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Howard Stern. What can you say that hasn't already been said about him, or more likely, by him. Born January 12, 1954, Stern went from being a poor Jewish kid living in a bad neighborhood on Long Island, New York, to eventually becoming one of the highest rated and highest paid radio personalities of all time. Also known as the self-proclaimed King of All Media (a title he gave himself to parody Michael Jackson being dubbed The King of Pop).
With a career spanning over 30 years, Stern has written two books (both of which topped the New York Times Best Seller list within weeks of their release), starred in the autobiographical film of his life, aptly named Howard Stern's Private Parts, (it too opened at number one at the box office), and produced and or starred in numerous successful late night television shows and pay per view specials, most of which also had high selling video releases. Oh yeah, taking place during all the previously mentioned accomplishments, Stern and his four hour, five day a week radio show were also almost always the number one syndicated radio program during morning drive in most major radio markets in The United States for nearly fifteen years.
Stern's syndicated radio show has run from 1982 until present day, but the start date could be placed earlier if his college radio career is factored in, and his show didn't actually start syndication until the early 1990's. Regardless, Stern's show was instrumental in breaking down many barriers in radio by deviating from regular talk and corny morning routines, instead focusing on entertaining and comedic political, pop culture, and news commentary. The show was also groundbreaking in that it was one of the first mainstream media outlets to approach many of the time's taboo subjects, including but not limited to, homosexuals, gross out jokes, strippers, prostitutes, and mentally or physically challenged sideshow style characters.
The show was also groundbreaking as a precursor to Reality TV. From the beginning of his career, Stern has always found an interest in studying and interviewing any and all of the normally "behind the scenes" people that he's worked with in radio and TV, including his fans. Many of these people become permanent characters or fixtures on the show, and in this sense, it's been said that Stern "can make anybody famous," due to his ability to get entertaining, and sometimes very unknown, facts and stories out of just about anybody he interviews. Barbara Walters herself has been quoted as calling him "one of the greatest interviews of our generation."
Mainstream media often describe him as a "shock jock" due to the sometimes sexual and graphic nature of his social commentary and radio segments, yet Stern counters that he never had the wish to "shock people", just to "help people get through their hard days by being entertaining and honest".
Aside from being one of the highest rated Radio DJ's of all time, Stern is also one of the most fined. As far back as 1986, Stern was in constant battle with The Federal Communications Commission, pushing the limits of free speech and what could and could not be broadcast over radio airwaves. In late 2005, Stern left terrestrial radio (governed by the FCC) to instead do his show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio (free of government censorship). No longer one of the highest rated radio personalities due to the number or people with access to satellite radio compared to terrestrial radio, he is however now officially the highest paid.
Due to the controversial nature of his show, Stern can be a polarizing figure. There's almost no middle ground opinions about him. There are rich, poor, conservative, liberal, and people of all different ages, races, and nationalities from around the world that believe him to be a very prolific and entertaining satirist, and there are just as many people in all those categories that believe him to be nothing short of a foul mouthed, sexist, racist, sleaze peddling, antichrist. Regardless of whether you actually like him and his show, Stern has often been quoted as saying "I just care whether they listen or not."
Currently available only on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, and broadcast out of New York, the show runs from 6:00 am until 10:00 am, sometimes as late as 12 noon. His official website, which includes pictures and daily summaries of his radio show, is here.
Howard Stern or his creations provide examples of:
- The Alcoholic: Comedians Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling and Artie Lange both loved their booze. Jackie stopped some time after leaving the show however, while Artie still wrestles with the problem. Jeff the Drunk is the best example of this. Being an unapologetic, raging alcoholic is the reason why the show took an interest in him to begin with. And then there was Hank the Angry Dwarf, who would start his bender the night before an appearance, doze drunkenly in the K-Rock green room, and be roused from his sleep to curse hilariously at random callers. Hank died September 4, 2001.
- Berserk Button: Howard can be set off by many things, but for the love of all that is holy, please do not mention someone stealing his act. We only get to hear the man for an average of five hours a day, and no one needs to hear four hours and 59 minutes of microphones being repeatedly snapped in half.
- Billy West: West worked in radio before he got into voicing animation, and he was a regular cast member of The Howard Stern Show from 1989-1995. He is remembered fondly by fans for his various impressions including the Jackie Puppet.
- Beauty Contest: The show has hosted a number of different Beauty Contests over the years, ranging from interns, Playboy Bunnies, amputees, and in one instance, three of Tiger Woods' dozen plus mistresses competed against one another.
- Black Best Friend: Subverted with Robin Quivers. She's been the news anchor and a co-host of The Howard Stern Show since 1981, although originally she was only given the job of news anchor by executives in the hopes that she would calm Stern down and fulfill the normal role of Black Best Friend. As common with Stern, this only served to increase his wild tendencies, and he interacted and involved Quivers with the show so much through the years that it's obvious she's fully a realized person with flaws, likes, and dislikes.
- Butt Monkey: Producer Gary Dell'Abate A.K.A. Baba Booey. Not only is he regularly called a monkey due to some ... let's say, simian stereotypes (he is a hairy dude), but he's been relentlessly mocked by show members AND fans since the mid 80's during his days as an intern for the show. Whenever a bit doesn't go as planned, a guest doesn't show up, or Stern is just in a bad mood, Dell'Abate will be viciously mocked and berated, regardless of the severity of his mistake, or whether or not he actually did anything wrong to begin with. Case in Point, Dell'Abate gained the nickname "Bababooey" in 1989 when he repeatedly and unknowingly mispronounced the name of cartoon character Quick Draw McGraw's sidekick Baba Looey as "Baba Booey". Twenty years of grief for a two minute mistake.
- Catch Phrase: The show has spawned a number of catchphrases over the years. Some develop naturally on the show, while others come from the repetition of sound clips from other shows. Most are short-lived, but a few end up enduring. Examples of the latter include: "Baba-Booey" and "Hey Now!"(which itself was a catch phrase from The Larry Sanders Show).
- With "Baba Booey" being the nickname of Howard's producer, whenever Stern fans prank-call other shows, they will usually chant "Baba Booey, Baba Booey!" as a sort of "gotcha!" to the victims.
- Celebrity Star: Howard will often have a wide range of celebrities sit in on his show much longer than the standard interviewee in order to have them comment on the news or take part in any number games. Kathy Griffin, William Shatner, Hugh Jackman and Carly Simon among others.
- The Chew Toy: Gary, though not as much as he once was.
- The Chick: Robin Quivers
- Colbert Bump: In 1998, People magazine held an online vote for "Sexiest Man Alive." After being mentioned on the show, Hawk the Angry Drunken Dwarf won by tens of thousands of votes. The magazine, naturally, ignored the results.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Fred to an extent as he has an odd way of looking at some matters, and Benjy most definitely.
- Cluster F-Bomb: The Sirius years can range from scattered profanity to Howard Cluster F Bombing his staff or callers for minutes on end.
- Corrupt the Cutie: "Stuttering" John Melendez for many years was a lovable enough intern partaking in the celebrity interviews where John would go to events and ask celebrities embarrassing questions. Years later, Jay Leno gave him the announcer spot on The Tonight Show, which played right into Howard's own hate for Jay. John later on would blast Howard in interviews for not paying him enough. It came to a bigger head in 2009 when John responded to Howard's continued verbal attack on Jay by telling people "not to drink the Kool Aid". Howard has cut off any and all ties to Stuttering John, even forbidding his wife to contiune her friendship with John's wife.
- Creator Breakdown: Some fans believe Stern to have been at his most vile, vicious, and entertaining during the mid to late 90's, and although not known at the time, this ran concurrent with the breakdown of his marriage and his eventual divorce.
- Dawson Casting: In his autobiographical movie, 43yr old Stern played the role of himself from college on.
- Lampshaded by Stern himself in the narration.
"I know I seem a little too old to be in college. But for this movie you've gotta suspend disbelief."
- Defeat Means Friendship: Many other radio hosts and celebrities competed with and denounced Stern at the height of his popularity. Now in what may be the twilight of his career, Stern has made up with many of his former enemies, Bubba The Love Sponge, Rosie O'Donnell, and Chevy Chase to name a few. Can Kathy Lee Gifford be far behind? This has proved very controversial with some fans.
- Erotic Eating: During his radio show, multiple pay per view specials, and even in his movie, Stern often showcases women with the talent of being able take large cylindrical objects in and out of their throat.
- Evil Cripple: Some of the wackpackers fit this from time to time, but most definitely Eric the Midget. He is ungrateful, disingenuous, has a real self serving attitude when it comes to what he is willing to do for the show, rarely says "thank you" for all the attention or favors Howard does for him for NO REASON, gets crabby when Howard doesn't pick up his call and when a caller told Howard of what a jackass Eric was in school, Howard played a recording of Eric calling the son of a mobster saying "You know what to do." Who knows if Eric was serious. I can go on.
- Evil Laugh: Fans and show members alike have this opinion of Robin's laugh. Also, a soundbite of Jackie's over the top laugh (usually him laughing at a joke he wrote) is also sometimes considered evil when it's played during inappropriate news stories.
- Executive Meddling: Stern constantly battled against radio and TV executives during the span of his career over the format and content of his show. When he began his career, if you weren't on a political or news show, most hosts just repeatedly played music, interjecting bits of humor and commentary during the breaks between songs and commercials, the news anchor only spoke when delivering the news, guests never stayed longer than their allotted segment time, and the content was as sober as a priest on Sunday. Stern had to continuously fight against executives to change all of those things, and he eventually revolutionized morning radio because of it.
- Fetish Fuel: While there are so many examples, this one bears special mention. He lets female guests ride his Sybian, including Carmen Electra.
- To elaborate, a Sybian is, for the want of a better description, an industrial grade vibrator, extremely adjustable, with several different attachments. As close as you can get to the real thing without having to deal with the rest of the dude.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Basically what his show consisted of during his entire pre-satellite career. With executives listening to his every word, the FCC considering him the highest priority target, and the rules for what could be said on radio becoming less and less lax as the years progressed, Stern had to constantly invent and reinvent new and clever ways to speak his mind without getting chastised or fined. Sometimes though the FCC would fine the show for, apparently, the hell of it. In a bit of irony, Howard would often report of similar radio shows doing similar acts and would never hear of them being fined. See Berserk Button.
- Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: Probably one of the first mainstream media outlets aside from R-Rated movies to really delve into this subject.
- Hatedom: As mentioned above, what could bring multiple groups of Conservatives, Liberals, feminists, concerned parents, and extremely religious people together? Hating Howard Stern of course.
- Insane Clown Posse: Have appeared on his show many times, because of not only the entertainment value, but Stern's admiration for the duo's independence.
- Jeopardy Thinking Music: Often played by Fred, usually when someone has been asked a difficult question or is taking an unusually long time to answer.
- Or when Eric the Midget is asked a simple multiplication question.
- Jerkass: Howard can be one at times, and almost everyone associated with the show has had their moments seeing as the show often encourages you to let out all of your most hateful thoughts and feelings.
- Joisey: Artie Lange. Despite having more class and intellect than he lets on, sometimes on the show and in his comedy act, he'll exaggerate his Joisey characteristics to the point of becoming the epitome of a stereotypical Hudson County resident.
- Long Runners: Stern has been professionally broadcasting some incarnation of "The Howard Stern Show" for just about 30 years now. If you count his college radio career, it's even a little longer.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Howard is notorious for being a jerk on air, but people who work with Stern have stated that off-air, Howard is actually very generous and polite, a stark contrast from his on-air persona.
- Moral Guardians: Howard is the yin to their yang. They couldn't exist without each other. He's been a target of them for most of his career, and they've been the target of much of his material.
- The Nineties: Often refereed to as the "Golden Era" of The Howard Stern Show. This is the decade in which show started to become nationally syndicated and when it first became the highest rated nationally syndicated morning radio show in most major radio markets the United States. The early 90s was when the infamous Channel 9 show was broadcast. Some still argue it was Howard's best work.
- One of Us: Stern has been an avid comic book fan since childhood, to the point that he specifically tries to have many of the directors, producers, and actors of comic book inspired movies on his show to be interviewed. He's also been quoted as saying most of the television shows he watches are science fiction or superhero based. Stern also enjoys chess so much that he plays online almost every day and hired a coach to help better improve his game.
- Somewhat subverted since Howard has made a career out of mocking geeks, Star Trek/Star Wars fans, wrestling fans, and people who read comics past the age of 13. The happened mostly during The Nineties,
- Only Sane Employee: Howard will point this out to Gary in a scream whenever something has gone wrong.
- Parody: From the 80's to mid 90's it was used mostly with comedy skits that were re-imaginings about televisions shows or movies. From the mid 90's on, it usually had to with song parodies about anything and everything, the most notorious of which are literally the thousands of song parodies in which news anchor Robin Quivers is discussed in a sexual manner. At least one or two of these are played every day before or during her news segment.
- Pixellation: On the weeknight televised broadcast of his daily radio show on the E! Network, many of the graphic antics that passed radio censors had to be pixelated in order to get on TV.
- Proud to Be a Geek: Howard admits to being a Star Trek fan and reading Superman and Batman comics. Ralph to an even bigger extent.
- The Quiet One: Sound effects master Fred Norris. There are days on the show where Norris doesn't say a word, and at most, it will usually only be a few. In the rare instances in which he's being insulted too much or something has made him particularity angry, watch out.
- Radio: Yeah, this one's pretty hard to figure out.
- Refuge in Audacity: A staple of his career.
- Sidekick: Numerous members of his radio show over the years, one to fit almost every definition of the trope.
- Rob Zombie: In 1997, Zombie contributed a song entitled "The Great American Nightmare" for Private Parts. Since January 6, 1999, it has been the opening theme for Stern's radio show.
- Rogues Gallery: The Wack Pack, a collection of frequent guests who are afflicted, odd or otherwise interesting to say the least. Crackhead Bob, Beetlejuice, Hank The Angry Drunken Dwarf, Fred the Elephant Boy, Eric The Midget, Stuttering John, The Kielbasa Queen, Evil David Letterman, Crazy Alice, Yukko the Clown, Underdog Lady among many others.
- Satire: Politics, Celebrities, Music, Bureaucracies, Movies, Television Shows...you name it, and Howard has satirized for one reason or another.
- Smarter Than You Look: Despite having plenty of toilet humor and naked women on his show, Stern is a graduate from Boston University and is well versed in current events.
- Sound FX Tropes: With Stern hosting different radio shows for over 30 years, and with even some his earliest home recorded radio shows as a child containing sound effects, there are just too many to list.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Comedian Artie Lange replacing Comedian Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling. Both were alcohol drinking, drug taking, comedians that loved to gamble and both had attempts at a film career.
- Slightly averted in that Artie was never technically hired to fulfill the writing role that Jackie had, and instead was hired for his on air commentary and story telling abilities. He did however sit in the exact chair Jackie sat in, which was dubbed during the search to replace Jackie as "The Jackie Chair".
- Took a Level In Jerkass: Gary in the satellite years toughened up to be more competent at his job.
- The Unintelligible: Crackhead Bob and Fred the Elephant Boy have severe speech impediments. Any number of the stuttering guests as well.
- Worthy Opponent: When John De Bella came on Howard's show to admit defeat, make up, and publicly request a job at the station he was on, Stern openly admitted that nobody he's ever taken on in any market has given him such a long and hard battle for the ratings.