As one of the hosts of the Las Vegas– based radio show Flip the Strip (launched this summer, airing live on Saturdays from 5 to 6 p.m. on KXNT, or streaming on radio.com), Melinda Sheckells is known as Vegas’s gal-about-town. Her partner in crime and cohost, Mark Gray, is notorious for digging deep into the Las Vegas celeb scene.
Gray, a freelance writer, was the longtime Vegas correspondent for People Magazine, as well as Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly, while Sheckells is the same for The Hollywood Reporter and has also served as editor for various local lifestyle mags, including Vegas Seven, 944, and Vegas Rated. “We talk a lot about insider baseball. We talk a lot about what it’s like to be on red carpets; we give people a look into that life. It’s not always glamorous,” admits Sheckells. But when the pair dishes on what’s happening around town, or what it’s like at some of these crazy parties, it’s hard to imagine otherwise.
Their second episode broke the news that country star Eric Paslay was having a new baby. In another episode, TJ Lavin revealed he almost drowned while filming his MTV show The Challenge. Between red carpet talk and celebrity reveals, the series also includes a wide range of guests offering their own insights on what makes Vegas tick. “We’ll have a casino executive one week, and then we’ll have a politician another day doing a food review for us,” Sheckells says. “We have really eclectic tastes of what people bring to the table.”
It initially began as an inside joke between the two, who through the years found themselves working side by side on red carpets. Often, they would team up to interview various stars together. “Those ended up being some of the most fun interviews of the evening,” recalls Gray, “because Melinda and I would just go back and forth with the celebrities. We realized that we sounded basically like a radio show.”
Their easy and fun dynamic plays well on air, with Sheckells doing many of the avant-garde tasks, such as getting done up in the style of Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson ONE to celebrate what would have been Jackson’s 60th birthday. Gray, who writes the script each week, plays the straight man to Sheckells’s creative whims. “Mark is kind of like my reality check. I need someone to tell me when it’s gone too far,” Sheckells laughs.
“Melinda is who takes the show to another dimension,” Gray says. “She’s the one people will be talking about after the show is over at 6 p.m.”
Main photo credit: Al Powers