There are few modern figures as controversial as Howard Stern. The self-proclaimed “King of All Media” has stirred controversy since his humble radio beginnings. Whether it's his antics with the Whack Pack or feuds with celebrities, there’s always something to talk about. One thing is undeniable, though: Stern is a powerful radio figure, and he ain’t going anywhere any time soon. Here are 50 shocking facts about the most controversial man on the airwaves, Howard Stern.
Howard Stern liked to perform marionette shows for his friends back in Hebrew school. These shows were often explicit, foreshadowing his career as a radio shock jock.
When he was just five years old, Stern decided that he wanted to be in radio. He was inspired by the likes of Brad Crandall and Bob Grant. As a kid, Stern’s father would set him up a tape recorder, microphone, and turntable so that Stern would record radio shows for himself, even faking prank calls and commercials!
Stern’s father was a radio engineer at WHOM, and eventually a co-owner of Aura Recording Inc. His dad’s connections let Stern watch classic radio personalities like Larry Storch do their thing.
One of Stern’s most infamous stunts took place during the 1992 MTV Video Music Awards. Stern donned an elaborate gold superhero costume and descended onto the stage via wires. He then revealed the, um, explosive punchline: Stern was no Superman, but "Fartman." He bared his bum to the audience and loudly passed gas multiple times into the podium, shocking all of Hollywood.
Howard Stern went to Boston University for Communications. While there, he honed his skills by working at the campus radio station. He read the news, conducted interviews, and played music.
Howard Stern also co-hosted The King Schmaltz Bagel Hour, a comedy radio show, with three of his friends in college. However, this didn’t last long. The trio put on a sketch titled, “Godzilla Goes to Harlem” which was a little too offensive. After that one aired, the King Schmaltz Bagel Hour was no more. They were promptly taken off the air.
Few people know that the Libertarian Party once nominated Stern to run for Governor. His promises included restoring the death penalty, limiting road construction to over-night only, and adding toll booths to get rid of traffic. He dropped out of the race though as running required him to disclose his personal finances, something his radio contract wouldn’t let him do.
If there’s one thing Stern is not, it’s clean. The FCC has fined the "King of All Media" numerous times, especially when he was on terrestrial radio. Before 2004, when he switched to satellite, his fines totaled $2.5 million. At one point, the FCC forced Stern's broadcaster Clear Channel Communications to pay a whopping sum of $1.75-million for a "grossly offensive" single radio segment.
The future wasn’t always certain for Stern. After school, he started to doubt his talents. He refused a job at WRNW, a prog-rock station, instead accepting a marketing position at an advertising agency. He quit that job quickly and applied for another in the creative department of the same company. They fired him three hours after realizing what he had done.
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Even when times got tough, Stern’s girlfriend and mother wouldn’t let him give up. They convinced him to go back to WRNW and ask for another job. He did, and lo and behold, they hired him to cover the Christmas shifts. Evidently, Stern put in the hours. The station was so impressed that they hired him full-time, and he later became program director.
He may not come off as smart sometimes, but Stern has the grades to prove otherwise. He graduated from Boston University magna cum laude. His grade point average was 3.8!
New York is an expensive city. To save money while living there while working at WRNW, Stern rented a room in a very unusual spot: a monastery. The monks must not have heard his routine.
Shortly after his stint at WRNW, Stern saw an ad for a “wild, fun morning guy” at another radio station. If that doesn't describe Stern, we're not sure what could. He got the job, but only after putting together an outrageous demo. It was filled with Cheech and Chong records, one-liners, and flatulence routines. He was just what they were looking for.
Stern really found his footing working at WWDC. This is where he was first paired with his legendary co-host, Robin Quivers. To get her on board, the station sent her a tape of Stern interviewing a sex worker. She accepted right away. Stern was so unpredictable on the show they had to install a seven-second delay so they had time to censor him before hitting the airwaves.
Stern signed a contract with WNBC four months before his WWDC contract was up. He then started criticizing the other workers at the station. He got fired when he went too far: Stern revealed the manager’s salary on-air.
WNBC got cold feet with the arrival of Stern after reading an NBC report about the nature of his show. They agreed to keep him as long as they could censor him. Yeah, good luck with that. Stern got suspended a month into his new job after he performed a lewd sketch called “Virgin Mary Kong." After that, WNBC installed a seven-second delay.
Stern didn’t get along with the man in charge of censoring him, Kevin Metheny. He nicknamed him “Pig Vomit” and frequently feuded with him on air. Metheny took it like a champ though, saying, “this isn't the way I'd prefer to be known [but] you just have to roll with it…”
Stern got in big trouble when Hispanic singer Selena passed. Instead of mourning, Stern started to mock weeping fans of the singer. He even said, “Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul...Spanish people have the worst taste in music.” Hispanic leaders were not impressed. They quickly called for a boycott of Stern’s show.
We all should have seen this one coming. After all his antics, Stern eventually got fired from WNBC, with no specific reason cited (were there too many to count?). That didn’t keep him down, though. He signed a five-year, $500,000 contract with Infinity Broadcasting soon after. His show became number one, gaining a peak of 20-million listeners.
Right after the Columbine tragedy, Stern got on the air and started a controversy. He got in trouble for saying, “There were, like, really good-looking girls running out of there with their hands over their heads” and generally making light of the situation. Unsurprisingly, this led to many angry listeners demanding that the station fire Stern.
Howard Stern’s Negligee and Underpants Party was the shock jock’s very first pay-per-view special. It was a huge success, in spite of (or because of?) its ludicrous shenanigans. The show featured a homeless man makeover, a man lighting his privates on fire, and a slew of celebrity guests. The wild special brought in $1.2-million for Stern.
Proving that his fans will pay for anything he does, the shock jock sold out Nassau Coliseum for a tennis match. Titled Howard Stern’s U.S. Open Sores, the event saw Stern face off against his producer. The event sold out in just four hours.
Video did not kill this radio star. Soon enough, WWOR-TV put Stern on the TV with The Howard Stern Show. This variety show saw Stern and his radio crew doing more of the same, only on TV. Segments included “Guess Who’s the Jew” and “Lesbian Dating Game." His show often doubled the ratings of Saturday Night Live, which aired at the same time.
Stern gave himself the title of “King of All Media." The moniker was a tongue-in-cheek jab at Michael Jackson’s “King of Pop” title. By claiming it, Stern showed off his own massive popularity.
At 18 years old, Stern’s mother took him to a Transcendental Meditation center. While the retreat changed both of their lives for the better, the trip's roots were in utter tragedy. Stern's mother's sister had just passed away and she was struggling with intense depression. The meditation helped her immensely, and Stern practices daily Transcendental Meditation to this day.
One tragedy Stern didn’t poke fun at was the attacks on September 11. Stern was on the air as the planes hit the Twin Towers and the world realized that this was not an accident. As his show aired, Stern got serious for once. He let listeners call in to talk about it. He ended the show saying, “We’ll all be sitting around waiting to hear what goes on. Let this be the day that we woke up.”
Howard Stern found further success in the home video market with Butt Bongo Fiesta. The tape is 3-D and features people spanking others’ butts to rock music. It sold $10 million worth of copies. Yeah.
Private Parts, Stern’s first book, sold its whole first print run in just a few hours. It was Simon & Schuster’s fastest-selling book of all time. He went on tour with the book, with the first stop attracting 10,000 people.
After winning the vote, President Donald Trump asked Stern to speak at the Republican National Convention. Despite being a friend of Trump’s, Stern had to decline. Stern wanted Hillary Clinton to win, claiming to always be a supporter of hers.
Although he didn’t become the Governor, Stern did support the winner, George Pataki. Pataki signed a bill called the “Howard Stern Bill” which saw state road construction move to night hours only.
For all his outlandish radio skits, Howard Stern has a curiously tame hobby: chess. The radio and TV personality often plays in an online chess club and even says it's been one of his favorite things to do since he learned the game growing up on Long Island. His ranking is above 1,600, and he took lessons from chess master Dan Heisman.
The film adaptation of Private Parts premiered to mixed reviews. In fact, Stern won both a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for his role in the film, and a nomination for a Golden Raspberry for worst new star.
Howard Stern holds a brown belt in Shotokan karate, a style of martial arts frequently used by UFC fighters.
Despite showing a boost in viewership, Jay Leno was not amused by Howard Stern's appearance on his talk show. Stern showed up to The Tonight Show with Jay Leno with two women in bikinis. He got the women to kiss on camera, then interrupted Jay as he tried to interview the other guests on the show, the film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.
Stern made his first appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2019 and boy, did he make an impression. On the show, he and Ellen shared a long kiss right before Stern renewed his wedding vows with his wife Beth. Mixed messages much?
Howard Stern and his wife Beth foster a lot of cats and when we say "a lot" we mean a lot. They recently opened their doors to nearly 900 of the cuddly creatures. Beth Stern explained the couple's unique domestic life in an interview, saying "They're our family members. We don't have children together. So they are literally our children.”
After the infamous Janet Jackson controversy during Super Bowl XXXVIII, censorship on TV and radio became much more strict. Shortly after Stern’s company was fined by the FCC, the shock jock announced that he was moving to Sirius FM on satellite radio. December 16, 2005, marked Stern's very last show on terrestrial airwaves.
Men in Hollywood get insecure about their looks just as much as women. Case in point: Stern has undergone plastic surgery not once but twice in his life. The shock jock had a nose job and had liposuction under his chin. Apparently, Stern never wanted to share these facts, but did so to promote his move to satellite radio. Anything for listeners.
Stern has had a lot of celebrity feuds, but his most famous beef was with Jon Bon Jovi. When Bon Jovi skipped out on Stern’s show when promoting their new album, Stern called him live on air to hash things out. Bon Jovi said record execs wouldn’t let him on the show, but Stern wasn’t buying it. He called the singer “Jon Bon Phony” and badmouthed him for a while after. He even performed a parody song called “You Give Friendship a Bad Name.”
The two eventually made up, and Stern presented Bon Jovi his award when inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Howard Stern isn’t the biggest Simon Cowell fan and he's not shy about sharing the reasons behind it. He criticized Cowell for setting up a “toxic boy’s club” environment on America’s Got Talent, where men get to stay no matter what, and women get pushed out based on their looks. Sharon Osbourne, who also judges on the show, agreed with Stern.
Cowell and Stern also tied the Forbes 2013 list of highest-paid TV personalities.
You know Howard Stern has reached new levels of lewdness when a single insinuation gets Infinity Broadcasting an enormous $600,000 fine. The comment in question occurred when Stern suggested that he, um, pleasured himself to a bottle of maple syrup featuring Aunt Jemima’s smiling face. Talk about a sticky situation.
Dolly Parton also had a beef with Howard Stern. He once took segments of her audiobooks and spliced them together out of order to make it seem like the country singer was making hateful comments. Parton, who is known for being friendly with everyone, responded by saying, "I have never been so shocked, hurt and humiliated in all my life." Yikes.
The Howard Stern Show is the first radio show to reach number one in both Los Angeles and New York.
Stern feels a certain amount of shame towards the way he used to handle himself. He said to the Washington Post, ”I’m a better writer now, a better performer — or not even better, but I do things in a different way.”
Stern briefly dated actress Robin Givens from Boomerang and more recently Riverdale. In an interview, she revealed what it's really like to date the shock jock, saying “Howard Stern was a magnificent lover. For real. Like unbelievable.” On the other hand, Givens refused to confirm or deny the self-promoted rumor that Stern has a small member. Classy move, Givens.
UPN announced an animated series called Doomsday, produced by Stern, but it never ended up being made. The show would have been a post-apocalyptic comedy. Stern was set to voice the family dog.
Doomsday isn’t the only project that didn’t come to light. Stern bought the rights to the films Porky’s and Rock ‘n’ Roll High School with the intention of remaking them. The Porky’s remake was put to a stop, however. An animated series, Howard Stern: The High School Years was also planned, but never came to light.
The shock jock’s second pay-per-view special, The Miss Howard Stern New Year’s Eve Pageant was bought by 400,000 households. It was a mock “Miss America” pageant featuring 40 women vying to become Miss Howard Stern. Judges included Mark Hamill, Tiny Tim, and Daniel Carver. The offensive show had severe consequences.
After it was released, Fox canceled a TV deal with Stern.
It can’t be easy being Stern’s daughter. In an interview with the New York Post, Stern’s daughter Emily revealed that the way Stern talked about women had major repercussions on her personal life and even kept her from dating men. She also believes that Stern divorced her mother after she went back to work as a psychoanalyst.
Howard Stern rarely shows remorse over his shocking celebrity interviews—but after Robin Williams’ untimely death, he revealed his utter heartbreak. Stern had interviewed Williams in the 90s, and he later looked back with absolute regret over the callous way he treated Williams and how he'd needled the star over his infidelity.
Stern later confessed that he’d been in the process of trying to contact Williams to apologize when the beloved actor passed away.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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