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For day three of our broadcast with Westwood One Backstage at The 59th GRAMMYs we chatted with a bunch of current and former nominees while also speaking with a few friends-of-the-show. It was great to see Train’s Pat Monahan and Gavin DeGraw. I also interviewed Lukas Graham for the second time; the first time was at The GRAMMYs last year and now they’re up for three awards including Record and Song Of The Year, plus they’ll perform with Kelsea Ballerini. Noah Cyrus stopped by and compared me to her dad, LeAnn Rimes remembered her big GRAMMY wins from 20 years ago and Charli XCX explained how she chooses to collaborate with people before I brought up Selena Gomez to her.








Imagine standing in the middle of Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Now picture that you’re live on the radio. And add in the fact that you have no producer, no intern, no assistant… no one. Well, no one to help you; there are obviously plenty of (read: a million) people surrounding you.

Welcome to my New Year’s Eve broadcast in Times Square on 95.5 PLJ. This was the third straight year that I had the honor of hosting the show and the second consecutive broadcast where we partnered with Dick Clark Productions so that I had space inside ABC’s Good Morning America studio. Thanks to our friends at Times Square Alliance, I had full-run of the “Center of the Universe” as well; I spent my evening literally running between the third floor of the GMA studio (without using the elevator mind you) and the crowd with stops in between to interview DNCE, Miss America, Gavin DeGraw and a few revelers.

But even as I managed to book, edit, produce and host the show, there were some difficulties simply out of my control. No my in-ear monitors didn’t go out, rather our entire wireless broadcast system went down. So as the clock struck midnight and the 11,800 pound crystal ball completed its descent, I dialed in to the studio to ring in 2017 over the phone.

When you’re live in a setting like Times Square for New Year’s, these are issues that you actually can prepare for; you simply create backup plans for everything because anything can go wrong. Over the 7 hours I spent in the Theater District I dealt with a broken audio recorder, a late interview and faulty internet connections on top of everything else you would normally expect: heightened security, large crowds and the weather.

Although the temperature hovered around a balmy 40 so that wasn’t awful, but I digress.

It’s stressful but in the moment, a lot of fun. At any moment I’m in a hotel suite with Joe Jonas, editing audio on my laptop, talking with a couple from the Philippines who is visiting the city for their first time or simply pausing to take it all in. Because despite all of the difficulties that I encounter with the show, I still couldn’t imagine spending my New Year’s Eve any other way.



Friend-of-the-show Marc Scibilia stopped by to talk about the endless tour he’s on with some amazing tourmates, from Gavin DeGraw and Andy Grammer to Michael Franti and Jon McLaughlin. Scibilia also talked about working with Jacob Whitesides and preparing to record new music later this year.
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Andy Grammer needed to figure out how he was going to follow up 2014’s “Magazines or Novels,” his sophomore album which included his biggest hit to date, “Honey I’m Good.” So he decided to try out a new approach.

“Coming off the last two singles (also ‘Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)’) which were both pretty up-tempo, high energy… there was no higher to go,” Grammer explained on my radio show over the phone. “You can’t throw more of the kitchen sink in to a song.

“This one is my first single that I feel like lets the audience come to me a little bit. I’m really excited about it.”

“Fresh Eyes” serves as the first single from Grammer’s forthcoming third studio LP and sonically reflects his west coast home more than his east coast roots. The song is super laid back and Grammer’s voice doesn’t jump many octaves as he sings about a stranger that he is smitten for.

The track is certainly a departure from “Honey” but almost literally a product of it; Grammer’s gift to himself after the success of his second album was baby blue electric guitar.

“It’s my first (single) that I’ve done mostly on electric guitar,” he revealed. “I went in (a store) and picked up every guitar and amp for like, four hours and I left with this baby blue nucleus for my third album.”

If you’re checking out Grammer on tour this year, you’ll get a chance to see the axe in person. He plans on bringing the instrument out for his supporting gig with Train followed by his co-headlining jaunt with Gavin DeGraw. Of course, Train recently covered the “Led Zeppelin II” album, donating proceeds from sales to a charity that benefits kids fighting cancer. So if Grammer were to pick one act to offer the cover treatment to, who would it be?

“I think it would be dope to re-do an old Billy Joel album,” he replied, also noting that he doesn’t know the Piano Man (although his tour mate DeGraw has served as Joel’s opening act on a regular basis. “I guess I’d have to make the album first and then reach out.”

Besides his upcoming tours, Grammer will be spending the rest of the year working on his own project though. The “Keep Your Head Up” singer is bringing an extra tour bus on the road with him so he can continue to create the album. Grammer hopes that the LP drops after the first of the year.

“That’s what’s so fun about this game is that everything just keeps being new,” he said. “When you do one thing that works, like it’s done. Your brain has to come up with something different. That’s the whole artistic thing. It’s been completely fun and reinvigorating on this album to be doing something totally different.”

As Grammer tours the country and continues to work on his new album, he’ll also have the chance to find out if his fans feel the same way.

Saturday was day 2 of “Ralphie Tonight” broadcasting live from Westwood One’s “Red Carpet Radio” at the 2014 “American Music Awards” in Los Angeles. The second day of the broadcast is always the craziest but most fun because of the amount of celebrities that are in town for the event.

It was so great to see a few familiar faces like Mary Lambert, Gavin DeGraw, and Pat Monahan of Train. Also “Mr. Worldwide” – Pitbull – sat down for an exclusive interview the night before his gig hosting The AMAs!

Early Thanksgiving morning, I grabbed my BlackBerry and about 30 layers, walked over to Central Park, and caught up with Gavin DeGraw, the Goo Goo Dolls, Jimmy Fallon, Fall Out Boy, and more at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Gavin DeGraw does not take the job of naming his albums lightly.

“It’s funny because when you go through and you try to figure out what to name an album… I was going through going ‘Maybe I’ll go through and I’ll pick a song title to name the album after yunno?’” said DeGraw of the initial thought process behind Make A Move. “You start seeing how one song title might be misinterpreted as an album title; how it could go all wrong.”

The “Chariot” singer mentioned the song “Leading Man,” and how he felt it was a cool song title but would’ve sounded “totally douche-y” as the name of the LP.

“I thought Make A Move was a good choice,” DeGraw said of his eventual selection. “It was the type of thing that couldn’t necessarily be misinterpreted too poorly.”

The release marks the artist’s fifth studio album and first since 2011’s Sweeter, which spawned the hit “Not Over You.” The lead single “Best I Ever Had” certainly sets the tone for a different sound of DeGraw’s.

“This is definitely a step towards another direction,” DeGraw admitted. “There are songs on this album that I think are reflective of Chariot, but at the same time there are other songs on this album that really do feel almost as if it’s a completely different artist, which is something I’m really proud of.”

But outside of the studio, the singer is still pretty easy-going and down for a good laugh. He revealed that Michael Franti was joking about his “soccer skills” on “The Ralphie Show” because DeGraw is the type of guy “who kind of likes to walk in to the group when people are kicking a ball around and grab it and just punt it as far as I can.”

The move itself could have been left open to misinterpretation but both DeGraw and Franti seemed to enjoy chatting about it, and meeting each other for the first time while supporting Train on the road.

Michael Franti is known to his fan base for his philanthropy and philosophy as much as his music. Franti might be the last artist that you would think to hear shout out Jay Z and Beyonce in a song. But, the San Francisco singer does just that on the track “I’m Alive (Life Sounds Like).” The gesture took at least one fan by surprise.

“(The fan) was coming at it from this political angle,” recalled Franti during an interview that aired Monday night on “The Ralphie Show.” “I was like, ‘Should I shout out like (Vladimir) Putin and (Bashar al-) Assad?’”

Franti does not believe that name-checking the presidents of Russia and Syria would have been more appropriate. Rather, the singer attempted to use the situation to dispel a misnomer about him and his music.

“I write songs about every aspect of life,” he explained. “Politics is one of them. I care about what’s happening in the world as much as I always have. Not every day, do I wake up in the morning and turn on CNN or whatever and follow the 24 hour news cycle. I get up like everybody else. I make breakfast for my son and I get him to school and I pick him up afterwards. I want to make music that goes for people’s 24 hour life cycle, not just the 24 hour news cycle.”

Without directly addressing it, Franti perhaps also fully explained the title of his band’s latest LP, All People. The group released the album in July and promoted it while touring with Train and Gavin DeGraw. Franti has a massive amount of respect for Pat Monahan and his band, who the “Say Hey” singer first met over 15 years ago back in San Francisco. The trek was Franti’s first encounter with DeGraw.

“Gavin is an awesome guy; horrible soccer player, he’s the worst soccer player, but he’s an incredible guy,” joked Franti. “He’s pretty athletic, it’s just soccer is not one of his things.”

We’ll refrain from the puns we could drop about Gavin not being able to “Follow Thru” on the field or noting that we “Don’t Wanna Be” stuck on his team. Instead, note that Franti and Spearhead will tour up until the holidays, and are also enlisting the help of Monahan and others for a new foundation called, “Do It For The Love.” Franti and his partner Sara started the organization to help send people with advanced stages of life threatening illnesses, kids with disabilities, and wounded veterans to see some of their favorite artists live. More info is available here.

Erin Brady entered the Miss Connecticut USA pageant in 2011, seeking to represent The Nutmeg State in the Miss USA 2012 competition. The East Hampton, Conn. Native placed first runner-up; not bad considering it was her first pageant, ever.

About a month after the October 2011 event, Brady’s boyfriend Tony Capasso proposed, and she said yes.

“He had it planned and he said, ‘Thank God you didn’t win because it totally would’ve blown our plans,’” Brady recalled in an interview with “The Ralphie Show.” “After the first Miss Connecticut (USA) we left for Italy, about three weeks later.”

The current titleholder revealed that she and Capasso discussed the idea of another try for the crown before she entered in 2012.

“It was, ‘If this is something you want to do, by all means,” Brady noted of her fiancé’s response to her idea. “Obviously not knowing that I’d become Miss USA!”

For full disclosure, I was a member of the judges’ panel that placed Brady second in 2011. While she had the look, I felt her lack of experience would have hurt her during the national competition in Las Vegas. Hindsight is 20/20 of course; Brady concurred.

“I hadn’t really had any clue as to what was involved and what I needed to prepare for the next year,” she said. “Coming first runner-up for me, never having done it in that system, was just overwhelmingly exciting.”

Little did Brady know, the “overwhelmingly exciting” part of her life was just getting started – the engagement, winning the state qualifier, and taking the Miss USA crown in Vegas last June. Now she finds herself yielding offers like the one she accepted to star in Gavin DeGraw’s new music video for his single, “Best I Ever Had.”

“I actually had really been a big fan of his even before he kind of came back and has this new flavor and this new sound,” Brady said, referring to the up-tempo, rhyme-driven verses in the artist’s new single. “It was just great, because I had never been a part of that before.”

The project did prompt another conversation between Brady and her fiancé: the Accounting degree holder and DeGraw lock lips at the end of the piece.

“It was a little interesting, but it’s part of the job, and I thought it was tasteful,” she remarked. “He’s a gentleman, and we’re in front of 50 other people.”

Later this year Brady will travel to Russia to compete for the Miss Universe crown, currently held by former Miss USA Olivia Culpo. The pageant airs on November 9. The same country winning the title in consecutive years is not unprecedented; Venezuela completed the feat in 2008 and 2009.

Ed Sheeran is traveling the country with Taylor Swift on her “Red” tour, and is requested to perform at some of the biggest award shows in the U.S. But while speaking with “The Ralphie Show,” he revealed that he no longer approaches artists whom he is a fan of.

“I’ve been really disappointed a bunch of times,” Sheeran told me during an interview taped the weekend of the Billboard Music Awards. “A lot of people are d–ks.”

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Sheeran estimates that for every five singers he meets, one is usually genuinely nice. At first, he thought it might be an American thing. Then he realized that it simply falls along genre lines.

“Country artists are wicked,” Sheeran said, using the term as a form of endearment. “I’m English, and I’m a massive hip-hop fan. I grew up listening to a lot of rappers. When I was at The GRAMMYs and I met some people, it was just a bit like… you know, I’m not asking for anything, just a handshake. Some people wouldn’t even shake my hand.”

The “A-Team” singer revealed later that the particular encounter he was referring to involved rapper Nas. Sheeran owns all of the star’s albums.

“It’s not that hard to be nice man, for 15 minutes,” Sheeran continued. “One of the nicest people I ever met was Paul McCartney, and he doesn’t have to be nice to anyone, because he’s Paul McCartney.”

Sheeran did have a great encounter last weekend at 95.5 PLJ’s Summer Blast-Off, where he and Gavin DeGraw ended up jamming on stage together and exchanging pleasantries over Twitter. Another massively successful artist who is great with people: Sheeran’s tour-mate.

“Most big artists do pay-for meet-and-greets,” Sheeran noted, explaining how Swift’s “Club Red” works. “She sets up a club, they put pizzas in it, there’s like a photo booth in it, there’s Coca-Cola, all of this cool stuff, and her team goes out in to the crowd every night and picks out the most dedicated fans.”

The songwriter says most of the time, the fans that weren’t able to afford the best seats in the house end up with an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of hanging out in Club Red with T-Swift.

“For her to do something like that every single night, to walk off stage and not even take a break… and go in to Club Red, and do an hour and a half meet-and-greet for 20 people is pretty cool,” Sheeran said. “Because it’s not just a picture and a ‘See ya later,’ it’s (more).”

Another one of Sheeran’s friends that doesn’t mind giving back is Harry Styles. The last time Ed and I spoke, he revealed the story of Styles buying Domino’s Pizzas for the homeless in Los Angeles. When I informed the singer that The Mirror UK and subsequently the world picked up the story, he smiled.

“You know what, I’m down with Papa John’s as well,” Sheeran responded. “Can we just put out a story about them? They do these cheese-sticks that are out of this world. We don’t get them in England.”