The self-proclaimed "King of All Media" has been dubbed a shock jock for his highly controversial use of scatological and sexual humor. Some of his commentaries are perceived by many to include bigoted remarks about various religious and ethnic groups. He is both the highest-paid radio personality in the United States, and the most fined personality in radio broadcast history—facts, as his fans know, he takes pride in.
His television shows include: "The Howard Stern Show" (1990-) and "The Howard Stern Radio Show" (1998–2001).
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After graduation, he worked as a disc jockey for an obscure station in Westchester County, New York playing rock music. He discovered a talent for Lenny Bruce-type comedy, and developed a wide-ranging confrontational style. He migrated to FM radio stations in Detroit, Michigan and Washington, D.C., and returned to New York in 1982 to work at NBC's flagship AM radio station WNBC-AM. Also working at NBC was David Letterman, who became a fan of Stern's radio show. Stern's guest appearance on Late Night with David Letterman on June 19, 1984, launched Stern into the national spotlight and gave his radio show unprecedented exposure. Stern would appear on Letterman's show many times thereafter.
Stern and his crew were fired from NBC in 1985 in response to a particularly outrageous sketch "Beastiality Dial-A-Date" and returned to the FM band by joining local rival station WXRK, premiering on November 18, 1985 and returning permanently to morning drive in February 1986. Stern's show was syndicated nationwide in the 1990s by Infinity Broadcasting.
Although both his parents are Jewish, Stern claims on his show to be "a half-Jew". His Hebrew name is Tzvi; his paternal grandparents, Froim and Anna (Gallar) Stern, and maternal grandparents, Sol and Esther (Reich) Schiffman, were Jews from Austria-Hungary who emigrated to America at about the same time.
On June 4, 1978, Stern married his college sweetheart, Alison Berns, at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, Massachusetts; they have three daughters. In October of 1999, Stern announced he and Alison were divorcing due to the fact that he is a workaholic. Alison remarried in 2001 to David Lobosco. Stern has been dating model Beth Ostrosky since early 2000.
In one typical example of his radio show, he persuaded a female caller to have phone sex with him on the air. He made deep buzzing noises into his microphone, and had her sit on a speaker with the volume turned up until she reached an on-the-air orgasm. Another notable episode was on WWDC-FM (DC101 Radio) in Washington D.C. in which Stern called Air Florida Airlines and asked what the fare was for a one-way ticket from Washington National Airport to the 14th Street Bridge (on the Potomac River less than 1 mile from the airport). He was making light of the crash of Air Florida Flight 90 one day earlier, on January 13, 1982, which had killed 78 persons (both onboard the airplane and in vehicles stopped in traffic on the bridge). That June 29, Stern was fired from DC-101 radio after being suspended for criticizing his station management and two other radio stations. Stern's lawyer alleged, "It's our view that the real reason they've [fired Stern] is they would like to get new DC-101 deejays 'GreaseMan' and 'Adam Smasher' on the air as soon as possible, and hope the audience forgets about Howard, and that's a perfectly rational business judgment."
Stern has also shown the ability to take society's misfits and turn them into celebrities through The Wack Pack. Wack Pack members are able to parlay their exposure on Stern's show into personal appearances at clubs and even the occasional movie.
Stern referred to himself as the "King Of All Media," a parody of Michael Jackson's claiming of the title "King of Pop." To his subdits this title is true, as they have been loyal consumers of The King's books, pay-per-view events and movies. Stern believes he represents the future of America, where, in keeping with a longstanding trend, public moral standards will continue to loosen. His show is frequently the subject of complaints by various listeners who find his deliveries offensive – something he deliberately encourages. Fines have occasionally been issued against radio stations airing his show, generally for violating FCC requirements regarding content. Still, the parent conglomerate that hosts Stern's show, Infinity Broadcasting (a subsidiary of Viacom), seems to consider these fines a necessary price to pay in order to support Stern's continuing popularity.
As of November 2004, the show, typically airing in the morning, is syndicated on 45 radio stations all across the U.S. (27 owned by Infinity Broadcasting), down from Stern's peak syndication of 62 stations. The stations are not allowed to stream the show over the internet.
In 1994 Stern embarked on a political campaign for Governor of New York, formally announcing his candidacy under the Libertarian Party ticket. Although he legally qualified for the office and campaigned for a time after his nomination, many viewed the run for office as nothing more than a publicity stunt. He subsequently withdrew his candidacy because he did not want to comply with the financial disclosure requirements for candidates.
In March of 1995, one day before the funeral of slain Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla, Stern played the sounds of gunshots in the background over some of her music. He also made comments that were considered racist by many people, such as "Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul", and "Spanish people have the worst taste in music...they have no depth." After pressure from his radio station, Stern gave an on-air apology a week later in Spanish.
In 1997 Stern's autobiographical book, Private Parts, was adapted to film. The movie did moderately well at box offices and in video release, garnering a total of over $60 million. He had also announced plans for a film provisionally titled The Adventures of Fartman based on a character created for his appearance at the MTV Video/Music Awards. As of 2005, this project has not even begun pre-production.
Being a personality that most people either love or hate, he has had his share of stalkers and death threats. On January 15, 1998 Lance Carvin, who had been stalking Stern, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for threatening to kill Stern and his family.
His April 21, 1999 show drew angry criticism and official "censure" from the Colorado State Legislature for his comment regarding the motives of the two male students who murdered 12 classmates and one teacher in the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado:
- "There were some really good-looking girls running out with their hands over their heads. Did those kids try to have sex with any of the good-looking girls? They didn't even do that? At least if you're going to kill yourself and kill all the kids, why wouldn't you have some sex? If I was going to kill some people, I'd take them out with sex."
Stern did not apologize for his words but instead argued that his comments were an attempt to figure out what was wrong with the two attackers.
Also in 1997, Stern's show aired for the first time in Canada, appearing on CILQ in Toronto and CHOM in Montreal. Both stations cancelled Stern's show in 2000 after frequent listener complaints to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and the CRTC; for most of the time that the stations did air Stern's program, they were required to monitor the show for offensive content through the use of broadcast delays.
The number of commercials aired during his radio show has greatly increased from the 1980s to the present.
It was officially announced on March 5, 2001 that longtime show regular Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling had left the radio show after failed contract negotiations. Over the next several months, various comedians auditioned in the "Jackie Chair" for the job. After auditioning himself, it was eventually announced that comedian Artie Lange was the permanent replacement.
Howard Stern was on the air in his New York City studio during the September 11, 2001 attacks and stayed on the air with his cast/crew while many other broadcasters fled the city. His live reporting was the first news of the incident for many East Coast residents. Crew member K.C. Armstrong was the notable exception, as he left the city immediately and refused to return for several days. Mr. Stern and the rest of the cast/crew continued to broadcast over the subsequent days following the disaster. The show had a somewhat subdued tone, with many listeners calling in to share their own stories of survival or personal loss. As other comedy performers like David Letterman and Jon Stewart later returned to the air, many with emotionally-charged monologues, Stern was furious at the glowing response they received in the press. He had been on the air the whole time without any positive reaction. This reinforced his long-held belief that there is a bias against him in the mainstream media.
In 2002, Stern's production company Howard Stern Productions acquired the rights to the 1982 movie Porky's and the 1979 movie Rock 'n' Roll High School. Stern was a producer for the TV series Son of the Beach.
Despite the provocative content of Stern's show—or perhaps because of it—many listeners and critics consider Stern to be a talented on-air personality and formidable interviewer. (He informed listeners early in 2004 that the ABC television network was in talks with him to produce an interview special.) His popularity has given rise to a number of imitation "shock jocks" who attempt to outdo Stern in terms of offensiveness and rudeness, but these imitators have found themselves with more troubles to worry about than listener ratings. In 2002 fellow Infinity Broadcasting Corporation jocks Opie and Anthony had their nationally syndicated WNEW-FM "extreme talk" show cancelled after they encouraged a couple to engage in sexual intercourse at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City, then airing a running commentary of the act on their show. Stern, his supporters note, has not gone out of his way to offend the general public in this manner.
Nevertheless, on February 25, 2004, Clear Channel Communications "indefinitely suspended" him from six markets because of alleged indecency. The show in question featured Rick Salomon, whose claims to fame include a publicly released home video showing him having sex with Paris Hilton. During this broadcast Stern held a sexually-provocative interview with Soloman, asking him graphic questions about anal sex. The move came only a day after Clear Channel fired Bubba the Love Sponge for similar reasons. This is considered to be part of a wide-ranging backlash against obscenity triggered by the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy. Because Clear Channel and some of its executives have donated over $200,000 to the Republican Party, Stern claims the company was trying to penalize him for his harsh criticisms of President George W. Bush, .
It should be noted that Stern was one of the few celebrities who publicly supported Bush sending U.S. troops into Iraq, he turned against him, as he did Bill Clinton, because neither, as he has put it, got "the FCC off my back." He endorsed John Kerry in the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign, and urged his listeners to vote for him.
This is only the latest in a long string of political endorsements Stern has made, having earlier supported former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, among others. In an on-air stunt, Stern promised then-gubernatorial candidate Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey that he would endorse her candidacy if she promised to name a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike after him if she were elected. She won and kept her promise, although one of her successors, Democrat Jim McGreevey, later claimed impropriety by Whitman and revoked the "honor."
On February 27 of 2004, long-time Stern show regular John Melendez left the show to become the on-air announcer for The Tonight Show. Stern has consistently claimed the move is an attempt by Jay Leno to steal ideas from Howard's show.
On April 8, 2004, Clear Channel Communications announced it would "permanently terminate" its relationship with the shock jock  after being fined $500,000 by the FCC. However, on July 19, Stern returned to four of the six markets Clear Channel booted him off of, and added five new ones to the roster this time on Infinity-owned stations. In late August, he returned to a fifth market, Miami, on an independent station. Here, as is often typical with Stern, his return was greeted with controversy as the Miami Dolphins threatened to revoke their broadcast deal with the station in question if the station did not fire him.
Throughout the Spring of 2004, Stern was a very vocal and staunch critic of Mel Gibson and his religious epic, The Passion of the Christ. He called the film a "kook festival for a robotic freak audience" and even linked his radio suspension to the film, claiming that it was causing a "religious frenzy" and that anyone who goes to see the movie is "stupid and ignorant". At one point Stern actually said that "Mel Gibson makes Hitler look like Gandhi".
Incidentally, President Bush's religious beliefs were one of the reasons Stern became so opposed to him. Stern said "Bush being born again is the source of Bush forcing his morals on this country, he's ruining America." Stern also said that "Bush needs to stop talking to Jesus."
On October 6, 2004, Stern announced on his show that he has signed a five year, $500 million deal with the satellite radio service Sirius. The deal, which takes effect on January 1, 2006, would enable Stern to broadcast his show without, as of present, the content restrictions imposed by the FCC. In addition, the deal would also enable Stern to program two additional Sirius channels, one of which would be available at an extra charge to subscribers.
This move has been met with much controversy, as Stern has been talking about his move to Sirius on his show, even telling listeners how to purchase Sirius equipment and subscriptions. Stern even held a rally in New York where he gave out coupons for free or discounted Sirius equipment. His impending move to Sirius has resulted in some radio stations censoring him every time he mentions the words "Sirius" or "satellite radio". In one incident, Farid Suleman of Citadel broadcasting has gone so far as to have billed Stern $200,000 for the plugs he's given Sirius on his show. Stern's response was, "Keep sending me bills. Like I'm going to pay 'em,", which he publicly stated on his show.
On April 6, 2005, Stern pleaded on-air for Infinity Broadcasting to let him out of his contract, citing the reason of possible prosecution as per U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner Jr.'s recommendation. FMQB.com quoted Stern as saying about his current employer, "They're holding me to the contract and I'm afraid to break the contract, because I don't want to ever do anything illegal or wrong. I'm very, very clear on that. I'm a pretty honest guy. I try to live by the laws, but it seems like I'm being set up." Full Story
- WWOR Show: 69 Episodes – July 14, 1990 – Aug 1, 1992
- E! Cable Show: 1994-Present
Cast & Crew of the Howard Stern show
- Artie Lange
- Benjy Bronk
- Fred Norris (aka Eric Norris)
- Gary Dell'Abate (aka Baba Booey)
- Ralph Cirella
- Richard Christy
- Robin Quivers
- Ronnie Mund
- Sal the Stockbroker
- Scott DePace, "E" show producer
- Scott Salem, Scott the Engineer
- Tom Chiusano, WXRK Station General Manager
Regulars on the Howard Stern show
- Dr. Sal Calabro
- Adam Carolla
- Ralph Cirella
- Dominic Barbara
- Beetlejuice the Dwarf
- Bong Hit Eric
- Captain Janks
- Chaunce Hayden
- Crazy Cabbie
- Daniel Carver
- Elephant Boy
- Elliot Offen
- Eric the Midget
- Gary The Retard
- Gilbert Gottfried
- High Pitch Eric
- Jeff The Drunk
- Jessica Hahn
- Jimmy Kimmel
- Joey Boots
- John the Stutterer
- King of All Blacks
- Mike Walker
- Pamela Anderson
- Vinny Favale
- Wendy the Retard
- Yucko the Clown
Former Cast & Crew
- Billy West
- Jackie Martling (left March 2001)
- Stuttering John (left March 2004)
- KC Armstrong (left mid to late 2004)
- Crackhead Bob (angry – refuses to appear)
- Hank, The Angry, Drunken Dwarf (died September 4 2001)
- Richard Simmons (angry – refuses to appear)
- Sam Kinison (deceased)
- Ted the Janitor (deceased)
- The Ramones (most members deceased)
- Tiny Tim (deceased)
WARNING: Some sites may contain potentially offensive content
- Howard Stern Official website
- Howard Stern Photo Essay on Richard Brill's TCF.NET
- The Howard Stern E! Show
- WXRK-FM 92.3 K-Rock New York (Flagship Station of The Howard Stern Show)
- Sirius Satellite Radio (New Home of The Howard Stern Show starting in January 2006)
- Stern Fan Network Online Stern Community
- Howard Stern at the Internet Movie Database
- Marks Friggin (daily radio show summaries; extensive archive)
- The Howard Stern Radio Network Stations List
- The Howard Stern Show September 11, 2001 Broadcast
- King Of All Media Website (daily Howard Stern news digest)
- The Quivers Page (Robin Quivers admiration site)
- Stern Discusses The Murder Of Selena
- The Interactive Captain Janks Web Site (notorious Prank caller)
- Chaunce Hayden (Regular caller; Steppin' Out publisher)
- Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling's Official Website (Former Stern Show Head Writer and Regular)
- Billy West's Official Website (Former Stern Show Regular)
- Hank The Angry Dwarf Official Website (Former Regular Guest)
- Beetlejuice's official website