It definitely came as no surprise to long-time fans of One Direction and long-time listeners of my radio show that Niall Horan is a “massive” fan of President Barack Obama. Horan revealed his admiration for the First Family during a chat on my show back in 2012; the aforementioned quote attributed to the singer became a popular Tumblr meme (only second to the GIF-able moment when Louis Tomlinson decided to crash our interview).
“I’m a big fan of their dad,” Horan told me as we talked about Malia and Sasha Obama, the President’s daughters, who at the time had recently just hung out with One Direction at a concert in Fairfax, Virginia. “They were sitting on the side of the stage, so I was waving at them.
“They’re just regular kids,” he continued. “They got to have a childhood and then they became ‘the President’s daughters.’”
Fans of Horan retweeted a clip of the interview that I had posted after the Irishman posted a message to Twitter about the Obama’s on Wednesday.
“Don’t get me started but I’m going to miss the obamas (sic),” he said online. “The nicest family on earth.”
Horan and his bandmates connected with Malia and Sasha at the Kids Choice Awards that year. The First Family said that if One Direction couldn’t make it to the White House, then the kids could go to one of their shows. So with Secret Service in tow, the daughters traveled out to the Patriot Center where they hung out with the guys backstage.
“We just had a conversation about everything,” Horan said. “It went from food to roller coasters to life to them having loads of security all the time.”
Which at least on some level, One Direction could relate to, although even Horan was taken aback by the Secret Service detail – which at the time struck me as one of the more surprising moments of our interview.
Perhaps it was not merely a coincidence that on the week I turn the big 3-0, I interviewed a gentleman that gave me one of the biggest breaks of my young career.
Of course at the time, he wasn’t trying to throw some 20 year-old know-it-all living in Scranton, Penn. a bone; rather he was attempting to help elect Barack Obama to the White House. And we all know how that story ends.
David Plouffe re-wrote the history books and how-to manuals on elections in the 21st century as President Obama’s Campaign Manager in 2008. He now serves as the Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy for the car service Uber. On the app’s fifth anniversary of existence, Plouffe made the media rounds, including a phone call on “Ralphie Tonight,” to chat about the present state of the company and what the future holds for it.
“UberPOOL, our car pooling service, is only in four cities now,” Plouffe explained. That particular feature allows different users to share the same car as opposed to calling separate cars; benefits to the consumer include lower rates. “We want to bring that to as many cities as possible because it’s cheaper transportation, the driver makes more money because they’re always on a trip and it really can help reduce congestion and reduce emissions and pollution.”
Of course in addition to expanding services within the cities in which Uber already operates, the company also has its eyes set on breaking in to new markets, both domestically and internationally. The app can be used in 58 countries – yet many major cities in New York State don’t have Uber.
“One good example is Upstate New York,” Plouffe said (born in Niagara Falls, N.Y., I was quick to refer to my neck of the woods as Western New York). “We’d love to get in to Binghamton and Buffalo and Syracuse and Albany; places by the way that don’t have a lot of public transportation options. We think we can help cut down on drunk and distracted driving.”
Another stated goal of Plouffe’s is to break up the monopolies that taxi and black car companies have in certain cities. Las Vegas was a topic of conversation; both Uber and Lyft will be allowed to operate in Vegas starting next month.
“(Monopolies) don’t foster innovation. They don’t serve the public,” Plouffe lobbied. “But what you see is most people who use Uber are making a choice not to drive themselves. So it’s not that it’s a small pie that’s now going to be divvied up between Uber and taxi; the overall pie grows.”
Regarding Vegas, Plouffe said he believes Uber will see business from not just The Strip but the surrounding suburbs; people that he claims can’t access a taxi as easy because they’re all located in one central place.
Oh, and regarding that big career break: I lived in Northeastern Pennsylvania and covered both the Democratic Primary and General Election for my radio station. My perseverance at the campaign rallies paid off: then-Senator Obama’s camp began throwing a number of celebrity surrogates my way. Suddenly this kid who had been in Scranton for just over a year had the likes of Cynthia Nixon, Fran Drescher, Adam Levine, Maggie Gyllenhaal and more calling in to his show. Those interviews gained me national press, which led to my show entering syndication. That set the groundwork for my eventual move to the biggest media market in the country.
“Well that’s a great story,” Plouffe responded when I filled him in. “I’m glad we could provide that opportunity.”
And you can say that the Wilkes Barre/Scranton market has been good to Plouffe. This past Febraury, over seven years after NEPA helped elect President Obama and Scranton’s own Vice President Joe Biden, the area became the latest to join Uber.
— In honor of #ThrowbackThursday, here are a few of the aforementioned interviews from 2008!
They did not face the destruction, or the heartbreak, that many in the tri-state area dealt with. But, it has still been an eventful week and a half by almost anyone’s standards for the band fun. The group spent a day in the UK, and was supposed to land back in New York the night Sandy wrecked the Northeast. That flight was shelved, and as airlines began to cancel thousands of flights, fun. began to wonder how it would return back to the States in time to rehearse and perform on “Saturday Night Live.”
“We flew to Atlanta, where our bus happened to be driving through to pick us up for tour anyways,” recalled lead singer Nate Ruess on “The Ralphie Show.” The band sat down for an interview on Wednesday night, as it prepared to perform an event in New York for Google Wallet while yet another storm hit the Empire State. “We spent 19 hours on the road, and by the time we got in to New York, ‘Sandy’ had happened that night, so we kind of saw the devastation thereafter.”
The trio lives in the tri-state area, and while Ruess and keyboardist Andrew Dost escaped any harm, guitarist and New Jersey resident Jack Antonoff hasn’t been able to return to his place yet – although he said there was no damage due to the hurricane.
“I just can’t get my crap, which I think in the scheme of things is probably the least people were affected,” Antonoff said. “All of us know people who have had really crazy stuff happen in the storm.”
Antonoff admitted that he didn’t think “Sandy” would wreak as much havoc as it did, due in part to the lack of potency surrounding last year’s “Irene” storm.
“’Irene’ last year was like, a tree kind of dinged my house, and that was the worst thing that happened in our neighborhood,” said Antonoff. “I think (underestimating ‘Sandy’ due to ‘Irene’) is exactly what happened.”
Dost noted that the entire “SNL” crew was super-accommodating as the unorthodox week unfolded. Then Saturday, fun. performed the title track from Some Nights and “Carry On” during the show. You couldn’t have picked a more appropriate song off the band’s latest album – and certainly the fact that it’s LP’s next single and the music video was filmed in Manhattan doesn’t hurt the notion.
“It was something I didn’t think about too much until someone brought it up,” Ruess acknowledged of the song’s relevancy to the events of the week. “I don’t want to say that it’s fortuitous that we have a single coming out that’s called, ‘Carry On.’ Yunno, I think it made the song more special for us… it was the right time and it was a very emotional moment for us on ‘Saturday Night Live’ performing that song.”
The singer confessed that his nerves ratcheted up a bit for the performance – to the point where he threw back a cocktail to calm down – but was careful not to drink too much.
“The crazy thing about this year is that we started out – the first thing that we did was the day Some Nights came out we had done Conan O’Brien,” Ruess said. “That was the first big TV we had done, and I just remember being a mess.”
Just eight months later, fun. has performed on pretty much every TV show that welcomes a band on to play a song.
“It’s crazy how much more you get desensitized to it,” Ruess said. “With ‘SNL,’ even for a second it was like, ‘Oh my God this is live, I could like trip and fall.’”
Interestingly enough, the entire band not-so-secretly carries this insecurity – as if to be careful not to become an Internet meme or punch line with a single misstep. Listening to Antonoff confirm Ruess’ fear, and Dost recall a time in high school where he was picked on, you would never think these three men have toured the globe, conquered late-night TV, and delivered one of the biggest anthems of 2012 to the masses.
Then you realize fun. did all of that, and then some, in only eight months. It’s pretty crazy, by almost anyone’s standards.
Adam Levine seems pleased with Maroon 5’s journey – from breaking out with 2002’s Songs About Jane to gaining more momentum in 2007’s It Won’t Be Soon Before Long and then almost losing it all on the 2010 release of Hands All Over. Certainly thanks to the success of “Moves Like Jagger” and this year’s Overexposed, it is easier for Levine to look back fondly on the ride.
“Listen man, it’s a long, weird road being in a band,” Levine explained on “The Ralphie Show.” “We kept treading a line between were we a pop group or were we trying to be a regular alt-rock band? Yunno, we just didn’t know what we wanted for a minute.”
To Maroon 5’s credit – the band figured it out. Not to mention, Levine’s overall involvement with NBC’s “The Voice” hasn’t hurt the cause. The aforementioned “Moves” collaboration with his fellow coach Christina Aguilera proved to revive the group’s popularity. Aguilera will depart after this third season to focus more on her music career. If anything, Levine won’t miss the media-manifested drama between the two.
“I never liked that sh-t,” Levine stated rather bluntly. “I’ll be the first person to say that we had our share of issues in the beginning but I love that girl. Yunno, we’ve been through a lot. We came out the other end as friends and I’ve always got nothing but love for Christina.”
Levine went on to describe what was reported about the two as, “petty, despicable bullsh-t” in publications he called, “god awful.”
The lead singer was just as candid about which candidate he is backing in this year’s presidential election. The last time Levine called in to “The Ralphie Show” was in 2008 on behalf of President Barack Obama.
“I’m gonna do whatever the hell I can (to help President Obama) because if he doesn’t get elected I’m f-cking moving,” Levine claimed. “I’d rather you be president that f-cking Mitt Romney, and I barely know you.”
Levine might be better suited for the position – if you believe those “god awful” publications, he certainly has “binders full of women.”
Steve Aoki is using his platform as one of the world’s biggest DJs for a greater cause: to help get out the vote. But while Aoki did travel to the Republican National Convention to spread this message, he pulls no punches as to who he’d like people to vote for in this year’s presidential election.
Life & Style Weekly reports in the magazine’s latest edition on Matthew McConaughey’s wedding to Camila Alves. Events Editor Juliet Izon also talked about Miley Cyrus’ engagement to Liam Hemsworth and President Obama’s visit to New York City.
“When we met (Malia and Sasha Obama) at the ‘Kids Choice Awards,’ they said that if we can’t come to the White House, they would come to us,” singer Niall Horan revealed on “The Ralphie Radio Show.” “So they came down to the show.”
Before President Obama’s daughters took-in the concert from One Direction, the girls had a chance to hang out backstage with the guys at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, VA. Horan is “a massive” fan of the President.
“We just had a conversation about everything,” he said. “It went from food to rollercoasters to life to them having loads of security all the time.”
If there is one facet that the heart-throbs can relate to Malia and Sasha in, it’s the latter topic. Then again, after a recent tour stop in New York, perhaps Niall and his friends could use something similar to the Secret Service.
“Me and Liam [Payne] got mobbed,” Horan recalled. “When we’re on our days off, we just like to chill.”
Niall and Liam, accompanied by a security guard, thought it’d be a good idea to chill by walking the streets of midtown Manhattan. Unfortunately for the guys, the hoards of screaming tweens outside the band’s hotel also thought it was a good idea. Still, the trip wasn’t completely lost.
“My aunt lives in New York, so we had a barbeque,” said Horan. “We meant to go watch ‘The Dictator,’ in the cinema but we fell asleep.”
One Direction will get to see its own film Thursday – the quintet will watch the “Up All Night DVD” and offer live commentary for their fans on Twitter. The band is currently in the midst of a sold-out tour in the States. As if you need more evidence of how popular these guys are, One Direction has already announced dates for a summer 2013 tour in America.