Steve LeVine: CEO of Steve LeVine Entertainment

Steve Levine, CEO of Steve LeVine Entertainment, photographed at his office in Scottsdale by Nicki Escudero

Steve Levine, CEO of Steve LeVine Entertainment, photographed at his office in Scottsdale by Nicki Escudero

Steve LeVine
twitter.com/SteveLeVineEnt

If you’ve been to a Valley nightclub in the past six years, you’ve probably seen some of Steve LeVine’s work. The 39-year-old Scottsdale resident and Los Angeles native is the self-titled “Chief Entertainment Officer” of Steve LeVine Entertainment, which organizes some of the Valley’s biggest nightlife shindigs, as well as concerts and sports-related events. He’s been working in the entertainment industry since he was only 14 years old, when he started as a DJ for his friends’ parties before moving into Greek life parties and starting his own DJ company. Now, Steve LeVine Entertainment, launched in 2007, employees 35 full-time staff members and more than 70 independent contractors, organizing parties around the Southwest.

LeVine is also an investor in Maya Day & NightClub, which hosts Audien for tomorrow, December 31’s New Year’s Eve party. He’s also an investor in restaurant Majerle’s. Keep reading for how he started his business, which also signed singers Kelley James and Scott Keo and does public relations for clients such as fitness studio Amenzone. Plus, scroll down to hear five reasons why he loves living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I liked baseball and used to come to Arizona with my family all the time for spring training. I came to visit Arizona State (University) and fell in love with the place. I originally wanted to go to school to be an architect, and ASU’s school of architecture was top-rated and pretty amazing.

I ended up choosing a whole different path. I got into mass communications quickly and was in the very first class to get a Bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. Continue reading

Al McCoy: Phoenix Suns Announcer, Arizona Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame Inductee

Al McCoy, Phoenix Suns announcer, photographed at US Airways Center, by Nicki Escudero

Al McCoy, Phoenix Suns announcer, photographed at US Airways Center, by Nicki Escudero

Al McCoy
twitter.com/Suns

Al McCoy is one of the Valley’s biggest legends. The Phoenix Suns radio play-by-play announcer has been calling Suns games for 42 years as the longest-tenured announcer in the NBA. The Arizona Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame inductee never misses a beat on the court while amusing listeners with his colorful commentary — including his unforgettable catchphrases, such as “Shazam!” (Learn all about the origins of his most popular exclamations here.)

Fans can get excited: the 80-year-old Glendale resident and Williams, Iowa native has absolutely no plans to retire. Listen to him on KTAR (620 AM) and KMVP (98.7 FM), and read on for his impression of this year’s team, as well as to learn about his favorite jazz musicians — McCoy is a talented piano player himself. McCoy also shares his five favorite reasons for living in the Valley — scroll down to watch the video.

What brought you to Arizona?

I came to Phoenix in 1958 to do minor league baseball when the major leagues had realigned. The New York Giants had moved to San Francisco, the Brooklyn Dodgers had moved from Brooklyn to LA, and the Giants moved their number one farm team from Minneapolis to Phoenix. I was working in Buffalo, New York at the time, and I came out here to do minor league baseball. I worked for what was then KOOL radio and KOOL television. Continue reading

Stephen Stromberg: Executive Chef at Sapporo, Triathlete

Stephen Stromberg, executive chef at Sapporo in Scottsdale, photographed at Sapporo by Nicki Escudero

Stephen Stromberg, executive chef at Sapporo in Scottsdale, photographed at Sapporo by Nicki Escudero

Stephen Stromberg
twitter.com/sapporoaz

It’s impossible not to be drawn toward Sapporo in Scottsdale. The fire outside beckons you in, and the tasty sushi inside keeps you coming back. Executive chef Stephen Stromberg is at the helm in the kitchen, shaking up menus twice a year with innovative bites such as the Scottsdale roll, with crab, avocado, spicy scallops, and kaiware; and the Diamondback, with salmon, crab mix and sauteed onions, topped with shrimp.

While diners can expect classic favorites such as tempura, Stromberg’s a health-conscious chef who strives to integrate as much fresh produce as possible into his offerings. The 39-year-old Phoenix resident is a vegan and a triathlete, and worked as an executive chef in Boulder before working at the Valley’s Roy’s, Latitude 30, Pure, and Radio Milano. He’s now been at Sapporo for more than three years, with the restaurant going strong and open for more than 12 years. Check out his special holiday menu the weekend before New Year’s Eve, and read on for Stromberg’s plans in the Valley’s dining scene. Keep scrolling to watch him say his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and my immediate family moved to Colorado when I was 11. I’ve been in the Valley for almost 15 years. My dad had moved out here, and I had come a couple times to visit and liked it. When I came in 1998, I was young and wanted to try it for a year or two – now here I am almost 15 years later. Continue reading

Shawna Franks: Founder and Artistic Director of Space 55 Theatre

Shawna Franks, founder and artistic director of Space 55 Theatre, photographed at Space 55, by Nicki Escudero

Shawna Franks, founder and artistic director of Space 55 Theatre, photographed at Space 55, by Nicki Escudero

Shawna Franks
twitter.com/Space55

Shawna Franks has helped the downtown Phoenix theater writers’ community grow immensely, as founder and artistic director at Space 55 Theatre, which hosts theater performances, as well as writing classes and workshops. The Phoenix resident and her team opened the theater in 2006, and since it’s become a haven for new, cutting-edge works that have never been seen in Arizona. Franks, a veteran stage and film actress, also teaches acting at the Arizona School for the Arts. She helped create the hilarious character of Blanche in the current holiday musical A Bloody Mary Christmas, playing through Saturday, December 21. Read on for what drives Franks’ desire to boost the local theater community, as well as to hear her name her five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I was born in Santa Cruz, California and moved to Chicago at the age of 17. Chicago is where I went to school and started acting. I also performed in Europe, then I moved to Los Angeles for a little while. After my two sons were born, I moved to Phoenix because of a job opportunity for my husband. Continue reading

Nicholas Polando: Designer for State Forty Eight

Nicholas Polando, designer for local T-shirt line State Forty Eight, photographed in downtown Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Nicholas Polando, designer for local T-shirt line State Forty Eight, photographed in downtown Tempe, by Nicki Escudero

Nicholas Polando
twitter.com/StateFortyEight

When it comes to T-shirts showing off Arizona pride, cartoon cacti aren’t the only way to go. A new locally printed line, State Forty Eight, sets out to impact the Arizona fashion scene in a big way with chic, eye-catching, stylish designs showing off state pride. The line includes lightweight hoodies perfect for Valley winters, as well as women’s, men’s and children’s shirts and accessories. Designer Nicholas Polando started State Forty Eight with his brother Stephen Polando and their friend Mike Spangenberg, and it launched this past March. The 25-year-old Tempe resident talked about the future for the line, with Phoenix Suns and Coyotes themes expected to launch by early next year. Keep scrolling to hear Nicholas talk about his five favorite reasons for loving living in the Valley.

What brought you to Arizona?

I moved here when I was 3 from Urbana, Ohio with my parents. I grew up and lived in Chandler and went to Chandler High School and Scottsdale Community College. Continue reading