Howard Stern in May 2012.
|Born||Howard Allan Stern
January 12, 1954
Jackson Heights, New York City, New York, U.S.
|Alma mater||Boston University|
|Occupation||Radio personality, television host, author, actor, photographer|
|Libertarian during the 1994 New York gubernatorial election campaign|
|Spouse(s)||Alison Berns (1978–2001; divorced; 3 children)
Beth Ostrosky (2008–present)
Howard Allan Stern (born January 12, 1954) is an American radio personality, television show host, author, actor, and photographer, whose radio show was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2005. He gained wide recognition in the 1990s and is labeled a "shock jock" for his outspoken and sometimes controversial style. Stern has been exclusive to SiriusXM, a subscription-based satellite radio service, since 2006. He has served as a judge on America's Got Talent since 2012.
Stern wished to pursue a radio career at the age of five. While at Boston University, he worked at the campus station WTBU before a brief stint at WNTN in Newton, Massachusetts. He developed his on-air personality when he landed positions at WRNW in Briarcliff Manor, WCCC in Hartford, Connecticut, and WWWW in Detroit, Michigan. In 1981 he paired with his current newscaster and co-host Robin Quivers at WWDC in Washington, D.C., before working afternoons at WNBC in New York City in 1982 until his sudden firing in 1985. He reemerged on WXRK that year, and became one of the country's most popular radio personalities during his 20-year tenure at the station. He became the most-fined radio host after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued fines totaling $2.5 million to station licensees for content it considered to be indecent. Stern won Billboard’s "Nationally Syndicated Air Personality of the Year" award eight times, and is one of the highest-paid figures in radio after signing a deal with Sirius worth $500 million in 2004. Stern was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2012.
Stern describes himself as the "King of All Media" for his ventures outside radio. Since 1987, he has hosted numerous late night television shows, pay-per-view events and home video releases. He embarked on a five-month political campaign for Governor of New York in 1994. His two books, Private Parts (1993) and Miss America (1995), entered the The New York Times Best Seller list at number one. The former was made into a biographical comedy film in 1997 that had Stern and his radio show staff play themselves; it topped the box office chart and grossed $41.2 million domestically. Stern performs on its soundtrack which charted at number one on the Billboard 200. Stern's photography has been featured in numerous magazines including Hamptons and WHIRL.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 2.1 Early professional radio career (1976–81)
- 2.2 Washington, D.C. and WNBC New York (1981–85)
- 2.3 WXRK, early video and television projects, and Fartman (1985–92)
- 2.4 Private Parts, E! show, and run for Governor of New York (1993–94)
- 2.5 Miss America and Private Parts film (1995–97)
- 2.6 CBS show and productions (1998–04)
- 2.7 Satellite radio and America's Got Talent (2004–present)
- 3 FCC fines
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Filmography
- 6 Discography
- 7 Bibliography
- 8 References
- 9 Sources
- 10 External links
Stern was born on January 12, 1954 into a family that lived in Jackson Heights, Queens in New York City. Both his parents, Bernard and Ray (née Schiffman) Stern, are from Jewish families from Austria-Hungary and Poland, respectively. His sister Ellen is four years his elder. In 1955, the family moved to Roosevelt, New York on Long Island, where he attended Washington-Rose Elementary School followed by Roosevelt Junior-Senior High School upon completion of sixth grade.
Stern developed an interest in radio at five years of age. He did not listen to a lot of talk radio, but does cite Bob Grant as an early influence. Ray was a homemaker and later an inhalation therapist, and Ben was a co-owner of Aura Recording, Inc., a studio in Manhattan where cartoons and commercials were produced. When he made occasional visits with his father, Stern witnessed actors Wally Cox, Don Adams, and Larry Storch voice his favorite cartoon characters, which influenced him to later talk on the air rather than play records. Ben was also an engineer at WHOM, a radio station in Manhattan.
In June 1969, the family moved to Rockville Centre, New York and Stern subsequently transferred to South Side High School, which he graduated from in 1972.[not in citation given] The school's yearbook lists Stern's sole student activity, a membership in Key Club. Stern then spent the first two of four years at Boston University in the College of Basic Studies. In 1973, he started to work at WTBU, the campus radio station where he spun records, read the news, and hosted interviews. He also hosted a comedy program with three fellow students called The King Schmaltz Bagel Hour. After gaining admission to the School of Public Communications in 1974, Stern earned a diploma in July 1975 at the Radio Engineering Institute of Electronics in Fredericksburg, Virginia which allowed him to apply for a first class FCC radio-telephone license. With the license, Stern made his professional debut at WNTN in Newton, Massachusetts, performing airshift, newscasting, and production duties between August and December 1975. He graduated magna cum laude in May 1976 with a degree in Communications. In the past he has funded a scholarship at the university.
Early professional radio career (1976–81)
In 1976, following his graduation, Stern declined an offer to work evenings at WRNW, a progressive rock station in Briarcliff Manor, Westchester County, New York. He became unsure of his talent, and questioned his future as a professional in the radio industry. Stern then took creative and media planning roles at Benton & Bowles, a New York advertising agency, followed by a job in selling radio time to advertisers. He soon became aware of his mistake in refusing on-air work, and agreed to work cover shifts at WRNW over the Christmas holiday period. Stern was hired full-time in 1977, working a four-hour midday shift, for six days per week, on a $96 weekly salary. He subsequently became the station's production and program director for an increased salary of $250.
In 1979, Stern spotted an advertisement in Radio & Records for a "wild, fun morning guy" at rock station WCCC in Hartford, Connecticut. He submitted a more outrageous audition tape featuring Robert Klein and Cheech and Chong records with flatulence routines and one-liners. Stern was hired, for the same salary, but worked a more intense schedule. After four hours on the air, he voiced and produced commercials for another four. On Saturdays, following a six-hour show, he did production work for the next three. As the station's public affairs director, he also hosted a Sunday morning talk show, which he favored than playing records. In the summer of the 1979 energy crisis, Stern urged listeners to a two-day boycott of Shell Oil Company, a stunt which attracted media attention. It was at WCCC where Stern first met Fred Norris, the overnight disc jockey, who has been Stern's writer and producer since 1981. According to news reporter and author Paul D. Colford, Stern developed his on-air style from listening to tapes of Steve Dahl and Garry Meier sent from Chicago by a friend of the chief engineer at WCCC.
In early 1980, Stern left WCCC after he was denied a pay increase. Meanwhile, management at rock station WWWW in Detroit, Michigan praised Stern's audition tape during their search for a new morning man and hired him, which he started on April 21, 1980. It was during this time that Stern became more open on the air, he "decided to cut down the barriers ... strip down all the ego ... and be totally honest". From the beginning, however, the station struggled to compete with its stronger rock competitors, and Stern's quarterly Arbitron ratings had decreased. In January 1981, WWWW switched to a country music format much to Stern's annoyance which became the reason for his departure soon after. He received offers to work at WXRT in Chicago and CHUM in Toronto, Canada, but did not take them. During his tenure, he received a Billboard award for "Album-Oriented Rock Personality of the Year For a Major Market" and the Drake-Chenault "Top Five Talent Search" title.
Washington, D.C. and WNBC New York (1981–85)
Following his exit from Detroit, Stern moved to Washington, D.C. to host mornings at rock station WWDC on March 2, 1981. Feeling determined to develop his show further, he looked for a co-worker with a sense of humor to riff with on news and current events. The station then paired Stern with Robin Quivers, a newscaster and consumer affairs reporter from WFBR in Baltimore. The move was a success; by January 1982, Stern had the second highest rated morning show in the area despite the content restrictions enforced by the station management. Impressed with his fast rise, NBC approached Stern with an offer to work afternoons at WNBC in New York City. After he signed a five-year contract worth $1 million in March 1982, his relationship with WWDC management worsened, which resulted in the termination of his contract on June 25, 1982. He had more than tripled the station's morning ratings during his tenure. In its July 1982 issue, The Washingtonian magazine named Stern the area's best disc jockey. During this time Stern released a song parody album named 50 Ways to Rank Your Mother which was re-released on CD in November 1994 under the title Unclean Beaver.
On April 2, 1982, NBC Magazine aired a news report on "shock radio" by Douglas Kiker that featured Stern. The piece caused NBC executives to discuss the possible withdrawal of Stern's contract, though Stern began his afternoon program in September 1982 with management closely monitoring the show and advising Stern to avoid sexual and religious discussions. In his first month, Stern was suspended for several days for "Virgin Mary Kong", a segment featuring a video game where a group of men pursued the Virgin Mary around a singles bar in Jerusalem. The station also hired an attorney to operate a "dump button" that could cut Stern off the microphone should potentially offensive areas be discussed. This became the task of program director Kevin Metheny, who Stern nicknamed "Pig Virus". Despite management's restrictions, Stern's popularity increased. On May 21, 1984, he made his debut appearance on Late Night with David Letterman and was featured in People magazine, increasing his national exposure. In 1985, Stern acquired the highest ratings at WNBC in four years with a 5.7% market share.
On September 30, 1985, Stern and Quivers were fired for what management termed "conceptual differences" regarding the show. "Over the course of time we made a very conscious effort to make Stern aware that certain elements of the program should be changed ... I don't think it's appropriate to say what those specifics were", said program director John Hayes, whom Stern nicknamed "The Incubus". In 1992 Stern said he believed Thornton Bradshaw, chairman of WNBC's owner RCA, heard his "Bestiality Dial-a-Date" segment that aired ten days prior, and ordered him to be fired. Stern and Quivers kept in touch with their audience throughout October and November 1985 with a live stage show.
WXRK, early video and television projects, and Fartman (1985–92)
Stern signed a five-year contract with Infinity Broadcasting worth around $500,000 to host afternoons on its New York City rock station WXRK from November 18, 1985. In 1986, the show moved to mornings on February 18 and entered national syndication on August 18 when WYSP in Philadelphia simulcast the program. In October 1992, Stern became the first to have the number one morning radio show in New York and Los Angeles simultaneously. In the New York market, The Howard Stern Show was the highest-rated morning program for seven consecutive years between 1994 and 2001. In 1994, Billboard added the "Nationally Syndicated Air Personality of the Year" category to its annual radio awards based on "entertainment value, creativity, and ratings success". Stern was awarded the title from 1994 to 2002.
Stern's first venture into television was in May 1987 when he recorded five television pilots for Fox when the network sought a replacement for The Late Show hosted by Joan Rivers. The series was never picked up; one executive described the pilots as "poorly produced", "in poor taste", and "boring". Stern went on to host his first pay-per-view on February 27, 1988, the two-hour Howard Stern's Negligeé and Underpants Party, which was purchased by 60,000 homes and grossed $1.2 million. On September 27, 1989, following an on-air challenge between Stern and radio show producer Gary Dell'Abate, fans packed out Nassau Coliseum for Howard Stern's U.S. Open Sores, a live event that featured a tennis match between Stern and Dell'Abate. Both events were filmed and released for home video. From 1990 to 1992, Stern hosted The Howard Stern Show, a Saturday night variety program on WWOR-TV featuring his radio show staff. The series ran for a total of 69 episodes to a peak of 65 markets nationwide. In February 1991, Stern released a collection of censored moments from his radio show called Crucified by the FCC, in response to the first FCC fine issued to Infinity Broadcasting regarding the broadcast of material it deemed indecent. Stern then released his third home video, Butt Bongo Fiesta, in October 1992 to great commercial success. The tape sold 260,000 copies for a gross of over $10 million. A month later, he returned to Saturday night television to host The Howard Stern "Interview", a one-on-one celebrity interview series on the E! network.
In November 1992, Stern was sued by the Filipino-American Citizens group for $65 million, claiming he had insulted "the entire Filipino race" with his alleged comments. According to court documents, Stern said, "I think they eat their young over there ... The Philippines is a country where fathers sell their daughters for sex".
Stern appeared at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards as Fartman, a fictional superhero originating from National Lampoon magazine. According to the trademark he filed for the character in October 1992, he first used Fartman in July 1981. Stern rejected multiple scripts for a proposed 1993 release of The Adventures of Fartman, a feature film based around the character, until a verbal agreement was reached with New Line Cinema. Screenwriter J. F. Lawton prepared an outline for a script before the project was abandoned due to disagreements between Stern and New Line Cinema regarding the film's rating, content, and merchandising rights.
Private Parts, E! show, and run for Governor of New York (1993–94)
In 1993, Stern signed a $1 million advance contract with publisher Simon & Schuster to write his first book. Co-authored with Larry Sloman and edited by Judith Regan, the release of Private Parts on October 7, 1993 saw its first printing of 225,000 copies being sold within hours of going on sale. It became the fastest-selling title in the history of Simon & Schuster in five days. In its eighth printing two weeks later, over one million copies had been distributed. Private Parts entered the The New York Times Best-Seller list at number one, and spent 20 weeks on the list during its first release. Stern's book signing tour began with a signing in New York City that was attended by an estimated 10,000 people.
Stern hosted his second pay-per-view event, The Miss Howard Stern New Year's Eve Pageant, on December 31, 1993. It broke the subscriber record for a non-sports event, previously held by a New Kids on the Block concert in 1990, with around 400,000 households purchasing the event that grossed an estimated $16 million. In early 1994 the program was released on VHS entitled Howard Stern's New Year's Rotten Eve 1994. Between his book royalties and pay-per-view profits, Stern's earnings in the latter months of 1993 totalled around $7.5 million. In its twentieth anniversary issue issued in 1993, Radio & Records named Stern the most influential air personality of the past two decades.
During his radio show on March 21, 1994, Stern announced his candidacy for Governor of New York under the Libertarian Party ticket, challenging Mario Cuomo for re-election. Stern planned to reinstate the death penalty, stagger highway tolls to improve traffic flow, and limit road work to night hours. At the party's nomination convention on April 23, 1994, Stern won the required two-thirds majority on the first ballot, receiving 287 of the 381 votes cast (75.33%). James Ostrowski finished second with 34 votes (8.92%). To place his name on the November ballot, Stern was obliged to state his home address and to complete a financial disclosure form under the Ethics in Government Act of 1987. After declining to disclose his financial information, Stern was denied an injunction on August 2, 1994. He withdrew his candidacy two days later. Cuomo was defeated in the gubernatorial election on November 8, 1994, by George Pataki, whom Stern backed. Pataki signed The Howard Stern Bill that limited construction on state roads to night hours in New York City and Long Island, in 1995.
In June 1994, Stern's radio show began to be filmed for a half-hour television show on the E! network. Howard Stern ran for eleven years until the last taped episode aired on July 8, 2005. In conjunction with his move to satellite radio, Stern launched Howard Stern on Demand, a subscription video-on-demand service, on November 18. The service relaunched as Howard TV on March 16, 2006.
Miss America and Private Parts film (1995–97)
On April 3, 1995, three days after the shooting of singer Selena, Stern's comments regarding her death and Mexican Americans caused an uproar in the Hispanic community. He criticized her music and gunfire sound effects were played over her songs. "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". On April 6, Stern responded with a statement in Spanish, stressing his comments were made in satire and not intended to hurt those who loved her. A day later, Justice of the Peace Eloy Cano of Harlingen, Texas issued an arrest warrant on Stern for disorderly conduct but Stern was never arrested on this warrant.
In 1995, Stern signed a deal with ReganBooks worth $3 million to write his second book, Miss America. He writes about his cybersex experiences on the Prodigy service, a private meeting with Michael Jackson, and his experiences with back pain and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Released on November 7, 1995, the book sold 33,000 copies at Barnes & Noble stores on the same day which set a new one-day record. Publishers Weekly reported over 1.39 million copies were sold by the year's end and ranked it the third best-selling book of 1995. Miss America entered The New York Times Best-Seller list at number one and stayed on the list for 16 weeks.
Following years of development, production on a biographical comedy film adaptation of Private Parts began in May 1996, with filming complete in four months. The film premiered at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden on February 27, 1997, where Stern performed "The Great American Nightmare" with Rob Zombie. The film's wide release followed on March 7; it topped the box office sales in its opening weekend with a gross of $14.6 million. It went on to earn a total of $41.2 million domestically. In 1998, Stern received a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for "Favorite Male Newcomer" and was nominated for a Golden Satellite Award for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy)" and a Golden Raspberry Award for "Worst New Star". The film's soundtrack sold 178,000 copies in its first week of release and topped the Billboard 200 chart for one week.
In October 1997, Stern filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against Ministry of Film Inc., claiming the studio recruited him for a film called Jane starring Melanie Griffith while knowing it had insufficient funds. Stern, who was unpaid when production ceased, accused the studio of breach of contract, fraud, and negligent representation. A settlement was reached in 1999 which resulted in Stern receiving $50,000.
CBS show and productions (1998–04)
In August 1998, Stern returned to Saturday night television with The Howard Stern Radio Show, an hour-long program broadcast nationwide on CBS affiliates featuring radio show highlights with material unseen in his nightly E! show. The show competed for ratings alongside Saturday Night Live on NBC and MADtv on Fox. Concerned with its risqué content, affiliates began to leave the show after two episodes. Making its launch on 79 stations on August 22, 1998, this number was reduced to 55 by June 1999. A total of 84 episodes were broadcast. The final re-run aired on November 17, 2001, to around 30 markets.
In 1994 Stern launched the Howard Stern Production Company for original and joint production and development ventures. He intended to make a film adaptation of Brother Sam, the biography of the late comedian Sam Kinison. In September 1999, UPN announced the production of Doomsday, an animated science-fiction comedy series executively produced by Stern. Originally set for a 2000 release, Stern starred as Orinthal, a family dog. The project was eventually abandoned. From 2000 to 2002, Stern was the executive producer of Son of the Beach, a sitcom which ran for three seasons on FX. In late 2001, Howard Stern Productions was reportedly developing a new sitcom titled Kane. The pilot episode was never filmed. In 2002, Stern acquired the rights to comedy films Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979) and Porky's (1982). He filed a $100 million lawsuit in March 2003 against ABC and the producers of Are You Hot?, claiming the series was based on his radio segment called "The Evaluators"; a settlement was reached on August 7, 2003.
Stern announced in early 2004 of talks with ABC to host a primetime interview special, which never materialized. In August 2004, cable channel Spike picked up 13 episodes of Howard Stern: The High School Years, a second animated series Stern was to executive produce. On November 14, 2005, Stern announced the completion of episode scripts and 30 seconds of test animations. Stern eventually gave the project up. In 2007 he explained the episodes could have been produced "on the cheap" at $300,000 each, though the quality he demanded would have cost over $1 million. Actor Michael Cera was cast as the lead voice.
Satellite radio and America's Got Talent (2004–present)
On October 6, 2004, Stern announced the signing of a five-year contract with Sirius Satellite Radio, a medium free from FCC regulations, that started in January 2006. His decision to leave terrestrial radio occurred in the aftermath of the controversy surrounding the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show in February that caused a crackdown on perceived indecency in broadcasting. The incident prompted tighter control over content by station owners and managers, which Stern said made him feel "dead inside" creatively. Stern hosted his final broadcast on terrestrial airwaves on December 16, 2005. During his 20 years at WXRK his show had syndicated in 60 markets across the United States and Canada and gained a peak audience of 20 million listeners.
With an annual budget of $100 million for all production, staff and programming costs, Stern launched two channels on Sirius in 2005 named Howard 100 and Howard 101. He assembled the Howard 100 News team that covered stories about his show and those associated with it. A new studio was constructed at Sirius' headquarters in New York dedicated specifically for the shows. On January 9, 2006, the day of his first broadcast, Stern and his agent received 34.3 million shares of stock from the company worth $218 million for exceeding subscriber targets set in 2004. A second stock incentive was paid in 2007, with Stern receiving 22 million shares worth $82.9 million. In the same month, Time magazine included Stern in its Time 100 list. He also ranked seventh in Forbes' Celebrity 100 list in June 2006, and reappeared in 2011 at number 26. As of August 2013, Stern earns $100 million a year from his radio show.
On February 28, 2006, CBS Radio (formerly Infinity Broadcasting) filed a lawsuit against Stern, his agent, and Sirius, claiming that Stern misused CBS broadcast time to promote Sirius for unjust enrichment during his last 14 months on terrestrial radio. In a press conference held hours before the suit was filed, Stern said it was nothing more than a "personal vendetta" against him by CBS president Leslie Moonves. A settlement was reached on May 25, with Sirius paying $2 million to CBS for control of Stern's 20-year broadcast archives. In December 2010, Stern re-signed his contract with Sirius to continue his show for a further five years. The new contract allowed Stern to work a reduced schedule from four to three-day working weeks. Following the agreement, Stern and his agent filed a lawsuit against Sirius on March 22, 2011, for allegedly failing to pay the stock bonuses promised to them from the past four years while helping the company exceed subscriber growth targets. Sirius said it was "surprised and disappointed" by the suit. On April 17, 2012, Judge Barbara Kapnick dismissed the lawsuit and prevented Stern and his agent from filing lawsuits for similar allegations.
In 2011, it was announced that Stern would replace Piers Morgan as one of the judges on America's Got Talent for its seventh season He was also a judge in the eight and ninth seasons.
Though critical of the organization, Stern was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2012. In August 2013, Stern and Simon Cowell shared first place on Forbes' list of America's highest-paid television personalities with $95 million earned between June 2012–13.
On January 31, 2014, a Howard Stern Birthday Bash event was held at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City in celebration of Stern's sixtieth birthday. The four-hour show aired for free on SiriusXM.
Between 1990 and 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fined owners of radio station licensees that carried The Howard Stern Show a total of $2.5 million for content it considered to be indecent.
Stern married his first wife, Alison (née Berns), on June 4, 1978 at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, Massachusetts. They have three daughters: Emily Beth (b. 1983) Debra Jennifer (b. 1986), and Ashley Jade (b. 1993). On October 22, 1999, Stern announced their decision to separate, with Stern living in his Upper West Side apartment. The marriage ended in 2001 with an amicable divorce and settlement. In 2000, Stern began dating model and television host Beth Ostrosky. On February 14, 2007, Stern announced their engagement. They married at Le Cirque restaurant in New York City on October 3, 2008.
Stern was taught how to play chess when he was growing up on Long Island. He has played on the Internet Chess Club, taken on-line lessons from the website's founder, chess master Dan Heisman, and has achieved a rating of over 1600.
In the early 1970s, Stern's parents began to practice Transcendental Meditation and encouraged him to learn the technique. Stern credits it with helping him to quit smoking and achieve his goals in radio, and continues to practice it to this day.
- Feature films
|1986||Ryder, P.I.||Ben Wah - TV commentator|
|1997||Private Parts||Himself||Blockbuster Entertainment Award for "Favourite Male Newcomer" (1998)
Nominated – Golden Raspberry Award for "Worst New Star" (1998)
Nominated – Golden Satellite Award for "Best Male Actor Performance in a Comedy or Musical" (1998)
- Home video releases
|1988||Howard Stern's Negligeé and Underpants Party||Himself/Host|
|1989||Howard Stern's U.S. Open Sores|
|1992||Butt Bongo Fiesta|
|1994||Howard Stern's New Year's Rotten Eve 1994|
- Television shows
|1987||The Howard Stern Show||Himself/Host||A series of five pilot episodes that never aired|
|1990–92||The Howard Stern Show|
|1992–93||The Howard Stern "Interview"|
|1998–2001||The Howard Stern Radio Show|
|2005–13||Howard TV||Known as Howard Stern on Demand from November 2005 to March 2006|
|1982||50 Ways to Rank Your Mother||Wren Records||Re-released as Unclean Beaver (1994) on Ichiban/Citizen X labels|
|1991||Crucified By the FCC||Infinity Broadcasting|
|1997||Private Parts: The Album||Warner Bros.||Billboard 200 Number-one album from March 15–21, 1997|
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