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Wé McDonald stopped by the studio and in an interview taped before her EP showcase at Gramercy Theater, talked about performing the National Anthem at Yankee Stadium, releasing her debut EP and working with Alicia Keys as a contestant on NBC’s “The Voice.”

Congratulations to Hoda Kotb on her new gig as the permanent co-host of “Today,” alongside Savannah Guthrie. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Hoda on a couple of occasions and I must say, in-person she is exactly who you think she is: warm, inclusive, inviting and of course usually down for a good laugh.

Of course, Hoda also kicks off my show every evening with her repetition of, “Ralphie, Ralphie, Ralphie.” The whole thing actually started in 2015 when I first met Hoda at Radio City Music Hall; she was mentoring kids for the Garden Of Dreams Foundation Talent Show. When Kotb was introduced to me she exclaimed, “Ralphie’s here!” and that clip served as my open for about a year. Then in 2016 I saw Hoda again at the same event and informed her that she started my show every evening. Kotb laughed and then insisted she record the new, current version.

All kidding aside, I’ll never forget the first time I interviewed the “Today” co-host and not exclusively because she unknowingly gave me a fun way to kick off my radio show. For me, the most memorable part of our conversation was when we were talking about advice she would pass on to participants of the talent show.

“I don’t think successful people are necessarily the most talented or the most educated,” she explained. “I wasn’t either. I think it’s really the kids who don’t stop. You’re here for a reason. I think for any kid who has ever wanted to do something, if you have a will and you love it, I think that’s three-fourths of it.

“Talent doesn’t win. Persistence wins. Perseverance wins.”

Ultimately, Kotb’s advice was to never give up. She embodies the message and serves as proof that yes, good things do happen to good people.

Harry Styles just dropped his new single, a throwback that recalls British artists of yesteryear entitled “Sign Of The Times.” He’ll perform it next weekend on “Saturday Night Live.”

I jokingly asked Michael Che, the SNL star who co-anchors the “Weekend Update” desk, if he is receiving any extra ticket requests due to the One Directioner’s forthcoming appearance.

“Well I’ll be honest with you, most of my family are African-American, so they’re not huge Harry Styles fans believe it or not,” the comedian quipped back. “There might be some!

“Nobody’s hit me up yet. It’s not like Drake!”

Che walked the red carpet at The Garden Of Laughs comedy show benefiting Madison Square Garden’s Garden Of Dreams Foundation. He thought it was important to support ‘SNL’ cast-mate Leslie Jones along with some of his other friends, like Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan.

“Typically on a Tuesday we would be in the middle of writing and we wouldn’t come up for air until Wednesday, sometime in the daytime,” Che explained of the typical schedule during a show week. “SNL” had last week off; it returns this weekend with host Louis C.K. and musical guests The Chainsmokers. Jimmy Fallon takes over hosting duties next Saturday, when Styles is set to perform.

As for Che, he will tour behind his Netflix special “Michael Che Matters” this June, with the trek’s first stop in Boston. Some New Englanders weren’t exactly thrilled earlier this year when during a “Weekend Tonight” segment about the Super Bowl, the comedian referred to Boston as “the most racist city I’ve ever been to.”

“You know what’s so funny? I have so much fun in Boston as far as performing shows,” Che told me. “I love performing in Boston.”

Just two weeks ago he headlined a show at Boston University and according to the Boston Globe, refused to apologize for his remarks because, “I’m just trying to be more presidential.”

Ironically, you could call that a sign of the times too.

Adele makes selling music and breaking records look as effortless as she does belting out notes.

“Hello,” the highly-anticipated single from the artist’s forthcoming album 25, sold 1.1 million copies in its first week out. This is the first time that a song has sold a million copies in a week. The record-setting sales figure also catapulted the track to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100.

The song’s music video also set a record, breaking Vevo’s 24-hour view high-mark with a staggering 27.7 million hits.

Grab the tissue box, because there is certainly more to come. The UK singer, nee Adele Adkins, is gearing up for a tour-de-force of promotion ahead of the new LP. She graces the new cover of Rolling Stone and will perform a special one-night-only show at the iconic Radio City Music Hall in New York on November 17. Tickets to the show will surely be hard to come by, but the world will get to experience it as a prime-time special on NBC in December.

Across the pond, Adele is also setting records and reportedly booking TV gigs for next year; a source told The Mirror that the “Someone Like You” songstress is confirmed to perform at the Brit Awards, akin to our Grammys, in February.
While the facts and figures are impressive, few are probably surprised. Adele’s new album follows the massive success of 21, which sold 31 million copies globally and made the singer a household name. The sophomore LP was released almost five years ago; practically an eternity for her most rabid fans.

“My last record was a break-up record, and if I had to label this one, I would call it a make-up record,” Adele said in a statement announcing the new release. “Making up for lost time. Making up for everything I ever did and never did. 25 is about getting to know who I’ve become without realizing. And I’m sorry it took so long but, you know, life happened.”

“Life” included vocal cord issues, a baby and certainly some well-deserved time off after a hectic stretch in which “downtime” consisted of working on a Bond theme that netted her both a Golden Globe and an Emmy. Matter-of-fact, the last time Adele performed on TV was when she sang “Skyfall” at the Academy Awards.

But now the singer returns to our TV sets in just a few short weeks. Adele will serve as the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” November 21. It’s the day after 25 hits shelves and the singer adds “making up for lost time” to the list of things she effortlessly does.

Singer Melanie Brown is best known as a member of the Spice Girls. Howie Mandel and Howard Stern both have backgrounds in comedy and acting. But the fourth judge on this upcoming season of “America’s Got Talent,” Heidi Klum, is mostly known as a host and model.

“Being in entertainment for 20 years, seeing a lot of things… I’ve been grooming models in Germany. I do Tyra’s (Banks) show (‘America’s Next Top Model’) in Germany,” Klum explained to me during a red carpet media event for the show in Rockefeller Plaza. “You have to be a little bit of an entertainer, an actress, when you’re a model. You can’t just stand there.”

Klum was married to a singer – Seal – for eight years, but also has a little bit of a performance background herself. Before coming to America, the “Project Runway” star danced professionally in Germany.

“When I came here, I found out that I wasn’t that good,” Klum joked. “In Germany I was good, here I was not good.”

While she has no problem taking a light-hearted jab at herself, she has found it difficult at times on set to turn contestants away.

“It’s hard to crush someone feelings, especially when we’re crunched on time,” she said. “I want to say more to send them away, and sometimes you have to be really quick, and then it hurts my feelings to hurt someone else’s feelings.”

Despite the acclimation period for Klum to judging a talent competition, she insists that she hasn’t asked for help or relied on the other judges. Once auditions are over, the judges will return to New York, a place that Klum knows all too well, having lived in the city for thirteen years as a model. But the judge was adamant that she won’t be able to hit up any of her favorite spots around town.

“I’m going to bed, because I’m doing this all again tomorrow,” said Klum of her work day, which can run from 5 am to 9 pm. “A girl needs her beauty rest.”

“America’s Got Talent” premieres June 4 on NBC.

“America’s Got Talent” is moving across the Hudson River, from Newark, NJ to Radio City Music Hall in midtown Manhattan. It’s a change that judge Howard Stern pushed NBC to make.

“Radio City’s going to be dynamic,” Stern told me Monday morning, when he and his cohorts from the TV show appeared in Rockefeller Plaza. “It’s a glamorous venue. It’s exciting to be in Manhattan.”

The new home to the program is also across from Stern’s studios for his morning show on Sirius/XM. The “shock jock” lived up to his moniker towards the end of our chat.

“Yunno, about a year ago I suggested (NBC) get rid of Ann Curry,” Stern joked… we think. “The ratings weren’t good. I called them up and I said, ‘Get her out.’ Everyone’s blaming Matt, everyone’s blaming NBC. I take the full hit for it.”

Not surprisingly, Stern went on to also take credit for the network announcing that Jimmy Fallon would replace Jay Leno next spring. The radio DJ and TV host have been at odds for years; Stern has accused Leno of ripping off jokes and bits from him and other comedians.

Back to “AGT,” – there are also personnel changes on that show as well. Sharon Osbourne will not return this year. Joining Stern and Howie Mandel at the judges table will be singer Melanie Brown and model Heidi Klum.

“I’ve known Heidi for many years,” Mel B. told me. “She’s a great person; very passionate, gorgeous, she’s a mom. So, we have a lot in common.”

Like her fellow judges, Brown thinks Radio City will add a lot to the show.

“You can’t pick a better place,” the artist once known as “Scary Spice” said. “That is New York. I’m very excited.”

Brown also commented on Little Mix, a group of girls from the UK who won “The X-Factor” and are drawing comparisons to the Spice Girls.

“I think there’s room for everybody,” she said. “I don’t even think you need to compare. I think they’re in their own lane and they’re doing their thing. I’ve seen them perform and I think they’re brilliant.”

Klum will talk about the show this Thursday (April 11) on “The Ralphie Show.” Nick Cannon, who was at the media opportunity but offered a limited amount of interviews, will return to host the competition. The new season of “America’s Got Talent” premieres June 4 on NBC.

I co-hosted “PA Live” on WBRE with Monica Madeja on Tuesday, August 21. We highlighted a celebrity cookbook that is benefiting a great cause, tried out “The Original Toothpaste Dispenser,” and I broke the news to Scranton that “The Office” is entering its last season.

From Health Magazine via NBC “Today”:

– Kill mold
– Reduce clutter
– Dust
– Detox pillows
– Remove electronics
– Up the romance
– Take away stress triggers
– Let less light in
– Knock off the snoring

Last month Dr. Ann Louise Gittleman called in to talk about her book and her research on the hazards that radiation from cell phones and other mobile devices produce.

Now, a new study reveals that the technology is affecting the brain, but some scientists are still unsure exactly how, and if it is something of serious concern.

You’ve got to hand it to Linkin Park – the rap-rock group has been at it since 1996 and the guys are still finding ways to innovate their craft. The latest example came this past weekend, when LP performed for its second time on “Saturday Night Live” and accomplished a feat so unique – Lorne Michaels himself had to sign off on it.

First, the band performed the hit single, “Waiting for the End” off of A Thousand Suns. The lighting scheme combined lasers with LED panels to mimic some of the effects that can be seen in the music video for the song. For Linkin Park’s second go-around, the group played “When They Come for Me” – another track from ATS. LP decided that it would look best if the camera shot it in black and white as opposed to full color.

“It was kind of a nail biter, at the last minute because Lorne Michaels, who runs the show, had to approve that,” revealed emcee Mike Shinoda, who called in to “The Ralphie Radio Show” while on tour with LP. “(Michaels) looked at the test in color and then looked at it in black and white and he said, ‘Yeah, yeah for these guys we can let them do black and white.’”

As if the approval from SNL’s creator wasn’t enough, Michaels also put a little bow on the present he gifted Linkin Park.


Shinoda also chatted about the different tech schemes currently implemented on LP’s world tour, and the implementation of new technology to the band’s marketing campaigns.

“(Michaels) also said, ‘Yunno it’s funny, now other bands are going to ask me to do black and white, and I’m going to have to tell them no because it’s Linkin Park’s thing,’” a happy Shinoda recalled. “I didn’t realize that no musical guests have ever done black and white before.”

Shinoda certainly is aware of the magnitude of the “accomplishment” – calling the decision “amazing” while citing the legendary status of the show. It’s appropriate that a band like Linkin Park be honored with such a distinction – the California-based band challenged itself just as much with the new visuals for the current world tour as with the idea of creating a new sound for the album. Shinoda says LP’s visual team created software and mechanisms that respond to band’s nightly changing set list – so that like the music, no one concert’s visual pattern will be like another’s.

“If the record is a challenging record, then we want the visuals to be challenging,” Shinoda said. “We spent more time than we would have five years ago on something like this.”

Part of the reasoning for the increased attention to the live show could be attributed to music’s changing business model: generating income from live shows, marketing deals, and singles as opposed to selling records. But Shinoda cautions that LP has and always will have its priorities straight.

“Everything is inter-related. You could put all your focus in the world on your touring, but if you good albums or good music to lay the foundation, then that’s not going to fly.”

Take it from the band that’s sold over 50 million albums worldwide – and has gone either gold or platinum in 12 different countries with its latest release.