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Chrissi Poland chatted about opening for Lady Gaga, landing a gig in Vegas and writing her debut full length album in the desert before returning to New York to record it.
chrissi

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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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!






There’s one big difference between Sunday night’s Billboard Music Awards and every other music award show on television: the winners are a true reflection of not just what fans like, but what they actually consume and spend money on.

“Those charts are what make our award show,” Billboard’s co-director of charts, Keith Caulfield, told me this week. “That’s the beauty of it. This award show is truly based on your performance on the Billboard charts throughout the year.”

The BBMAs serve as an annual scoreboard of sorts for the music industry’s biggest names. We’ll find out where the stars rank Sunday night at 8 p.m. on ABC.

“Billboard gets to honor the most popular artists, albums and songs of the past year on a great TV show, and we get to have amazing performances and it’s a star-studded event,” Caulfield said. “I’m really looking forward to the show.”

The list of performers alone could make this year’s program one of the more memorable in recent memory. Britney Spears, receiving the Millennium Award, will perform a medley of her hits. Justin Bieber will do the same. Rihanna is slated to sing on the show, almost exactly 10 years to the date she scored her first Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper. And Madonna will perform a tribute to the late Prince.

That doesn’t even scratch the surface: Celine Dion, Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton, Nick Jonas and Tove Lo, Demi Lovato, Meghan Trainor, Fifth Harmony, Pink and Ariana Grande are also set to take the stage inside the brand new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

As for the awards, The Weeknd is a finalist in 16 categories, leading all artists. Bieber follows him with nods in 11 categories. Taylor Swift and Adele are each a finalist in eight categories. Perhaps taking a cue from Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video premiere at last year’s BBMAs, Adele will unveil her video for the single, “Send My Love (To Your New Lover)” during the broadcast Sunday.

Appropriately, Swift holds the all-time high mark for wins at the show with 20. Adele has the record for most wins in one night with 12, which she scored back in 2012 off the success of “21.”

The Billboard Music Awards are produced by dick clark productions. Westwood One, the radio network owned by Cumulus Media, is once again an official partner of this year’s show. For the fourth consecutive year, I will broadcast from Las Vegas for the BBMAs. In addition to interviewing stars backstage Saturday and on the red carpet Sunday, we’ll have a full recap from Vegas on Monday evening.

Nick Hissom, singer/songwriter/model/friend of the show, stopped by to chat about his new EP, ‘Love Energy’ and single, “Where You Are.” Hissom also talked about balancing a modeling career with an Ivy League education at UPenn and who inspired his latest single.
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In the second episode of my new podcast “Hey, Really Excited,” I recap my trip to Las Vegas for last weekend’s “Billboard Music Awards.” Guests this week include Robin Leach, Hozier (again), Tori Kelly, Prince Royce and Ludacris.
Hey, Really Excited
“Hey, Really Excited” is a weekly-ish podcast of mine where I offer some present-day thoughts on what’s happening in music, my life and career – along with a featured artist(s).

The second day of Red Carpet Radio at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards was hectic, as many BBMA finalists, presenters and performers stopped by to chat with “Ralphie Tonight.” Check out some of the photos and conversations below with Hozier, Tori Kelly, Fall Out Boy and more.
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Special thanks to BBMA co-host Ludacris, who also made some time for the show. We chatted with him while he waited for a car to pick him up… in the back of the MGM Grand Arena… on a curb. In Vegas, there is a first time for everything.





A few staples of the Las Vegas scene stopped by Red Carpet Radio at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards to chat with “Ralphie Tonight.”
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Terry Fator won the second season of the NBC competition “America’s Got Talent.” The entertainer just marked his sixth year headlining at The Mirage on The Strip. Fator believes he’ll be there many more years to come. He also gave his thoughts on the end of “American Idol,” noting that he’ll miss it and is happy there are other shows like “AGT” and “The Voice” still on the air.

Carrot Top has been in Vegas for 30 years – he’s spent about the last 10 performing at The Luxor. The comedian is hoping to attend Sunday’s award show, and you might be surprised as to what he is looking forward to. Of course, Carrot Top also quipped about everything from “Fifty Shades Of Grey” to “Deflategate.”

And Robin Leach – a former Channel 7 reporter – needs no introduction. The former “Lifestyles of The Rich and Famous” host dished about his recent chats with Jennifer Lopez and Mariah Carey regarding their Vegas residencies.