Archives For Tori Kelly

I spent all of last week silent on Facebook, which no one probably noticed for a number of reasons: I was active on other social networks, I was still frequently in touch with family and friends and of course I was on live on the radio every weeknight.

To me, it felt weird. Last weekend I returned to Syracuse to catch the Orange (don’t get me started on the tournament snub) beat Georgia Tech and attend the annual WJPZ reunion dinner. On Monday I joined my friends on TV at “Chasing News” to talk about my Vinny Guadagnino interview. Wednesday I made the trek down to Brooklyn to watch the Orange lose in the first round of the ACC Tournament (and probably cement that aforementioned snub). And of course, I spent the week counting down the days until my trip to Las Vegas Tuesday, which yes I know might not even happen now with this pending blizzard.

But guess what? None of it mattered this week.

Saturday I was leaving the bookstore inside the Schine Student Center on SU’s campus when I looked down to see a new text notification on my BlackBerry. It was from a coworker with a link to an article on Billboard’s website.

My former colleague, Tommy Page, was found dead in an apparent suicide. I immediately felt numb.

I first met Tommy in May of 2009. I lived in Wilkes Barre, and was as Tommy would later refer to me, “a baby DJ.” At the time, Page was working A&R at Warner Bros. Records. He was so excited about his new act, a boy-band called V-Factory, that he decided to personally bring them by the studio for an interview.

Tommy and I hit it off right away, but to be honest a lot of it was more circumstantial; I think he immediately took a liking to me or at least gave me the benefit of the doubt because he was close with my Program Director at the time, A.J. He also was a bit fan of 97 BHT, particularly the station’s position in the market as the younger, hipper pop station that wasn’t afraid to lean rhythmic or electronic (example: WBHT broke Lady Gaga in the metro when other stations across the country declared that “Just Dance” was “too dance-y” – whatever that jargon means).

And of course, Tommy loved Northeastern Pennsylvania. He raved about his vacation home in East Stroudsburg, and also had recently purchased a fixer-upper in Jim Thorpe.

Tommy and I would spend 2010 through 2014 crossing paths at various events, either in New York or out in Los Angeles. I remember my first GRAMMYs; I attended Billboard’s after-party at The London in West Hollywood. Tommy was its publisher at the time, and immediately left his conversation when he saw me just to come over and say hello. That meant a lot.

Then in 2015, he joined our company as a Senior Vice President of Brand Partnerships. I enjoyed this because not only would I see Tommy in our building occasionally, but I’d get to work with him at some of our signature backstage broadcast events, including the Billboard Music Awards and the American Music Awards in addition to the aforementioned GRAMMYs.

The weekend after our first BBMAs working together in Vegas, Tommy and I both headed down the shore to Point Pleasant for 95.5 PLJ’s Summer Kick-Off. We sat down at the client party and talked about where the company was moving before he tasked me to help write a spec promo for an upcoming event we were working on called “Malibu Mansion Live.”

I’ll never forget, while music played and people partook in the open bar, Tommy and I sat alone in a corner of the room and wrote the script; Tommy throwing out ideas followed by me feverishly typing away on my BlackBerry and reading lines out loud to see what if any changes he wanted.

After a few more revisions, that promo was eventually voiced, produced and presented to company executives and our marketing department. The following November, Tommy and I were in Malibu for the two-night promotion that featured country singer Cam (who he sang “Happy Birthday” to while I walked out with a makeshift cake/candle for her), Nick Jonas, Tori Kelly and Fall Out Boy.

As the second, successful night winded down, Tommy pulled me aside.

“Remember when we first started talking about this and we wrote that promo in Point Pleasant?” he asked. “The whole thing came to life. It was like you and I wrote a hit record together.”

Of course, it was Tommy and his team that did all of the hard work. But coming from a guy who scored a number one hit in 1990 with the single, “I’ll Be Your Everything,” that compliment really struck a chord with me.

That was a unique trait of Tommy’s; working with others and making them feel like they belonged. It’s one of the reasons he was adored by so many, and certainly it’s one of the reasons why I and many others will miss him.

For my fourth consecutive year, I broadcasted from backstage at music’s biggest night, inside the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Day 1 is always the more difficult day because you’ve just arrived on site, you’re setting everything up and you’re trying to work your way in to a flow as artists move in and out of the broadcast area. But the great thing about this year’s first broadcast was the opportunity to chat with Joe Jonas and DNCE, along with GRAMMY-nominees Tori Kelly and James Bay.





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.
Hey, Really Excited
“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).

Taylor Swift was most visible and Kanye West was nearly invisible during a 2015 Billboard Music Awards broadcast that set a 14-year ratings high mark on Sunday night.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the big night belong to Swift. The superstar entered the evening leading all finalists with 14 nods. Swift took home eight awards, including Top Artist, and also world-premiered the music video for her next single, “Bad Blood,” to kick off the show.
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In what proved to be an omen of what was to come over the next three hours, Swift also led the segue from her video to a performance by rock legends Van Halen. The showcasing of past, present and future was a prevalent theme throughout the broadcast. Another notable routine came from Simple Minds, who had the entire MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas singing “Don’t You Forget About Me” in tribute to the 30 anniversary of “The Breakfast Club.”

A tribute of equal crowd participation came courtesy of Imagine Dragons. The Las Vegas-natives covered “Stand By Me” in honor of the late Ben E. King. Little Big Town also offered a nod to a legend, as the band invited Faith Hill on stage for a “one-night-only” performance of “Girl Crush.”

Representing for the present: Ed Sheeran, who with multiple loop pedals and two microphones put on one of the night’s best performances, Hozier, Nick Jonas and a duet with Meghan Trainor and John Legend.

Kia’s “One To Watch” artist was Tori Kelly, and her acoustic rendition of “Nobody Love” nearly stole the show.

According to TMZ, Kanye West was one of two artists not to attend the show’s dress rehearsal (the other was Mariah Carey). West closed out the BBMAs with a medley of “All Day” and “Black Skinhead.” Not only could he barely be seen due to the lighting and pyrotechnics, but he was also barely heard due to the censoring of his explicit lyrics.

The Billboard Music Awards were co-hosted by Ludacris and Chrissy Teigen and produced by dick clark productions. Early numbers from Nielsen indicated that an average of over 11 million people tuned in to the broadcast over the three-hours.

Ralphie’s Look – Suit: H&M; Shirt, Tie, Boots: John Varvatos; Tie Bar, Pocket Square: The Tie Bar

Ralphie’s Look – Suit: H&M; Shirt, Tie, Boots: John Varvatos; Tie Bar, Pocket Square: The Tie Bar


News And Notes From Backstage:
– Prior to introducing Simple Minds, Molly Ringwald told me she hadn’t seen the band since the movie’s premiere 30 years ago!
– After congratulating Meghan Trainor on her two Billboard Music Awards, the “All About That Bass” singer said she was so happy that she “couldn’t stop crying.”
– One Direction was in great spirits on-and-off camera. Harry Styles said the band is excited to release a new album this fall.
– “You won’t be disappointed bro!” was Kevin Dillon’s response when I told him and the cast of “Entourage” that I can’t wait for the movie. The moment was made even cooler by the fact that Dillon sounded just like his character, Johnny Drama, when he said it.
– I made small talk with Ellen Pompeo before she took the stage to present Swift with one of her eight awards. Pompeo called in to my show in 2008 on behalf of President Obama.
– “What is this night?!” exclaimed a surprised Swift as she walked off stage following her win of the fan-voted Chart Achievement Award.

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.
luda1
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.





Tori Kelly invited “Ralphie Tonight” in to her Manhattan hotel room where she talked about her new single with super-producer Max Martin, what she likes to dip her chicken fingers in and what it will take for her to finally get a tattoo.


And yes, for a split second we thought she was pregnant before meeting her. Find out why in our chat.