Howard Allan Stern (born January 12, 1954) is an American radio and television personality, producer, author, actor, and photographer. He is best known as the host of The Howard Stern Show, his long-running radio show which gained popularity when it was nationally syndicated on terrestrial radio from 1986 to 2005 before its move to Sirius XM Radio in 2006. Stern first wished to be on the radio at five years of age. He landed his first radio jobs while at Boston University–WTBU, the campus station, and WNTN in Newton, Massachusetts. From 1976 to 1982, Stern developed his on-air personality through morning positions at WRNW in Briarcliff Manor, New York, WCCC in Hartford, Connecticut, WWWW in Detroit, Michigan, and WWDC in Washington, D.C. Stern worked afternoons at WNBC in New York City from 1982 until his firing in 1985.
In 1985, Stern began a 20-year run at WXRK in New York City, where his show was syndicated to 60 markets and attracted 20 million listeners. Stern won numerous awards, including Billboard‘s Nationally Syndicated Air Personality of the Year eight times. He became the most fined radio host when the Federal Communications Commission issued fines totaling $2.5 million to station licensees for content it deemed indecent. Stern became one of the highest paid radio figures after signing a five-year deal with Sirius in 2004 worth $500 million. In recent years, Stern took up photography and has had work featured in Hamptons and WHIRL magazines. From 2012 to 2015, he served as a judge on America’s Got Talent.
Stern describes himself as “King of All Media” for his successes outside radio. He hosted and produced numerous late night television shows, pay-per-view events, and home videos. His two books, Private Parts (1993) and Miss America (1995), entered the The New York Times Best Seller list at number one with each selling over one million copies. The former was made into a biographical comedy film in 1997 that had Stern and his radio show staff play as themselves which topped the US box office in its opening week and grossed $41.2 million domestically. Stern performs on its soundtrack which charted at number one on the Billboard 200 and earned a Platinum certification for selling one million copies. In 2012, Stern was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
Howard Allan Stern was born on January 12, 1954, the second child of Bernard and Ray (née Schiffman) Stern who lived in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens in New York City. His parents are Jewish, and their families are from Austria-Hungary. Ray was an office clerk and homemaker before taking up work as an inhalation therapist; Ben worked as a radio engineer at WHOM in Manhattan and as a co-owner and operator at Aura Recording Inc., a recording studio where cartoons and commercials were produced. Stern described his older sister Ellen as the “complete opposite” of himself and “very quiet”.
In 1955, the family moved to Roosevelt, New York on Long Island where Stern attended Washington-Rose Elementary School followed by Roosevelt Junior-Senior High School. Stern also attended Hebrew school where he was given the name Tzvi. Stern took five years of piano lessons, and took an interest in marionettes and put on shows for his friends. From the age of nine to his second year at university, Stern spent his summers at Camp Wel-Met, a youth camp in Narrowsburg, New York where he worked camper, kitchen, and counselor duties. He recalled his time there as “the greatest experience”. Stern wished to be on the radio at five years of age. He did not listen to much radio when he was young, but names Bob Grant and Brad Crandall as early influences. Stern made occasional visits to his father’s recording studio which began a preference to talk on the air than play records when he saw “some of the great voice guys” work, including Wally Cox, Don Adams, and Larry Storch. At age ten, his father gave him a tape recorder which he used to make his own radio shows. In the late 1960s, Roosevelt became a predominantly black area; Stern remembered just “a handful of white kids left” in his school and was beaten numerous times by black pupils. In June 1969 the family moved to Rockville Centre, and Stern, at age fifteen, transferred to South Side High School where he graduated in 1972. The school’s year book lists Stern’s sole student activity as membership in Key Club.
In 1972, Stern spent the first two of four years at Boston University in its College of Basic Studies. In his second year, he began working at WTBU, the campus radio station, playing music, reading the news, and hosting interviews. He later co-hosted a weekly comedy show with three fellow students named The King Schmaltz Bagel Hour which was initially cancelled during its first broadcast for a racial sketch named “Godzilla Goes to Harlem”. Stern wrote about his experiences with cannabis, Quaaludes, and LSD during his studies; he quit after an LSD overdose. In 1974, Stern gained admission to the School of Public Communications. He then earned a diploma at the Radio Engineering Institute of Electronics in Fredericksburg, Virginia in July 1975 which earned him a first class radio-telephone operator license, then a required certificate for all radio broadcasters granted by the Federal Communications Commission. With the license, Stern landed his first professional radio job at WNTN in Newton, Massachusetts from August to December 1975 doing air shifts, news casting, and production work. For the next five months, he taught students basic electronics in preparation for their FCC exams. Stern graduated magna cum laude with a Communications degree and a 3.8 grade point average, majoring in broadcasting and film, in May 1976. In the past he has funded a scholarship at the university.
1976-81: WRNW, WCCC, and WWWW
In his search for radio work following his graduation, Stern declined an offer to work evenings at WRNW, a progressive rock station in Briarcliff Manor, New York. He felt unsure of his talent and questioned his future as a professional in the industry. He said, “I freaked out. I got real nervous that I wasn’t good enough”. Stern accepted a marketing role at Benton & Bowles, a New York advertising agency, which he soon “quit without giving notice” in favor of a position in the creative department. He lasted three hours before he was fired “because their personnel department realized that I was the guy who just quit.” Stern then worked in Queens as a radio salesman selling advertising time to no success. He wrote, “All of a sudden … I realized I had turned down a job in radio”. With encouragement from his mother and girlfriend, Stern contacted WRNW for work; he agreed to take cover shifts in December 1976. Impressed with his reliability and professionalism, the station’s director hired Stern full-time for a four-hour midday shift for six days a week on a $96 weekly salary. In 1977, he became the station’s production and program director for an increased salary of $250. To save money, Stern rented a room in a monastery in Armonk, New York.
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 public affairs show which he favored above playing records. “That show represented what I wanted to do on radio more than anything”, Stern recalled. “Take the average guy and dissect what he does”. 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. Stern left WCCC in early 1980 after he was denied a “lousy, stinking twenty-five-dollar-a-week raise”. At the same time, rival station WHCN had assembled tapes and press clippings of Stern and forwarding them to Burkhart/Abrams, a radio consulting firm, in an effort to get Stern out of the Hartford market as a rise in his ratings increased his threat to the station. Stern’s tapes were received by Dwight Douglas, a consultant at Burkhart/Abrams. He offered Stern work in Columbus, Ohio but Stern declined.
Stern found an opening for a morning position at rock station WWWW in Detroit, Michigan from an advert placed in Radio & Records. He sent a tape to the station that was well received by management. Though Douglas advised Stern to wait for an offer from a better station, Stern accepted the job and started at WWWW on April 21, 1980. Stern was determined to be more open on the air, “to cut down the barriers … strip down all the ego … and be totally honest”. Stern’s performance at the station awarded him a Billboard award for “Album-Oriented Rock Personality of the Year For a Major Market” and the Drake-Chenault “Top Five Talent Search” title. However, WWWW struggled to compete with the three more popular rock stations in the area. In January 1981, when Stern’s ratings showed no sign of a strong audience, the station changed formats overnight from rock to country music, much to Stern’s annoyance. He lasted two weeks on the air as “Hopalong Howie” before quitting. He declined offers to work at WXRT in Chicago and CHUM in Toronto, Canada.
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1981-85: Washington, D.C. and WNBC New York
Douglas found Stern a new job at WWDC, an album-oriented rock station in Washington, D.C., which he started 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. Quivers at first thought she “would come in and do the news … but it wasn’t that way” because Stern “wanted someone to play off of … he wanted a real live person there with him”. Despite the content restrictions enforced by management, the pair were a success; by January 1982, Stern had the second highest rated morning show in the area.
Impressed with his fast rise in popularity, WWDC management decided to extend Stern’s contract which was to end in July 1982 despite Stern’s wish for a long term deal. In March 1982, Stern accepted a five-year deal worth $1 million to work at WNBC in New York City. Stern’s relationship with WWDC management worsened which led to Stern frequently criticizing management on the air. On June 25, 1982, Stern was terminated from the station. He had more than tripled the station’s morning ratings during his tenure, and The Washingtonian magazine named Stern the area’s best disc jockey. Stern released a song parody album named 50 Ways to Rank Your Mother which was re-released on CD in November 1994 as Unclean Beaver. In April 1982, four months before Stern moved to WNBC, NBC Magazine aired a news report on shock radio by Douglas Kiker that centered around Stern and his show. The piece caused NBC executives to discuss the withdrawal of Stern’s contract, but the station’s management insisted they could tame him.
When Stern began at WNBC in August 1982, he was closely monitored and told to avoid sexual and religious discussions. In his first month, Stern was suspended for several days for “Virgin Mary Kong”, a sketch about a video game where a group of men pursued the Virgin Mary around a singles bar in Jerusalem. The station then hired an attorney to operate a dump button that cut Stern off the air when he said something potentially offensive. This became the task of program director Kevin Metheny, who Stern infamously feuded with and nicknamed “Pig Virus”. In 1984, Stern acquired Don Buchwald as his agent who supervised Stern’s new three-year contract with WNBC in early 1985. His popularity with the audience grew despite management’s restrictions; on May 21, 1984, he made his debut appearance on Late Night with David Letterman and was featured in People magazine, both increasing his national exposure. In May 1985, Stern claimed the highest ratings at WNBC in four years with a 5.7% market share.
In a sudden turn of events, Stern and Quivers were fired on September 30, 1985 for what WNBC management termed “conceptual differences” regarding the show. Program director John Hayes explained: “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”. Stern was not told whose decision it was. In 1992, he believed Thornton Bradshaw, chairman of WNBC owner RCA, heard his “Bestiality Dial-a-Date” segment that aired ten days prior, and ordered the show’s cancellation. Stern and Quivers kept in touch with their audience by booking dates at clubs with a live stage show. Stern declined offers to work in Los Angeles, including NBC’s offer of $50,000 if he accepted the move, but chose to stay in New York to “kick NBC’s ass”.
1985-92: WXRK New York and early television and video projects
In October 1985, Stern signed a five-year contract with Infinity Broadcasting worth an estimated $500,000 to host afternoons on its rock station WXRK from November 18. Determined to beat WNBC in the ratings, he moved to the morning slot in February 1986. The show entered national syndication on August 18 that year when WYSP in Philadelphia began to simulcast the program. In the New York market, Stern had the highest-rated morning radio program between 1994 and 2001. During Stern’s twenty years at WXRK, his show was syndicated in 60 markets across North America and gained a peak audience of 20 million listeners.
Stern’s first venture into television began in 1987 when the Fox network sought a replacement for The Late Show, a late-night talk show hosted by Joan Rivers. Stern agreed to record five one-hour pilots in May 1987 at the approximate cost of $400,000. Stern picked guitarist Leslie West as band leader and comedian Steve Rossi as his announcer. Following tests among focus groups, the show was never picked up; one Fox executive described the pilots as “poorly produced”, “in poor taste”, and “boring”. Stern went on to host his first pay-per-view event, Howard Stern’s Negligeé and Underpants Party, in February 1988. The special was purchased in 60,000 homes and grossed $1.2 million. After Stern joked about drugs being used backstage at the show, Michael Levine of the Drug Enforcement Administration complained to the Daily News which sparked media attention, though no investigation was made. In October 1989, fans sold out Nassau Coliseum in four hours for Howard Stern’s U.S. Open Sores, a live event that featured a tennis match between Stern and his producer Gary Dell’Abate following an on-air challenge. Stern released both events for home video.
In 1990, Rolling Stone predicted Stern was set “on the fast track to multimedia stardom”. He re-signed with Infinity Broadcasting to continue his radio show for another five years, a deal that New York Magazine estimated was worth over $10 million. In the same year, Stern began to host a weekly late-night variety show titled The Howard Stern Show on WWOR-TV featuring himself and his radio show staff. Following its debut in July 1990, the show was syndicated to a peak of 65 television markets nationwide. In the New York area, the show frequently managed to overtake Saturday Night Live in the ratings during the half an hour the two shows overlapped. The series ended in 1992 after 69 episodes. In light of the FCC issuing its first fine to Infinity over material it deemed indecent, Stern released a compilation album of censored moments from his radio show on cassette and CD as Crucified by the FCC in February 1991.
In 1992, Stern’s increasing popularity as a radio and television personality led to him describing himself as “King of All Media”. In October that year, Stern became the first to have the number one morning radio show in New York and Los Angeles simultaneously. In the same month Stern released Butt Bongo Fiesta, a home video containing the highlight feature of “butt bongoing”, an act Stern described as “frenetic spanking in time to a rock record playing in the background”. The video was a commercial success; approximately 260,000 copies were sold for a gross of over $10 million. In November 1992, Stern returned to Saturday night television as the host of The Howard Stern “Interview”, a one-on-one celebrity interview series on the E! network which ended in 1993. Stern appeared at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards as Fartman, a fictional superhero originating from the humor magazine National Lampoon. According to the trademark Stern filed for the character in October 1992, he first used Fartman at WWDC in July 1981. Development for The Adventures of Fartman, a feature film based around the character, began in late 1992 with Stern reaching a verbal agreement with New Line Cinema to release it. Screenwriter J. F. Lawton was hired to prepare an outline to a script and to direct the film with producer David Permut which received a budget of $8-11 million. Lawton described the film as “a real comedy with a beginning, middle and an end with a strong story”. In 1993, the project was abandoned due to disagreements between Stern and New Line regarding the film’s content, rating, and merchandising rights.
1993-94: Private Parts and running for Governor of New York
Following the cancellation of The Adventures of Fartman, Buchwald began looking at publishers to agree to a book deal with Stern. He said, “There was a perception that he had taken a hit … So we thought of the book as something that would both produce income and suggest to people that Howard had economic clout”. In early 1993, Stern signed a contract with Simon & Schuster worth around $1 million to write his first book, Private Parts. Stern wrote the book during the summer with co-author Larry “Ratso” Sloman and editor Judith Regan. Stern later said that writing it was “the most challenging thing I have ever done in my career”. Upon its release on October 7, 1993, Private Parts was an immediate commercial success. The entire first print of 225,000 copies were sold within hours of going on sale. In five days, it became the fastest-selling title in the history of Simon & Schuster. Over one million copies were distributed after two weeks. Private Parts entered the The New York Times Best-Seller list at number one and stayed on the list for 20 weeks in total. Stern held book signings across the country with sessions lasting as long as seven hours. The first, held in New York City, was attended by an estimated ten thousand people.
In its twentieth anniversary issue in 1993, Radio & Records named Stern “the most influential air personality of the past two decades”. In February 1994, Stern was featured his first of three cover stories for Rolling Stone magazine. That year, Billboard magazine added the Nationally Syndicated Air Personality of the Year category to its annual awards, based on “entertainment value, creativity, and ratings success”; Stern was awarded the title each year from 1994 to 2002. In late 1993, Stern urged his listeners to elect Christine Todd Whitman as Governor of New Jersey after Stern promised to support the first candidate to phone in his radio show. In March 1995, following her election success, Whitman named a highway rest stop after Stern in exchange for his endorsement on Interstate 295, south of Trenton, New Jersey. A $1,000 plaque was installed at the stop, which was stolen days later and mailed to Stern. The rest area closed in 2003 as part of budget cuts by Governor Jim McGreevey.
Stern held his second pay-per-view special, The Miss Howard Stern New Year’s Eve Pageant, on December 31, 1993. The show centered around a mock beauty pageant with celebrity judges to crown the first “Miss Howard Stern”. An estimated 400,000 households purchased the show for a gross of $16 million, breaking the subscriber record for a non-sports event held by a New Kids on the Block concert in 1990. The New York Post called it “The most disgusting two hours in the history of television”. The show was released for home video in early 1994 entitled Howard Stern’s New Year’s Rotten Eve 1994.
During his radio show on March 22, 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, remove highway tolls to improve traffic flow, and limit road work to graveyard shifts hours. Stern announced that once those three goals were accomplished, he would resign and pass the governorship to his lieutenant. At the party’s nomination convention on April 23, Stern won the required two-thirds majority on the first ballot, receiving 287 of the 381 votes cast; James Ostrowski finished second with 34 votes. To place his name on the final ballot, Stern was obliged to state his home address and complete a financial disclosure form under the Ethics in Government Act. Stern applied for an injunction as he wished to avoid stating his income; the request was denied by a judge on August 2. Stern withdrew his candidacy in an on-air press conference two days later, saying: “I spend 25 hours a week telling you all the most intimate details of my life … One fact I’ve never revealed is how much I make and how much money I have … it’s none of your business.” In the gubernatorial election on November 8, Cuomo was defeated by George Pataki, whom Stern backed. In August 1995, Pataki signed a bill which limited construction on state roads to night hours in New York City and Long Island, which was named the “Howard Stern Bill” in honor of Stern originally proposing the plan. Stern has since felt “firmly opposed” to the death penalty.
In June 1994, Stern founded the Howard Stern Production Company for “original film and television production enterprises as well as joint production and development ventures”. He intended to assist in a feature film adaptation of Brother Sam, the biography of comedian Sam Kinison. In the same month, Stern’s radio show began to be filmed for a nightly television show on E!. Howard Stern ran for eleven years; the last taped episode aired on July 8, 2005.
1995-97: Miss America and Private Parts film
On April 3, 1995, three days after the shooting of singer Selena, Stern’s comments regarding her death and Mexican Americans caused controversy in the Hispanic community. He criticized her Tejano 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”. Three days later, after the media reaction and boycott threats, Stern responded with a statement in Spanish stressing his comments were made in satire and not intended to hurt those who loved her. The next day, Justice of the Peace Eloy Cano of Harlingen, Texas issued Stern with an arrest warrant for disorderly conduct that carried a potential maximum fine of $500. Stern was never arrested on the warrant.
In 1995, Stern signed an advance deal with ReganBooks worth around $3 million to write his second book, Miss America. Stern wrote about various topics, including his cybersex experiences on the Internet service Prodigy, a private meeting with Michael Jackson, his suffering with back pain and Obsessive-compulsive disorder, and his run for Governor of New York. Following its release on November 7, 1995, Miss America sold 33,000 copies at Barnes & Noble stores which set a new one-day record for the chain, and 120,000 in its first week. It entered The New York Times Best-Seller list at number one and stayed on the list for 16 weeks. According to Publishers Weekly, 1.39 million copies were sold in 1995 alone which ranked it the year’s third best-selling book. As with Private Parts, Stern’s book signings attracted thousands. Stern’s November 30, 1995 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno caused controversy after he was accompanied by two bikini-clad women who kissed each other and received spanks from Stern. Leno, who urged that both acts would be edited out from the final broadcast, walked off the stage after the show without thanking Stern.
In February 1996, production began on a biographical comedy film adaptation of Private Parts for Paramount Pictures. Stern said, “Two years before Ivan Reitman got involved … It started to look as if the film wasn’t going to be made because I had final script approval and I rejected every script there was … they were over the top comedies that I think were dumb, boring and dull.” Filming began in May 1996 and lasted for four months with Stern and his radio show staff acting as themselves while doing the radio show each weekday morning. Stern embarked on an extensive publicity tour to promote the film, including numerous television appearances and magazine interviews. Private Parts opened on February 27, 1997 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden; outside the theatre, Stern performed “The Great American Nightmare”, a track he recorded with Rob Zombie for its soundtrack. The film’s wide release followed on March 7, 1997. It topped the US box office 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 entered the Billboard 200 chart at No. 1. The album was certified Platinum by the RIAA for shipping 1 million copies. Stern also provides vocals on “Tortured Man” a track he co-wrote with The Dust Brothers.
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 remained 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.
1998-2004: Television and film projects
In April 1998, Stern announced his return to Saturday night television after signing a deal with CBS to compete with Saturday Night Live on NBC and MADtv on Fox in the ratings. The Howard Stern Radio Show was an hour-long program that aired on mostly CBS affiliates, formed of radio show highlights with additional material unseen from his nightly E! show, including animated segments and exclusive behind the scenes footage. The show launched on 79 stations nationwide on August 22, 1998. Concerned with its risqué content, affiliates chose to opt out after two episodes. By June 1999, the number of stations dropped to 55. After three seasons, the final show aired to around 30 markets on November 17, 2001. Stern reflected on the show: “It was a weird thing. When I did the Channel 9 show we used to beat Saturday Night Live in New York … I didn’t think [the CBS show] was a good idea actually because [the radio show] was already running on the E! network. It was a mistake … they ultimately wanted what the Channel 9 show was doing”.
In the first Celebrity 100 list compiled by Forbes magazine in March 1999, Stern ranked at No. 27 with an estimated $20 million earned that year. In September 1999, the UPN network announced the production of Doomsday, an animated science-fiction comedy series with Stern as executive producer, for an initial thirteen episodes originally set to air in 2000. The series was described as: “Set in a post-apocalyptic America nearly destroyed by a freak radiation burst, [the show] follows the travels of the Bradley family as they cross the country in an RV looking for a new place to call home”. Stern was set to voice Orinthal, the family’s dog. The project was eventually abandoned. Stern was an executive producer of Son of the Beach, a sitcom that ran from March 2000 to October 2002 across three seasons on FX as a parody of Baywatch. In late 2001, Stern began work on a new sitcom titled Kane, but the idea was cancelled before filming.
In 2002, Stern acquired the rights to the comedy films Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979) and Porky’s (1982) with Arclight Films. He expressed a wish to use a remake of the former as a launchpad for an unknown band. Under the deal, Stern was served as executive producer and was allowed to place “Howard Stern Presents” in the titles. He reasoned, “If I say to … my audience, this is ‘Howard Stern Presents,’ it means something to them … it’s going to be crazy. It means that it’s going to be different, and they know I’m not going to be giving them any schlock.” Recent development for Porky’s came to a halt in 2011 following legal action regarding the ownership of the film’s rights.
In early 2004, Stern spoke of talks with ABC to host a primetime television interview program, but the project never materialized. In August 2004, cable channel Spike picked up thirteen episodes of Howard Stern: The High School Years, an animated series based on his childhood. On November 14, 2005, Stern announced the completion of episode scripts and 30 seconds worth of test animations. Stern eventually gave the project up. In 2007, he explained that 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.
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2004-07: Signing with Sirius and terrestrial radio departure
In October 2004, Stern signed a five-year contract with Sirius Satellite Radio to broadcast his radio show on the medium which is not subject to the FCC’s regulations, starting in 2006. His decision to leave terrestrial radio occurred during the aftermath of the controversial Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show in February that year. Stern became a target in the U.S. government’s crackdown on indecency in broadcasting which prompted tighter control over content which left Stern feeling creatively “dead inside”. Stern hosted his final show on WXRK on December 16, 2005.
Stern’s 2004 contract with Sirius allowed an annual budget of $100 million for all production, staff, and programming costs. Two channels were assigned to Stern-Howard 100 and Howard 101-which launched on September 29, 2005. He formed Howard 100 News, a team of news reporters hired to report daily on stories regarding the show and those associated with it, and launched Howard Stern On Demand, a cable video-on-demand service on the iN DEMAND network. The service relaunched as Howard TV in 2006 and ended in 2013. A new studio and office space was built for the show at Sirius’ headquarters in New York City. On January 9, 2006, the day of his first broadcast, Stern and Buchwald received 34.3 million shares of Sirius stock worth $218 million for exceeding subscriber number targets set in 2004. A second subscriber bonus was met in January 2007, resulting in Stern receiving 22 million shares worth $82.9 million. That month, Time magazine included Stern in its Time 100 list. He also ranked seventh in Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list in June 2006.
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 fourteen months on terrestrial radio. Stern held a press conference hours before the suit was filed; he stressed to the media that the suit was nothing more than a “personal vendetta” against him by CBS president Leslie Moonves and a distraction for the failure of the company’s radio division in the aftermath of his departure from terrestrial radio. In May 2006, a settlement was reached out of court with Sirius paying $2 million to CBS for the broadcast rights of Stern’s shows from 1985 to 2005.
2010-present: Sirius contract renewals and America’s Got Talent
In December 2010, Stern re-signed with Sirius to continue his radio show for a further five years. Under the new deal, Stern has worked a reduced schedule from four to three live shows per week. On March 22, 2011, Stern and Buchwald filed a lawsuit against Sirius for $300 million, claiming further annual bonuses were not paid despite Stern meeting subscriber growth targets. On April 17, 2012, Judge Barbara Kapnick dismissed the lawsuit and prevented Stern and Buchwald from filing for similar allegations.
In 2011, Stern took up photography and shot layouts for Hamptons that July. He has also shot for WHIRL and the North Shore Animal League. He formed a photograph company named Conlon Road Photography, which references to the road he lived on in Roosevelt, New York.
In December 2011, Stern announced his decision to replace Piers Morgan as a judge on America’s Got Talent for its seventh season in 2012. Stern subsequently reappeared on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list at No. 26. He continued as a judge on the show for the eighth ninth and tenth seasons. Stern left at the end of the tenth series in September 2015.
Stern was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2012. He has been openly critical of the organization.
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. Stern and Cowell tied first place in the following year’s poll with the same amount earned from June 2013-14. In 2015, Forbes placed Stern as the world’s highest paid media personality and the fifth highest earning celebrity worldwide, at $95 million.
In February 2015, Whalerock Industries announced its partnership with Stern to set up a future direct-to-consumer digital “media hub” service, with a potential mix of free and subscription-based programming. On December 15, Stern announced his new deal with SiriusXM to continue his radio show for an additional five years. The agreement also gives Sirius the rights to his radio and video archives for an upcoming on-demand streaming application until 2027.
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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 blamed the George W. Bush’s administration for increased FCC fines and scrutiny of radio broadcasts in 2004 following the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy that February, and that year began openly promoting John Kerry’s presidential campaign and urged listeners to oust Bush.
Stern met his first wife, Alison Berns, at Boston University through a mutual friend. He used Berns in a student film he made about Transcendental Meditation. Stern wrote, “Within a week after our relationship began, I knew I was going to marry her.” They married at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, Massachusetts, on June 4, 1978; both were 24 years old. They have three daughters: Emily Beth (b. 1983), Debra Jennifer (b. 1986), and Ashley Jade (b. 1993). In October 1999, they decided to separate. Stern said, “I was totally neurotic and sort of consumed with work. I took work as the most important thing and the only thing.” Stern moved from Long Island into his apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan which he bought in 1998. The marriage ended in 2001 with an amicable divorce and settlement.
When Stern was single he dated Angie Everhart and Robin Givens. In 2000, Stern began dating model and television host Beth Ostrosky. He announced their engagement on the radio show on February 14, 2007. They married at Le Cirque restaurant in New York City that was officiated by Mark Consuelos on October 3, 2008.
In the early 1970s, Stern’s parents began to practice Transcendental Meditation and encouraged him to learn. Stern credits the technique with helping him to quit smoking, achieve his goals in radio, beating obsessive-compulsive disorder and curing his mother of depression. He continues to practice it to this day. Stern has interviewed Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the technique, and thanked him for relieving his mother’s depression.
In 1995, Stern revealed his suffering with Obsessive-compulsive disorder in Miss America; his condition originated during his time at university and continued into his radio career.
As part of his radio show’s Staff Revelations Game in January 2006, Stern revealed he underwent rhinoplasty and had liposuction under his chin in the 1990s.
In 2006, Stern filed a trademark for the name “King of All Media”.
In May 2013, Stern bought a home in Palm Beach, Florida, for a reported $52 million.
Stern has been a long time supporter and fund raiser for North Shore Animal League America.
- Stern, Howard; Sloman, Larry (1996). Judith Regan, ed. Miss America (Paperback ed.). ReganBooks. ISBN 978-0-06-109550-4.
- Stern, Howard; Sloman, Larry (1993). Judith Regan, ed. Private Parts (1st ed.). Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-88016-3.
- Colford, Paul D. (1997). Howard Stern: King of All Media (2nd ed.). St. Martin’s Paperbacks. ISBN 978-0-312-96221-0.
- Lucaire, Luigi (1997). Howard Stern, A to Z: A Totally Unauthorized Guide. St. Martin’s Griffin. ISBN 978-0-312-15144-7.
- Luerssen, John (2009). American Icon: The Howard Stern Reader. Lulu. ISBN 978-0-557-04204-3.
- Stern, Howard; Sloman, Larry (1996). Judith Regan, ed. Miss America (Paperback ed.). ReganBooks. ISBN 978-0-06-109550-4.
- Stern, Howard; Sloman, Larry (1993). Judith Regan, ed. Private Parts (1st ed.). Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-88016-3.