RALPHIE REPORT: Making a Great Big difference

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First Posted: 3/24/2014

First album, first chart-topping single, first national TV performance – Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino have experienced a slew of firsts since performing “Say Something” on “So You Think You Can Dance?” But the duo known collectively as A Great Big World will experience a new first on a different level Tuesday: first concert benefit.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” Vaccarino said via telephone on “Ralphie Tonight” regarding the band’s involvement in “Pinoy Relief.” The star-studded concert aimed to “provide relief to victims of natural disasters in the Philippines – with the current focus being victims of Typhoon Haiyan.”

“We do music, and to be able to make such a positive impact and give back, in any way, that can help is what it’s all about.”

“We feel so helpless watching the news, seeing images and video footage,” Axel added, speaking about the typhoon that left 11 million people homeless. “We feel like we can’t do anything, so being able to just play our music and make a difference here in New York… I mean, it’s the best feeling.”

Concert organizers approached A Great Big World about performing, and the duo happily obliged. The New York University alumni performed inside The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Other bill notables included The Plain White T’s, Pentatonix, and headliner Jennifer Hudson. There were also special appearances from Dr. Oz and Apl De Ap, a native Filipino and Black Eyed Peas emcee.


A month separated from the Winter Olympics, Ashley Wagner looks back on her debut in Sochi fondly.

“I learned that I am tough as nails because I have to tell you, it is terrifying to compete on Olympic ice,” Wagner admitted during an interview on “Ralphie Tonight.” “That was probably the most scared I’ve been in my entire life, stepping out on to the ice for my long program.”

That said, the 22 year-old is proud of her work and ready to build on it this week in Tokyo for the World Figure Skating Championships. The travel does not cease there, for Wagner heads back to the States and back on the road with “Stars On Ice.” The group of talented U.S. figure skaters performs in Hershey on April 10.

In addition to the travel, Wagner is also adjusting to her celebrity status. The figure skater’s reaction to the judges’ scores of her first Olympic skate became an Internet meme overnight; Wagner wears a less-than-flattered expression in the photo.

“I had no idea that my face became a meme until one of my friends posted on my Facebook wall some BuzzFeed article about me,” Wagner said. “So I think in this day and age, social media is crazy, and the doors it opens up for athletes is amazing.”

Wagner left Sochi with a Bronze medal for her efforts. She rejoins a U.S. team in Japan this week that is looking to defend its gold medal from last year’s World Championships.

-Listen to “Ralphie Tonight” weeknights from 7 p.m.-midnight on 97 BHT.