Archives For #RalphieOTRA

Keeping with tradition, I stayed in the city for Thanksgiving and worked, however I took a lengthy vacation around Christmas. By lengthy, we’re talking nine days. Almost a week-and-a-half. I love my family, but it was a bit much.

Nonetheless, it is always nice to return back to Niagara Falls and visit with family and friends that still live in Western New York. I flew out on Sunday the 20 and snapped this shot as the sun was rising over the RFK Bridge.


Rarely does returning back to WNY solely consist of resting, especially around the holidays. But it’s nice when I’m home for events that normally I would have to see on Instagram or hear about after the fact. Example: My very talented niece Taylor had an art showing at a local wine bar in Niagara Falls the night I landed. She is ridiculously talented (you’ll see later) and the place was packed. It was great to be able to not only join family there but support her.


On Monday we had a family dinner with my Mom’s side and on Tuesday my Dad’s favorite bar, DeFazio’s Stadium Grill, had its annual Christmas Party. Here’s me and my cousin Mike.


Yeah, it was a good night! Attending with my Dad has turned in to an annual tradition that hope doesn’t end anytime soon.


Had a chance to spend some quality time with my cousin Anthony on Wednesday. I ran a few errands with him and we grabbed lunch in Lockport – home of course of the Erie Canal.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


V ARTSY as the kids say. Thursday was Christmas Eve aka my favorite meal of the year: The Feast of the Seven Fishes. It’s an Italian thing, and I love it because I want all of the seafood.


Then Santa stopped by. We opened gifts as a family on Friday and then went to my brother’s house for brunch. That’s where my niece, the aforementioned Taylor, gave me this!


How amazing is that?! Her and I both share a love for Coldplay. All-in-all, Santa treated me well.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


It was just great to be able to hang with all of my nieces and nephews.


Saturday was a blur of a day, spent mostly visiting with friends from high school and grade school. Then on Sunday, I headed off to the Carrier Dome to see Syracuse play Texas Southern.


‘Cuse won and I got to see one of my old college roommates and my family that lives there, so it was a solid trip back to Central New York. I kept with the sports scene Monday night, heading to Buffalo to see my Sabres play the Caps. Sadly they lost but it was still nice to get back to the First Niagara Center and see all of the great development happening in downtown Buffalo.


Of course it’s not a trip back to Western New York in December if you don’t have inclement weather.


But soon enough I was back in the air and en route to the city.


Definitely a trip home for the books and a solid way to end my 2015 travels.

I have had a lot of great weekends as of late, as I’ve broken out the “#RalphieOTRA” hashtag and traveled to a number of different cities; many of which I visited for the first time in my life. This past weekend included one of those trips, along with a few experiences in the tri-state area that I won’t soon forget.

To get a proper feel for the three day stretch I had, we should probably rewind to Friday. The details are covered in this Facebook post, but here are some of the highlights courtesy of my Instagram and Twitter.

First – a quick recap via Twitter.


Let’s expand on a few things… THE DEVILS, A PROFESSIONAL HOCKEY TEAM, GAVE ME A JERSEY!


I hosted the Devils Opening Night Red Carpet at the team’s Fan Fest outside of Prudential Center. Big thanks to the Devils along with Kerry and the PruCenter PR Team for the invite and hospitality.

I also was invited by my friends at the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and Lennon Bus to the “Imagine Party,” celebrating John’s 75th birthday. Here’s me, VP of U.S. Tours and Promotions Matthew Reich and his band, the Command Sisters.


Saturday – off to Garfield, N.J. for Mike Allan’s wedding!


Obviously the photo does not do these two justice.


We had the whole crew there. I’m not sure why Jesse, from our sister station NASH FM, was standing here.


How I made it to LaGuardia to take this selfie and catch my 8:20 am flight after that night is beyond me.


Albeit delayed, I made it to the game. Big thanks to Cumulus Nashville for a great first experience at Nissan Stadium. Bills won!

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Things I tried in Nashville: A Bushwacker. It’s like a Wendy’s Frosty but with alcohol. So, it’s Heaven.


I also visited a ton of bars up and down Broadway. Lots of live music and libations, zero cover charges.


After about three hours of sleep, I hopped on a plane headed back to the greatest city in the world, but left with some fond memories of Nashville. Last #RalphieOTRA trip for a while is next weekend – Syracuse!

After spending a weekend without traveling, I headed back on the road on Saturday to visit my best friend from high school in Chicago. This was my second time in Chicago; my first trip was a little over three years ago. However one of the reasons for this trip is that it would be my first time visiting The Friendly Confines – Wrigley Field!

I landed early Saturday morning after pulling yet another all-nighter. I hopped on the train and headed for Rafael’s spot, which has quite the view from its rooftop.


We grabbed brunch near downtown, where I had the best bacon I’ve ever eaten. It was like a brick, covered in maple syrup. My body is probably still digesting it but whatever, I have zero regrets. Following my all-nighter, bacon-coma, and a few Bloody Mary’s, I decided we needed to hit up The Tie Bar. If you’ve ever seen me in a picture or on camera wearing a pocket square, tie clip or flower pin – there is a solid chance it was purchased from the Chicago-based company. The Tie Bar had a pop-up shop in Soho over the summer which proved quite convenient, however I was in need of some new accessories. I left the retailer’s Lincoln Park location with a handful of flower pins and it was back to the apartment for a quick nap.

After all, we had to grill these for dinner later.


The final product, paired with a whiskey, was the real MVP.


Speaking of said whiskey, I left Chicago with a new favorite drink.


And from there it was off to a few cocktail lounges downtown with Rafael and some of his buddies. The night, despite its length and bar tab, proved quite memorable. A more random highlight was running in to Manny Ramirez (yes, the baseball player) at the second lounge we went to. But the entire evening was a lot of fun.


The Saturday night outing definitely pushed Sunday’s start time back a bit. I hit up the apartment complex’s gym for a four-mile run and then we headed to Lincoln Station, the Buffalo Bills Backers Bar in Chicago. My Bills made quick work of the Dolphins and so we left early to walk to Wrigleyville. Once we arrived, there was time to hit three different bars in close proximity to Wrigley Field. The second bar was called Sluggers and on the second level they have batting cages. Naturally, we partook.


And then, Wrigley!


It’s a beautiful park. Some modern elements but a lot of nostalgia, and the fans truly give it the “Friendly Confines” feel.


Some of the fare I ate at Wrigley included an Italian Sub inspired by Joe Maddon’s aunt’s deli in Hazleton, Pa. and of course, a Chicago Dog with onions.


I flew out Monday morning feeling the love from Chi-Town and only looking forward to my next visit. And as far as next on the #RalphieOTRA schedule: Nashville is booked for October 11, but there’s a good chance I’m out of town this weekend too.

My summer weekend travels continued with a two-city trip. Following an all-nighter to update this blog, I hopped on a Saturday morning bus from New York to Scranton, Pa. My friend and colleague Danny picked me up, we grabbed a quick breakfast at Starbucks, and then chilled at his apartment for a few hours. On the docket for Saturday? Mohegan Sun Pocono’s Oktoberfest; a three-day, annual event in Northeastern Pennsylvania that features music, food and about every Oktoberfest and Pumpkin beer you can think of.

What I’m saying is, I was in Heaven.


This was before I took a sip of Susquehanna Pumpkin Ale, my first of well, a couple beverages.

ANYWAYS – the awful weather in NEPA on Saturday did not affect us in the least bit. My friends and I had a great night, which ended with a few hands of Black Jack and some Domino’s to-go.

I slept a little Saturday night, then caught a 7:20 a.m. ride out of Scranton to Atlantic City, N.J. The Martz bus dropped me right off at Resorts Casino for my second destination of the weekend. After a bit of contemplation, I decided it would be fun to “Do AC” for the Miss America competition, which was co-produced by my friends in dick clark productions.


I checked in to my room, ran 3 miles on the Boardwalk and changed in to my Bills shirt before catching some football (and a nice Bills win!) at a local sports bar. My plan was to then make my way to the local baseball field where a seafood festival was taking place. Instead, a torrential downpour forced me to call an audible, and an Uber. I suited up, called another Uber and made my way to Boardwalk Hall.
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My original plan was to attend with Danny but due to work obligations he bailed. The fine folks at dcp hooked up a credential, so I decided to join my Cumulus cohort Erika Grace Powell on the red carpet and assist with her evening.


EGP killed it!


After the carpet wrapped, we headed inside the Hall to catch the pageant. I had judged at the state level for Miss USA, but had never attended a national event. There were so many great moments – between Vanessa Williams, the talent portion of the competition and the addition of celebrity judges and music curator Nick Jonas (who I said hello to earlier on the red carpet). And the energy inside the building only amplified the fun.


Following Miss Georgia’s crowning, we headed in to the press area for the post-show press conference. Betty Cantrell was there, along with Williams and the other judges.


And as the song went, after the show it was the after-party. There I ran in to Williams on the dance floor and told her that I also attended Syracuse University. We exchanged a solid high-five.

Another Black Jack donation and trip to Dunkin’ Donuts inside Resorts Casino later and it was back on a bus following my second all-nighter in three evenings. It’s not like a full day, including TV and the radio show, awaited me in New York.

Oh.

Trust me, I’m NOT complaining.

How did I spend my #LaborDayWeekend2015? Well, given that it’s the last time before Christmas I’ll get to visit my family in Niagara Falls, I traveled back to Western New York. This trip was a bit different from past years; my colleague in Scranton Danny had NEVER BEEN to Buffalo before. So Saturday I hopped on a bus from Port Authority headed towards Scranton. He picked me up at the bus stop in the Electric City, and we drove up I-81, across 690 and the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse (Go Orange!) and over to I-90 where we drove to Niagara Falls.

After dropping off our bags on Saturday night we headed to downtown Buffalo for a few drinks and so Danny could experience the piece of Heaven that is a Jim’s Steakout Chicken Finger Sub (medium, lettuce, tomato, blue cheese on wheat).

On Sunday, we went for a jog from my house to the scenic campus of Niagara University, spent some time at the pool and then drove back to Buffalo for the National Buffalo Wing Festival.
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It is everything we thought it would be, and then some. We tried wings from WNY’s big three: Duff’s, Anchor Bar and La Nova. There were pubs serving up the deep fried (or in some cases, dry rubbed) delicacies from across the country and even from across the pond – a wing spot from England was there!

Duff’s is without question my go-to.


After a few hours of stuffing our faces, we were off to see THE Niagara Falls. I grew up about 10 minutes away from the rapids.


Still pretty gorgeous. We followed up our visit with a trip to Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls. My buddy Vinnie is the OM there so we said hello to him and partook in our first Oktoberfest (Samuel Adams) of the season.

Then we returned to my house, where my Mother had prepared my favorite meal: Chicken Francese with a side of my Mom’s patent homemade pilaf. YAS.


Labor Day, sans a run, was rather Labor-Less.


For the most part, the same could be said for Tuesday (I took an extra day, sue me!)


Another highlight of the trip: Tuesday night. My Dad and I went to one of his favorite watering holes, Stadium Grill on Hyde Park Blvd. We downed a few beers and watched the Yankees game together.

I flew back early Wednesday morning so I could interview a one Justin Bieber.

The trip home was everything I wanted it to be and then some. Next up on the #RalphieOTRA itinerary: Scranton for Mohegan Sun Pocono’s Oktoberfest and Atlantic City for Miss America – all in the same weekend.

The summer of travel took me down south again last weekend, as I visited Atlanta for my first time ever. Thursday night I left the studio, pulled an all-nighter, and made my non-stop 6 a.m. flight to the ATL. Instead of taking the airport shuttle upon landing, I thought it’d be a good idea to walk from my terminal to ground transportation at Hartsfield. That airport is MASSIVE and my idea was not one of the good variety. Regardless, I eventually made it on to MARTA, Atlanta’s public transit. That’s where I snapped this selfie.


First stop: Cumulus Media headquarters. Our Senior Vice President of Programming and Content, Mike McVay, was kind enough to score me Yankees/Braves tickets for that night in Turner Field AND give me a tour of our facilities. The corporate HQ is located in the Buckhead section of town, an upscale area with a lot of great hotels (and subsequently, hotel bars), high-end shops, and steakhouses. It was great to see familiar faces and meet some new ones, all in their element instead of on the road in New York or Los Angeles.

Next up: CNN World Headquarters downtown! I had no idea that the massive property is connected to both an Omni Hotel and the Phillips Arena.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


I joined the panel on HLN’s “The Daily Share” to chat about everything from Donald Trump to Justin Bieber.


Again, it was great meeting people who I have corresponded with for years in real life and seeing a few familiar faces. I said my goodbyes and took the Marta back to Midtown, where my hotel was. I needed to tape and edit two radio segments for affiliates, and it left me with just enough time to grab a Caribou Coffee and egg sandwich (again!), change in to my away Derek Jeter jersey and meet colleagues at this spot called The Nook. From there, it was off to the 755 Club at Turner Field for the Yankees game.


We at some point made it to our seats and yes, I ate that full hot dog. I know, real sexy.\
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ANYWAYS, Yankees won, and my coworkers were kind enough to treat me to a steak dinner afterwards because they’re great.

Saturday was awesome. Slept in, day drank, thrift shopped, bar hopped, went to an outdoor wine festival.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


And at the suggestion of many, tried the Coronary Burger from The Vortex. It lived up to the hype.

A photo posted by Ralphie Aversa (@ralphieaversa) on


Special thanks to Aaron Roberts for playing the role of “tour guide” for most of the trip. Happy to be back home, and next weekend it’s back to home-home – Niagara Falls!