The King of Media has made a lasting impact in the world of media. And part of Howard Stern’s genius was knowing how to capitalize on his personality – an unfiltered, raw, tell it like it is a type of character. Howard Stern has no filter, saying anything and everything that comes to mind, regardless of being politically correct or not.
His radio show has been on the air for nearly four decades now, from the era of sponsored AM broadcasting to satellite radio. He even had a movie made about him. But part of being shamelessly honest is having to deal with the repercussions of insulting people, whether having done so was intentional or not. Luckily for Stern, his loyal audience loves his inappropriate behavior and have stayed with him until today.
Bad manners aside, there’s something to be said about someone whose passion for talk radio and honesty became a legacy not only in the world of radio and media but in popular culture as a whole. Fan or not of Howard Stern, his life is definitely noteworthy.
His Interest in Radio Started When He Was Young
Howard’s father, Ray Stern, was one of the owners of a recording studio called Auro Recording Inc., which was in Manhattan. The recording studio produced its fair share of commercial and cartoon voice-overs.
Howard would often visit his father’s work and become inspired by the voice work and eventually be the catalyst in his becoming a radio mogul. Big names like Larry Storch, Don Adams, and Wally Cox would come into the studio to do their voice work and young Howard would look up to them.
His First Radio Gig Was in College
Howard went to Boston University and a got a real taste of being on the radio. During his time in college, Howard started working at the campus radio station WTBU. He also had his own radio show on the station with three of his friends which they called The King Schmaltz Bagel.
It was then that Stern already created a name for himself as a trouble maker. He was already stirring up controversy as the show was canceled after one episode which featured a racial sketch that they called Godzilla Goes to Harlem.
But Howard was on his way to making it big and a lot of it can be credited to his first wife…
His First Professional Radio Gig
With the support and encouragement of his first wife, Alison Berns, Howard took a job with WRNW, a rock radio station in Briarcliff Manor, New York. It was his first real professional radio gig and would be the kick start he needed.
He started working at the station in December of the year 1976 and eventually became the studio’s production and program director. While he started out earning $96 a week, he ended up making a weekly salary of $250. Then after some time, Stern landed a job at NBC, which was a step up.
The Trouble Maker
Howard was considered to be a bit dangerous from the beginning of his role at NBC. The topics he liked to discuss and the shock factor he would provide in his work worried the studio executives. His position at NBC started in 1982.
The station took measures to make sure Howard wouldn’t become a liability. They actually hired a lawyer whose sole purpose was to cut off Howard’s microphone if he started talking about anything that appeared on a list they created of restricted topics. Stern lasted until 1985 on the station which put his three-year run at the station to rest.
Howard’s first wife was a big reason he got his first radio gigs…
When Howard Met Alison
Howard met Alison Berns at Boston University. He said, “Within a week after our relationship began, I knew I was going to marry her.” And sooner than later, the couple got married at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Massachusetts in 1978. The two were young, too.
Both Howard and Alison were 24 years old when they got hitched. The couple eventually ended their relationship in 1999. Stern referred to the divorce by saying, “I was totally neurotic and sort of consumed with work. I took work as the most important thing and the only thing.” They officially divorced in 2001.
They Had Three Kids Together
Howard and Alison managed to have three daughters during their marriage: Emily (1983), Debra (1986), and Ashley (1993). His eldest daughter Emily is orthodox Jewish, in her early 30s, and publicly blames her father for her being single.
She said, “My dad’s emphasis on sexuality [in his career] kept me out of the dating ring [when I was younger]. I felt like the divorce came out of nowhere. I thought that sacred bond was so strong. He used to be one way, and then he marries a model.”
That model was…
He Married Again 2008 to Beth Ostrosky
Even before his divorce to Alison was final, Howard began dating television host and model Beth Ostrosky. The pair dated for seven years before Howard popped the question and the couple became engaged in 2007.
The next year, in 2008, the couple got married at Le Cirque restaurant. The ceremony was officiated by Mark Consuelos, Kelly Ripa’s husband. Oh, and Beth is 18 years younger than Howard, so it’s no wonder Howard’s eldest isn’t a fan. The two are still married today.
His Daughter Isn’t Much of a Fan
Emily Stern doesn’t refrain from saying less than positive words about her father, not hiding the fact that she doesn’t seem to like him all that much. “My dad always instilled in us, ‘Everybody’s watching you,’ ” she said.
But Howard “always said it was for our protection,” she said which she attributes to what she considers to be his narcissism. “I was alone. The belief that we were so different made it unhealthy,” she says. “Maybe because he was disconnected from the world, he experienced so much shame about who he was.”
Narcissistic or not, Howard was making some bad moves…
The Howard Stern Show’s success
In 1990, Howard started hosting his own late-night radio show called The Howard Stern Show on WWOR-TV. The show struck gold and became such a huge success that the ratings actually surpassed Saturday Night Live.
It was during this time that Howard really made a name for himself. His career skyrocketed and he was shot into national and even international fame. As early as 1992, he dubbed himself the ‘King of All Media’.
But He Was Causing Trouble
Howard’s crass talk and harsh opinion, which he didn’t hold back on in his show, led the FCC to fine the companies who own the radio stations where The Howard Stern Show aired with fines totaling over $2.5 million.
There was one point where the station was fined over $500,000. That specific legal battle was the reason he eventually moved to satellite radio, where all bets are off.
And he would make history…
Being Banned From Clear Channel Radio
Howard appeared on many different radio stations throughout his career. In 2004, he was on the Clear Channel Radio, in which his radio show was on six different markets and locations nationally. But during that year, he crossed the line.
That year, he took it a step too far when he interviewed Rick Salomon about his adult video with Paris Hilton. The two went on to discuss the tape down to every detail, which led to the station receiving a fine of $495,000 by the FCC. The station responded by banning Howard Stern from that day onward.
His Move to Satellite Radio
Being booted off the last radio station was the motivation Stern needed to make the best decision of his career. He moved to satellite radio. In that same year, 2004, Howard announced that he would be transitioning from regular radio to Sirius Satellite Radio.
As you may know, satellite radio is free of censorship, which means Howard can say whatever he wants and there are no consequences. It’s as if satellite radio was made for people Howard Stern. Obviously, his switch to satellite did him good, but he still had his share of arguments with the station over payment issues.
Howard Loved to Push People’s Buttons
During his radio station days, Howard would intentionally cause controversy. He liked to push people’s buttons. One time, Howard called out Selena Quintanilla and her music in 1995 (right after her death) by saying, “Spanish people have the worst taste in music. … This music does absolutely nothing for me. Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul.”
“Too soon” was probably what the public thought. Needless to say, his words weren’t very well received. Stern eventually apologized for his tasteless words. Yet his fans have stood by him through thick and thin, regardless of his unwholesome antics.
He Wrote Two Books
Howard is more than just a radio host and a potty mouth. He’s also an author to not one but two books. He wrote “Private Parts” and “Miss America”. Both of the books were on the New York Times Best Seller List.
His books were highly successful and sold like hotcakes despite having been banned from several book stores. Which probably doesn’t come as a surprise. You probably also remember the film Private Parts which came out in 1997 and was also a box office hit.
But what was Miss America all about?
Stern’s “Miss America” was an autobiography he wrote and when he was asked why he called the book “Miss America”, he replied, “When I was a kid growing up in high school, I would come down the steps. 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,” he continued, “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 Even Had a Political Run
Believe it or not, back in 1994, Howard actually ran for office as Governor of New York! He didn’t go through with it and ended up removing his name from the ballot. He supported his fellow running mate, George Pataki, who would go on to win the election.
Another fun political fact about Howard was that a bill, called The Howard Stern Bill, was passed in 1995. The bill restricted construction on roads in Long Island and New York during nighttime hours. So he did do good for the community too!
He was also a judge on a popular talent show…
America’s Got Talent
Howard was a judge on the reality competition show and enjoyed it much more than he ever thought possible. But when he left the show, he said, “I did the most shocking thing of my career — I was on a family show.”
“I thought it would be really cool to be a judge because I think I have something to offer,” he says. “If I had any dream about this, it’s that I could take someone who was struggling and seriously give advice. I was told over and over again that I had no talent. I was in college radio. No one was banking on me. I sent a copy of my show to my father, my father wrote me back a five-page letter and was brutally honest. … It wasn’t harsh, I think it was out of love.”
He Is a Brown Belt in Shotokan
Howard has been involved in martial arts for years and has earned himself a brown belt in Shotokan, which is a form of karate that originates from Japan. That’s right, the tall and lanky man from New York can also win in a fight if he got into one.
Shotokan karate is something to be taken seriously – a few karate moves and he can lay you flat on the ground in a matter of a second or two.
Speaking of talents, Howard had his way of going about being on the air…
He Gets in the Zone
Those who know Howard and are around him both on and off the air can attest to the fact that he is completely different when he’s not “performing.” When he’s on the air, he goes into a zone.
“People who’ve seen him work without his signature dark glasses have claimed his eyes go ‘back and forth like a mile a minute,” a coworker has said. Howard then replied with “It’s almost like my eyes roll into the back of my head, and four hours later, the show’s over.”
His Net Worth
The shocking number of Howard Stern’s net worth goes to show how successful Stern is and how much he is considered to be valuable. His worth is $600 million. That’s right. And he makes an annual salary of $90 million through his Sirius Satellite Radio job.
His net worth comes from all of his investments, properties and endorsement deals in addition to his radio show. As long as he doesn’t get sued for saying something severely costly, Stern can be worry-free for the rest of his life.
Do you know why David Bowie disappointed him? See why next…
David Bowie Was His Guest
Back in Howard’s early radio days, he had David Bowie on his show. And Bowie played a few of his songs but chose not to partake in any interviews or discussion with Howard, which really disappointed him.
Howard was excited to have David on the show to talk about his music and career. But in the end, the two must have reconciled because Bowie played a special performance for Howard at his star-studded 44th birthday party in 1998.
He Suffers From OCD
Howard doesn’t hide the fact that he always had obsessive-compulsive disorder. And instead of relying on medication, he used Transcendental Meditation techniques to manage and contain the symptoms. Though it did help him, he still suffers from the disorder.
To this day, Howard still suffers from symptoms, which will always be there, but he found a way to live with it and not be bothered too much or a point where it impedes on his work. And credits a lot of it the meditation, which he has been practicing for over 36 years now.
Howard also loves animals, and has his way of giving back…
A Real Animal Lover
Howard and his second wife Beth are both huge supports of the North Shore Animal League America. The NSALA is located in Port Washington, New York and is one of the biggest no-kill animal shelters and adoption centers in the world.
The organization has been saving animals from the aftermath of natural disasters such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. And Howard and his wife have the means to donate, meaning they are some of the many celebrities that give back to the world. And if you’re curious as to which other celebs like to donate, check out this article: These Celebrities Choose to Give Back, and We Love Them Even More For it
His Home Cost a Pretty Penny
In 2013, Howard bought the home in which he and his wife Beth live for a whopping $52 million. They live in Palm Beach, Florida. The home is 19,000 square feet in size and has more accommodations than most hotels offer.
In addition to the amount he spent on the property itself, he also spent $13 million in additional renovations. The home has a luxurious staircase with a closet for his wife that is bigger than an entire apartment.
The Shock-Jock Got Fired Again
Howard Stern has been nicknamed a ‘shock-jock’ which is a title he got since his first days in his radio broadcasting career. In 1982, an Air Florida plane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge after taking off from Washington National Airport, killing 74 people.
The next day, Stern called the airline on-air to find out how much it would cost to fly from the airport to the 14th Street Bridge. Coming as no surprise at all, this ‘joke’ didn’t go down too well, and he was fired from DC101 six months later.
The DeBella Funeral
Stern always had a public rivalry with John DeBella of WMMR who was number one for quite some time. Howard’s morning slot at WXRK (which was also broadcast by WYSP in Philadelphia) started to receive high ratings before he finally took over the number one spot in April 1990.
To celebrate the occasion, Stern held a mock funeral for DeBella in Rittenhouse Square on May 10, 1990, surely as a publicity stunt and to get people talking as he loved to do. DeBella likely wasn’t so pleased about having a fake funeral held in his honor!
And when Howard was in politics, he had some unique policies…
His Unique Policies
When Howard Stern ran for governor in 1994 as a Libertarian candidate, he made an effort to challenge the reelection of Mario Cuomo. He had some unique policies that he wanted to put forward. The first was to reinstate the death penalty, which certainly divided public opinion.
He also wanted to limit roadworks to overnight hours (which he got passed in a bill) and remove highway tolls. However, the reason he withdrew from the race was due to the fact that he had to release his financial information and home address to have his name on the ballot.
King of All Media
Howard Stern called himself the ‘King of All Media,’ but he decided it wasn’t enough to just call himself that. Stern actually filed a trademark for the name in 2006, and according to official records, it was opposed several times.
He went through a lengthy process before his case was finally granted on August 1, 2013. So if anyone were ever to try and use ‘King of All Media’ as a name for themselves, Howard Stern would be able to sue as he owns the trademark.
His daughter may have been right about the narcissism part…
Did you know that Howard Stern has released three albums? The first was when he was a DJ at WWDC in 1982 and the album was called “50 Ways to Rank Your Mother” and the final track on the album was called “Howard Stern Is a God.”
The second album was a compilation of various moments from The Howard Stern Show, named “Crucified by the FCC,” and it was released in 1992. His third and final album is the official soundtrack for Private Parts, the movie about his life, which came out in 1997.
National Radio Hall of Fame
Howard Stern never hid his criticism of the National Radio Hall of Fame, so it was quite a surprise when they announced, in 2012, that he was about to become their latest addition. They must not have been aware of his opinions.
After the news of his induction into the hall of fame came out, Stern attacked Bruce DuMont (the hall of fame director) on the air again. He said the only reason they took so long to add him was because now they needed to boost the profile of the “little-known Hall of Fame.”
Stern also had his share of scandals…
The IRS scandal
On May 19, 2015, The Howard Stern show aired a conversation between Judith Barrigas (a public member of Massachusetts) and an IRS agent Jimmy Forsyth. The IRS agent had called into The Howard Stern show earlier and was put on hold before he took the call from Barrigas to discuss a question she had about her taxes. And a big no-no occurred…
Somehow the calls got tied up and Howard Stern ended up broadcasting bits of it on his show; including Judith’s phone number. Barrigas tried to sue Stern for unlawful invasion of privacy and negligence.
He Took a Personal Day
On May 10, 2017, Howard Stern sent started mayhem on the internet when he unexpectedly canceled his radio show to take a ‘personal day.’ Fans commented on the fact that Stern had never taken an unexpected day off before.
Considering how unheard of it was, people were worried something awful had happened, and theories started flooding social media. Stern came back to his show on the following Monday with no explanation. So it’s still a mystery.
He’s a Bit Burned out
In an interview with David Letterman in August 2017, he said “I fantasize that if I retire, I would have this youthful look,” Stern said to Letterman, who he’d complimented for seeming younger since he retired.
“I feel a bit burned out,” Stern went on to admit to Letterman and his listeners. Howard Stern then asked Letterman to stay as he wanted to tell him something off air. We’re not sure what about, but perhaps retirement advice is what he was looking for.
Sia Interview in June 2014
Stern had singer and songwriter Sia on his show to discuss “Diamonds,” the song she wrote and eventually gave to Rihanna to record. After Sia performed her rendition of “Diamonds” live on the show, Howard asked her some questions.
When he asked her what it means, she said: “I wrote it just for me, and I sang it, and I thought ‘This is great, it sounds like something people would vibe out to on ecstasy in the dance tent at Glastonbury.’ Like I just saw kids with their hands in the air in Ibiza on the beach.”
Bill Murray in October 2014
Actor and comedian Bill Murray had a lengthy conversation with Stern about his early days at Saturday Night Live and what it’s like to be one of the most famous people on Earth. Near the end of the interview, the rather reserved actor even discussed his struggle with loneliness.
When Howard asked if Murray was a happy man, he replied with “Right now, I’m kind of pleased.”
Stern had more memorable moments with popular guests on his show. And the next pop icon was one of the more memorable ones.
Lady Gaga in July 2011
Pop icon Lady Gaga sat down with Stern for the first time in 2011 to talk about her remarkable music career. In his typical fashion, the conversation quickly swung toward Lady Gaga’s childhood, in which she spoke of all the trials and tribulations of her life.
She spoke of her experimentation with drugs and the fact that she was an outcast. In their interview, Stern asked her about her high school years, and how drugs became an escape from loneliness.
Jay-Z in November 2010
In 2010, Jay-Z came on the Howard Stern Show to promote his autobiography, “Decoded.” Jay-Z discussed having been abandoned by his own father and how he dealt with drugs as a young kid to survive.
Howard asked him if his music is his therapy to which Jay Z replied: “Yes, of course. Listen to these albums, read those songs. Read the level of — like you said — self-realization. All that therapy is in that music.”
Steve Carrell in 2013
An interview which was considered to be one Stern’s best was with Steve Carell who came in to promote “Anchorman 2” but instead of talking about the movie, Howard got him to talk about his early career, how he feels about making money and if he ever was jealous when his wife became a cast member on “Saturday Night Live” and not him.
Carrell said he’s uncomfortable about making “obscene” money and he was a little envious about his wife but he says it never got to a dark place. Howard also got Steve to talk about his days of teaching at Second City and his day job as a mailman.
He’s Been Quoted Saying…
Howard Stern had this to say when asked if he feels remorse at all: “I’ve actually apologized to some people I was a real jerk too because I feel ashamed. I didn’t need to be that hungry. There was something going on inside me when I was angry and feeling very threatened and not feeling good about myself.”
But he also said, “Okay, well, I guess I’m still a kid. Because when I get really angry and fired up and I feel like my back is up against the wall, I will say vicious things.”
What He Won’t Do on the Radio
With everything that Stern has said over the years, we wonder if there’s anything he won’t say. “There are things that I won’t do on the radio. I mean, the next logical question is, what won’t you do. I say, well, you know, you’ve got to find out when you’re on the air.”
“My show was revolutionary, ground-breaking. When I came on the scene, people were not doing a thing.” He also has been quoted as saying: “I believe I am doing the work for humanity. This show is so uplifting.”