Archives For grammy’s

I spent all of last week silent on Facebook, which no one probably noticed for a number of reasons: I was active on other social networks, I was still frequently in touch with family and friends and of course I was on live on the radio every weeknight.

To me, it felt weird. Last weekend I returned to Syracuse to catch the Orange (don’t get me started on the tournament snub) beat Georgia Tech and attend the annual WJPZ reunion dinner. On Monday I joined my friends on TV at “Chasing News” to talk about my Vinny Guadagnino interview. Wednesday I made the trek down to Brooklyn to watch the Orange lose in the first round of the ACC Tournament (and probably cement that aforementioned snub). And of course, I spent the week counting down the days until my trip to Las Vegas Tuesday, which yes I know might not even happen now with this pending blizzard.

But guess what? None of it mattered this week.

Saturday I was leaving the bookstore inside the Schine Student Center on SU’s campus when I looked down to see a new text notification on my BlackBerry. It was from a coworker with a link to an article on Billboard’s website.

My former colleague, Tommy Page, was found dead in an apparent suicide. I immediately felt numb.

I first met Tommy in May of 2009. I lived in Wilkes Barre, and was as Tommy would later refer to me, “a baby DJ.” At the time, Page was working A&R at Warner Bros. Records. He was so excited about his new act, a boy-band called V-Factory, that he decided to personally bring them by the studio for an interview.

Tommy and I hit it off right away, but to be honest a lot of it was more circumstantial; I think he immediately took a liking to me or at least gave me the benefit of the doubt because he was close with my Program Director at the time, A.J. He also was a bit fan of 97 BHT, particularly the station’s position in the market as the younger, hipper pop station that wasn’t afraid to lean rhythmic or electronic (example: WBHT broke Lady Gaga in the metro when other stations across the country declared that “Just Dance” was “too dance-y” – whatever that jargon means).

And of course, Tommy loved Northeastern Pennsylvania. He raved about his vacation home in East Stroudsburg, and also had recently purchased a fixer-upper in Jim Thorpe.

Tommy and I would spend 2010 through 2014 crossing paths at various events, either in New York or out in Los Angeles. I remember my first GRAMMYs; I attended Billboard’s after-party at The London in West Hollywood. Tommy was its publisher at the time, and immediately left his conversation when he saw me just to come over and say hello. That meant a lot.

Then in 2015, he joined our company as a Senior Vice President of Brand Partnerships. I enjoyed this because not only would I see Tommy in our building occasionally, but I’d get to work with him at some of our signature backstage broadcast events, including the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards in addition to the aforementioned GRAMMYs.

The weekend after our first BBMAs working together in Vegas, Tommy and I both headed down the shore to Point Pleasant for 95.5 PLJ’s Summer Kick-Off. We sat down at the client party and talked about where the company was moving before he tasked me to help write a spec promo for an upcoming event we were working on called “Malibu Mansion Live.”

I’ll never forget, while music played and people partook in the open bar, Tommy and I sat alone in a corner of the room and wrote the script; Tommy throwing out ideas followed by me feverishly typing away on my BlackBerry and reading lines out loud to see what if any changes he wanted.

After a few more revisions, that promo was eventually voiced, produced and presented to company executives and our marketing department. The following November, Tommy and I were in Malibu for the two-night promotion that featured country singer Cam (who he sang “Happy Birthday” to while I walked out with a makeshift cake/candle for her), Nick Jonas, Tori Kelly and Fall Out Boy.

As the second, successful night winded down, Tommy pulled me aside.

“Remember when we first started talking about this and we wrote that promo in Point Pleasant?” he asked. “The whole thing came to life. It was like you and I wrote a hit record together.”

Of course, it was Tommy and his team that did all of the hard work. But coming from a guy who scored a number one hit in 1990 with the single, “I’ll Be Your Everything,” that compliment really struck a chord with me.

That was a unique trait of Tommy’s; working with others and making them feel like they belonged. It’s one of the reasons he was adored by so many, and certainly it’s one of the reasons why I and many others will miss him.

I don’t like holding on to a lot of physical mementos, especially ones that would require a UPS label or a potential over-packed suitcase.

This is primarily in reference to the award shows that I cover but extends to any other trip I make or event I attend. First, I have the priceless memories of those experiences. Second, if I do save something, it’s usually a hotel room key, a press credential or a ticket stub. I’ve saved the latter since first attending baseball games and wrestling matches as a kid. I read in Rolling Stone once that Springsteen also saves his room keys and I thought to myself, “If he isn’t too cool for that then neither am I.” Press credentials are also nice because like tickets and room keys, they are small, but they are also unique.

But this past GRAMMYs, something changed. It started on my first day in Los Angeles. I attended an event that Wednesday night (something I have never done before) so I could speak with Recording Academy President Neil Portnow and Conan O’Brien. Afterwards I had drinks with a colleague and we talked about all of the various award shows and “radio rows” that I’ve had the privilege of covering. I always tell people that despite the fact I’m at a lot of these, I never assume that I’ll be at the next show and I never take any of them for granted.

The conversation I had with that co-worker drove those points home on to a different level. I hope it reflected in my work, but I and my producer can tell you it was definitely reflected in my work ethic. Don’t get me wrong, I always bust my butt on the road. But this time there was a different pace and diligence to the process. I covered events, conducted interviews, hosted shows, Skype’d in a few TV hits and edited, edited, edited which was only followed by more editing… and a lot of distribution throughout the social networks, our dot-coms and most importantly, the airwaves.

We wrapped radio row that Friday – its official title is “Westwood One Backstage” – and my producer Jay asked me if I wanted an official GRAMMYs poster that he had all of the interviewees sign. We’ve done this in the past and I almost never take it home. First, I can’t be bothered with anything that doesn’t involve completing my work for the week and second, it’s not like I can shove it in a suitcase.

But again, this time was different. And I thought to myself that a year from now, I might not be at The GRAMMYs. So maybe I should take a second to reflect, be thankful and perhaps take another memento home – one that would look pretty cool on the wall framed, I might add.

On Sunday Jay and I attended The GRAMMYs, and as we walked out he handed me a program. The GRAMMY program is more encyclopedia than playbill in size. The old me would have discarded it; but this time was different. It found its way in to my luggage, which I had to check anyways because that’s what happens when you travel across the country for a week to work.

The poster made it home too thanks to the J.W. Marriott’s business center and the aforementioned UPS. It’s hanging in my bedroom.

When I had that chat with my colleague the night before radio row began, I retired back to my hotel room and told myself that no matter what happens, I better push myself to new limits and leave it all out there.

And by the end of the trip, I felt I had at the very least accomplished that… so I wanted to make sure I took a piece of it back with me too. I’m glad I did.

A few weeks ago while I was in Los Angeles for The GRAMMYs, I received a Facebook message from Mary Friona. She is from my hometown of Niagara Falls and was a reporter at the NBC affiliate in Buffalo, WGRZ. Mary now runs a website called “Totally Buffalo” which features people, places and events throughout Western New York. She occasionally will interview someone who works in or hails from the area and holds a unique job; I was honored when she reached out to see if I would participate.

There are definitely a few “frequently asked questions” in this one (people almost always inquire when first meeting me about my favorite and least-favorite interview) but there are also a few stories that I rarely-if-ever tell. Check out the post here!

This is the story of a song, its GRAMMY nomination and how one small suggestion can have a ripple effect amongst multiple artists.

Yes, this is the story – as unlikely as it may seem – of Mike Posner’s “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” before the producer SeeB remixed it for pop radio’s indulgence.

The genesis of this track can be traced back to Posner’s actual trip to the Balearic Island where he took a pill in the presence of Avicii. But that experience did not immediately yield a hit record. Matter-of-fact, had it not been for a chat with popular country artist, Posner might have kept the story to himself.

That chat occurred with Jake Owen and it happened on Posner’s 26th birthday.

“Basically I played (Owen) a song, a different song, and he goes, ‘What inspired that tune?’ I said, ‘I just sort of made it up,’” Posner recalled during an interview that took place inside the Staples Center on his birthday last year, which fell on GRAMMY weekend.

“And he looked at me and he goes, ‘Well why don’t you just tell the truth?’”

Sounds easy, but it obviously is not something that any artist can do effectively. Yet that night, Posner tried. The Duke University alumnus hopped on a plane and wrote, “I Took A Pill In Ibiza.”

Soon after, Posner found himself on a plane again, but this time he was sitting across from singer/songwriter Nash Overstreet. The Nashville native once shared a record label home with Posner on RCA as a member of the pop-rock group Hot Chelle Rae.

“(Posner) told me he had been hanging with Jake Owen recently,” Overstreet said via telephone from Los Angeles. “And he told me he wanted to write painfully realistic, accurate truth in to music.”

It was almost as if Owen was now speaking through Posner to other artists. The result was similar: Overstreet was inspired to write the title track from his EP, “U Don’t Get 2 Do That.” The truth in that song even resonated with Hot Chelle Rae lead singer Ryan Follese, who after hearing it advised Overstreet to keep the song for himself and release it as a single.

The Gospel of Jake Owen continued to spread. Adam Friedman is another singer and songwriter who co-wrote and/or produced five different songs on Posner’s last LP “At Night, Alone.” While in-studio to promote his forthcoming EP “Green,” I mentioned the story of “Ibiza” to Friedman – a graduate of the Berklee College of Music.

“That theme has definitely shed on to me,” Friedman noted of writing songs with authenticity, specifically when talking about his single “What If?”which he’ll perform on “The Bachelor” February 13.

“I cried… not like balled, but I got tears,” the artist admitted after finding out that Posner’s “Ibiza” snagged the major GRAMMY nod. “I was on the same freeway that I had been on going to his house to work on that album. Just knowing where he was at when I met him three years ago and where I was at and just this three year journey that I’ve taken with him. To see that he got “Song Of The Year” (nomination), which was one of his goals, and to see him reach it… it was really, really cool for me to be a part of something like that.”

In the end, three artists were affected; two charts were topped (“Ibiza” hit number one on both Billboard’s Dance and Pop Airplay tallies) and one GRAMMY nomination was received. Posner will find out Sunday night if the song takes home the Gramophone.

Maybe that suggestion wasn’t so small after all.



Singer/songwriter Adam Friedman stopped by the show to talk about his new EP ‘Green’ and the single, ‘What If?’ which he’ll be performing on “The Bachelor” February 13. Friedman also talked about his friend and collaborator Mike Posner’s GRAMMY nomination for “Song Of The Year.”


It is impossible to look back on pop music in 2016 and not talk about The Chainsmokers. Alex Pall and Drew Taggart created two of the year’s biggest hits: the infectious “Don’t Let Me Down” that features 18 year-old Daya and “Closer,” an inescapable duet that Halsey assists on. “Don’t Let Me Down” was the most spun track on pop radio this year and using that particular metric, also the song of the summer. “Closer” spent 12 weeks atop both the Billboard Hot 100 and pop radio airplay charts. Combined with “Roses,” a song that they enlisted an artist named Rozes to sing, the duo sold 10 million singles in the U.S. alone.

Those songs helped The Chainsmokers score an American Music Award in 2016 and three GRAMMY nominations for the award show this February, including Best New Artist.

But as improbable as the DJs success may be (even Pall and Taggart admit they wouldn’t have settled on “The Chainsmokers” had they realized their staying power), what is crazier is that the group’s first two singles are all-but-forgotten about: the novelty track’s “#SELFIE” and “Kanye.”

“’Closer’ wasn’t their first hit,” is the response I received from Jake Miller, a friend of Pall and Taggart’s, recently when I brought up how impressed I was that they were able to shift from tongue-in-cheek records to the highly-coveted lane of radio-friendly pop music. I reminded him that “#SELFIE” was guys’ first single.

“It’s funny you say that because I don’t even think of them for that song,” Miller continued – a sentiment that many probably share and that certainly speaks to how massive the subsequent singles have been. “I honestly completely forgot they did that song.”

For The Chainsmokers, that might be a good thing. Nonetheless, the guys still don’t seem to be taking themselves too seriously.

“We go in with like, low expectations… very low expectations,” Taggart told me before the artists performed “Closer” and won “Favorite Electronic/Dance Music Artist” at the AMAs. “But regardless to be a part of the pop community now and have our work recognized is awesome.”

And the DJs aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Pall and Taggart just dropped a music video for “Setting Fires” off of their EP “Collage.” The duo is also back in the studio creating new music.

“I think the stuff we’re working on now we’re most excited about,” Pall said. “I don’t know if that’s because it’s newest, but it just feels different and exciting. We’re pumped about it.”

The Chainsmokers recently posted on Snapchat a clip of them in the studio with Coldplay lead singer Chris Martin, an experience that Taggart characterized as “crazy” because the guys grew up listening to his band.

“I think a lot of the music that’s already been out from us is heavily-inspired by Coldplay, especially the emotion that Coldplay has; that melancholy, bitter-sweet emotion that they get in all their songs,” he explained.

Taggart explained that his first goal was to “be cool” and attempt to catch a vibe with the lead singer. Neither man would reveal if they were working on a Chainsmokers project or something for Coldplay’s future (the band recently revealed that an EP was on the way after 2017), but Pall promised that whatever they’re working on, it’s “dope.”

Given the duo’s track record, I’ll take their word for it.

Saying Scott Stapp has been through a lot in the 20-year span of his music career is akin to saying Adele sold “a few copies” of her latest album.

It would be a gross understatement.

The lead singer for the band Creed has been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, struggled with substance abuse and found himself in a leaked sex tape. Lest we forget that Creed, while currently on an indefinite hiatus, has sold over 50 million albums worldwide.

But when Stapp speaks these days, he does so confidently and in a tone that does not suggest he’s been through so many traumatic events. Matter-of-fact, at times when reflecting on his trials and tribulations the lead singer does so in a jovial manner.

“I’m so allergic to alcohol and drugs that every time I use or drink, I break out in handcuffs and end up on the 6 o’clock news,” Stapp joked when we chatted on my radio show last week. He was making the rounds amidst his “Proof Of Life Tour,” a trek in support of his last solo project although he also plays his Creed catalogue at the shows.

“That’s literally the truth man!” he continued, not missing a beat.

Sadly for Stapp and his family, it was a long road to fully realize his “allergy.” Stapp had been to rehab but never truly sobered up. In 2009 while Creed was promoting a reunion tour, the lead singer told me that despite past, he would still have a glass of wine on occasion.
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As Stapp later found out, that’s not exactly how life after rehab works.

“I didn’t want to believe that I couldn’t be normal like everyone else,” he admits now. “But a lot has changed since then, and I know that I can’t do that.”

The seemingly big breakthrough for Stapp was after his latest downfall, which included a string of bizarre Facebook videos referencing President Obama and ISIS. Stapp and his wife Jaclyn sought out MusiCares, a foundation created by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences that “provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need.” Stapp, of course, is a GRAMMY winner of the Academy’s, taking home “Best Rock Song” with Creed in 2001.

Through MusiCares, Stapp was able to end up in a proper facility that provided him with what he and his family believes was the missing piece to his rehab: the bipolar diagnosis. Now, the musician has a new outlook on his amended lifestyle.

“I just live my life 24 hours at-a-time, one day at-a-time,” Stapp stated. “When I break it down in to those small increments, it’s a lot easier to accept and digest (soberness).”

Stapp, who is planning the announcement of a new band and is working on another solo album, says that the new perspective has had a positive outlook on his life. Although, that might be an understatement too.

After a three year hiatus, Chris Brown returned to The Grammy Awards on Sunday in near-unprecedented fashion for someone of his age. The 22 year-old performed twice and scored the award for “Best R&B Album” with his 2011 release, F.A.M.E.

While “Team Breezy” celebrated the comeback, there were quite a few others that were not pleased to see Brown back on the Grammy stage. In 2009, the crooner and then girlfriend Rihanna were both scheduled to perform at the awards show. But a physical altercation the night before the show left the songstress bruised and beaten. Brown would be charged felony assault and making criminal threats, and pled guilty to a lesser charge later that year. Since the plea deal, the singer completed his year of domestic violence counseling and six months of community service.

With Brown’s personal track record since the incident and the caliber of music he’s released, I felt it was appropriate for the Academy to, at the very least, invite him back. You can read my comments in the full article on CNN.com, here.

But despite paying his debt to society, and receiving the forgiveness of the person he abused, there are many that still will not give Brown a second chance.

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Stacey Nelkin of The Daily Affair is one of those people. She feels it was wrong for the Recording Academy to shine a spotlight on Brown given his past.

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MTV Hive Managing Editor Jessica Robertson broke down Adele’s big night and the tribute to Whitney Houston from the 54th annual Grammy Awards, which aired Sunday evening.

Check out more about MTV Hive here.

To probably few people’s surprise, Adele owned the 54th Grammy Awards. The once heart-broken songstress swept the ceremony with her album 21 – a perfect six for six in categories she was nominated for. What makes her feat even more impressive is that the Brit took home the three most prestigious awards of the night: Record, Song, and Album of the Year.

The trophies alone could have been enough, but there was more to this narrative, which actually kicked off before the ceremony. In a special segment on “60 Minutes,” reporter Anderson Cooper traveled to Adele’s home overseas for a 15 minute piece on the artist and her rapid rise to international fame. The report commenced shooting in the fall of 2011, prior to the surgery performed on the singer to remove a polyp from her vocal cord. The final parts were filmed earlier this year.

During her sit-down with Cooper, Adele admitted to experiencing “paralyzing stage fright,” which at times included “projectile vomiting.” While she dismissed the notion that she would be nervous about her voice at The Grammy’s, the noted that she would be concerned with if others thought her voice sounded okay. Adele, who clearly has little-to-no filter during the interview, said that she would “sh*t myself” beforehand.

There were no reports of any accidents before or during her live performance of “Rolling in the Deep,” but the singer started off a bit shaky, and wasn’t able to fully hit the higher notes in the track. Adele told Cooper that when she first experienced her throat problems, she completely lost the upper range in her voice. But, by the end of the song, Adele sounded like 2011’s best-selling artist. If nothing else, she gave her U.S. fans something to look forward to, as her American arena tour will kick off later this year.

While The Grammy’s may have been Adele’s night, the show did not belong to her alone. Many minds and hearts were focused on the death of Whitney Houston. The actress, singer, and mother was found dead in her Beverly Hilton hotel room Saturday evening. Houston was 48 years old. An autopsy was completed Sunday, but the coroner’s office is holding back results pending both the death investigation and the toxicology results.

With the six-time Grammy Award winner’s passing, producers were left scrambling with 24 hours to pay tribute to the fallen star. Show host LL Cool J followed opening act Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band with a prayer. Later in the evening, the Academy commissioned Jennifer Hudson to cover Houston’s version of, “I Will Always Love You.” The song was originally released in the 70’s by country singer Dolly Parton – but was then covered by Houston for the soundtrack to “The Bodyguard.” While Hudson’s rendition received a standing ovation and positive reviews, it also served as a solemn reminder that there will only be one Whitney Houston.

In one of many bizarre twists on the evening, the Houston tribute was followed by a medley of electronic dance music, which featured Chris Brown. This was Brown’s first invite to The Grammy’s since 2009. Back in ’09, Brown and then-girlfriend Rihanna were scheduled to perform at the show, but a physical altercation on the eve of the event forced both to cancel. Chris Breezy returned this year and picked up a Grammy for “Best R&B Album.” Earlier in the evening, the crooner performed his new single, “Turn Up the Music,” and then “Beautiful People.” Later, he joined David Guetta and Lil Wayne for “I Can Only Imagine.”

Other interesting moments from Sunday’s show: Bon Iver wins “Best New Artist,” and takes his sweet time during his acceptance speech; Nicki Minaj’s bizarre exorcism-themed performance; the Foo Fighters score five trophies, and after accepting “Best Rock Performance,” would not leave the stage. The delay forced the show announcer to introduce the next presenter, Ryan Seacrest, twice.