Alumni Spotlight: Lori Majewski

Once a young music fan, Majewski has turned her passion into a career in the male-dominated field of radio

Majewski+uses+her+platform+as+a+SiriusXM+radio+host+to+elevate+other+women+in+the+music+industry.

COURTESY OF MARO HAGOPIAN AND LORI MAJEWSKI

Majewski uses her platform as a SiriusXM radio host to elevate other women in the music industry.

By ALYANA VERA, Staff Writer

“You know what’s funny, just this morning a listener tweeted me to say that one of the reasons she likes listening to me on the radio is because I’m just like her. I’m a fangirl,” Lori Majewski, co-host of the radio show “Feedback,” told me at the start of our interview. 

While a sweet sentiment, it’s not entirely true. Few fans get to interview their favorite artists or get paid to talk about the music that they love, and even fewer get to work in SiriusXM’s Rockefeller Center studios.

However I got the spirit of what she is saying, especially as I watched her launch into a rendition of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” for a karaoke session with her co-host Nik Carter. Her bubbly, slightly New Jersey-accented voice dropped several pitches, as she took on a deep Southern drawl. There was no self-consciousness behind the broad smile permanently fixed to her face, and despite the fact that it was before 10 a.m., she was spirited as she traded jokes with Carter.

One might think that she’d been doing radio forever, given the ease she demonstrates behind the microphone, but in reality, she has only been co-hosting “Feedback” for three years. Prior to that, she admitted radio “wasn’t something that was really on my radar.”

Having first gotten her start in music journalism running the popular Duran Duran fanzine “Too Much Information,” Majewski continued writing in college, contributing and eventually becoming Arts & Culture editor at The Fordham Observer. Even as a college student, Majewski was an enterprising fan. She would wait outside hotels in order to question artists, cheekily telling them that she was from “The Observer” so that they “might think it’s the New York Observer.”

After graduating in 1993 with a Journalism Award, Majewski went on to co-found and become executive editor at Teen People magazine. She worked as a senior editor at a number of other publications, including Us Weekly and Entertainment Weekly. According to her, “print, specifically magazines, is where I made my name.”

Then, slowly, print began to die. Teen People suddenly stopped publication in 2006, and long-running magazines like NME soon followed. As publications began to shed their print editions and struggled to monetize digital editions, journalists became embroiled in a debate on how best to report the times we live in. 

What did it mean to be a journalist in the modern age? It was a question that challenged Majewski’s faith in her profession, as she said, “If you would have interviewed me five years ago, I would have said, ‘Do not do this. Do not do this.’ There’s no money anymore unless you’re already established.”

Disillusioned with journalism but still fueled by a love for music, Majewski went on to co-author the book “Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs that Defined the 1980s” in 2014. Distinguished by the Huffington Post as one of the few books about artists from that era, Majewski said that after her book was published, she got the call to audition for SiriusXM.

Majewski started her new position as a radio host in October 2016 with the launch of “Feedback,” but her new role came with a learning curve. Majewski’s career in print had trained her to be a “silent observer,” the antithesis to the boisterous and sometimes provocative image of a radio host.

“I never used the word ‘I’ in a piece,” Majewski said. “I wasn’t there. You were just seeing the celebrity through my eyes.”

At SiriusXM, Majewski had to learn to be opinionated, which she described as difficult at first. But just as the journalism industry evolved, so did Majewski, and she grew more comfortable inserting herself into the conversation. Majewski was, in part, motivated by the end of the 2016 presidential election and President Trump’s first years in office. She spoke about attending the Women’s March in Washington D.C. and how the political moment inspired her to talk more about her opinions. 

“When we started our show in October of 2016, I was shocked at the lack of political discourse in music, and I talked about it a lot,” Majewski said.

Majewski began to realize that her job as one of the few female radio hosts on a male-dominated channel extended beyond just talking about music. She would start talking about gender inequality more, becoming “a voice for young women.” While she admitted she has grown into that role, she was quick to refute the notion that it had been her plan all along.

“I didn’t get into this thinking that I had to be a voice for women,” Majewski said. “I got into this because I was a voice of the fan.”

Despite her intentions, Majewski has brought a gendered perspective to the music industry, repeatedly calling out the lack of diversity in Grammy nominations and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees on both her radio show and Twitter. Majewski said, “There’s more to music than 12 inches of plastic,” highlighting the fact that for her, the social role of music matters just as much as the music itself.

Talking about women and inequality has become such a regular part of her work on “Feedback” that Carter once accused her of having a “vagina agenda.” Majewski let out a frustrated sigh before explaining, “It’s not something that I used to have to talk about all the time. But I find since 2016 that I’m constantly having to remind people that there isn’t equality in music and there isn’t equality in the way we treat women in country music, that we don’t give them equal opportunity to be heard on the radio.

“What I’ve learned in the past three years that I’ve now been on the air for SiriusXM, especially in the Trump era, is that I’ve had to step up,” she added. “That this job is about a lot more than just music.”

Majewski’s platform continued to expand as SiriusXM added two more shows to her roster, “Lust for Lists” and “Fierce Women.” The busy workload has left her with less free time than she had imagined when she took the job, and being a radio host “has become more of a full-time job than I thought it would be.” 

While Majewski would like to write another book — this time on the late ’90s teen pop explosion — it has to be put on hold for now. Although she wishes she had more free time, she made it clear that hosting three shows is “a great problem to have” because she’s still excited about the work she does. Before starting at SiriusXM, Majewski was “really down on this business.” Now, she’s reignited that childlike wonder, still that young adult waiting outside hotels hoping to sneak in a few questions with her favorite artist.

“You know how Taylor Swift writes 13 on her hand to remind herself what it’s like to be 13?” Majewski asked. “I still have a 16-year-old girl that comes to work with me every day and she’s inside me, no matter what happens.”