. He drove me back downtown where I picked up that bag and worked out. Yes, I still had editing to do and was able to complete a bit more work before cleaning up for Sunday evening’s festivities.


First stop: Capitol Records iconic Studio A. Frank Sinatra, John Mayer, Daft Punk… so many legendary artists and songs recorded in the room I stood in. To honor the “Chairman of the Board,” I partook in a drink of Jack Daniels, his favorite.


By far this was the coolest moment of the trip. The event was held in the studio, dimly lit with a full bar and light fare. Every song they played in the background was recorded in Studio A. Yes, even “Let It Go” made the playlist.

The event also included a question-and-answer between our SVP/Partnerships Tommy Page and the legendary songwriter Diane Warren, plus a performance by Troye Sivan.


Our crew made a quick pit-stop at The W before heading to the Nielsen Pre-GRAMMY Bash, which was held at Hyde and featured entertainment from the Preservation Jazz Band and the GRAMMY-nominated Leon Bridges. The party was spectacular; full bar, sushi, a couple of carving stations and most importantly a lot of really great people from our industry.


The Sunday night-cap included a trip to In-N-Out and I vow to never order a burger “protein style” again. I ended up taking a quick nap before an early flight back home. Normally I sleep on the plane, but instead I found myself editing copious amounts of video and then being stuck in a holding pattern for over an hour due to the weather at JFK. When we finally landed, it took us a half-hour to taxi yet somehow I still made it (barely) for my show that night.


Naturally, it took my body much longer than normal to recover from my latest west coast trip. And I still haven’t figured out how I’m getting my jeans back.

I walked out of my apartment on the Upper West Side to a SUV that had driven from Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Melissa, who works for the casino’s PR department and Angela “Big Ang” Raiola traveled from Uncasville to pick me up. We were headed to Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, a property that Mohegan manages. The casino booked the “Mob Wives” star for a series of “Reality Check” events, and I was tapped to host the question-and-answer sessions in Atlantic City as well as Mohegan Sun Pocono in Wilkes Barre.

When I hopped in to the car, I immediately noticed one person missing: Ang. She had walked across the street to my bodega for a pack of cigarettes. On the way back, a few fans stopped her for photos, and she happily obliged.

“So you live around here?” she asked me once we hit the road. I mentioned that I had been at my apartment for at the time, a little over a year. “Nice neighborhood. A lot of good brunch spots.”

There are many things I’ll never forget about that weekend; hearing Ang, in that trademark Staten Island drawl of hers, offer up Yelp-like reviews of the brunch options on the Upper West Side is certainly one of them.

Another was during the trip down I-95 to AC when we diverted to a rest stop for food. I wasn’t too hungry so I just grabbed a coffee; Ang wanted to hit up Auntie Anne’s. We finished our purchases and head back in to the car. Ang bought pretzel dippers with sauce. And if you know me and my eating habits, you know they usually don’t involve pretzel dippers, with or without the sauce.

“Honey you want one?” asked Ang. I politely declined. I could tell that she was a little annoyed but we continued making small talk.

She asked two more times before finally offering up a look that is all-too-familiar to fans of her show.

“No, really. Have one.”

Before I could respond the pretzels were right in front of my face.

If you’re like me and you grew up in an Italian-American household, you’re probably having flashbacks and rightfully so. Ang was a tough but loving mother from Staten Island; not one to mince words and always making sure those around her were taken care of.
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And like any good Italian mother, if she offered food, you’d better accept.

Despite our pit stop, we arrived in Atlantic City with time to spare, so we headed over to the outlets that are a stone’s throw from the boardwalk. Yes, I went shopping with Ang. She was looking for clothes to buy her grandkids (always taking care of others); I was just happy to spot H&M.

Being out in public with Ang was an experience in itself. It didn’t matter whether it was a bar, nightclub, store or open-air shopping center: the woman always became the center of attention regardless if she was seeking it or not. Not only did everyone know who Ang was, but everyone felt like they knew Ang. She was as authentic as they come, especially for reality TV, and that’s what endeared her to so many fans.

“Ooh look at you! You made out!” she exclaimed when she saw the amount of clothes that I purchased. Of course, Ang had accumulated a few bags herself.

The event in Atlantic City went well and the next day we took off for Wilkes Barre. Another part of the weekend that’s unforgettable: Ang was always on time. She enjoyed herself, but she knew that we were there to work too.

The trip from AC to Northeastern Pennsylvania was a long one. Traffic on a side road the driver took was brutal, and by that point in the weekend, Ang had grown a bit tired. We made it to Mohegan Sun Pocono just in time for the appearance and of course, it was the best of the weekend. Ang was in great spirits on stage, trading barbs with me and the crowd while sipping on an alcoholic beverage; it was Cinco de Mayo after all.

“I’m not here for a long time; I’m here for a good time,” she said during our chat at MS Pocono, one of the last quotes she offered up before we wrapped.

I surely won’t forget that either. She truly was one-of-a-kind and someone who lived life on her terms. Ang – thanks for the memories, and the pretzel dippers.

The soap opera that is Taylor Swift and Kanye West took yet another turn Monday night, and of course it centered on an award show.

This all began in 2009 at the MTV Video Music Awards and we thought that at last year’s GRAMMYs, bygones were bygones. During the commercial break, Swift and West along with his wife Kim Kardashian were chatting and posing for photos. Soon after, the “Shake It Off” singer and Renaissance man were having dinner together at famed New York City hotspot The Spotted Pig.
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And of course, in a moment that could only be scripted by MTV, Swift introduced West at this past year’s VMAs where the rapper offered a rather rambling monologue that concluded with his announcement to run in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Swift took to Instagram after the show, where she posted a photo of flowers that West sent her captioned, “KanTay2020.”

It looks like there is no hope for that ticket’s future.

Where did things go awry? The only moment we can point to is the release of Kanye’s latest album, “The Life Of Pablo.” Streaming exclusively on the music service Tidal, it has made headlines with a track called “Famous” featuring Rihanna and Swizz Beatz.

“I feel like me and Taylor might still have sex,” wraps Yeezy. “Why? I made that b—- famous. I made that b—- famous.”

Swift does not concur.

At Monday night’s GRAMMYs, the Pennsylvania-born pop star took home three gramophones including the coveted “Album Of The Year” thanks to “1989.” Accepting the award with all of the LP’s producers standing behind her, Swift issued a not-so-subtle swipe back at West’s claim.

“As the first woman to win ‘Album of the Year’ at the GRAMMYs twice, I want to say to all the young woman out there: There will be people along the way who will try to undercut your success or take credit for your accomplishments, your fame,” she said.

“But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get to where you’re going, you’ll look around and you will know it was you,” Swift continued, “and that will be the greatest feeling in the world.”

Kanye returned to Twitter in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Instead of addressing Swift directly, he talked about his struggle in the fashion world, particularly when it comes to funding his endeavors. Later in the day, he issued a rather random rant on the cost of education in our country and how he feels it needs to be lowered.

“I’d rather teachers got paid more and books cost less,” he tweeted.

Sounds like West has a platform or two to run on. And he might just seek election after all; the tweet ended with the hashtag #2020.

In this week’s edition of “Trend Hungry Tuesday” – Resident Fashionista Jessie Holeva recapped a big trend from The 58th GRAMMYs: cutouts.


Visit Trend Hungry to find the latest fashion 411 on a skinny budget, and catch Jessie every Tuesday evening on the air!

Photo: instagram.com/calvinklein

Photo: instagram.com/calvinklein