The Unfiltered Life Of Shock Jock Howard Stern
Over a radio career spanning forty years, Howard Stern has built up a huge fan-base of loyal listeners who tune in daily to hear his outrageous radio antics. The original ‘shock jock’, Stern is the most famous radio presenter in the world who has amassed a vast fortune as ‘The King of all Media’ in a career stretching back all the way to 1976. Here are 25 surprising facts from the unfiltered life of America’s greatest living radio personality.
He Was Interested In Radio From A Very Early Age
Ray Stern, Howard’s father, owned a recording studio in Manhattan called Auro Recording Inc. The studios specialized in recording the voice-overs for radio commercials and the wacky voices for cartoons. At the tender age of five, Stern used to accompany his father to work and listen to men such as Don Adams, Larry Storch and Wally Cox recording voices for cartoons and became interested in a career in voice work that would eventually lead him to the radio.
His Father’s Nickname Inspired A Book
While he was promoting his second book, Miss America, Stern was asked why he had chosen such an unusual title. He revealed that the title referred to when he was a kid going through puberty. “When I was a kid growing up in high school, I would come down the steps,” Stern explained. “My parents were disgusted by me. I had started this growth spurt. I looked like a big, hairy pencil. I’m walking down the steps and my father would look at me and I’d be in my underpants. And he looked down at his son who was sprouting with facial hair and he’d go, ‘Oh, look. There’s Miss America.'”
He Was On College Radio
After graduating from high school, Stern attended Boston University. It was there that he began to hone his radio talents presenting a show with three of his buddies on WTBU, the campus radio station. Called ‘The King Schmaltz Bagel‘, the show was controversial from the start. As would become common throughout Stern’s career, he was eventually fired from the station for a racially offensive sketch entitled ‘Godzilla Goes To Harlem’.
His First Gig Was In 19776
After graduating from university, in 1976 Stern took a job at WRNW, a rock radio station situated in Briarcliff Manor, New York. Stern started out at the bottom of the heap, but quickly rose to become the station’s Production and Program Director. He started out on a salary of $96 a week. By the time he was Production and Program Director, he was earning $250 a week – a tidy little sum in 1976!
He Married Young
Stern married young by today’s standards. He met his wife-to-be-, Alison Berns, when the pair were studying at Boston University, and they hit it off immediately. They married at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Massachusetts in 1978 when both of them were 24-years-old. The couple split in 1999, and formally divorced in 2001. “I was totally neurotic and sort of consumed with work,” Stern later said about the reason for the breakdown of his marriage. “I took work as the most important thing and the only thing.”
His First Firing Came Early
After leaving WRNW, Stern took a job at DC101, a hard rock station in Washington D.C. It wasn’t long before the ‘shock jock’ was mired in controversy. On January 13th 1982, an Air Florida flight en route to Miami crashed into the 14th Street Bridge in the capital shortly after taking off from Washington National Airport. 74 people were killed in the incident. The following morning, Stern called up Air Florida while he was on the air and asked how much a flight from the airport to the 14th Street Bridge would cost. The station was flooded with complaints, and Stern was eventually fired.
He Joined NBC And Quickly Took Radio By Storm
It was at NBC – where Stern landed at after being fired from DC101 – that he began to cement his legacy as the number one ‘shock jock’ in America. His show was often mired in controversy, so much so that the station eventually had to hire a lawyer who would cut Stern off mid-flow if he suspected the DJ was about to say something controversial. This didn’t go down well with Stern and it wasn’t long before he was at loggerheads with the station bosses. The situation continued until Stern was fired in 1985 after three tumultuous years at the station.
He Has Three Daughters
During Stern’s marriage to Alison, the pair had three daughters, Emily, Debra and Ashley. There were problems growing up in the shadow of such a famous and controversial father. “My dad’s emphasis on sexuality in his career kept me out of the dating ring when I was younger,” his daughter Emily later told reporters. She as also stunned when Stern and Alison split up. “I felt like the divorce came out of nowhere,” she recalled. “I thought that sacred bond was so strong. He used to be one way, and then he marries a model.”
He Performed A Funeral For A DJ … Who Was Still Alive!
When Stern joined WXRK in New York in 1986 to host the morning slot, the number one DJ in the country was Philadelphia’s John DeBella at WMMR. When Stern came on board and ratings for his morning show began to soar, it wasn’t long before he overtook DeBella and claimed the top spot. Ever the king of subtlety, Stern celebrated overtaking DeBella by holding a mock funeral for the DJ in Rittenhouse Square in DeBella’s hometown of Philadelphia. DeBella was, understandably, not amused.
He Tried To Get Into Politics
In 1994, Stern was a national celebrity and the most famous DJ in the country. He decided that year to run for the Governor’s office as the official Libertarian Party candidate. However, one of the requirements for running for Governor is making a full disclosure of your finances. Stern refused to do so, even taking the matter to court and losing. He withdrew his candidacy and instead backed George Pataki, who went on to win the contest. In Stern’s honor, Pataki introduced the Howard Stern Bill, which restricted construction on New York and Long Island streets during evening and nighttime hours. This has been a particular bugbear of Stern’s, and one of the reasons he stood for office.
He Seriously Annoyed Latin America
When Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla was gunned down by a deranged fan in 1995, Stern’s response was not to offer her family his condolences, but instead to take to the airwaves and criticize her music. “Spanish people have the worst taste in music,” he told his listeners. “This music does absolutely nothing for me. Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul.” Needless to say, fans of Selena were outraged, especially in Latin America. The controversy got so out of hand that an arrest warrant was issued in Texas for Stern’s arrest for ‘disorderly conduct’. Stern would later apologize for his hurtful words.
He Was Snubbed By David Bowie
Stern is a huge fan of the late singer-songwriter, David Bowie. Stern invited the rock legend on to his show, and Bowie duly obliged. However, Stern was very disappointed when the singer declined to be interviewed, instead just playing a couple of his songs and then leaving. Stern was deeply hurt by this. The two clearly made up, however, as Bowie performed for Stern at his 44th birthday party in 1998.
He Was Banned From Clear Channel
Stern’s show is syndicated to radio channels and stations all across the country. In 2004, Clear Channel Radio was running his show through six of their markets when Stern invited Rick Saloman on to his show to talk about the adult movie he had made with hotel heiress, Paris Hilton. The conversation went into rather graphic detail, and the complaints flooded in. The FCC got involved and fined Stern’s home station $495,000. As a result of this, Clear Channel banned him from their networks. Stern’s no stranger to entanglements with the FCC. Over the years, he has been responsible for them dishing out an eye-watering $2.5 MILLION in fines for things the shock jock has said and done!
He’s Worth Some Serious Dough
Stern is estimated to be worth a staggering $600 million. His annual salary is $90 million a year, and he has various investments in property and businesses. He may have cost his stations millions of dollars over the years in fines from the FCC, but this doesn’t appear to have put a dent into his personal fortune. Not bad for a guy who says rude things on the radio!
His House Has To Be Seen To Be Believed!
Stern’s home in Palm Beach, Florida was bought for a cool $52 million. Boasting a grand staircase, a pool and a walk-in wardrobe for Stern’s second wife that’s bigger than the average apartment, Stern recently spent $13 million on improvements to the 19,000 square feet property. Because why spend $52 million when you can spend $65 million, eh?
He Suffers From OCD
Stern is a vocal advocate of the transcendental meditation method. Stern, who has suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder throughout most of his life, uses meditation techniques to keep his condition under control. He has also credited transcendental meditation with helping his mother with her depression.
He’s No Stranger To Controversy
Following the Columbine High School tragedy on April 20th 1999, Stern landed himself in trouble again the following morning during an interview conducted in Denver. Asked for his thoughts, the motormouth DJ commented on the ‘really hot girls’ he’d seen on TV running in terror from the scene of the massacre. Howls of outrage followed, with the Rocky Mountain News publishing an editorial that stated, “Let Howard Stern make his millions in other broadcast markets. He does not belong in Denver.” Way to go, Howard.
He Can Be A Bit Of A Bully
For many years, Stern waged a war of words with talk show host Kathie Gifford. The shock jock had no problem with insulting not only Gifford live on air, but also her friends and family. When rumors surfaced that Gifford was having an affair, Stern took to the airwaves to publicly call her an idiot. Stern eventually apologized, but not before many people had chastised him for being downright nasty.
But He Does Occasionally Has A Gentler Side
Stern may get things wrong from time to time, such as his very public feud with Kathie Gifford, but he does have a gentler side. He has donated a huge sum of money to the North Shore Animal League America. The NSALA runs the world’s largest no-kill animal center from its headquarters in Port Washington, New York. As well as taking in stray and abandoned animals, the NSALA carries out rescue operations following natural disasters. Recently, it had been involved in saving animals caught up in Hurricanes Rita and Katrina.
He’s A Member Of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
For years, Stern poured scorn on the National Radio Hall of Fame. So it came as a bit of a surprise when it was announced that the shock jock would be inducted in 2012. Following the announcement, Stern took to the airwaves to explain why he’d accepted the induction. He told his listeners that the organization needed to boost its profile because it was ‘little known’. He really is a give with one hand / take away with the other kind of guy!
He’s A Keen Martial Artist
Stern has for many years been a pupil of Shotokan Karate, a martial art that originated in Japan. Shotokan is a tough discipline, which makes Stern’s brown belt in the martial art even more impressive. At six foot four, Stern makes an impressive opponent. We doubt many people are happy to get into the ring with him!
He’s The ‘King Of All Media’
Many years ago, Stern branded himself ‘The King of all Media’. In 2006, Stern decided to make the title legal by filing a trademark claim on it. It was contested on seven separate occasions, but Stern was finally granted the trademark on August 1st, 2013. Now, if anyone else calls themselves ‘The King of all Media’, Stern can sue them for trademark infringement.
He Remarried In 2008
As his divorce from wife Alison was being finalized, Stern began dating model and TV host, Beth Ostrosky. They were together for seven years before Stern finally popped the question in 2007. They married in 2008, with the ceremony officiated by TV presenter and actor, Mark Consuelos. Despite the age difference – Ostrosky is eighteen years younger than Stern – the two are still happily married.
He’s Good Friends With The President Of The United States
Stern has been friends with the current President of the United States, Donald Trump, for many years. The two are so close that Stern attended Trump’s wedding to First Lady Melania in 2005. Stern actually voted for Hilary Clinton in the 2016 election, but this doesn’t seem to have dented their friendship.
He May Be Considering Retirement
Rumors have circulated for a while that Stern may be considering retirement. These rumors went into overdrive when Stern unexpectedly took a day off for personal reasons recently – the first unscheduled day off he’d taken since he started his radio career. He has told people he sometimes feels ‘burned out’, and is even rumored to have approached former talk show host David Letterman for retirement advice. Will Stern finally turn his back on the radio? Only time will tell!
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