Howard Allan Stern is a well-known American radio jockey, television host, actor, and author. He started his career as a marketing executive and later worked as a radio salesman, from where he worked his way up to midday shifts at a radio station, eventually becoming the station’s production director. He has worked with a number of radio stations that include WWWW, WWDC, WNBC, and WXRK. He became a national sensation when his show ‘The Howard Stern Show’ gained popularity throughout America. The show, which was first aired in 1986, had a tremendous run until it was finally taken off air in 2005. During its run, ‘The Howard Stern Show’ had gained a whopping 20 million listeners and was aired across 60 markets. Howard is also well-known for his television shows, such as ‘The Howard Stern Show’ and ‘The Howard Stern Interview.’ His book ‘Private Parts’ became a bestseller and was later adapted into a movie in which he appeared as himself. Stern is known by his self-proclaimed title ‘King of all Media,’ for his contribution across all major entertainment platforms has been immense over the years.
Childhood & Early Life
Howard Stern was born on 12 January 1954, in Queens, New York City, USA, to Ben and Ray Stern. He was brought up along with his older sister Ellen in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens. Howard was an extrovert, while his sister was comparatively quiet in going about her routine.
His father Ben served in the ‘US Army’ and later took up job as a radio engineer. His mother Ray worked as an office clerk and later became a respiratory therapist.
A year after Howard was born, his family moved to Roosevelt, New York where he completed his studies. He attended ‘Washington-Rose Elementary School’ and later went to ‘Roosevelt High School.’ He also attended Hebrew school and was given the name Tzvi, a famous Jewish name.
As a youngster, he was interested in marionettes and conducted puppet shows to entertain his friends. He also took piano lessons and formed a band called ‘Electric Comic Book’ along with his friends. He was the lead pianist and vocalist of the band.
He also visited his father’s recording studio and was influenced by radio artists like Bob Grant and Brad Crandall. He wanted to become a radio jockey from the age of five and persuaded his father to build a make-believe studio at the basement of his house, where he entertained his friends.
As Roosevelt was witnessing a rise in the dominance of the black community, his family moved to Rockville when he was 15 years old. In Rockville, he attended the ‘South Side High School’ from where he graduated in 1972.
He went on to complete a degree in communications at the ‘Boston University’ where he worked at the campus radio station. He started off by playing music and reading news to his listeners and later went on to host interviews and live shows.
He finally earned a first class radio-telephone operator license from the ‘Federal Communications Commission.’ Subsequently, he landed his first professional job with ‘WNTN Network,’ Massachusetts in 1975.
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Stern started his career as a marketing executive for the New York advertising agency ‘Benton & Bowles.’ He later joined the creative department of the agency. However, he always knew that he wanted to work at a radio station and hence started looking out for jobs in the entertainment field.
He landed a job as a radio salesman from where he worked his way up to handle a four-hour midday shift at the radio station. He later became the station’s production director. Along with his production work, he started engaging in commercials and comedy which made him famous among his listeners.
His first independent show was with the WWWW radio station. Though the station was not doing well, his work was recognized and he went on to win the ‘Billboard Award’ for ‘Album Oriented Rock Personality of the Year’ in 1980.
Despite his best efforts, WWWW failed to achieve popularity and hence Stern had to quit his job. He then went on to host the morning shows of WWDC in Washington, DC. His shows became an instant hit and he was offered a five-year deal with WNBC. Stern took up the contract and also agreed to host an afternoon session with WNBC. This led to several differences with the management of WWDC, but his shows were widely appreciated and his ratings soared in America.
In August 1982, he began his stint with WNBC and made his debut appearance in the television talk show ‘Late Night with David Letterman.’ He was also featured in ‘People’ magazine which increased his popularity. However, he also had differences with the management of WNBC, resulting in the termination of his contract in 1985.
After being fired by WNBC, he started doing live performances in clubs and other venues that brought him closer to his fans. It was not long before he was offered a contract by ‘Infinity Broadcasting’ to host the afternoon slot of its rock music station WXRK.
By 1986, Stern had begun to venture more into television and appeared as a host for several shows, including ‘The Late Show,’ ‘Howard Stern’s Negligee & Underpants Party,’ and ‘The Howard Stern Show.’
In 1993, he struck a deal with ‘Simon and Schuster’ and wrote his first book ‘Private Parts’ which became a bestseller. This was followed by another book titled ‘Miss America’ in 1995.
He founded the ‘Howard Stern Production Company’ for original film and television production and joint development ventures in 1994. His company was recognized as one of the top production companies.
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In 1997, the film adaptation of his book ‘Private Parts’ was released with Stern in the lead. The soundtrack of the movie featured on ‘Billboard 200’ and was certified platinum by RIAA.
Starting from 2000, Stern began to devote his time to television production. He also started hosting several shows. During this period, he bought the rights to remake the films, ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll High School’ and ‘Porkys.’
In late 2004, Howard signed a five-year deal worth $500 million with ‘Sirius Satellite Radio,’ a subscription based satellite radio station, which is exempted from the FCC broadcast regulations.
He renewed his contract with ‘SiriusXM’ in December 2010. He developed an interest in photography and worked with ‘WHIRL Magazine’ and ‘North Shore Animal League.’ He then established ‘Conlon Road Photography,’ his own photography company, in 2011.
In late 2011, Stern replaced Piers Morgan as the judge of ‘America’s Got Talent’ in its seventh season. He continued his role till the end of the show’s tenth season. He released his third book ‘Howard Stern Comes Again’ in May 2019.
His television shows include ‘The Howard Stern Show’ (1987) and (1990 – 1992), ‘The Howard Stern Interview’ (1992 – 1993), ‘The Howard Stern Radio Show’ (1998 – 2001), and ‘Howard Stern On Demand’ (2005 – 2013).
He has appeared in a couple of movies like ‘Ryder, P.I.’ (1986) and ‘Private Parts’ (1997).
Stern released a few hit albums like ‘50 Ways to Rank Your Mother’ (1982), ‘Crucified By the FCC’ (1991), and ‘Private Parts: The Album’ (1997).
Awards & Achievements
In 1998, he won the ‘Blockbuster Entertainment Award’ under the ‘Favorite Male Newcomer’ category for his performance in ‘Private Parts.’
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He won a ‘Special Achievement Award’ at the 2000 ‘Adult Video News Awards.’
He was inducted into the ‘National Radio Hall of Fame’ in 2012.
In August 2015, Stern was named the highest paid media personality by ‘Forbes.’
Personal Life & Legacy
Stern married his ‘Boston University’ sweetheart Alison Berns at ‘Temple Ohabei Shalom’ in Brookline, Massachusetts on 4 June 1978. They have three daughters, namely Emily, Debra, and Ashley.
In October 1999, he decided to live separately in an apartment in the Upper West Side of Manhattan due to work pressure. He later settled for an amicable divorce in 2001. In the intervening period, he dated Angie Everhart and Robin Givens. Later, he entered into a relationship with television host and model Beth Ostrosky whom he married in October 2008.
Stern got hooked on Cannabis, Quaaludes, and LSD. He then suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder until his mother introduced him to transcendental meditation which got him back on track.
In 1992, Stern gave himself the title ‘King of all Media,’ which was widely accepted.
In March 1994, he filed a nomination for the post of governor in New York, but withdrew his candidature as he did not want to disclose his income.
He was honored with a bill in his name which restricts construction on state roads during night hours in Long Island.