A Look at Mr. Radio Shock Jock Howard Stern

There are regular disc jockeys on the air and there is Howard Stern.

He has proclaimed himself to be the “king of all media” because of his stature and presence on the FM dial. At the same time, this shock jock is public enemy number 1 to the FCC. You either love him or despise him. Either way, his change in radio is immeasurable.

Howard Allen Stern was born to into a middle class Jewish family on January 12, 1954. He was born in Queens, New York and grew up out on Long Island. Even though you could consider him a shy, awkward kid growing up, radio was his self-known destiny from a young age. A trouble-free high school career led him to further his education at Boston University as a communications major. This educational institution was the very sight of his first run in with getting in trouble on the air. He was fired from his radio gig because of criticizing management on the air. Graduation came with a degree in his hand in 1973. His early radio career stops took him through Manhattan, Detroit, and Connecticut. These first few jobs didn’t exactly make him the star he is today and notoriety was nowhere to be found. In Washington, D.C. at DC 101 FM, he had a little unknown newswoman assigned to work with him. This unknown newswoman turned out to be Robin Quivers whom is still with him almost 25 years later.

The number one radio slot in Washington eventually fell into the palm of his hand. Long term success was short lived though. Airing offensive material on the air landed him in the hot seat once again and got him fired. His next career stop was at WNBC-AM in New York City as the afternoon host. At this time, the top disc jockey at WNBC was none other than Don Imus. Imus and Stern never saw eye to eye and still do not to this day (Howard getting better ratings across the board might have something to do with it). Three rocky years of dealing with management led to Howard getting the boot out the door in 1985. He went across town for his next position. This took him to K-Rock also known as WXRK, where he still is to this day. After being fired from WNBC, Howard led a mock funeral procession for NBC down a New York street right in front of NBC studios in a hearse.

The Howard Stern show went syndicated first to Philadelphia in 1986. Los Angeles got the show after that and nationwide afterwards. The number one slot in New York finally came to Stern in 1991. He has been in the top of the ratings since 1987. The FCC has also made him one of their top fined people. Howard holds the record fine of $1.5 million dollars for an on air incident which the FCC deemed offensive. Television and movies were his next stop. A television show in New York in the early 1990s and on CBS nationally in the late 1990s both had considerable promise but fell to lackluster ratings. “Private Parts”, a movie based on his life and his book of the same title came to the big screen in 1996 to decent box office sales and solid reviews. A recent content crackdown by the FCC on the airwaves caused by the Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident has caused Howard to deal with considerable censorship issues and editing of his show. Because of this constant watchdog on his back and his contract at K-Rock set to expire in January 2005, he signed a five year deal with Sirius Satellite Radio which will take him to satellite radio, which is not required to be censored by the FCC. Perhaps the future will be better for his radio show on satellite radio.

Howard Stern has changed the face of radio forever. He is not afraid to discuss issues on the radio that people keep in their minds and to themselves. As a result, radio is much more open and enjoyable in my opinion. His legions of fans (which number in the millions) listen to him morning after morning for his offbeat views and honest humor and thoughts. Personally, I have been listening to him for six or seven years and consider myself a fan. If you do not like listening to him, you can just turn your radio dial off. I think some people not liking you is something that comes with the territory if you consider yourself “the king of all media.”

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