New York
Photos courtesy of Ashley Dingess

California girl crashes New York’s biggest summer concert

by Ashley Dingess

A couple months ago I mentioned to my bosses that I would love the opportunity to go to New York one day and help our hip hop sister station, Hot 97, with their signature show “Summer Jam”. They immediately set it up and booked my flight! This is where the notion “If you want something, say something” comes from.

Week leading up to my trip I was getting emails about the show and what my duties would be. I was responsible for capturing all organic backstage moments via Instagram and Twitter.

I am not sure if you Angelenos know, but Summer Jam is the hip hop show. This is the hip hop show where Kanye West threw one of his first public fits, where 50 Cent got banned for 10 years for fighting and throwing a chair on stage, where Jay Z debuted “The Takeover” — this show is a staple for hip hop.

One of my dreams growing up was to travel to New York. When the pilot announced we were landing, I looked out the window with this huge grin on my face and overwhelming feeling inside. I realize I am grateful to work in the #2 market for entertainment, but I am about to contribute to a show in the #1 market, and it’s just a whole different ball game.

Working at the radio station in Manhattan was quite an experience. The people, the fast-paced vibe — everything was just awesome. I am a pretty intense, outgoing “now now now” person, so naturally I fit right in. I sat with the digital team over at Hot 97 and brainstormed and prepped for the show. We went over hashtag ideas to the voicing we wanted on social media, from backstage coverage to on stage coverage.

New York is a whole different attitude — you don’t speak up, you get lost. Believe it or not, a lot of thought goes into social media and we sat there for a while fine tuning everything.

Every single cab I got into or whoever I spoke with would say…

“What are you out here for?”

And I would answer “I am working Summer Jam.”

“Oh wow!”

I’d ask “you know what that is… ?”

And the response would always be along the lines of “You’re not a New Yorker if you don’t know what Summer Jam is… it’s the show of the year.”

Day of the show, I arrived to MetLife Stadium to hundreds of people camped out waiting for their festival stage to open up. When I say this show is huge, I mean huge – this stadium has the capacity of 82,566 people! Their outdoor stage has its own press area and carpet. I was in charge of backstage coverage for the entire show. I pride myself as being a “fangirl” and I definitely know the type of moments fans want to see. I was able to get a photo of Khloe Kardashian and French Montana walking around canoodling backstage, I captured a video of Meek Mill running frantically to the stage after a fight broke out, I was able to catch Drake walking to Nas’ dressing room to say hi. Fun, behind the scenes stuff that people on the outside don’t get to see.

Hot 97
During the show, I was dancing with my company’s EVP/CFO/COO, Pat Walsh, and even witnessed some hip hop history with the re-uniting of G-Unit! There was a moment when I was on the side of the stage, looking out at the crowd as one of my favorite artists, Wiz Khalifa, was performing, saying to myself, “Ashley, you’re here, living and doing your passion.” You’re a part of entertainment history by laying your footprint on a major radio station’s social media and website. How many people can say they did that? I swear if you had you told me that at the age of 15 while I was spending my chore money on last row Nsync tickets, that one day I would be one of the cool kids on the stage working… I would’ve laughed!

Summer JamAll in all, my first NY experience was a major career highlight. I feel refreshed and am reminded why I am here, and that all this hard work is worth that amazing feeling you get when you’re doing it! But, this would not have happened had I not spoken up. Closed mouths do not get fed. You want something, you say it and if people don’t listen, then you figure out a way to make it happen!

Ashley Dingess

About Ashley Dingess

Ashley Dingess is a social media maven and content curator for radio, artists and small businesses. Her current gig is as the Social Media Manager for LA's Hip Hop station, POWER 106 FM. She is a music-loving, selfie taking, go getter who showcases her celeb encounters and shenanigans on Instagram @ashleyhollabakk and Twitter @AshleyHollaBakk

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