Howard Stern

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Howard Allan Stern (born January 12, (like Rush Limbaugh) 1954 in Roosevelt, New York) is a libertarian American radio personality. Known for his use of scatological and (perceived by some to be) sexist humor, the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" has been dubbed a "shock jock". Stern has never embraced the label and doesn't view what he does as "shocking" for the most part.

Contents

Biography

Stern received his Bachelor's degree in 1976 from Boston University, where he had worked as a volunteer at the college radio station.

After graduation, he worked as a disc jockey for WRNW in Westchester County, New York playing rock music. He discovered a talent for Lenny Bruce-type comedy, and developed a wide-ranging confrontational style. He migrated to FM radio stations in Detroit, Michigan and Washington, DC, and returned to New York in 1982 to work at NBC's flagship AM radio station WNBC-AM. Also working at NBC was David Letterman, who became a fan of Stern's radio show. Stern's guest appearance on Late Night with David Letterman on June 19, 1984, launched Stern into the national spotlight and gave his radio show unprecedented exposure. Stern has appeared on Letterman's show many times thereafter.

Stern and his crew were fired from NBC in 1985 in response to a particularly outrageous sketch — "Bestiality Dial-A-Date" — and returned to the FM band by joining local rival station WXRK, premiering on November 18, 1985 and returning permanently to morning drive in February 1986. Stern's show was syndicated nationwide in the 1990s by Infinity Broadcasting.

Although both his parents are Jewish, Stern claims on his show to be "a half-Jew". His paternal grandparents, Froim and Anna (Gallar) Stern, and maternal grandparents, Sol and Esther (Reich) Schiffman, were Jews from Austria-Hungary who emigrated to America at about the same time.

On June 4, 1978, Stern married his college girlfriend, Alison Berns, at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, Massachusetts; they have three daughters. In October of 1999, Stern announced that Alison had left him. Alison remarried in 2001 to David Lobosco. Since early 2000 Stern has been dating model Beth Ostrosky, who is 19 years younger than him. Ostrosky has appeared in the men's magazine FHM several times, and in early June of 2005, the editor-at-large of the magazine, Jake Bronstein, was fired after he commented that Ostrosky is only famous because she dates Stern. Many sources of misinformation in the media and other anti-Howard outlets baselessly claimed or implied Howard pressured FHM to fire him. This was met with much consternation by Howard and his girlfriend, the latter of whom Howard claimed was particularly upset due to her friendship with the fired editor.[1]

In one typical example of his radio show, he persuaded a female caller to have phone sex with him on the air. He made deep buzzing noises into his microphone, and had her sit on a speaker with the volume turned up until she reached an on-the-air orgasm. Another notable episode was on WWDC-FM (DC101 Radio) in Washington, DC in which Stern called Air Florida Airlines and asked what the fare was for a one-way ticket from Washington National Airport to the 14th Street Bridge (on the Potomac River less than 1 mile from the airport). That June 29, Stern was fired from DC-101 radio after being suspended for criticizing his station management and two other radio stations.

Many refer to Stern as the "King Of All Media", a parody of Michael Jackson's claiming of the title "King of Pop". The title was coined by on-air contributor Jackie Martling. His show is frequently the subject of complaints which number in a far higher quantity than the comparable amount of complainers. An overwhelming majority of the complaints received by the FCC, Stern advertisers, and media carriers can be traced back to Various groups of individuals, particularly the right-wing Parents Television Council (headed by Brent Bozell). These Stern/"indecency" critics, characterized as neopuritans and successful misinformers of the public by their own critics (not limited to Stern, Stern fans, and Stern defenders) create an impression of public animosity towards Stern and other prey of their activism that is often no more plentiful in reality than a single-digit amount of activists forwarding and replicating tens or hundreds of thousands of form letters and duplicate or near-duplicate pieces of mail, electronic and traditional.

In 1994, Stern embarked on a political campaign for Governor of New York, formally announcing his candidacy under the Libertarian Party ticket. Although he legally qualified for the office and campaigned for a time after his nomination, some people are said to have viewed the run for office as nothing more than a publicity stunt. He subsequently withdrew his candidacy because he did not want to comply with the financial disclosure requirements for candidates.

In March of 1995, one day before the funeral of slain Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla, Stern played the sounds of gunshots in the background over some of her music. He also made several comments interpreted as racist or insensitive towards those who heard it (live or second hand), such as "Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul", and "Spanish people have the worst taste in music...they have no depth." After pressure from his radio station, Stern gave an on-air apology a week later in Spanish.

In 1997, Stern's autobiographical book, Private Parts, was adapted to film. The movie did moderately well at box offices and in video release, garnering a total of over $60 million. It's production budget was $28 million and it's widest US release was 2,217 theaters. Rottentomatoes.com's "tomometer" rating, which is the percent of film critics giving the movie a positive review, has the movie at %79. He had also announced plans for a film provisionally titled The Adventures of Fartman. As of 2005, this project has not even begun pre-production.

His April 21, 1999 show drew angry criticism and official "censure" from the Colorado State Legislature for his comment regarding the motives of the two male students who murdered 12 classmates and one teacher in the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado:

"There were some really good-looking girls running out with their hands over their heads. Did those kids try to have sex with any of the good-looking girls? They didn't even do that? At least if you're going to kill yourself and kill all the kids, why wouldn't you have some sex? If I was going to kill some people, I'd take them out with sex."

This incident prompting a Denver radio station to suspend his show.

Also in 1997, Stern's show aired for the first time in Canada, appearing on CILQ in Toronto and CHOM in Montreal. Both stations cancelled Stern's show in 2000 after frequent listener complaints to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and the CRTC; for most of the time that the stations did air Stern's program, they were required to monitor the show for offensive content through the use of broadcast delays.

It was officially announced on March 5, 2001 that longtime show regular Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling had left the radio show after failed contract negotiations. Over the next several months, various comedians auditioned in the "Jackie Chair" for the job. After auditioning himself, it was eventually announced that comedian Artie Lange was the permanent replacement.

In 2002, Stern's production company Howard Stern Productions acquired the rights to the 1982 movie Porky's and the 1979 movie Rock 'n' Roll High School. Stern was a producer for the FX TV series Son of the Beach.

During a week vacation in February of 2004 he had read Al Franken's anti-Bush book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. The following Monday (February 23, 2004) He told his listeners "If you read this book, you will never vote for George W. Bush. I think this guy is a religious fanatic and a Jesus freak, and he is just hell-bent on getting some sort of bizzaro agenda through -- like a country-club agenda -- so that his father will finally be proud of him ... I don't know much about Kerry, but I think I'm one of those 'Anybody but Bush' guys now. I don't think G.W. is going to win. What do you think about that?" [2]

The following day (Tuesday, February 24) he reiterated his intention of voting for "anyone but Bush" in the Presidential election and encouraging his listeners to do the same. It's important to note that this sentiment was new, and not something he'd said in any certain terms that year or the year previous, and because among Stern critics and other spreaders of misinformation it's quite common for the order of the events to be reversed in retelling what had happened (Clearchannel dropping Stern and THEN Howard coming out against Bush).

On February 25, 2004, Clear Channel Communications "indefinitely suspended" him from six markets because of indecency involving sexual and racist dialogue during his show. The show in question featured Rick Salomon, whose claims to fame include a publicly released home video showing him having sex with heiress Paris Hilton. During this broadcast Stern held a sexually-provocative, but not out-of-the-ordinary for Stern, interview with Saloman. He asked him questions about anal sex and during the process of taking phonecalls one listener used the word "nigger" on the air, which is not against FCC guidelines as evidenced by the abundance of it's use in hip-hop radio, atleast up until that point. Clear Channel president John Hogan said, "Clear Channel drew a line in the sand today with regard to protecting our listeners from indecent content, and Howard Stern's show blew right through it...it was vulgar, offensive and insulting, not just to women and African-Americans but to anyone with a sense of common decency." Because some Clear Channel's various and deep ties to and support for the Republican Party in general and George W. Bush in particular, Stern (and many others) claim the company was trying to penalize him for his declaration of intent to help unseat the President that he made for the first time only 2 days before and had been consistant about right up until Clearchannel dropped him. [3]

Although Stern upheld his announced decision to try to help John Kerry defeat Bush he never did any public appearances or other kinds of stumping campaigning for Kerry or any other candidate in 2004 outside of the confines of his radio show and his (then newly constructed) website. His appeal was a regular and direct appeal to his own listeners, many of whom donated money to the Kerry campaign and Democratic party, in some cases informing the recipiants that Stern was their reason for donating.

On February 27 of 2004, long-time Stern show regular John Melendez left the show to become the on-air announcer for The Tonight Show.

On April 8, 2004, Clear Channel Communications announced it would "permanently terminate" its relationship with the shock jock. However, on July 19, Stern returned to four of the six markets Clear Channel removed him from, and added five new ones to the roster — this time on Infinity-owned stations. In late August, he returned to a fifth market, Miami, on an independent station. His return was greeted with controversy as the Miami Dolphins threatened to revoke their broadcast deal with the station in question if the station did not fire him.

On October 6, 2004, Stern announced on his show that he has signed a five year deal with the satellite radio service Sirius. Stern talked about his move to Sirius on his show, some times telling listeners how to purchase Sirius equipment and subscriptions. Stern on one occasion held a rally in New York where he gave out coupons for free or discounted Sirius equipment. Howard's deal with Sirius has been widely coupled with fast-spreading misinformation that media and other figures fail to scrutinize such as the notion that his salary was $500 million over 5 years, when in fact that is a figure that has been attributed with far more reliability (although no clear-cut admission from Stern) as the BUDGET of the show as well as 2 channels programmed by Stern and INVESTMENT from Sirius in his overall intended output for the service. All salaries of those hired by Howard for his channels (including Robin Quivers, Fred Norris, and Artie Lange) would by taken out of the $100 million a year in addition to various other costs and variables.

Politics

Although Stern once proclaimed himself to be a libertarian, in recent years he has simply been satisfied with identifying himself as "neither a republican or a democrat". Like the volatile opinions of his core audience, Stern is less interested in ideological consistency than a willingness to speak what he belives to be the truth, in all its ugliness. He has expressed admiration for figures ranging from Rudolph Giuliani to Ralph Nader. He is also a supporter of Michael Moore and was very vocal in his endorsement of Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 911, at one point considering throwing a party at Scores Gentlemens Club for listeners who went to see it on Howards request (he'd have done a lottery with ticket stubs that they sent in, but the idea was rejected as violating station rules by WXRK general manager Tom Chiusano, a regular thorn in Howards side). Moore was even a guest on Stern's show the week of the film's release and called into the show a day before the 2004 Election. Stern is now considered by many conservatives to represent the far-left of the political spectrum. But then "far-left" is a phrase conservatives employ when they have run out of names to call their enemies. The principals that Stern espouses lie not within any one political ideology but in his own sense of honesty as well as who and what are honest.

Political issues that have drawn Stern's attention include:

Religion
Reproductive freedom and gay rights
Unfair treatment of men in divorce settlements
death penalty
legalization of marijuana
Israeli/Arab conflict
Other foreign policy issues, including the Republican War in Iraq
Border and port security
Media Bias

On July 25, 2006 Stern skewered Connecticut U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman, particularly Lieberman's past support of indecency laws and his current support of the War on Terror [4].

Stern's ideal 2008 Candidate

On February 5, 2007 Stern discussed at length his idea for a perfect candidate in 2008 which he'd been asked about. He said the following:

"here's my ideal candidate, ok:

  • Gay Marriage: Very Much For It. Ok, that's a huge issue. I think all people have a right to happiness.
  • Somebody on the environment who's going to admit that there's global warming, 'cause I think it is caused by Man."...We can certainly recycle, at the very least, and atleast say to some big businesses when you retool guys, which is what Clinton did, retool and fix your equipment so that you're putting noxious gas into the environment. That would be the very least...
  • We should be aloud to kill old people if they want it, Euthanasia, I'm for that.
  • Somebody who stands up for separation of Church and State. I don't want to hear about My religion says. As soon as I hear My religion says I say just shut the fuck up with your religion.
  • Out of the war in Iraq.

and

  • Legalize Marijuana. It is ridiculous. I'm not a pot smoker I'm not a drug user, I live a very healthy lifestyle but I am never gonna throw a kid in jail for smoking pot or selling some. I don't care, and if it leads to stronger drugs so be it. Alchohol leads to stronger drugs too. Don't be a hyprocrite."

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