SiriusXM DJs Larry “The Duck” Dunn and Lori Majewski had such a blast on their virgin sailing of The Ultimate 80s Party a year ago that they jumped at the chance to return and turn up the volume even higher when they reunite with their 80s Cruise family in 2022.
Dunn was the longtime music director and on-air personality of famed Long Island radio station WLIR during our beloved decade. These days, he’s heard daily on SiriusXM’s 1st Wave. Majewski co-hosts an all-music talk show on SiriusXM’s Volume channel, co-authored “Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s,” and contributes frequent “Lust for Lists” shows to 1st Wave.
As we get ready for the 2022 cruise, we turned the table on these two 80s heroes to get to know more about their virgin experience aboard The 80s Cruise as well as what bands they are most looking forward to seeing in 2022. Check out the exclusive Q&A with Lori and Larry below!
HEADS UP: The 80s Cruise is down to only a few remaining staterooms for the 2022 cruise. If you want to let loose with Lori and get down with the Duck on The 80s Cruise ’22, now is the time to book your stateroom! <click here for pricing and stateroom availability>
THE 80s CRUISE: Thinking back on your virgin experiences aboard The 80s Cruise last year, what highlights come to mind? Did anything surprise you about the experience?
LORI: Life aboard The 80s Cruise was sheer joy. It was better than I expected, and I had expected quite a lot! Someone said to me that The 80s Cruise is like high school, except without the cliques — and that’s a great description. I truly loved every single person I met, every single event, every single interview I did. I had hoped to recreate the spirit by having my own silent disco birthday party but, well, that won’t be happening anytime soon.
LARRY: Special highlights for me were spending so much time with all the great people from all around the world on the cruise. Being up on the catwalk for the New Year’s Eve Theme Night party was a rush! The 80s costume contest brought out the best in everyone. My wife Suzanne and I had a ball playing the Newlywed Game with Terri Nunn of Berlin and her husband Paul with another couple from the cruise. And the Hollywood Squares game with Original MTV VJs Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood, Alan Hunter; plus Terri, Lita Ford, Katrina and all was a blast. I had the winning square!
THE 80s CRUISE: On The 80s Cruise, you both interviewed several amazing 80s musicians in front of live audiences. What was the most interesting thing you heard?
LORI: This one is hard, because each one was awesome! But hearing about Taylor Dayne’s difficult journey to parenthood — she had her twins via a surrogate in the early 2000s, when it was a more rare occurrence — struck a chord. Only three weeks before we set sail on The 80s Cruise, my husband and I became first-time foster parents to a baby boy, so I could totally relate.
LARRY: My favorite interview on the cruise was interviewing the Original MTV VJs: Mark, Nina and Alan. They are great to be with. They are fun, energetic, knowledgeable and completely down to earth. I started the interview with a petition to induct the Original MTV VJs into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame. I endorse it! It was interesting hearing their thoughts on it, as Mark gave out the website to sign up to put them in. MTV was a gamble in the beginning, way before Viacom bought it. They were innovators and pioneers.
THE 80s CRUISE: How did the energy and passion of the 80s come alive during the cruise?
LORI: The Prom Theme Night and the alternative-music after-party really brought me back to the days when I’d dance and sing my heart out all night long. The photos I took looking down on the prom don’t begin to do it justice. And the costume contest was incredible! The attention to detail! THAT is 80s passion, right there!
LARRY: Everyone loved the cruise and breathed it. Everyone went back to their younger selves. The crowd was totally engaged. It is no wonder that the cruise was sold out 10 months in advance. People were already signing up for the next year while on the cruise. There were so many activities going on. I really did not sleep much as it was a non-stop party!
THE 80s CRUISE: What bands are you most excited to see on the 2022 sailing of The Ultimate 80s Party and why?
LARRY: Oh for sure The Human League. I have not seen them live in 10 years. Also, it will be great to see Terri again with Berlin. I am looking forward to seeing Mike Score from A Flock Of Seagulls and Mike Peters from The Alarm. I am looking to seeing Robbie Grey and the guys from Modern English as well as Belinda Carlisle and Martin Fry from ABC. Belinda and Martin always put on a great show. I have never seen Johnny Hates Jazz before live in concert, so that is something that I look forward to as well.
LORI: HUMAN LEAGUE! And ABC! And Belinda! Oh my gosh, a bunch of acts have been added since I last looked. The Alarm! A Flock of Seagulls! Sugarhill Gang! Wait — Strangelove Depeche Mode Experience too?! What I’ll say is that on The 80s Cruise, you want to see everyone, because the ones you weren’t thinking about when you booked your cabin will surprise you, I promise!
THE 80s CRUISE: How have you kept that 80s spirit alive in you this year without live music since the cruise?
LARRY: I keep the 80s alive on my daily SiriusXM radio show. I broadcast from home instead of the studios in NYC, which is a first for me. 80s cover bands that I know kept it alive on Facebook Live. One band in particular who I am good friends with called Love Song had one concert streamed that had 5,000 attendees on Facebook Live.
LORI: This question made me laugh. The 80s spirit is alive in me each and every day, whether I’m on air or playing music with my husband. Just today, one of the hosts on the Volume channel tried to insult me by saying every day in my life is 1983. I was like, “And that’s a bad thing because…?”
THE 80s CRUISE: How has your taste and connection to the music changed over the years?
LORI: My taste in 80s music hasn’t changed at all! LOL! But my connection to the music has, because as a pop culture “expert,” my mission is to remind people that the 80s were fun and colorful and ridiculous, yes, but the decade also produced some of the most memorable music of all time. The makeup and the clothes went out of style when the calendar turned to 1990, but the songs never did!
LARRY: My music taste has evolved. The 80s were the foundation for so many bands. Every band has to start somewhere. For example, Green Day started in 1989. You know they had to be influenced by bands like The Jam and Gang of 4. I always gravitated to bands like Pearl Jam, Oasis and the Foo Fighters. All these bands point back to a period in the 80s that molded their music. It was Johnny Marr of The Smiths that took the Gallagher brothers from Oasis under his wings. I grew very open minded of all music and I also grew into the more melodic side of music. I also started to enjoy Jazz again. In my early WLIR days, we were playing Pat Metheny, Lee Ritenour and Return To Forever. U2 was always the constant for me. As U2 evolved, I did as well. To think it was 40 years ago in October of 1980 that U2 released their first album Boy. I think we all evolved in these same 40 years, just as U2 did.
THE 80s CRUISE: Lori, from your perspective as both a fan and multimedia professional, what is it about the 80s sound that makes it so iconic and distinct compared to other decades and styles?
LORI: For a start, the 80s were incredibly diverse. You had pure pop confections taking up residence on the charts alongside rock, R&B, new wave, synth pop, rap, hair metal, country — you name it. As far as the actual sound goes, the synthesizer became so ubiquitous that even Eddie Van Halen put down his electric guitar in favor of one, and as a result, came up with one of the most definitive rock jams of the decade (“Jump,” obviously). Of course, there are plenty of synth-driven songs that haven’t aged as well, but even the cheesiest, most ridiculous ones make you smile. And that’s another thing about 80s music: so much of it is just so fun, which is why The 80s Cruise is such a good time.
THE 80s CRUISE: Larry, you hail from WLIR, one of most influential radio stations in the 80s … while the formats and platforms have evolved, awesome music and great personalities don’t go out of style. What are you most proud of during your outstanding career and what are your goals going forward?
LARRY: I have to say that from the moment I did college radio in March of 1976, my radio style evolved. I learned to talk TO the audience and not talk AT them. There has always been a special connection between me and the audience. Both at WLIR and WDRE and for the past 18 years on First Wave SiriusXM radio.
I am most proud of the artists that I have interviewed over the years. When I started as an intern at WLIR-FM, I was a Junior at St. John’s University. When my internship ended in 1978, they hired me in the music department and production department. After I graduated, I went on the air part time. That was 40 years ago.
Under the old WLIR format, My favorite memories were having interviewed Van Halen, Ozzy, Bryan Adams, Frank Zappa and on and on. Under the WLIR New Music First format, I interviewed Robert Smith of The Cure, Joan Jett, Joey Ramone, John Lyndon and interesting non-music personalities like George Carlin and Jim Henson. Jim was really special as his youngest daughter Heather convinced him to go on the air with me for 90 minutes when he was promoting Labyrinth, the dark muppets movie that starred David Bowie. We spoke about his relationship with David. He did all the muppets character voices. I still have the interview on cassette.
My goal going forward on my daily SiriusXM radio show is to keep the spirit of classic alternative music alive. Keep the memories alive. Always stay relevant to each day and update what our favorite artists are doing. I keep the connection with the audience every day. I approach my show with a spirit of being humble every day. The most important radio show is my next show.
THE 80s CRUISE: What are your favorite moments and memories on the air?
LORI: I’ve been at SiriusXM for four-plus years now, so I’ve collected quite a few. However, I’d say finally getting to meet and interview Mark Hamill — Luke Skywalker from Star Wars — for my Feedback morning show on the Volume channel tops them all, because it allowed me to realize a lifelong dream. For my Fierce: Women In Music series, I got to spend an hour with Debbie Harry, Annie Lennox, Ann and Nancy Wilson … just mind-blowing. For my weekly show, Lust For Lists, on First Wave, I got to go to Miami to co-host a Duran Duran concert pre-show for a couple hundred people. The Durans are the reason I pursued music and entertainment journalism as a career, so every time I get to do something with them is special. And then, just recently, I had an absolutely wonderful conversation on Zoom with Boy George, and I’m still smiling!
LARRY: When I became the Music Director of WLIR-FM, I feel that my creativity and innovation kept rising. We were breaking bands constantly. I was hosting a weekly import music show of bands from all around the world called Off The Boat. I even hosted a reggae show called Punky Reggae Dance Party. The complete joy was breaking new artists constantly way before anyone else. We were pioneers and innovators. We were literally doing A&R in radio. We would break the bands and the record labels would sign them. I was proud to win Music Director of the Year two years in a row in 1987 and 1988 by the Gavin Report. I won Air Personality of the Year from Billboard Magazine in 1986.
I was on the air 6 days a week, with very little sleep. I was spinning in the clubs. The Malibu Night Club was my favorite. Spinning for 2,000 people and simultaneously on the air live Saturday night from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
My favorite was introducing the bands in concert. Too many to mention. The Ramones and Frankie Goes To Hollywood at The Ritz. Introducing Adam Ant and INXS on their first tour of America in 1982 at my alma mater St. John’s University. Introducing Duran Duran and Erasure at Madison Square Garden in June of 1987 (my right leg was shaking. I mean, it is the frickin’ Garden! The Mecca!). Introducing The Smiths at The Beacon Theatre in June of 1985. That was the first time I met David Bowie backstage. He was a big fan of The Smiths. Introducing The Cure and Love and Rockets at Giants Stadium!