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On WBRE’s “PA Live!” for this week’s “The Ralphie Report,” I played Donnie Wahlberg’s response to the new surge of boy bands, talked about Fun.’s stance for LGBT rights, and highlighted the amazing efforts of students at Riverside High School, who started an online campaign surrounding a senior at the school who is battling cancer for his second time.

Before One Direction and The Wanted, before N’Sync, the Backstreet Boys, and 98 Degrees, there was New Kids on the Block. The music between the aforementioned acts spans three decades, and New Kids singer Donnie Wahlberg is happy the genre has exhibited staying power.

“In some ways, [One Direction and The Wanted] validate us,” the NKOTB star told me via telephone. “And I think our reunion has validated us in many ways as well. The fans that grew up with us came back.”

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Wahlberg speaks proudly on not just his group’s return, but also the new generation of fans that have new music to grow up with.

“I think there’s a place in society for all different types of music,” he explained. “I’m glad that the young bands are coming out now and doing well because I think it validates what we did 25 years ago.”

Generations will collide August 17 and 18 in Hershey, PA, when New Kids on the Block, the Backstreet Boys, The Wanted, Kelly Clarkson, LL Cool J, and more converge on Hersheypark Stadium for the inaugural “Summer Mixtape Fest.” While Wahlberg seemed happy to speak about the state of pop music, he channeled personal experiences when commenting on the groups specifically.

“My opinion or my advice to them is really inconsequential,” Wahlberg stated, before offering his reasoning. “Yunno, the same way when I was 19 and they interviewed everyone from The Monkeys to Donny Osmond to one of The Beatles to whomever to give advice or to ask what they thought of us. When I was 19, I didn’t care what any of those guys thought about me.”

At 42 years old, it is easy for Wahlberg to reminisce on the path his group helped blaze given New Kids’ past success. The trip down memory lane becomes a little sweeter though when you factor in the group’s current run, which has lasted since 2008 and brought the band to new destinations that none of them thought were possible.

“It’s a really humbling experience; it’s been an amazing journey,” Wahlberg, who will turn 43 on the first day of the festival, said. “[The reunion] sort of turned a 19-20 year-old sort of college age experience that I look back on fondly in to a very mature and different experience now.”

The experience continues to play out, as New Kids will tour across five continents in 2012.

Boston born and New Kids on the Block singer Donnie Wahlberg has a sunny disposition on the Red Sox’s offseason.

“In 2003, we lost game seven (of the American League Championship Series)… Grady Little and Pedro Martinez stayed in the game too long. Everyone thought it was the end of the world,” Wahlberg explained last weekend on the red carpet of Mohegan Sun’s 15th anniversary in Uncasville, CT. “We cleaned house, came back, and won the World Series. And that’s what’s going to happen next year.”

The BoSox have parted ways with their Manager and General Manager, amidst all types of reports on the activities of some players in the clubhouse during the Red Sox September slide, a slump which saw the team relinquish playoff contention. Thankfully for Wahlberg, his fall hasn’t been tumultuous whatsoever. NKOTB just announced a European tour, while the actor focuses on his CBS drama, “Blue Bloods” and newly opened restaurant, Wahlburgers, which is located near Boston.



Danny Wood didn’t think it would last this long.

“We thought we’d do like 20, 30 shows at best probably, and be home,” Wood confessed. “But we’re very happy it’s gone this long and we’re happy to now be doing the ‘Full Service’ tour.”

New Kids On The Block released The Block in September 2008. The LP marked the boy band’s first studio release in 14 years. After the CD debuted atop the Billboard Pop Charts, NKOTB embarked on a North American tour – then extended the trek to dates overseas. A “fan cruise” last month took the guys with supporters from Miami to the Bahamas. Now, New Kids find themselves on the “Full Service” tour – playing outdoor amphitheaters throughout the summer with opening act Jesse McCartney.

The Boston-born singers themselves didn’t expect this reunion to last in to the summer… but now some are wondering not when will it end, but if it will cease at all?

“We have some plans for next year. I think a new record will probably come in 2011, if we all agree to do that. But, we’re pretty much all on the same page right now. I don’t see this being the last time to see us.”

Wood joked that someone in the group “acting like an asshole,” could prevent the CD release. But, according to him, everyone in the band agreed on that plan for the time being. Still, Wood noted that family situations could play a factor.

“It’s different this time around, so you never know. I mean, I know I never thought my kids would get to see me back on stage. My daughters are with me so, it’s always perfect when they’re here.”

Also with the group is McCartney, a 22-year old pop star that wasn’t alive when NKOTB released its self-titled debut LP in 1986. But apparently, that doesn’t mean the former All My Children actor is seeking out Donnie Wahlberg or anyone in the group for advice.

“You want me to be honest?” Wood asked. “I haven’t seen the dude once. I don’t know… I don’t know. He does a mad dash or he’s hiding or I don’t know.”

Wood seemed a bit bothered, perhaps even offended, in his tone and body language, but insisted that is far from the case.

“I don’t give a shit. He can do whatever he wants, I don’t care,” Wood insisted. “We’re pretty accessible… if you walked around here you’d probably run in to all five of us.”

Give the man credit – I did in fact run in to all the guys at one point or another while backstage. Donnie chatted on his phone. Joey McIntyre walked his puppy. Jordan Knight snapped a photo with me before a Boston Herald phone interview. His brother, Jonathan, attempted to chat on his cell, but of course, coverage can be spotty up on the mountain.

And as for McCartney – Jesse told me later that earlier that day he finally met all five of the guys. The singer blamed a hectic schedule – which even forced him to jet back to Los Angeles at one point – as the reason for his notable absence backstage.