“I grew up a misfit,” Jo Maeder says. “I wasn’t a square peg. I was an octagonal one.” Her father was a retired Marine Lt. Colonel and “Mama Jo” was obsessed with dolls. It would later remind her of a John Waters movie but at the time, she just wanted to flee. “I suppose having those dolls watching my every move prepared me for a life as a performer. I was used to a captive audience.”
Like a lot of radio people who were either ordinary or outcasts growing up, once Jo spoke into a microphone she was never the same. “I was very shy around most people and a mike gave me permission to speak to anyone. Being called ‘The Madame’ (later “The Rock and Roll Madame” on K-ROCK in New York City) allowed me to be someone else.”
At first, it was great, but in time Jo grew bored of the act. She left radio to get an M.B.A. at Columbia University. “I felt like the groundhog Punxsutawney Phil coming out of his hole in the ground. A whole new world opened up to me.” She grew her voiceover business and began writing. Her insatiable curiosity and sharp wit served her well as a writer.
Jo’s books include the bestselling memoir When I Married My Mother: A Daughter’s Search for What Really Matters – and How She Found It Caring for Mama Jo, Opposites Attack: A Novel with Recipes Provencal, and NAKED DJ. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, More, and Dame magazine among others. She holds bragging rights to Best Cookie and Best Overall Yummy Treat at the Oak Ridge Country Fair. The recipe can now be yours in the paperback and e-book versions of When I Married My Mother.
As a DJ, Jo is renowned from her years on South Florida’s Y-100 and I-95 (“Up and at ‘em with The Madame”), and New York’s WKTU, K-ROCK, and Z100. She also co-hosted a home improvement talk show on WABC without ever owning a home or knowing anything on the subject. She has interviewed celebrities from Bob Marley to Michael Jackson to the Bee Gees. Her encounter with James Brown on Z100 is in the Paley Center for Media, as is her former K-ROCK show devoted to Bob Dylan, “Knockin’ on Dylan’s Door.” Her “Rock and Roll Madame” changeovers with Howard Stern are among the many highlights of her radio career.