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There are not a lot of photos from my trip last weekend and with good reason… or rather, reasons.

It’s funny because just today I was having a conversation with a colleague that centered around one of the causes; she asked me why I haven’t been as active lately on Snapchat. The app kind of runs clunky on my phone (yes, still the Android-driven BlackBerry Priv) but more so than that, I’m just trying to be more in the moment. And last weekend, which of course was another of the long variety for me, was about that: not worrying about documenting every little thing I did and instead just trying to enjoy the time I spent with friends.

For those wondering, that time was spent back in Northeastern Pennsylvania, a place I hadn’t visited since I threw out the first pitch at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders game (Triple-A affiliate of my New York Yankees and defending National Champions). I showed up on Friday, hit up Wegmans to stock my buddy’s apartment with food for the weekend and then took an Uber downtown to a new restaurant called Terra Preta. The spot is very progressive for Scranton: craft cocktails, farm-to-table menu items and a gallery for local artists to showcase and sell work. I ended up purchasing this piece.


And if you know me and my love of Coldplay, you understand why. But also, I wanted to support a local artist and establishment. In cities all across the country, people want change but they don’t want anything to stay the same. You can’t complain that “there’s nothing cool to do” in an area but then when new, cool things open up simply refrain from supporting them.

We ended up visiting Terra Preta twice along with some other favorites of mine in the area: The Bog, Ale Mary’s and State Street Grill. There also may have been a stop at Sheetz and a trip or more to Mohegan Sun Pocono where I might have walked out ahead after a few hours of Blackjack.

But hey, no phones allowed at the tables so definitely no photos.

A few weeks ago John Legend held an album listening party for his forthcoming LP “Darkness and Light” at the Samsung 837 event space in New York City’s Meatpacking District. After playing a handful of unreleased cuts, the singer talked about the influence his gospel music background had on this new album.

And of course, if you’re familiar with Legend’s story, you know that Northeastern Pennsylvania played a role in that background. The “All Of Me” artist was the choir director at Bethel AME Church in Scranton while attending the University of Pennsylvania. When I brought this up to Legend recently in Los Angeles, he smiled and reminisced about his time in NEPA.

“A lot of it was just driving back-and-forth (between Philadelphia and Scranton) and then being tired and having to study and I was in an a capella group at school too so I was doing a lot of stuff at school,” he recalled. “And then every weekend I would come up to Scranton and I have a lot of fond memories. I have a lot of great friends that I made during that time that I stay in touch with.
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“It was a great time in my life; and even when I moved to New York, I would still drive over to Scranton every once in a while and play at the church. I love the folks in Scranton and Bethel AME Church.”

Legend didn’t say if anyone in Scranton has already heard his fifth studio album, but he did reveal that he’s played it for a few people.

“Well the reception has been amazing so far,” he replied when I inquired about how the new music has been received. “A lot of my friends that have listened to it think it’s my best album yet. I think it is too, but I always think that after every album so I won’t even let myself be the judge. I’ll just let the fans be the judge, but I’m really proud of it and I can’t wait for everybody to hear it.”

“Love Me Now” is the album’s first single; Legend performed it for the first time on a major award show at the American Music Awards. The song is inspired by his relationship with wife Chrissy Teigen. The couple’s very public marriage, along with his newborn daughter Luna, both serve as subject matters on the LP.

“Darkness and Light” features cameos from Chance The Rapper, Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard and R&B crooner Miguel. Legend enlisted Blake Mills, who worked on Alabama Shakes’ last LP, to produce “Darkness.” The album is in stores now.

Yeah, I would definitely have to say that throwing out the first pitch and kicking back in the Yankees’ farm team’s dugout pre-game was the highlight of my 31st birthday weekend.

Disclaimer: my birthday weekends almost always involve the Yankees. Ironically, the most memorable was the year people seem to forget the most: 21. I hit legal drinking age on June 6, 2006. The Yankees hosted the Red Sox at the old Stadium and I had bleacher seats, which provided a great view when Melky Cabrera robbed Manny Ramirez of a home run. The Yanks went on to win.

Actually, I can’t ever remember my team losing on my birthday or on the game I attended nearest to the date. For number 30 last year, I watched with friends and family in the Bronx as the Yankees beat the Angels. Coincidentally the exact same thing happened this year on June 6 but because my birthday fell on a Monday I didn’t attend; I do have a job after all.

That’s what led me to celebrate on Saturday, and with the Yanks in Baltimore for a three-game series, I took a bus to Scranton, Penn. My radio show airs in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and thus it made perfect sense for me to make an appearance at PNC Field and throw out the first pitch before the Scranton/Wilkes Barre RailRiders hosted the Columbus Clippers.


PNC Field is only a couple of years old and is absolutely gorgeous. There are great seats throughout the park, a club and suite level, a solid selection of concessions and even a lawn area similar to what you would see at an outdoor concert venue. Pre-game festivities include giveaways and a live band, and the in-game experience is a lot of fun.


It also doesn’t hurt that the RailRiders have a bunch of solid prospects and familiar faces on its squad, from 2009 World Series champion Nick Swisher to promising outfielder Aaron Judge.

Another great thing about the RailRiders: its management is making a conscious effort to link the rich history of the Yankees to its Triple-A franchise. This year, the minor league team is staging a “Legends Series,” where past Yankees come to the park and sign autographs. And on Saturday, former Yankee greats Bucky Dent, Chris Chambliss and Roy White were all in attendance.


Yeah, I wasn’t just happy to be there, I was pretty excited.

The RailRiders marketing staff, which by the way could not have been more accommodating, brought me down to the field around 3:20. A little over 10 minutes later, the PA announcer addressed the audience.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we direct your attention to the pitcher’s mound for today’s ceremonial first pitches,” he echoed throughout the ballpark. “First up, Ralphie from 97.1 BHT!”


And with that, I slipped my phone in my back pocket, gave a quick wave to the crowd and fired a strike to Barry, Director of Game Entertainment.

Little did I know, the fun was just getting started.

As a group of little leaguers began to proceed around the warning track, the marketing staff was kind enough to allow me to sit in the dugout for pregame ceremonies.

This led to me sitting in on the manager’s spot of the bench, right next to the bullpen phone, while chewing Double Bubble with Dent, Chambliss and White, who were also there waiting to throw their first pitches.

I clearly had the look of someone turning 11, not 31, based on one RailRiders staffer saying, “You’re having the time of your life, huh?” I replied that I loved baseball and was a diehard Yankees fan. “Well, you get to do all of the cool entertainment stuff. We have the sports.”

And on the weekend before my birthday, I felt pretty fortunate that I sometimes get to experience both.

Click below for an audio montage from my 15 hour air shift which began on Thursday, September 8 at 2 pm.

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On Monday, I thought my week would become difficult after my car hydroplaned on Interstate 80 across three lanes and took out a light pole. I walked away relatively unscathed.

Unfortunately for myself, and many others throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, I had no idea what Mother Nature had in store.

The rain and residual water from the week brought the Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre to its highest point in history, a staggering 42.66 feet at 3 am on Friday morning. The number surpassed that of the historical Hurricane Agnes flood, a disaster that washed away downtown Wilkes-Barre, Kingston, Forty Fort, and other surrounding areas. Agnes, a name that still elicits anxiety to many life-long residents, raised the river to 40.9 feet.

Like in 1972, some find themselves entering a rebuilding stage. Parts of NEPA not protected by the levee, including sections of Edwardsville, West Pittston, and Shickshinny, are on the road to recovery.

Miraculously, it is business as normal in sections of the area, including downtown Wilkes-Barre, that were behind the 41 foot levee. According to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency, the levee worked even better than designed. Save a few minor leaks, it held, and saved the county millions of dollars in damage.

I awoke on Thursday morning a little later than expected (I know, surprise) and headed off to physical therapy for an unrelated injury. En route, I received a call from A.J. at 97 BHT. Downtown Wilkes-Barre was to evacuate by 4 pm, and not plan to return home for 72 hours.

Quickly, I pulled a U-turn, showered, packed four days of clothes, food, and technology in to three bags, and headed off to work in my rental car. I signed on-air at 2 pm. I updated Facebook and searched Twitter. A.J., along with WBRE’s Dave Kuharchik and Andrew Seaman, a freelance reporter working for USA Today, all contributed to the coverage.

When I left the airwaves at 5 am on Friday morning, giving way for Kidd Kraddick, I wasn’t as tired as I initially thought. Eventually around 6 am or so, I settled back in to the passenger seat of my rental, a Chevrolet HHR, and passed out. I awoke at 11 am, drove immediately to Starbucks, and returned to the radio station for my show at 2 pm.

Friday’s show wasn’t as fast as Thursday’s – there were no breaking developments by the minute. Instead, we sat and tensely watched the river, the broken gauges, and the almost-flawless levee system. “Crest,” “gasket,” and “recede” were words that Northeastern Pennsylvanians threw around as freely as “haluski” and “pierogies.”

Thankfully, the story in Wilkes-Barre ended on a positive note. The levees held, and the evacuation was lifted Saturday afternoon. I returned to my apartment Saturday evening.

The power was on. The water was clean. I walked in relatively unscathed.

drove back into nepa very early this morning, avoiding traffic and practically any other living species.

lots of stuff for tonight’s show, and pictures from the four day jaunt to new york ci-tay on the way.

now though, back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

drove back into nepa very early this morning, avoiding traffic and practically any other living species.

lots of stuff for tonight’s show, and pictures from the four day jaunt to new york ci-tay on the way.

now though, back to your regularly scheduled blogging.

so i took yesterday (monday) off. i drove back early sunday morning to niagara falls, after our first saturday night inside colosseum night club (which btw, went amazing).

i spent easter with my dad. we ate at fortuna’s, an amazing italian restaurant in the falls. after digesting, we followed dinner up with a few drinks at wine bar on third.

monday was spent with my girlfriend. we drove to rochester, where i appeared in court for a speeding ticket. i pled guilty to a lesser charge, although personally, i thought i had a chance to be let off all together. still, i caught a break.

after driving back down i-90, ang and i grabbed burgers at shorty’s, a new sports bar in niagara falls that is owned by a good friend of mine. coincidentally, it’s also the same location where governor eliot spitzer made the last infamous call to the emporer’s v.i.p. club as “client 9.”

only in the falls.

nice to spend a couple days back in the birthplace, although i won’t front, i wish i could’ve stayed longer. not that i miss western new york that much, or hate nepa, but i won’t have a chance to return home until july. not complaining, just sayin’.

back on the grind here tonight… i’m giving away the ultimate lifehouse fan package. pair of tickets, meet and greet passes, and a signed guitar. that’ll be on the docket for just past 9.
so i took yesterday (monday) off. i drove back early sunday morning to niagara falls, after our first saturday night inside colosseum night club (which btw, went amazing).

i spent easter with my dad. we ate at fortuna’s, an amazing italian restaurant in the falls. after digesting, we followed dinner up with a few drinks at wine bar on third.

monday was spent with my girlfriend. we drove to rochester, where i appeared in court for a speeding ticket. i pled guilty to a lesser charge, although personally, i thought i had a chance to be let off all together. still, i caught a break.

after driving back down i-90, ang and i grabbed burgers at shorty’s, a new sports bar in niagara falls that is owned by a good friend of mine. coincidentally, it’s also the same location where governor eliot spitzer made the last infamous call to the emporer’s v.i.p. club as “client 9.”

only in the falls.

nice to spend a couple days back in the birthplace, although i won’t front, i wish i could’ve stayed longer. not that i miss western new york that much, or hate nepa, but i won’t have a chance to return home until july. not complaining, just sayin’.

back on the grind here tonight… i’m giving away the ultimate lifehouse fan package. pair of tickets, meet and greet passes, and a signed guitar. that’ll be on the docket for just past 9.
marino and i, and maybe aj, and possibly even danny waters if he so decides to pick up his phone – are looking for a place to party tonight for mardi gras. where will the big mardi gras celebration in nepa be taking place? we’d prefer somewhere in the greater wilkes-barre area – but if you could guarantee me the place is poppin’, i’ll drive to scranton… possibly even dickson city.

answering this question could score you a couple free drinks and perhaps even a quick mention on the radio. i didn’t just type that.

877.971.wbht between 7-12a. or e-mail me – ralphie@97bht.com

gracias amigo.
marino and i, and maybe aj, and possibly even danny waters if he so decides to pick up his phone – are looking for a place to party tonight for mardi gras. where will the big mardi gras celebration in nepa be taking place? we’d prefer somewhere in the greater wilkes-barre area – but if you could guarantee me the place is poppin’, i’ll drive to scranton… possibly even dickson city.

answering this question could score you a couple free drinks and perhaps even a quick mention on the radio. i didn’t just type that.

877.971.wbht between 7-12a. or e-mail me – ralphie@97bht.com

gracias amigo.