If I had to use one-word to conjure up my feelings for Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards I would use: disjointed.

Before I tell you how little I enjoyed of the three-and-a-half hour broadcast (not including the mess that was the red carpet special), let me commend MTV execs for one thing: attempting to break the mold and trying something different. It was obvious from the minute that Vanguard Award-recipient Rihanna took the stage to open the show that this was not going to play out like your typical award show. Yes, it is refreshing to see the network take a chance with its biggest annual flagship program and create a new type of experience.

That said, they failed. Miserably.

We’ll start with the aforementioned Rihanna. Instead of receiving one long block of programming to showcase her prolific work and accept her “lifetime achievement” award, the singer was split in to four different performance segments, culminating with long-time collaborator Drake presenting her with the honor named for the late Michael Jackson. This alone exposes one of the VMAs major issues: a lack of star power so unavoidable that one of the night’s biggest performances was sprinkled throughout the course of the evening.

Think about music’s biggest names that were not in attendance: Justin Timberlake, Adele, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Calvin Harris, Coldplay, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.
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Yes there was Beyonce, whose 15-minute medley of songs from “Lemonade” proved to be the night’s undisputed high point. Kanye West offered another bizarre, rambling diatribe before premiering a new music video from “The Life Of Pablo.” Britney Spears, introduced by Kim Kardashian West, appeared to return to old form with a performance of “Make Me” that featured rapper G-Eazy.

But you would have needed five Beyonce-like performances to make up for not only the missing names but mess that occurred when a performance or award presentation wasn’t happening. Comedian Jay Pharoah, who might have been better suited for a more-traditional hosting role or relegated to pre-taped vignettes (think Kevin Hart circa 2011 VMAs) was instead randomly inserted in to the program to showcase his various impressions. DJ Khaled proved that his energy and array of catchphrases play better on Snapchat opposed to live TV.
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And comedians Key and Peele, who again should be commended for attempting something that breaks from the norm, failed in their quest to parody the “social media influencers” (coincidentally, like Khaled) who have become regulars on branded-content heavy programs like this one.

Perhaps just like those influencers, MTV needs to think of yet another new act. Ratings for this year plummeted 34 percent, from 9.8 to 6.5 million viewers.

Deputy Style Editor at People Magazine Sharon Clott Kanter called in after the 2016 MTV VMAs to talk about her favorite red carpet look, the moment backstage that melted hearts and Republic Records’ After Party at Vandal in New York City.
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Fuse Digital Deputy Editor Jason Lipshutz called in ahead of the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards to talk about what he was expecting from the award show and what he was most looking forward to.
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“Britain’s Got Talent” singer Calum Scott stopped by to chat about his breakout single, a cover of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own.” Scott also shared his experience singing in front of Simon Cowell, meeting Lady Gaga and working in the HR department of a company overseas.

It is no coincidence that lately on the radio show, I’ve talked more about my relationship status. The radio show I’m doing now is different from the radio show I was doing six months ago, and that was different from the prior six months. I’m really, really proud of not ending up in a rut where I do the exact same thing night-in and night-out.

But anyways, certainly you’ve heard me reference the fact that I’m single. So it should come as no surprise that my August vacation was spent traveling solo and was scheduled around a Yankees west coast trip.

The premise was simple: I love the Yankees, I’ve been meaning to get to Los Angeles when I’m not tied to an award show itinerary and I’m always seeking to explore new cities and ballparks.

And thus, the trip was booked. I spent three days in Los Angeles, taking a few meetings while linking up with some old friends (and meeting some new ones on the way). I caught the Bombers at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, a venue I had visited twice before.


The following night, I caught my favorite band Coldplay for the third time on the “A Head Full Of Dreams Tour” inside Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, a venue I had never visited. I hung out with two girls who I met on my Uber Pool up there. The three of us almost got stranded in Pasadena, ended up walking two miles to “Old Pasadena” where we ate at Barney’s, before I retired to my hotel room.


After all, I had a 6 am flight to Seattle. I had never been! I love coffee, seafood and nice people. Seattle did not disappoint on any of these fronts.


A few of the highlights: running my first 10K, and then running another 10K the next day, linking up with an old college friend and her boyfriend to take in my first MLS game (and make my first trip to CenturyLink Field), bar-hopping around the stadium area and Pike Place Market and of course, taking in a Yankees/Mariners game at beautiful Safeco Field.


The weather for my entire trip was perfect: low 80’s to mid 70’s with no humidity. I fit in runs every day, including the first day when I landed at LAX with no where to stay. I would eventually book a room by the airport and sneak in a two-mile jog before meeting up with a friend and attending Jordan Fisher’s showcase at The Sayers Club.

By the way, that kid can sing.

There are a million more stories for another time, but the bottom line is that when I returned to New York on the red eye last week I felt the vacation fulfilled everything I hoped it to be.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


And to be honest, I was also beginning to really miss New York. That is something that throughout all my travels, has yet to change, and never will.

This is my longest and one of my favorite interviews to-date.

I first met JAX earlier this year. She is a ball of good energy and simply a fun person to be around. And that’s why I’m not surprised how composed, outgoing and at times laugh-out-loud funny she was as she described the process of discovering that she had both Thyroid Cancer and Hashimoto’s disease.

In typical JAX fashion, she is overcoming both while yet again serving as an inspiration to the fans that adore her. And she’s coming through even stronger than ever; in November she’ll run the TCS New York City Marathon, which will be her first ever marathon. Hey, go big or go home.

JAX spoke candidly with me about this past year. Watch the interview below and contribute to her marathon cause here.

A brand new “2 Slices & A Story” on your screen starring American Idol finalist, Jersey’s own and all-around great person JAX! And you’ll learn something that she can’t stand during this chat…

The Yankees won the 2009 World Series. I was living in a spacious one bedroom apartment in downtown Wilkes Barre, Penn. and of course the Bronx Bombers had just defeated the other popular team in Northeastern Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Phillies. Things were going well at work. I was about to start dating a girl. Life was good.

I logged on to Steiner Sports’ website and saw that they were holding a special autograph event in Westchester. The date would feature appearances from a number of baseball stars, including Yankees’ Manager Joe Girardi and third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

Wait, A-Rod?! He never holds a public signing. Immediately I called my best friend, my cousin Anthony back home in Niagara Falls. We first bonded over collecting sports memorabilia and have been best friends ever since. The event was on a Saturday. So we devised a plan: he would drive from the Falls to me Friday night. We’d wake up Saturday morning, go to the show and come back. Depending on how he felt, he would crash with me Saturday or drive right back to Western New York.

The night before he arrived, I made a trip to Wegmans to stock up on groceries. There were a few new additions in the magazine section, including a special edition Sports Illustrated commemorating the World Series championship.
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I picked up two and continued on with my shopping. When I got home, I called Anth again and the idea dawned on me. I’ve never attempted a “team piece.” I truly lived through this championship, attending the most games in a season at the Stadium in my life including the division clincher and Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. Plus I was about to attend an event where both the manager and one of the star players, who rarely makes such appearances, would be signing autographs.

So I set out on a mission: I wanted all 10 lineup starters, the three starting pitchers, the closer and the manager to sign this magazine.

Rodriguez would be the first piece to the puzzle. We left NEPA on a crisp fall Saturday morning in November. There wasn’t a ray of sunshine in sight but it didn’t matter. The drive to Westchester was relatively easy and we immediately parked and made our way inside, picking up our tickets for the autographs and sitting in line for A-Rod. The third baseman was on time and in a jovial mood. The line actually moved slower than normal because Rodriguez took his time with each person. You could tell how much the championship and the love from the fans affected him.

I walked up and handed over my Sports Illustrated. A-Rod had yet to see the issue and instead of signing my piece, picked it up and started thumbing through the magazine! He held up the line for a few minutes (seemed like an eternity standing there in front of him) as he turned to his handlers to show them various photos, including this one.
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My cousin Anth snapped this photo, he signed the piece along with my cousin’s photo (which he also marveled at for a bit) and we went on our way.
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Almost seven years (and 11 magazine signatures) later New Yorkers will now bid adieu to the much maligned star when he plays his final game in pinstripes on Friday. A lot will be written about A-Rod, but I think most Yankees fans will center their memories of him on that ’09 championship. I know I will.

So what will the Song Of The Summer be in 2016? Funny you ask, I chatted about that Thursday on the PIX 11​ Morning News!

You’ve heard the song and your reaction may have gone something like this: “Wait, is there something wrong with my speakers? Why is my phone skipping? Is the radio messed up?”

There is nothing wrong with your speakers, your phone isn’t skipping and we’re fine. Hopefully you realized this 11 seconds in to “Gold,” as soon as the first verse kicked in. Hopefully you realized that there was still three minutes and 34 seconds left in the dark, twisted and rather interesting journey that 21 year-old Kiiara was going to take you on.

Or maybe you’re just transfixed on the song’s opening and chorus. It’s fine; you’re far from the only one.

“It’s interesting because I always knew what it was; like it’s a sample,” the Illinois-born emcee replied when I asked her on my show recently about people’s interpretation of the song’s open. “That’s all it is. So people trying to put words to it or like (ask) ‘What is she saying? What language is this?’ It’s interesting. It’s funny.”
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“Gold” first blew up outside of the U.S. even though Kiiara, nee Kiara Saulters, is an American artist. The single is already a Top 5 hit and two-times platinum down in Australia. It has cracked or is on the door step of the Top 20 in five other countries, including here where it sits at 22 on the pop radio airplay chart.

Chart success and critical acclaim are certainly propelling Kiiara’s career in the right direction, and she doesn’t seem to mind.

“It’s really fun,” she said of her time in the music industry thus far. Kiiara grew up in Illinois playing high school volleyball and would eventually dual-major in accounting and finance before dropping out of college after a year to pursue music. “It’s cool to like, experience everything with shooting music videos to seeing what rehearsals and touring is about, because I’ve never performed before.”

That changed last month when the singer embarked on her first headlining tour, a six-date jaunt that culminated with a festival slot: Lollapalooza in Chicago, back where she had grown up.

“It was really weird to be back; like it was a good weird but I haven’t been there in over a year,” she admitted. Kiiara moved to L.A. shortly after recording “Gold” and continued on to finish her debut EP, “low kii savage.” “And then I’ve never been to Lolla, so performing was really dope, to see it from a different perspective.”

Seemingly the only item on Kiiara’s itinerary at the moment is the promotion of “Gold” as it continues to climb up airplay charts. The 21 year-old hopes to drop her debut full length album in January and noted that a full tour could come shortly sometime thereafter.