Yeah, I would definitely have to say that throwing out the first pitch and kicking back in the Yankees’ farm team’s dugout pre-game was the highlight of my 31st birthday weekend.

Disclaimer: my birthday weekends almost always involve the Yankees. Ironically, the most memorable was the year people seem to forget the most: 21. I hit legal drinking age on June 6, 2006. The Yankees hosted the Red Sox at the old Stadium and I had bleacher seats, which provided a great view when Melky Cabrera robbed Manny Ramirez of a home run. The Yanks went on to win.

Actually, I can’t ever remember my team losing on my birthday or on the game I attended nearest to the date. For number 30 last year, I watched with friends and family in the Bronx as the Yankees beat the Angels. Coincidentally the exact same thing happened this year on June 6 but because my birthday fell on a Monday I didn’t attend; I do have a job after all.

That’s what led me to celebrate on Saturday, and with the Yanks in Baltimore for a three-game series, I took a bus to Scranton, Penn. My radio show airs in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and thus it made perfect sense for me to make an appearance at PNC Field and throw out the first pitch before the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders hosted the Columbus Clippers.


PNC Field is only a couple of years old and is absolutely gorgeous. There are great seats throughout the park, a club and suite level, a solid selection of concessions and even a lawn area similar to what you would see at an outdoor concert venue. Pre-game festivities include giveaways and a live band, and the in-game experience is a lot of fun.


It also doesn’t hurt that the RailRiders have a bunch of solid prospects and familiar faces on its squad, from 2009 World Series champion Nick Swisher to promising outfielder Aaron Judge.

Another great thing about the RailRiders: its management is making a conscious effort to link the rich history of the Yankees to its Triple-A franchise. This year, the minor league team is staging a “Legends Series,” where past Yankees come to the park and sign autographs. And on Saturday, former Yankee greats Bucky Dent, Chris Chambliss and Roy White were all in attendance.


Yeah, I wasn’t just happy to be there, I was pretty excited.

The RailRiders marketing staff, which by the way could not have been more accommodating, brought me down to the field around 3:20. A little over 10 minutes later, the PA announcer addressed the audience.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we direct your attention to the pitcher’s mound for today’s ceremonial first pitches,” he echoed throughout the ballpark. “First up, Ralphie from 97.1 BHT!”


And with that, I slipped my phone in my back pocket, gave a quick wave to the crowd and fired a strike to Barry, Director of Game Entertainment.

Little did I know, the fun was just getting started.

As a group of little leaguers began to proceed around the warning track, the marketing staff was kind enough to allow me to sit in the dugout for pregame ceremonies.

This led to me sitting in on the manager’s spot of the bench, right next to the bullpen phone, while chewing Double Bubble with Dent, Chambliss and White, who were also there waiting to throw their first pitches.

I clearly had the look of someone turning 11, not 31, based on one RailRiders staffer saying, “You’re having the time of your life, huh?” I replied that I loved baseball and was a diehard Yankees fan. “Well, you get to do all of the cool entertainment stuff. We have the sports.”

And on the weekend before my birthday, I felt pretty fortunate that I sometimes get to experience both.

The latest installment of the Fox competition “So You Think You Can Dance” has taken co-creator and judge Nigel Lythgoe a bit by surprise.

“I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it as much as usual,” the former “American Idol” producer told me over the phone, calling in from Los Angeles. “We were asked by Fox to do a sort of junior version of it and I thought, ‘Oh, well I’m not sure how good these kids are gonna be.’

“I am absolutely delighted with the talent that we’ve seen. It is a new crop of dancers; they’re sort of 8 to 13 and they are just incredible.”
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The show is now in its 13th season. Lythgoe, along with judges Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo all return. With the spin on the age of the dancers, a fourth judge in 13 year-old Maddie Ziegler is also on the panel.

“She is a very talented girl and obviously a muse for Sia,” Lythgoe said of Ziegler, who hails from Pittsburgh. “We thought (that) if we’re going to have a panel of judges for these kids we should have like the kid sister (Ziegler), the older brother in Jason, the aunty in Paula and the granddaddy in me!”

“SYTYCD” airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. on Fox.

DNCE is one of the more unlikely pop music success stories of the past 12 months. The band is comprised of a Jonas Brother, the brothers’ former backing drummer, a member of Semi-Precious Weapons and a woman who moved to the US from her native South Korea speaking no English and traveling with only her guitar.

A few chance meetings led to a sold-out tour, a four song EP, a top 10 hit and now a gig opening for Selena Gomez.

The story of Joe Jonas, his friend Jack Lawless, Cole Whittle and JinJoo Lee is about as unpredictable as it might seem. So of course it comes as no surprise that while breakout singles usually push up LP releases, the band has actually delayed its debut album due to the prolonged success of “Cake By The Ocean.”

“It’s only a good problem,” Jonas remarked after noting the original release target was spring (now he is thinking fall). “Now ‘Toothbrush’ is starting to take off, our second single, and we’re getting a lot of love from that.”
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The adoration is for more than simply another catchy song; the second from the band’s EP “SWAAY.” DNCE release the music video for the track with plus-sized model Ashley Graham cast as the main love interest. Graham is having a fantastic 2016; she already graced the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition cover.

“Ashley Graham is the hottest thing in the universe,” Whittle said, while also noting that he hoped to have Jonas’ role in the video. “We all have giant crushes on her. When we were talking about the video, that’s what you dream of when you’re 16, when you finally get to make a music video one day (and) you pick the hottest person in the world that you just kind of want to roll around in bed with all day.”

“I think we had an idea that people were going to talk about it because she’s really killing it right now. But our real thinking process was, ‘She’s amazing and beautiful,’” replied the lead singer when I asked if the band was prepared for a conversation about breaking down stereotypes to center around its music video. “Look, yeah, if we somehow change a standard with her for music videos, yunno knock on wood I think that’d be great. She’s a gorgeous woman and that’s what matters.”

DNCE’s four-track EP also includes “Pay My Rent” and “Jinx.” Jonas and company are trying out new songs, such as “Body Moves” and “Naked,” while on tour with his former fellow Disney star Gomez. The band’s trek on the “Revival Tour” continues throughout North America and will extend in to her Australian dates, wrapping on August 11.

And if DNCE’s history is any indication of its future, then the only thing that can be predicted is unpredictability.

What a week.

The eight or so days leading up to Memorial Day have proven to be some of the craziest since I moved to New York, and this year proved no different. The 2016 version of this stretch differed from previous years in that it didn’t begin until the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend; it usually commences on Thursday.

Nonetheless, I spent four days in Las Vegas covering the 2016 Billboard Music Awards and serving as the warm-up act for dick clark productions. This entails me going on stage in front of 20,000 people and hyping them up over what’s to come with the show.

A video posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


This is my third year serving in that capacity for dcp and by far the coolest part this time around was having my Mom and my Aunt Alice in the crowd watching me. I even squeezed in dinner with them Monday night before my red-eye back east.


I landed Tuesday morning and what waited was two days of a normal work schedule. But on Thursday I hit the road again, heading down the shore to Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey for 95.5 PLJ’s annual Summer Kick-Off. This year, my fellow Western New Yorkers, the Goo Goo Dolls were the headliners.


I drove back Friday morning, with a pit stop at Wegmans to stock up on groceries, and was on the air Friday night. I took Saturday and Sunday to myself but was back on the air Monday evening – my fourth Memorial Day both in New York and on the radio.


It was quite the week. It normally is. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Keeping with my own Summer Kick-Off tradition, I hung back in the meet-and-greets with the artists that performed at the 95.5 PLJ concert and asked them what they were looking forward to this summer.
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I am fortunate in that I have the opportunity to witness and/or experience a lot of cool moments due to my line of work. However, one moment sticks out from the rest, and it took place a few weeks ago at the Billboard Music Awards.

The fact that this happened weeks ago and I still feel compelled to write about it should speak to the magnitude in which it impacted me, and I hope you’ll feel the same way.

A quick preface: red carpets are not all that they are cracked up to be. Chances are you’ve watched an award show special on a network like E! and you’re used to a well-orchestrated production where all of the big stars stop to talk to the media and everyone looks flawless.

Like most pictures that entertainment media paints, that is a false one. The carpets are usually high on humidity, low on space and short with A-list celebrities actually talking to reporters.

It made a moment I witnessed at the Billboard Music Awards red carpet that much more poignant.

So of course, Ludacris and Ciara co-hosted this year’s BBMAs. I thought they did a spectacular job but full disclosure; I’m biased because I like them and really enjoy covering the show. Anyways Ciara had her fiancé, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in tow throughout most of the evening and of course on the carpet, where the two posed for photos together.
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From the jump, you know Wilson as a class act: plays the game in an admirable manner, always says the right thing and has an image so squeaky clean Nickelodeon asked him to host the Kids Choice Sports Awards for a second consecutive year.

And even on the carpet, he turned down an interview request from me (Keep in mind I was covering the show for the Cumulus Media owned Westwood One, the official radio network of the NFL) because he wanted to simply support his fiancé, not bask in the spotlight.

Ironically I asked him for a few words while Ciara was on the E! platform speaking with Jason Kennedy. The network’s location was right next to a fan zone which also happened to be the area I was stationed in. This wasn’t my first run-in with fan zones on carpets: typically the people in the zones are friends of sponsors, seat fillers or contest winners and they’re all very happy to be there. They are also very inquisitive as to what is happening around them and why you’re holding a microphone.

Now the fans were busting my stones a bit because I didn’t know the name of every single person walking the carpet. But when I shot back, “Wait, didn’t you guys see Russell Wilson with Ciara?” they immediately ceased the stone-busting. A Super Bowl winning quarterback had walked right by and they didn’t even notice.

Matter-of-fact, he was still within earshot… and getting a good laugh over this exchange.

That’s when a father, who I think was working security, emerged from the crowd with his son who might have been 12 or 13. The kid played little league football… QB to be exact.
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The father politely introduced Wilson to his son, and then the two started talking shop. I didn’t want to ease drop too much (I also had to keep an eye out for other celebrities) but the chat lasted a few minutes.

When it ended, Wilson tells the kid, “Hey man, good luck. See you in the NFL one day.”

Could you imagine hearing those words of encouragement from a Super Bowl winning QB? That one statement could be life altering; the type of thing they talk about incessantly on FOX when that kid does make the NFL.

I’ll tell you one thing I can’t imagine: a moment like that happening without prompting on a red carpet. It’s a story I wouldn’t believe had I not been fortunate enough to witness it myself.

Some news and notes from my weekend in Las Vegas covering the 2016 Billboard Music Awards.

– If you saw a photo of me on stage at last Sunday night’s BBMAs, it was not an illusion. For the third consecutive year, dick clark productions hired me to fill the role of “warm-up act” for the show. This entails working closely with both the executive producer and stage manager of the broadcast to disseminate information to the crowd before we go live on ABC and during commercial breaks. Essentially I’m on stage in front of 20,000 people (and a lot of celebrities) hyping them up on the next performers or reminding them to wear their light-up bracelets.

A video posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


And on the latter point, I thought the bracelets looked excellent on TV. If you attended Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour, the wrist bands were almost exactly the same. You had to wear it so that the buckle was on the top of your wrist and the light-up part faced out towards the bottom. They were activated twice during the show; once during Meghan Trainor’s performance of “No” and again during Madonna and Stevie Wonder’s rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain.”


– In addition to handling on-stage duties for dcp, I helped out with our red (read: magenta) carpet broadcast on our national radio network, Westwood One. Because I was needed inside I only spent about an hour on the carpet, and man was it a hot one. The Vegas humidity and dry air always gets to me and wearing a suit while standing directly in the sun only amplifies this. Many artists walked the carpet with hair and makeup stylists almost hand-in-hand for touchups as they made the rounds from outlet-to-outlet.


– A person I had the chance to speak with, albeit briefly, was DJ Khaled. He is one of two celebrities I follow on Snapchat, so it was quite interesting to see him “snapping” in real life. It is also quite the production: he is using multiple phones and camera people, and of course will use multiple takes as well if needed. The mogul’s presence at the BBMAs was a part of a big sponsorship by T-Mobile, who of course also holds the naming rights for the new arena that the broadcast was held in.

A video posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Although I was at dress rehearsal, I asked Khaled what his role was during the broadcast (in addition to some backstage vignettes, he was tasked with introducing Justin Bieber’s performance). His response.

“Stay tuned alert!”

But of course, if you watched Khaled’s Snapchat story on Sunday, you saw this. Definitely Snapchat peaked at the BBMAs.

– With my gig, I watch the show with the stage managers, trophy presenters and other stage hands right behind the curtain on stage. This vantage point provides a number of cool sightings and moments, but perhaps most memorable was Celine Dion’s performance. She loaded on to the stage from our area, so we had the chance to hear her final vocal warm-up before she went live. As Dion was wrapping her cover of Queen’s “The Show Must Go On,” her son René-Charles Angelil was escorted to our post. He was then handed his mother’s trophy and sent out on stage.

Suddenly there was a lot of applause. And not a single dry eye in the house.

Thanks to my producer Jay Buff, we have some snaps of the stars walking yesterday’s red… ahem, magenta carpet at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards!

Also, MAJOR KEY ALERT – I made DJ Khaled’s Snapchat story! Check out the footage:

A video posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on

On Saturday, I broadcasted live from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas ahead of Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards. Our Westwood One Backstage event included Troye Sivan, Seal, Alesso, Fat Joe, Vegas-staple Carrot Top and more.

Check out photos and videos from the event below!






Jonas Blue is a London-based producer who currently has one of the biggest songs on Spotify with his re-imagined version of the Tracy Chapman classic, “Fast Car.” The DJ called in to my show to chat about how he discovered the track’s singer Dakota and his interesting connection to superstar Sam Smith.