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On Sunday I covered my fifth consecutive Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. I also acted as the on-stage warm-up act, hyping and prompting the crowd before the show and during commercial breaks, for my fourth year. Here are some news and notes from my perspective both on the Magenta Carpet and backstage.

– Any artist that actually stopped and did media on the carpet should get some type of award. The temperatures outside T-Mobile Arena were near triple digits. It was so hot outside that inside they actually blasted the air conditioning during rehearsals. Perhaps it was a nice way to test how cold the venue can become ahead of it receiving an NHL franchise?

– I brought a change of dress shirts to account for the weather. Almost everything I wore in both outfits came from my favorite designer, John Varvatos. The tuxedo pants were H&M and my flower and pocket square were both from TheTieBar.com.

– I’d hate to say I called it but… I called it. Celine Dion stole the show at the BBMAs. I had chills listening to 18,000 inside T-Mobile Arena sing-a-long to “My heart Will Go On.” Celine is beloved as an icon, her voice is still impeccable, the movie is adored and the song as of late has gained new life as a meme of sorts. It was one my second-favorite moment from Sunday night.

– Great running in to Dan Kanter backstage. I first met Dan in 2009 inside The Mall at Steamtown in Scranton; at the time he was playing guitar for this new artist… maybe you’ve heard of him… Justin Bieber? Kanter is Bieber’s musical director and assumed similar duties for Julia Michaels’ performance of “Issues” – which I was a big fan of.

– That Rachel Platten “La La Land” adlib was just that – it was not in the teleprompter. I got a kick out of it.

– Something I really loved about this year’s show is that the stars really seemed to be enjoying themselves. You had Young Money – Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and Drake – front and center both literally and figuratively for the entire show. Instead of acting too cool for the room they decided to simply join in on the party. With Drake setting the new single-night record for awards, they had plenty to celebrate.

– One of my favorite backstage moments came when BK and Tyler from Florida Georgia Line walked off stage after accepting the BBMA for “Top Country Song.” The duo embraced, let out a Ric Flair-like “Woo!” and said to each other, “Man that never gets old!” Nice to see a genuine moment of gratitude between the two.

– Another cool backstage interaction involved Diddy, who was about to pay tribute to The Notorious B.I.G. and reveal the trailer for the new Bad Boy movie “Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.” The Chainsmokers were walking off the stage after accepting another award and Puff gave them a standing O before chatting with Alex and Drew for a few minutes. That’d be a fun collaboration right?

– Give credit to Vanessa Hudgens for holding her own on national TV and to Ludacris for once again making the whole hosting gig appear way easier than it actually is.

– Some other familiar faces that said hello backstage: Chris Daughtry, Miss America Savvy Shields, Mark Cuban and Hailee Steinfeld.

– I mentioned my second-favorite moment but not the one that tops the list. That honor belongs to my Mom. She was in the crowd cheering on her son while putting the video camera on her new-er iPhone to good use. I am thankful I was able to share the night with her.

It was a crazy six hours that saw nominees, presenters and performers all stop by our broadcast area as everyone prepared for the 2017 Billboard Music Awards. We chatted with everyone from the show’s co-host Ludacris, performers Jason Derulo, Halsey and Julia Michaels plus presenters Lindsey Stirling, Chris Daughtry and Hailee Steinfeld. Check out more below!







I am fortunate in that I have the opportunity to witness and/or experience a lot of cool moments due to my line of work. However, one moment sticks out from the rest, and it took place a few weeks ago at the Billboard Music Awards.

The fact that this happened weeks ago and I still feel compelled to write about it should speak to the magnitude in which it impacted me, and I hope you’ll feel the same way.

A quick preface: red carpets are not all that they are cracked up to be. Chances are you’ve watched an award show special on a network like E! and you’re used to a well-orchestrated production where all of the big stars stop to talk to the media and everyone looks flawless.

Like most pictures that entertainment media paints, that is a false one. The carpets are usually high on humidity, low on space and short with A-list celebrities actually talking to reporters.

It made a moment I witnessed at the Billboard Music Awards red carpet that much more poignant.

So of course, Ludacris and Ciara co-hosted this year’s BBMAs. I thought they did a spectacular job but full disclosure; I’m biased because I like them and really enjoy covering the show. Anyways Ciara had her fiancé, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson in tow throughout most of the evening and of course on the carpet, where the two posed for photos together.
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From the jump, you know Wilson as a class act: plays the game in an admirable manner, always says the right thing and has an image so squeaky clean Nickelodeon asked him to host the Kids Choice Sports Awards for a second consecutive year.

And even on the carpet, he turned down an interview request from me (Keep in mind I was covering the show for the Cumulus Media owned Westwood One, the official radio network of the NFL) because he wanted to simply support his fiancé, not bask in the spotlight.

Ironically I asked him for a few words while Ciara was on the E! platform speaking with Jason Kennedy. The network’s location was right next to a fan zone which also happened to be the area I was stationed in. This wasn’t my first run-in with fan zones on carpets: typically the people in the zones are friends of sponsors, seat fillers or contest winners and they’re all very happy to be there. They are also very inquisitive as to what is happening around them and why you’re holding a microphone.

Now the fans were busting my stones a bit because I didn’t know the name of every single person walking the carpet. But when I shot back, “Wait, didn’t you guys see Russell Wilson with Ciara?” they immediately ceased the stone-busting. A Super Bowl winning quarterback had walked right by and they didn’t even notice.

Matter-of-fact, he was still within earshot… and getting a good laugh over this exchange.

That’s when a father, who I think was working security, emerged from the crowd with his son who might have been 12 or 13. The kid played little league football… QB to be exact.
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The father politely introduced Wilson to his son, and then the two started talking shop. I didn’t want to ease drop too much (I also had to keep an eye out for other celebrities) but the chat lasted a few minutes.

When it ended, Wilson tells the kid, “Hey man, good luck. See you in the NFL one day.”

Could you imagine hearing those words of encouragement from a Super Bowl winning QB? That one statement could be life altering; the type of thing they talk about incessantly on FOX when that kid does make the NFL.

I’ll tell you one thing I can’t imagine: a moment like that happening without prompting on a red carpet. It’s a story I wouldn’t believe had I not been fortunate enough to witness it myself.

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

After revealing finalists for the 2016 Billboard Music Awards on Good Morning America, co-hosts Ludacris and Ciara chatted about the big awards show and the finalists in the night’s biggest category: Top Artist.
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The 2016 Billboard Music Awards air Sunday night May 22 at 8/7c on ABC from the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

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.
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“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.





If you are creating a seating chart for the 2015 Billboard Music Awards, there are two artists that should be assigned prime real estate near the stage: Taylor Swift and Sam Smith. Finalists were revealed for the BBMAs last week, with the songstress and crooner racking up 14 and 13 entries respectively.

The 2015 Billboard Music Awards air Sunday May 17 at 8 pm on ABC from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Ludacris will return to host, but this time he’ll don the co-host title and share the stage with model Chrissy Teigen.

“I learned that we were in Vegas and that we should’ve been doing a lot more partying, so that’s exactly what we’re going to incorporate this year,” Luda, nee Chris Bridges, told me after appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” The hip hop artist was joined by Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz to announce some of the categories, and promised that this year he would push the envelope further. “We’re in Vegas. What better place to push the envelope?

And of course Ludacris will do so with the aforementioned Teigen. Her husband, singer John Legend, is featured on a bonus track of Luda’s new album, “Ludaversal.”

“I think people haven’t seen her personality,” the artist said of his partner-in-crime. “I think they’re going to be surprised because she is extremely funny and what better way to add a little spice to the hosting this year?”

Side note: Ludacris’s voice is as distinctive as they come, to the point where when he adds a little emphasis on the word “spice,” you expect him to drop a rhyme in the next sentence.

And for what it’s worth, Luda dropped a few predictions on us as well – picking Smith to win Top Artist and Top Male Artist, while tabbing Swift for Top Female Artist. The two lead all finalists in entries and will go head-to-head in eight different categories.

Finalists are determined by a number of key metrics and interactions through Billboard, including sales, airplay, streams and more. The entries reflect data reported between March 10, 2014 and March 8, 2015.

In addition to naming some of the finalists on “GMA,” Wentz announced that Fall Out Boy would perform “Uma Thurman” alongside soon-to-be tour mate Wiz Khalifa. FOB and Wiz will co-headline the “Boys Of Zummer” tour. The Chicago-quartet is also a finalist in two BBMA categories.

The beat does sound a bit like Afrojack “Can’t Stop Me Now.” Anyways, Luda’s new album: LUDAVERSAL, is due out early next year.

The Biebs teams up again with Ludacris for the second single from his forthcoming album, Believe.