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If there’s one thing you can expect when Halsey kicks off her “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” tour later this year, it’s this: fire.

“I’ve always been very extra with the fire,” the Washington, New Jersey-native told me last month. “Any chance I have to bring fire on my stage, I’m going to do it.”

Matter-of-fact, Halsey revealed to me that during her Billboard Music Awards performance rehearsal, she kept practicing the song over-and-over in part due to the fire that was planned for the set. She certainly didn’t mind the rehearsing; she was once hit with her own fireworks during a Coachella performance (Halsey escaped unscathed).

But besides the obvious visual, there is also a meaning behind the use of fire that relates to the singer’s chart-topping album.

“My record, ‘Hopeless Fountain Kingdom,’ is kind of about an underworld,” Halsey, born Ashley Frangipane, explained. “It’s kind of about this parallel universe where love conquers all. It’s a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story so bringing in the fire is a really, really cool way for me to kind of rope my audience in to my universe that I’ve tried to create.”

Fans across the country will have the opportunity to witness that universe on the singer’s first-ever arena tour, although Halsey is no stranger to big rooms. She headlined and sold-out Madison Square Garden in 2016; the show went on-sale three weeks after her debut LP “Badlands” came out.

“The whole world went, ‘What do you think you’re doing? You just put out your album. You can’t play MSG,’” she recalled of critics’ initial reaction to the news. “That venue has always been the pinnacle of music for me.

“I was playing a show at Webster Hall. I was playing to 1,500 people (the night tickets for The Garden were released). And I walked up-stage and I got the news that we were about to sell-out Madison Square Garden.”

Halsey said that as amazing as she thinks the arena dates will be, it will be hard to top playing MSG, which she described as, “one of the best experiences of my life.”

She’ll find out when the tour kicks off at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on September 29… her birthday.

Chuck Wepner told me he is just happy to still be alive so that he can tell his story – and now it will be shown on the silver screen for all to see.

Wepner is a former professional heavyweight boxer who was known as “The Bayonne Bleeder” because he had one of the sport’s bloodiest faces. Most notably to that point, there was a fight between Wepner and Sonny Liston in which the New Jersey heavyweight required 72 stitches to his face.

But the match that changed Wepner’s life was his 15 round battle with the Heavyweight Champion of the World, Muhammad Ali. That fight yielded a $100,000 payday for the Marine Corps veteran (the biggest check of his career, although Wepner insisted to me that he would’ve fought Ali for free) and inspired a young man named Sylvester Stallone to write a screenplay called “Rocky.”

And in the new film “Chuck,” out Friday, the world gets to see not only the real-life fighter who inspired the iconic movie series but also the effect that it all had on his personal life – filled with ups and downs that were fueled by sex, alcohol and drugs and led to marital issues and a stint in jail.

However at Wepner’s insistence, the film needed to be family-friendly. He attributes that characteristic along with the task of finding a good lead character in why it took 12 years to make. And it wasn’t until Liev Schreiber that Wepner knew they had their man.

“It was actually (Liev) who asked to play the part,” recalled Wepner on the second floor of the Loews Regency on New York City’s Upper East Side. “Taking no money up-front, everything on the other end. That’s how much he loves the movie.”

Wepner also revealed that Naomi Watts, who plays his third wife, signed up for the same deal.

“They wanted to do this movie,” he said. “They put their heart and soul in it and that’s why the movie is good.”

Schreiber’s acting chops impressed the boxer, right down to his in-ring dialect. Wepner even allowed that the “Ray Donovan” star has a little New Jersey in him.

“He’ll use a little slang now and then, if you know what I mean,” the boxer joked. “He likes to drink. He likes to party. He likes the girls.

“Yunno, that’s me!”

After spending her 2016 battling cancer and completing the New York City Marathon, American Idol alum Jax kicked off the new year with some new tunes.

The New Jersey native, nee Jaclyn Miskanic, released an EP on January 27 called “Funny.” Yes, she’s pretty lighthearted in person, but at times perhaps all she could was laugh when she dealt with both personal and professional highs and lows.

“It’s kind of just about a toxic relationship that you can’t get enough of,” she explained when I asked the inspiration behind “LSD” – a song which plays off of the Beatles’ classic “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” and one that we world-premiered on the radio show last week. “I think everyone has been there in their own way.”

The first time Jax joined my show was about a year ago; she had just released “La La Land” and stopped by to promote it. The next time I interviewed her was over the summer, after she revealed the thyroid cancer diagnosis and her plans to not only defeat it but then conquer the NYC Marathon.

“I feel great. I ran a freakin’ marathon!” Jax insisted when I inquired last week how she was feeling. “Everything’s good.”

Jax was happy to complete the 26.2 mile trek through New York City’s five boroughs, an experience she simply described as “awesome.” Will she run it this year as well?

“I think I will… don’t quote me!” she responded. “I have to start running again. I just got an Apple Watch. I think that was like my mother’s way of telling me you need to start working out again!”

The annual marathon doesn’t take place until later in the year, giving Jax plenty of time to not only train but also promote and perform her new EP… or at least devise a plan to do so.

“I think we’re kind of winging it,” she revealed. “We’re just putting out the material and hoping that everyone kind of connects with it. We have some shows and ideas coming up so we’ll keep everybody posted but I’m just really nervous for the release.”

Also out January 27, a new EP from Hot Chelle Rae guitarist and long-time friend-of-the-show Nash Overstreet, who coincidentally co-wrote and produced a song on Jax’s project. The “Idol” runner-up recalled meeting Overstreet a few years ago during her run on the TV show but he actually remembered a chance-encounter with the singer at a talent show in New Jersey a few years prior to that. Regardless, the two linked up via social media and eventually hit the studio together to collaborate on “Stars.”

The track is one of six on the new EP; Jax recorded a number of other songs as well that she hopes to release in the not-so-distant future.

Gold medalist, Final Five member, “Dancing With The Stars” contestant and New Jersey native Laurie Hernandez called in to my show Thursday night ahead of her homecoming show Friday at the Prudential Center in Newark. In between “DWTS” and all of the other opportunities she’s receiving as a 16 year-old Olympian, the Old Bridge-born star is on tour with the “Kellogg’s Tour Of Gymnastics Champions.” Buy tickets to Friday’s show here.

Photo: USA Gymnastics / John Cheng

Photo: USA Gymnastics / John Cheng

Hernandez talked about coming home, touring the country, competing on the Olympics and on “DWTS” as well as if she’s started thinking about college or the 2020 Olympics.

The common thread between my last two weekends lies in the spectacular, breathtaking views I took in. It’s one of the many benefits living in the world’s greatest city, with so many great places to travel to an hour or two away.

But that’s where the similarities begin and end. When I drove up the Hudson Valley a few weeks ago, it was part of a free-and-open weekend I had following a party that was cancelled. This past weekend, it was a 9 am wake-up call to get down to Battery Park City by 10 am so that I could interview Charlie Huston, a star in Netflix’s “Stranger Things” and the new Naomi Watts thriller “Shut In.”

Like I said though, the view… still fantastic.


I attempted to get a quick jog in afterwards but my body was a bit worse-for-the-wear given my early call time and lack-of-sleep. Plus, I had to meet my friend Shaina at The Pennsy for a 3 p.m. lunch. We munched on delicious vegan sandwiches from The Cinnamon Snail before setting off on an impromptu walk. We started in midtown, went through Chelsea to the West Village, over to Greenwich Village and in to NoHo, then down to SoHo and back to Battery Park City. On my second trip downtown of the day, I actually walked the park in addition to seeing Brookfield Place Mall and The Oculus for my first time.


And, that sunset… the final one before Daylight Saving Time kicked in. My goodness.


Shaina was off to screen the new Harry Potter spinoff, and I ended up at a couple of my favorite downtown sports bars: Warren 77 in TriBeCa and Kelly’s in the East Village, drinking a few Blue Lights and cheering my Sabres on to victory.

The sports-theme poured in to Sunday, when John Foxx and I hopped over the George Washington Bridge and over to MetLife Stadium. The tailgate in the non-permit lot awaited us, followed by a long walk to the Stadium, where we watched the Giants beat the Eagles in a pivotal division game.


It was a great game… and the view wasn’t so bad either.

This is my longest and one of my favorite interviews to-date.

I first met JAX earlier this year. She is a ball of good energy and simply a fun person to be around. And that’s why I’m not surprised how composed, outgoing and at times laugh-out-loud funny she was as she described the process of discovering that she had both Thyroid Cancer and Hashimoto’s disease.

In typical JAX fashion, she is overcoming both while yet again serving as an inspiration to the fans that adore her. And she’s coming through even stronger than ever; in November she’ll run the TCS New York City Marathon, which will be her first ever marathon. Hey, go big or go home.

JAX spoke candidly with me about this past year. Watch the interview below and contribute to her marathon cause here.

A brand new “2 Slices & A Story” on your screen starring American Idol finalist, Jersey’s own and all-around great person JAX! And you’ll learn something that she can’t stand during this chat…

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.

A video posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


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.

East Brunswick N.J.’s JAX stopped by to chat about her new single “La La Land,” her trip to MSG to see Billy Joel, how she feels about her time on “American Idol,” and what she has planned for 2016!


Thursday marked the three year anniversary of Sandy devastating the tri-state area. Many people were affected in a number of different ways; some are still experiencing the aftermath. We remember.

Watch the full video here.

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