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Howard Allan Stern (born January 12, 1954) is an American radio and media personality most notable for his radio show which since January 9, 2006, has been broadcasting on Sirius XM, an uncensored satellite radio service. Although described by the media as a "shock jock" for his sometimes controversial commentary and segments, Stern argues it never was his intention to "shock" people, whether discussing world affairs or the staff he works with. Stern is the highest-paid radio personality in the United States, and also the most fined, following a long history with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) since 1987.

Stern began his career in the radio industry in February 1975 at his campus station at Boston Universitymarker, presenting a one-hour comedy program with college friends. Developing his on-air style for four years at Briarcliff Manormarker, Hartford and Detroit from 1977–1980, Stern paired up with his on-air news anchor Robin Quivers at Washington, D.C. in 1981. By August 1982, after having the top morning show in Washington, Stern arrived at New York City, the country's largest radio market. Despite numerous disputes with management, Stern would have the top afternoon show by mid-1985. After being fired that September he returned to New York airwaves after a two-month absence, broadcasting for over twenty years until leaving for satellite in December 2005, free from content restrictions imposed by the FCC.

Stern describes himself as "The King of All Media" for his successes not only in radio but in print, film and television. His two books, Private Parts (1993) and Miss America (1995), received great media attention and sales, topping The New York Times Best Seller list within weeks of their release. The former was later adapted into a 1997 film of the same name directed by Betty Thomas, which grossed over $40 million in the United States alone. Stern's television endeavours include various late night shows and successful pay-per-view specials, with New Year's Rotten Eve 1994 becoming the highest grossing non-sports pay-per-view ever.


Childhood and early life

Howard Stern was born on January 12, 1954, into a Jewish American family (his Hebrew name is "") in the Queensmarker neighborhood of Jackson Heights in New York Citymarker. In June of the same year, his parents moved to the Long Islandmarker town of Rooseveltmarker. His father Ben was an engineer at WHOM, a radio station in Manhattanmarker which influenced his son's early interest in radio. His mother Rae, was a homemaker for most of his childhood. Stern describes his only sibling Ellen, who is four years his senior, as being his "complete opposite" since she is rarely mentioned on his radio show, though he maintains a good relationship as their personalities complement one another. Although both parents are Jewish, Stern's on-air banter is that he is only "half-Jewish," with the other being Italian because "it's very hard to be Jewish in this half-Jewish side has been beaten with chains." Stern's paternal grandparents, Froim and Anna (née Gallar) Stern and maternal grandparents, Sol and Esther (née Reich) Schiffman, were Austro-Hungarian Jews who immigrated to America at about the same time.

Stern often said that his parents verbally abused him as a child. During an August 1990 broadcast when old family recordings were replayed for the first time, some remarks have become show soundbites, including "I told you not to be stupid, you moron" and "Shut up! Sit down!" from his father at a seven year-old Stern. Stern said his mother ran her house with "the intensity of Hitler" and that his father's "favorite sport was yelling."

In June 1969, the family moved to the Long Island town of Rockville Centremarker, where Stern transferred from Roosevelt Junior High School, a predominantly African American school, to South Side High School, from which he would graduate in the spring of 1972. By the year's fall, having turned down an acceptance at Elmira Collegemarker in upstate New York, Stern attended Boston Universitymarker for its reputation in teaching broadcast communications. It was during this time when Stern, now standing at a tall , developed an interest in Transcendental Meditation, which he practices to this day. He credits the practice with aiding him in quitting smoking and achieving his goals in radio. Stern has interviewed Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the technique, twice in his career. His mother also learnt the technique, claiming it cured her depression.

In his sophomore year, Stern volunteered at WTBU, the campus radio station where he spun records and read the news. In February 1975 he joined with three older students to put on a comedy show named The King Schmaltz Bagel Hour, loosely named after the nationally syndicated rock concert broadcast King Biscuit Flour Hour. The show ran for nine weeks before being cancelled due to an outrageous sketch called "Godzilla Goes to Harlem" which angered the station's manager. Stern graduated in the spring of 1976 with a bachelor's degree in Communications, carrying a 3.8 Grade Point Average. He now funds a scholarship at the university.

Personal life

On June 4, 1978, Stern married college sweetheart Alison Berns at Ohabei Shalom, a Reform synagogue in Brookline, Massachusettsmarker. They have three daughters – Emily Beth (b. May 7, 1983), Debra Jennifer (b. May 9, 1986) and Ashley Jade (b. January 24, 1993). A hallmark of Stern's humor was his claim to be tempted by the strippers, porn stars and lesbians appearing on his show, but always insisted that he had to be faithful to his wife. On October 25, 1999, Stern announced that he and Alison decided to separate. They amicably divorced in 2001, which ended in a settlement. Stern began a period of single living in New York City's Upper West Sidemarker, dating a number of women including Angie Everhart and Robin Givens. Despite reportedly spending time with Carmen Electra "five times", the two have denied there was anything more intimate than an outdoor shower in bathing suits.

In late 2000, Stern began dating model Beth Ostrosky, who co-hosted Casino Cinema on Spike TV from 2004 to 2007. She had also frequently appeared in the American edition of men's magazine FHM until it ceased publication in 2007. The pair have lived together in Manhattan with their bulldog "Bianca Romijn-Stamos O'Connell." Stern also owns a house in the Hamptonsmarker on Long Islandmarker. On February 14, 2007, after a period of seven years, Stern announced his engagement to Ostrosky. They later married on October 3, 2008, at the Le Cirque restaurant in New York City.


Stern regularly plays chess on the Internet Chess Club. He has taken on-line lessons from Dan Heisman, a chess master from Philadelphiamarker. He is a fan of comic books and science fiction, with his favorite superhero being Superman. Stern is also a fan of the television show The Munsters, and greatly admires the comedy of The Three Stooges. He is avidly into fitness and runs and lift weights regularly, though he complains that it has no visible effect on his body.

Radio career

Terrestrial radio

After graduating from Boston University, Stern gained brief professional experience as a disc jockey at WNTN in Newton, Massachusettsmarker. This was followed by two years as an on-air personality and program director for WRNWmarker in Briarcliff Manormarker, New Yorkmarker, playing rock music. In late 1979, Stern landed his first morning position in Hartford, Connecticutmarker at WCCC, whose progressive rock format promoted his development as a free form on-air personality. It was at Hartford when Stern met his future show writer and producer Fred Norris, a college student working the overnight shift at the time. By April 1980, Stern moved to FM radio station WWWWmarker in Detroit, Michiganmarker, further developing his show until the station adopted a country music format, much to his dislike. Barely a year in Detroit, Stern then worked mornings at WWDC in Washington, D.C.marker for a year, quickly becoming the city's top morning show in the quarterly Arbitron radio ratings. It was at Washington when Stern paired with his on-air news anchor Robin Quivers. In mid-1982 he returned home to New York City working afternoons at NBC's flagship AM radio station, WNBC. Working at NBC at that time was David Letterman, who became a fan of Stern's radio show. His guest appearance on Late Night with David Letterman on June 19, 1984, launched Stern into the national spotlight for the first time.

Following an abrupt firing from WNBC in September 1985, Stern quickly returned to FM radio by joining WXRK working afternoons on November 18, 1985. By February 1986, he moved to the morning drive time slot. By 1991, his show was syndicated on WYSP in Philadelphia, WJFK-FMmarker in Washington, D.C. and KLSX in Los Angeles, and then nationwide by Infinity Broadcasting. The program made great sport out of feuding with other cities' top-rated morning personalities, and soon Stern's broadcast was number one in the country's several major radio markets. Stern remained at "K-Rock" until December 2005, a period of over 20 years.

Stern's outspoken style has brought criticism. For example, a few days after the murder of singer Selena, Stern mocked the murder, poked fun at her mourners, and criticized her music. Stern said, "This music does absolutely nothing for me. Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul... Spanish people have the worst taste in music. They have no depth." Stern's comments outraged and infuriated the Hispanic community across Texas.

On October 26, 2004, then chairman of the FCC Michael Powell was being interviewed on KGO-AMmarker radio in San Francisco when Stern called in and questioned Powell's credentials, and accused Powell and the FCC of crusading against Stern's show by levying huge fines but not allowing them their day in court to determine if the show is obscene.

Satellite radio

Stern announced on October 6, 2004, that he signed a five-year contract with Sirius Satellite Radio, a medium free from the regulations imposed by the Federal Communications Commission. He was unhappy broadcasting on commercial radio, with the combined stresses of heavy censorship, editing by management, and lengthy commercial breaks weighed into his decision to move. Within the last month of his terrestrial radio run, Stern revealed he felt "dead inside" creatively. The contract with Sirius, which took effect on January 1, 2006, allowed Stern to have three channels, although only two are currently used. Sirius provided a budget of $500 million to pay Stern, his staff and general production costs. His personal salary has not been revealed, Stern claimed to Gene Simmons of KISS when asked about salaries he makes $7 million a year, though media sources claim that Stern netted a $218 million one-time stock bonus for meeting subscriber quotas.

In May 2006, Stern was included in the Time 100 list by Time magazine, part of the hundred most influential people in the world. and was ranked number seven in "World's Most Powerful Celebrity" by Forbes.

CBS lawsuit

On February 28, 2006, CBS Radio (formerly Infinity Broadcasting) announced it had filed a lawsuit against Stern, his agent Don Buchwald, and Sirius, arguing that Stern promoted Sirius "to enrich himself unfairly." It also claimed that Stern "repeatedly and will-fully" breached his contract with CBS, "misappropriated millions of dollars worth [of airtime]" for his own benefit and "fraudulently concealed" his performance-related interests in Sirius stock. The suit, filed in New York State Court, sought compensatory and punitive damages. Stern anticipated the suit, and earlier that day, prior to CBS' announcement, held a press conference, discussing how CBS added to the media attention, even booking him for appearances on Late Show with David Letterman and 60 Minutes. "I made them millions of dollars," Stern argued. "If I was hurting them, why did they keep me on the air for fourteen months? How can you have it both ways?"

When a settlement was announced on May 26, 2006, Sirius gained exclusive rights to Stern's back catalogue of radio broadcasts at WXRK from November 1985 to December 2005, totalling almost 23,000 hours. The rights, costing Sirius approximately $2 million, equates to approximately $87 per-hour of tape.

Career in other media

Television and pay-per-view

Stern's career in television began in May 1987, when Fox was looking for a late night talk show to replace The Late Show, then hosted by Joan Rivers. Stern then recorded five pilot episodes of The Howard Stern Show which ultimately, never made it to air. In July 1990, Stern began an weekly hour-long comedy show on WWOR-TVmarker, also called The Howard Stern Show. Lasting a total of 69 episodes before ending in 1992, Stern felt production began to interfere with the growth of his radio show. Stern however, began his time on the E! Entertainment Television network in late 1992, hosting a one-on-one celebrity interview show named The Howard Stern Interview.

In June 1994, cameras were installed in the radio show studio to produce a half-hour show named Howard Stern shown on E!. A consistent ratings winner, the show came to an end after eleven years in July 2005. During this time, Stern competed with Saturday Night Live with The Howard Stern Radio Show, a Saturday night show broadcast on CBS and its affiliates. This was soon to be unsuccessful, with Stern's show being beaten by SNL in the ratings. The show ran for 84 episodes until May 19, 2001. Stern quit further episodes so he could produce a syndicated show called Kane, yet the show was never produced. He was also involved with a pilot starring comedian Robert Schimmel that didn't get picked up as a series.

In 2002, Stern's production company, Howard Stern Productions, acquired the rights to the 1979 film Rock 'n' Roll High School and the 1982 film Porky's, neither of which have yet to be re-made. Stern was also a producer of the series Son of the Beach, which ran for three seasons. He informed listeners in early 2004 that he was in talks with ABC to produce an interview special, which never materialized. He also intended to produce two cartoons, Doomsday and Howard Stern: The High School Years, but neither of these ever made it to the airwaves. In 2009, Stern explained that he refused to agree to flash animation over traditionally drawn cartoons.


Stern released his first autobiography, Private Parts, on October 15, 1993. It quickly became top of The New York Times Best Seller list, and after five days, the fastest-selling in publisher Simon & Schuster's 70-year history. Stern released his second book, titled Miss America, on November 7, 1995. It too, became number one across the country within weeks of its release.

Stern has written forewords for Steal This Dream, a biography of Abbie Hoffman, Disgustingly Dirty Joke Book by former show writer and comedian Jackie Martling, and Too Fat to Fish by current comedian Artie Lange.

Film and music

Stern's 1993 autobiography was adapted into an eponymous biographical film in 1997, developed from a script by Len Blum and Michael Kalesniko. Directed by Betty Thomas, the film topped the box office in its opening weekend with a gross of $14.6 million, and slightly more than $41 million in total. Although receiving mostly positive reviews from critics including Siskel and Ebert, Rotten Tomatoes claim the film glossed over Stern's use of his sexual and racial humor. For his performance, Stern won the Blockbuster Entertainment Award for "Favorite Male Newcomer." The awards are given based on write-in votes from fans, and Stern won by a wide margin. Stern was also nominated for a Golden Satellite Award for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy)," and a Razzie Award for "Worst New Star."


In 1994, Stern embarked on a political campaign for Governor of New York, formally announcing his candidacy under the Libertarian Party ticket. His platform included restoring the death penalty, limiting road construction work to night hours, and abolishing tolls. However, he subsequently withdrew his candidacy because he did not wish to comply with the financial disclosure requirements for candidates.

In popular culture

Stern's prevalent media presence has led to his being parodied or referenced in various outlets;

See also


  1. Stern, p. 63
  2. Stern, p. 39
  3. Stern, p. 111
  4. Stern, pp. 43-44
  5. Stern, p. 92
  6. Stern, p. 46
  7. Stern, p. 43
  8. Stern, p. 36
  9. Stern, p. 41
  10. Stern, p. 65
  11. Colford, p. 28
  12. Stern, pp. 54-55
  13. Colford, p. 29
  16. Stern, p. 117
  17. Colford, p. 30
  18. Stern, p. 115
  19. Casino Cinema on Internet Movie Database
  20. Stern, pp. 117-118
  21. Colford, p. 30
  22. Stern, p.119
  23. Stern, p.122
  24. Stern, p.125
  25. Stern, p.127
  26. Asin, Stephanie and Dyer, R.A. "Selena's public outraged: Shock jock Howard Stern's comments hit raw nerve." Houston Chronicle, April 6, 1995. Retrieved on February 1, 2008.
  27. YouTube video of Michael Powell confrontation
  28. Sirius Satellite Radio Inc · 8-K · For 10/1/04
  29. CBS Radio files lawsuit against Stern, Sirius CBC March 1, 2006
  30. FMQB: Howard Stern Attains Broadcast Archives From CBS Radio, Settles Suit
  31. "The Howard Stern Show" (1990)
  32. Ratings of Howard Stern, SNL and MadTV
  33. The Howard Stern TV Shows: Kane
  34. The Howard Stern TV Shows: Doomsday
  35. The Howard Stern TV Shows: Howard Stern: The High School Years
  36. Box Office Report - Box Office by Film - Private Parts
  37. Private Parts Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes
  38. Blockbuster Entertainment Awards 1998
  39. Razzies awards forums 1997 "Winners"
  40. Howard Stern - Libertarian


Further reading

External links

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