Jewish Actors, Playwrights, Comedians, Musicians
Howard Allan Stern (born January 12, 2022) is a Jewish born American radio personality, television host, author, actor and photographer best known for his radio show which was nationally syndicated from 1986 to 2005. Howard Stern gained wide recognition in the 1990s where he was labeled a "shock jock" for his outspoken and sometimes controversial style. Howard Stern has been exclusive to Sirius XM Radio, a subscription-based satellite radio service, since 2006. The son of a former recording and radio engineer, Howard Stern wished to pursue a career in radio 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.
VIDEO ON HOWARD STERN'S FIRING
Howard Stern developed his on-air personality when he landed positions at WRNW in Briarcliff Manor, WCCC in Hartford and WWWW in Detroit. In 1981, he was paired with his current newscaster and co-host Robin Quivers at WWDC in Washington, D.C. Howard Stern then moved to WNBC in New York City in 1982 to host afternoons until his firing in 1985. Howard Stern re-emerged on WXRK that year, and became one of the most popular radio personalities during his 20-year tenure at the station. Stern's show is the most-fined radio program, after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued fines to station licensees for allegedly indecent material that totaled $2.5 million. Howard Stern has won Billboard's Nationally Syndicated Air Personality of the Year award eight times, and is one of the highest-paid figures in radio.
Howard 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. Howard Stern embarked on a five-month political campaign for Governor of New York in 1994. His two books, Private Parts (1993) and Miss America (1995), spent 20 and 16 weeks respectively on The New York Times Best Seller list. The former was adapted into Private Parts (1997), a biographical comedy film that starred Howard Stern and his radio show staff that earned $41.2 million in domestic revenue. Howard Stern performs on its soundtrack which topped the Billboard 200 chart. A published photographer, Stern's work has been featured in a number of magazines including Hamptons and WHIRL. In 2012, Howard Stern became a judge on the television talent show America's Got Talent, replacing former judge Piers Morgan.
Early life and education
Early professional radio career (1976–1981)
After his graduation in 1976, Howard Stern declined an offer to work evenings at WRNW, a progressive rock station in Briarcliff Manor, Westchester County, New York. Howard Stern was unsure of his talent, and questioned his future in the professional industry. Howard Stern took creative and media planning roles at Benton & Bowles, a New York advertising agency, followed by a job in selling radio time to advertisers. Howard Stern realized the mistake of declining on-air work and contacted WRNW a second time where he agreed to work covering shifts over the Christmas holiday period. Howard Stern was hired full time in 1977 and worked a four-hour midday shift, six days per week a $96 weekly salary. Howard Stern subsequently worked as the station's production and program director for an increased salary of $250.
In 1979, Howard Stern spotted an advertisement for
a "wild, fun morning guy" at rock station WCCC in Hartford,
Connecticut. Howard Stern submitted a more outrageous audition
tape with Robert Klein and Cheech and Chong records mixed with
flatulence routines and one-liners. Howard Stern was hired with
no change in salary with 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 favoured. In the summer of
the 1979 energy crisis, Howard Stern held a two-day boycott of Shell
Oil Company which attracted media attention. Howard Stern left
WCCC a year later after he was declined a pay increase. Fred
Norris, the overnight disc jockey, has been Stern's producer and
writer since 1981.
According to Paul D. Colford, a former writer for Long Island Newsday, Howard Stern listened to tapes of Steve Dahl and Garry Meier sent from Chicago by a friend of the chief engineer at WCCC Hartford. Colford claims Howard Stern eventually developed his on-air style as a result of these tapes. Later, Howard Stern was hired at WWWW Detroit (which Dahl had left when he moved to Chicago). Management at rock outlet WWWW in Detroit, Michigan praised Stern's audition tape in their search for a new morning man. Howard Stern was hired for the job which he started on April 21, 1980. Howard Stern learned to become more open on the air and "decided to cut down the barriers...strip down all the ego...and be totally honest", he later told Newsday. His efforts earned 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. The station however, ran into problems after Stern's quarterly Arbitron ratings had decreased while it struggled to compete with its stronger rock competitors. In January 1981, WWWW switched to a country music format much to Stern's dislike, who left the station soon after. Howard Stern received offers to work at WXRT in Chicago and CHUM in Toronto, but did not take them.
Washington and WNBC New York (1981–1985)
Howard Stern moved to Washington, D.C. to host mornings at rock station WWDC on March 2, 1981. Howard Stern wanted to develop his show further, and looked for a co-worker with a sense of humor to riff with on news and current events. The station paired Howard Stern with Robin Quivers, a newscaster and consumer affairs reporter from WFBR in Baltimore. Though he felt restricted and controlled by management who enforced a strict format, Howard Stern had the second highest rated morning radio program in January 1982. Impressed with his ratings success, NBC approached Howard Stern with an offer to work afternoons at WNBC in New York City. After Howard Stern signed a five-year contract worth $1 million in March, his relationship with WWDC management worsened, and his contract with the station was terminated on June 25. Howard Stern had more than tripled the station's morning ratings during his stay. In its July issue The Washingtonian named Howard Stern the area's best disc jockey. Howard Stern released 50 Ways to Rank Your Mother, a comedy album of his radio bits. The record was re-released as Unclean Beaver in November 1994.
On April 2, 1982, a news report by Douglas Kiker on raunch radio featuring Howard Stern aired on NBC Magazine. The piece stimulated discussion among NBC management to withdraw Stern's contract. When he began his afternoon program in September, management closely monitored Howard Stern, telling him to avoid talk of a sexual and religious nature. In his first month, Howard 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. An attorney was hired to man a "dump button", and cut Howard Stern off the microphone should potentially offensive areas be discussed. This became the task of program director Kevin Metheny, who Howard Stern nicknamed "Pig Virus". On May 21, 1984, Howard Stern made his first appearance on Late Night with David Letterman, launching him into the national spotlight. A year later he claimed the highest ratings at WNBC in four years with a 5.7% market share.
On September 30, 1985, Howard 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 Howard 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, who Howard Stern nicknamed "The Incubus". In 1992, Howard Stern believed Thornton Bradshaw, chairman of WNBC's owner RCA, heard his "Bestiality Dial-a-Date" segment and ordered his firing. Howard Stern and Quivers kept in touch with their audience throughout October and November where they toured club venues with a stage show.
K-Rock, early television endeavors and Fartman (1985–1992)
Howard Stern signed a contract with Infinity Broadcasting worth around $500,000 and returned to afternoons on its New York rock station WXRK on November 18, 1985. The show moved to mornings on February 18, 2022 and entered national syndication on August 18 when WYSP in Philadelphia first simulcast the program. In October 1992, Howard 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 magazine added the "Nationally Syndicated Air Personality of the Year" category to its annual radio awards based on entertainment value, creativity and ratings success. Howard Stern was awarded the title from 1994 to 2002.
In May 1987, Howard Stern recorded five television pilots for Fox when the network planned to replace The Late Show hosted by Joan Rivers. The series was never picked up; one executive having described the show as "poorly produced", "in poor taste" and "boring". Howard Stern hosted his first pay-per-view event on February 27, 1988 named Howard Stern's Negligeé and Underpants Party. Over 60,000 homes purchased the two-hour special that grossed $1.2 million. On September 7, 1989, over 16,000 fans packed out Nassau Coliseum for Howard Stern's U.S. Open Sores, a live event that featured a tennis match between Howard Stern and his radio show producer, Gary Dell'Abate. Both events were released for home video. From 1990 to 1992, Howard Stern was the host of The Howard Stern Show, a Saturday night program on WWOR-TV. The series ran for 69 episodes to 65 markets nationwide. In February 1991, Howard Stern released Crucified by the FCC, a collection of censored radio segments following the first fine issued to Infinity by the FCC over alleged indecency. Howard Stern released a third video tape, Butt Bongo Fiesta, in October 1992 that sold 260,000 copies for a gross of over $10 million. Howard Stern returned to Saturday night television that November with The Howard Stern "Interview", a one-on-one celebrity interview series on E!.
Howard Stern appeared at the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards as Fartman, a fictional superhero that first appeared in the National Lampoon humor magazine series. According to the trademark he filed for the character that October, he first used Fartman in July 1981. Howard Stern rejected multiple scripts for a proposed summer 1993 release of The Adventures of Fartman until a verbal agreement was reached with New Line Cinema. Screenwriter J. F. Lawton had prepared a script before relations soured over the film's rating, content and merchandising rights and the project was abandoned.
Private Parts, E! show and run for Governor (1993–1994)
In 1993, Howard Stern signed a $1 million advance contract with Simon & Schuster to publish his first book. Co-authored with Larry Sloman and edited by Judith Regan, the release of Private Parts on October 7 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 Schuster after five days. In its eighth printing two weeks later, over one million copies had been distributed. Howard Stern embarked on a book signing tour that attracted an estimated 10,000 fans at a Barnes & Noble store on Fifth Avenue in New York. In its first run, Private Parts spent 20 weeks on The New York Times Best-Seller list. Howard Stern has written forewords for Steal This Dream (1998), a biography of Abbie Hoffman, Disgustingly Dirty Joke Book (1998) by Jackie Martling, Too Fat to Fish (2008) by Artie Lange, and Dear Mrs. Fitzsimmons: Tales of Redemption from an Irish Mailbox (2010) by Greg Fitzsimmons.
Howard 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. Around 400,000 households purchased the event that grossed an estimated $16 million. Howard Stern released the program on VHS in early 1994 as 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 20th anniversary issue in 1993, Radio & Records named Howard Stern the most influential air personality of the past two decades.
On March 21, 1994, Howard Stern announced his candidacy for Governor of New York under the Libertarian Party ticket, challenging Mario Cuomo for re-election. Howard 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 in Albany on April 23, Howard 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, Howard 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, Howard Stern was denied an injunction on August 2. Howard Stern withdrew his candidacy two days later. Cuomo was defeated in the gubernatorial election on November 8 by George Pataki, who Howard Stern backed. Pataki signed "The Howard Stern Bill" that limited construction on state roads to night hours in New York and Long Island, in 1995.
In June 1994, robotic cameras were installed at WXRK studios to film The Howard Stern Show for a condensed half-hour show on E!. Howard Stern ran for 11 years until the last taped episode aired on July 8, 2005. In conjunction with his move to satellite radio, Howard Stern launched Howard Stern on Demand, a subscription video-on-demand service, on November 18. The service was relaunched as Howard TV on March 16, 2006.
Miss America and Private Parts film (1995–1997)
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. Howard Stern 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, Howard 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 Howard Stern for disorderly conduct.
In 1995, Howard Stern signed a deal with ReganBooks worth $3 million to write his second book, Miss America. Howard Stern wrote about his cybersex experiences on the Prodigy service, a private meeting with Michael Jackson, and his suffering with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Released on November 7, 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 spent a total of 16 weeks on The New York Times best-seller list.
Production for a film adaptation of Private Parts began in May 1996 with all shooting complete in four months. Its premiere was held at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden on February 27, 1997, where Howard Stern performed "The Great American Nightmare" with Rob Zombie. Making its general release on March 7, Private Parts topped the box office sales in its opening weekend with a gross of $14.6 million, and went on to earn a total of $41.2 million in domestic gross revenue. The film holds a "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a website that aggregates film reviews. 79% of critics gave Private Parts a positive review based on a sample of 48 reviews, with an average score of 6.6 out of 10. For his performance, Howard Stern won 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 soundtrack to Private Parts sold 178,000 copies in its first week of release, topping the Billboard 200 chart.
Howard Stern filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against Ministry of Film Inc. in October 1997, claiming it recruited him for a film titled Jane starring Melanie Griffith while knowing it had insufficient funds. Howard Stern, who was unpaid when production ceased, accused the studio of breach of contract, fraud and negligent representation. A settlement was reached in 1999 with Howard Stern receiving $50,000.
Return to Saturday night television and productions (1998–2004)
In August 1998, Howard Stern returned to Saturday night television with The Howard Stern Radio Show. Broadcast across the country on CBS affiliates, it featured radio show highlights along with material unseen in his nightly E! show. The show competed for ratings with comedy shows 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, Howard Stern launched the Howard Stern Production Company for original and joint production and development ventures. Howard Stern 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 Howard Stern. Originally set for a 2000 release, Howard Stern starred as Orinthal, a family dog. The project was eventually abandoned. From 2000 to 2002, Howard 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, Howard Stern acquired the rights to comedy films Rock 'n' Roll High School (1979) and Porky's (1982). Howard Stern 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.
Howard Stern announced in early 2004 of talks with ABC to host a prime time 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 Howard Stern was to executive produce. On November 14, 2005, Howard Stern announced the completion of episode scripts and 30 seconds of test animations. Howard 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, Howard 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 to which Howard Stern felt "dead inside" creatively. Howard 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, Howard Stern launched two channels on Sirius in 2005 named Howard 100 and Howard 101. Howard Stern assembled the Howard 100 News team that covered stories about his show and those associated with it, and a new dedicated studio was constructed at Sirius' headquarters in New York. On January 9, 2006, the day of his first broadcast, Howard 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 Howard Stern receiving 22 million shares worth $82.9 million.
On February 28, 2006, CBS Radio (formerly Infinity Broadcasting) filed a lawsuit against Howard Stern, his agent and Sirius. The suit claimed Howard Stern had misused CBS broadcast time to promote Sirius for unjust enrichment during the last 14 months of his terrestrial radio contract. In a press conference held hours before the suit was filed, Howard 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 the same month, Time magazine included Howard Stern in its Time 100 list. Howard Stern also ranked seventh in Forbes' Celebrity 100 list in June 2006, and reappeared in 2011 at number 26.
Howard Stern signed a new contract with Sirius to continue his show for five more years in December 2010. Following the agreement, Howard Stern and his agent filed a lawsuit against Sirius on March 22, 2011, for allegedly failing to pay 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, New York Judge Barbara Kapnick "granted a SiriusXM motion for summary judgment, dismissing the lawsuit."
In May, 2011, Howard Stern announced that he would be broadcasting on a reduced schedule, alternating between three-day and four-day working weeks. On December 15th of the same year, Howard Stern announced that he will replace Piers Morgan as a judge for the seventh season of America's Got Talent. Filming will take place in Newark, New Jersey at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and began in February 2012.
Howard Stern married his first wife, Alison (née Berns), on June 4, 2022 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, Howard Stern announced their decision to separate. The marriage ended in 2001 with an amicable divorce and settlement. In 2000, Howard Stern began to date model Beth Ostrosky, co-host of Casino Cinema from 2004 to 2007. She also frequently appeared in the American edition of FHM. On February 14, 2022 Howard Stern announced their engagement. They married on October 3, 2008, at Le Cirque restaurant in New York City.
Stern's parents developed an interest in Transcendental Meditation, which they shared with Howard. Howard Stern practices it to this day. Howard Stern credits it with aiding him in quitting smoking and achieving his goals in radio. Howard Stern interviewed the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the technique, twice. Howard Stern also plays on the Internet Chess Club, and has taken lessons from chess master Dan Heisman, although he has recently claimed to have quit playing. Howard's latest passion is photography, where he does private shoots for friends and secured his first paid 'gig' shooting a layout for Hamptons magazine in July 2011. Howard Stern has also shot photographs for WHIRL magazine and the North Shore Animal League. Howard Stern is frequently listed among the most influential contemporary Americans. In 2011, he was rated Forbes Magazines' 49th Most Powerful Celebrity.
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