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I’m not sure where to begin on this one.

Yunno what? Let’s start at the beginning. It was August 1, 2007. I was living in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Everything was new: the city (a college town that was slow to evolve because of local traditions), the state (running the gamut from the bad: ‘Wait, the state runs the liquor stores and I can’t buy a six-pack at the gas station?’ to the good: ‘Sheetz! Wawa!’) and of course the job.

Probably one of the most frequently asked questions I field, followed by “Who was your favorite celebrity to interview?” and “Which celebrity was a jerk?” is, “Why would you move to Wilkes-Barre for a Top 40 radio show?”

First, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton metro is a top 80 market for radio and top 50 for television. Second, the cost of living is low. Third, there’s a venue in the area to host almost any size show. Fourth, you’re pretty close to both New York and Philadelphia.

And so in the summer of 2007, a kid fresh out of Syracuse University with a fake tan, curly afro and questionable soul patch packed up his Kia Rav 4 and drove with his father to Wilkes-Barre. My Dad bought me new furniture and helped me find a studio apartment in downtown (excuse me, Center City) Wilkes-Barre, right by a new movie theater that the locals seemed pretty excited about.

I could have never imagined what would transpire over the following 10 years, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Look, 10 years at any company let alone the first one you work for out of college, is a long time. But 10 years at the same media company… on the same radio station? That’s practically an eternity.

So a few weeks ago, I returned to Scranton and spent a weekend celebrating the accomplishment: a decade on 97.1/95.7 BHT and 10 years with Cumulus Media.

It’s been an incredible journey. Here’s to it not ending anytime soon.


As the great philosopher Michael Gary Scott once stated, “Ain’t no party, like a Scranton party.”

And with that, let me tell you about my whirlwind weekend in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

I’ve had the honor of hosting a radio show on WBHT-FM for almost 10 years now. It was my first gig out of high school. And it let my career to places I never could have imagined (especially starting in Scranton, Pennsylvania). And last weekend, a new era of the station launched with its rebrand as “97.1/95.7 BHT” – a new name to reflect the 95.7 WBHD simulcast that covers the northern part of the market.

Straight off an all-nighter, I hopped aboard an 8:30 am bus out of Port Authority that didn’t get in to downtown Wilkes Barre until noon. I grabbed a venti Starbucks, headed to my hotel and grabbed a quick mile run on a treadmill. A hair, makeup and wardrobe change later I was out the door to my next stop: the radio station. I had to meet some new staffers, see a few familiar faces and prep for my return to WBRE-TV’s “PA Live.”

For years I checked in to the NBC affiliate’s lifestyle show with “The Ralphie Report,” a weekly recap of entertainment stories I was covering. It had been a while since I was on the show but the crew welcomed me back with open arms. I talked about the upcoming rebrand and promoted the big party later in the evening at The Woodlands.

The party lasted well in to the night, but I had to keep the train on the rails: a busy Saturday awaited me. In the span of a day I made four different stops, including PNC Field where I threw out the first pitch for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders game.


We ended the work day at La Tolteca, a Mexican restaurant that satisfied my Cinco de Mayo (Seis?) guac and marg cravings.

Following a quick visit to Mohegan Sun Pocono, I retired back to my room. Thankfully Sunday was a bit chiller: brunch, a bus back to the city and a nice 5.6 mile run in Central Park as the sun set on yet another eventful weekend.

A post shared by 97.1/95.7 BHT (@971957bht) on


I certainly didn’t need another confirmation, but that Michael Scott sure hit the nail on the head.

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.

Perhaps it was not merely a coincidence that on the week I turn the big 3-0, I interviewed a gentleman that gave me one of the biggest breaks of my young career.

Of course at the time, he wasn’t trying to throw some 20 year-old know-it-all living in Scranton, Penn. a bone; rather he was attempting to help elect Barack Obama to the White House. And we all know how that story ends.

David Plouffe re-wrote the history books and how-to manuals on elections in the 21st century as President Obama’s Campaign Manager in 2008. He now serves as the Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy for the car service Uber. On the app’s fifth anniversary of existence, Plouffe made the media rounds, including a phone call on “Ralphie Tonight,” to chat about the present state of the company and what the future holds for it.

“UberPOOL, our car pooling service, is only in four cities now,” Plouffe explained. That particular feature allows different users to share the same car as opposed to calling separate cars; benefits to the consumer include lower rates. “We want to bring that to as many cities as possible because it’s cheaper transportation, the driver makes more money because they’re always on a trip and it really can help reduce congestion and reduce emissions and pollution.”

Of course in addition to expanding services within the cities in which Uber already operates, the company also has its eyes set on breaking in to new markets, both domestically and internationally. The app can be used in 58 countries – yet many major cities in New York State don’t have Uber.

“One good example is Upstate New York,” Plouffe said (born in Niagara Falls, N.Y., I was quick to refer to my neck of the woods as Western New York). “We’d love to get in to Binghamton and Buffalo and Syracuse and Albany; places by the way that don’t have a lot of public transportation options. We think we can help cut down on drunk and distracted driving.”

Another stated goal of Plouffe’s is to break up the monopolies that taxi and black car companies have in certain cities. Las Vegas was a topic of conversation; both Uber and Lyft will be allowed to operate in Vegas starting next month.

“(Monopolies) don’t foster innovation. They don’t serve the public,” Plouffe lobbied. “But what you see is most people who use Uber are making a choice not to drive themselves. So it’s not that it’s a small pie that’s now going to be divvied up between Uber and taxi; the overall pie grows.”

Regarding Vegas, Plouffe said he believes Uber will see business from not just The Strip but the surrounding suburbs; people that he claims can’t access a taxi as easy because they’re all located in one central place.

Oh, and regarding that big career break: I lived in Northeastern Pennsylvania and covered both the Democratic Primary and General Election for my radio station. My perseverance at the campaign rallies paid off: then-Senator Obama’s camp began throwing a number of celebrity surrogates my way. Suddenly this kid who had been in Scranton for just over a year had the likes of Cynthia Nixon, Fran Drescher, Adam Levine, Maggie Gyllenhaal and more calling in to his show. Those interviews gained me national press, which led to my show entering syndication. That set the groundwork for my eventual move to the biggest media market in the country.

“Well that’s a great story,” Plouffe responded when I filled him in. “I’m glad we could provide that opportunity.”
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And you can say that the Wilkes Barre/Scranton market has been good to Plouffe. This past Febraury, over seven years after NEPA helped elect President Obama and Scranton’s own Vice President Joe Biden, the area became the latest to join Uber.

In honor of #ThrowbackThursday, here are a few of the aforementioned interviews from 2008!

In partnership with the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation, Beyoncé teamed up with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign for a remix of “Get Me Bodied” called “Move Your Body.” The video for the NABEF’s Let’s Move! Flash Workout was shown to schools across the country – and nationwide at 1:42 p.m. on May 3, students danced to the workout.

Mixed in with the music video above is footage of kids at Northeast Intermediate School in Scranton, PA and Clear Run Intermediate in Tobyhanna, PA moving along to Beyoncé’s dance. Call it the “Ain’t No Party Like A Scranton Party Remix!”

What more can you say about this video besides well done? Loved that GaGa tweeted it out to her followers as well, that certainly legitimizes the piece.

John Mayer’s interview trials and tribulations of late have been well-documented: his pillow talk about Jessica Simpson in Rolling Stone, his thoughts on dating women of color in Playboy. Since the latter foot-in-mouth comments, Mayer took a hiatus from doing traditional media interviews – but still tweets and interacts directly with fans.

Last Wednesday morning, around 3 a.m., Mayer tweeted out a link to an impromptu uStream chat, where he fielded random, unfiltered questions from people across the world. I figured if I ever had a chance to interview Mayer, I might as well put in my request now, because I knew it wasn’t happening by submitting a request to Columbia Records.

After about four tries, the text “JOHN I WANT TO INTERVIEW YOU IN SCRANTON!” caught his eyes.

Download the full segment, with audio of John’s denial


Thanks to tryjm.com for the audio of the uStream chat.

“Uh, you want to interview me in Scranton?” Mayer said, reading back the words from the chat, which were scrolling continuously as if they were a broken slot machine. “Um, I don’t know if you know this, but I’m not exactly the king of interviews. Taking a short break from that.”

Mayer took about a five second break from responding, then continued, ‘Sure went all in on that,” and let out a quick chuckle. I would assume with that comment he was referring to the two articles referenced at the beginning of this story.

For the record, I went ahead anyways and submitted a request to Columbia Records, and received a polite no in return, explaining that Mayer will not be doing any media during his tour with Train, which kicks off Friday in Charlotte.

It could end up being one of the bigger club records of summer ’10: “I Wanna Get Drunk” by DJ Felli Fel featuring Lil Jon, Three 6 Mafia, and Fatman Scoop. The song basically takes Van Halen’s “Jump” and replaces the title with the word “drunk.” But there’s just one hurdle before party-goers begin drinking to it nationwide.

“Right now they’re in a little kind of ‘dust-em-up’ (with Van Halen’s people) about clearing the record but I think everything’s going to be alright at the end of the day,” revealed Fatman Scoop, who called in to “The Ralphie Radio Show” to promote a party he was hosting Saturday night at the Scranton Hardware Bar. “Hopefully this record is going to be what we think it is, which is like a summer anthem, a get drunk anthem.”

Download the interview


Scoop called in to “The Ralphie Radio Show” to chat about the party he is hosting Saturday night (6/12) at the Scranton Hardware Bar, Drake, his new record “I Wanna Get Drunk”, and his reality show, “Man and Wife.”

Scoop knows a thing or two about club anthems. But his work has transcended turntables to radio, television, and even a couple Grammy awards. I was interested to know of his thoughts on Drake’s new album, Thank Me Later, which will be officially released on Tuesday. His answer surprised me.

“Most of the time, I don’t listen to albums like that before everyone else,” he responded. “I wanna get it right when everyone else gets it… but what I’ve heard… I can tell you pretty much that he has a good, bright future ahead of him.”

The hip-hop star said he hasn’t crossed paths with Drizzy yet, but figures it’ll happen sooner than later.

97 BHT and “The Ralphie Radio Show” received some solid media coverage last week surrounding our private events with both Orianthi and Adam Lambert.

WNEP did an excellent job with their report, and properly crediting/citing 97 BHT and “The RRS” in naming the event’s host and my interview with Adam – even including a sound byte of me talking about the whole ordeal:

Other stories…

– WBRE
– Times Leader
– Electric City
Thanks to all the media outlets that covered the event!