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Howard Stern Didn’t Learn John Hughes’ Lesson

Shock jock's stunning decline to germaphobic recluse stains his legacy

Quick quiz: What’s a better movie, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” or “Baby’s Day Out?”

John Hughes wrote the former in 1986 and the latter in 1994. The guru behind “The Breakfast Club,” “Pretty in Pink” and “Sixteen Candles” had lost his mojo by the mid-90s, no doubt.

He soon retired from filmmaking, years before his death in 2009.

Director John Hughes Dies

Hughes reportedly wanted a life outside of Hollywood, thus his decision to quit a legendary, lucrative career. It’s possible he realized he had lost his creative fastball. Better to go out on top than drag his legacy through the mud.

Someone forgot to share that lesson with the King of All Germaphobes, Howard Stern.

The iconic talker ruled radio for decades. His sharp wit, eagerness to offend and unchecked Id made “The Howard Stern Show” a must-listen in a sea of generic shock jocks.

As Stern’s autobiographical 1997 movie “Private Parts” famously shared:

Researcher: The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes. The average Howard Stern fan listens for – are you ready for this? – an hour and twenty minutes.
Pig Vomit: How can that be?
Researcher: Answer most commonly given? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”
Pig Vomit: Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?
Researcher: Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day.
Pig Vomit: But… if they hate him, why do they listen?
Researcher: Most common answer? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”

Everyone wanted to see what he’d say next … for a while.

That’s no longer the case.

It’s been years since Stern’s SiriusXM radio show showcased that “must listen” vibe. He downsized the show in recent years, upping his vacation time and going live just three days a week.

He started pulling his punches, too, making nice with frenemies like Rosie O’Donnell and throwing softballs at Hillary Clinton. When the cartoonishly corrupt Gov. Andrew Cuomo lorded over Stern’s home state, the SiriusXM star didn’t lay a glove on him.

RELATED: SAYING GOODBYE TO HOWARD STERN, AGAIN

Stern grew up, to a certain degree, along the way. That kind of change is both inevitable and good. Do we want a 68-year-old flinging bologna slices at porn stars’ derrieres?

What’s missing from Stern’s current model? Courage. Fire. Passion. Integrity. The old Howard Stern would spend hours ripping the 2022 model, and it would be can’t-miss radio.

The only time Stern makes headlines now is when he attacks Donald Trump or threatens to run for office.

His latest news cycle might be the most embarrassing.

Page Six reported that Stern finally hit the town with his A-list chums two-plus years after the pandemic rocked America.

Stern has been broadcasting from his home since March 2020, but that isn’t his only pandemic precaution. He’s mostly stayed isolated since then, even when the country went back to normal earlier this year. Or in 2020 if you live in the free state of Florida.

The saddest anecdote from Stern’s night out?

“I really had an exhausting weekend, emotionally, physically,” he said on his radio show Monday. “For the first time in two years I ventured out of the house.”

He continued about the dinner, “It was too much for me. It was too much. I haven’t been out in two years.”

It’s normal for a star to hang on longer than his talents allow. Comedy queen Lucille Ball’s final stab at sitcom glory, “Life with Lucy,” proved more embarrassing than revelatory. The network pulled the show after just two months.

Chevy Chase’s stab at late-night fame lasted all of six weeks.

Filmmakers like Brian DePalma, Oliver Stone and John Carpenter no longer deliver like they once did. Clint Eastwood’s 2021 release, “Cry Macho,” disappointed, but his 2019 drama “Richard Jewell” can stand tall next to the auteur’s best films.

Saying goodbye to a public career isn’t easy. For Stern, hanging up the mic means closing the chapter on a gig that changed the medium forever.

What would he do? Where would he go? Who would listen to his next rant?

It’s clear any answer would be better than watching the germaphobe now, so afraid of a cold he can’t take a long, hard look at a legacy in free fall.

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41 Comments

  1. I grew up outside Philadelphia so I have been listening to Stern since the late 80’s. I have SiriusXM but I haven’t listened to Stern in years. His show actually got to the point where it wasn’t even remotely entertaining (frankly it was boring). The dirty little secret is that Stern has been on the decline since the late 90’s, but it was still great. It started when Billy West left in 1995, as it showed that Stern wasn’t going to go to bat for someone who made the show better (the same thing happened with Jackie in 2001). Stern thought that people tuned in for him, and he was right. But the secondary people on the show like Gary, Jackie, Artie, Fred, Billy, Robin, etc) are what make the show funny for 4 hours a day. The 2nd decline is when he tried to go mainstream in 1997 with his movie ‘Private Parts.’ I remember it didn’t have as big an opening weekend as he expected, and that is when he softened his image to the masses. I remember he pathetically went on Larry King (someone he made fun of for years) as he was trying to drum up support for his movie. The 3rd decline (and biggest decline) was when he got divorced to Allison in 1999. His every-guy image was gone, as you couldn’t relate to him anymore. What made the show funny was he was the #1 Radio Show in the country, and could date any model or playmate he wanted, but he was still a married guy with 3 kids. Once he married Beth (trophy wife), he became Imus (who did the same exact thing). His final decline was leaving Terrestrial Radio. While everyone thought his show would get better on Satellite because he could do anything, he lost the masses and lost a generation of viewers. Anyone under the age of 25 has no idea who Howard Stern is because they could never afford SiriusXM when they were growing up. So they only know him as that guy from AGT. I started listening to Stern in High School, but I never would have listened to him if I had to pay for Satellite back in the 80’s and 90’s. My nephews have no idea how great Stern was because they have honestly never listened to him. It’s sad that he stuck around so long because he tainted his legacy by becoming the establishment guy that he railed against for years. The Beatles got out on top, Johnny Carson got out on top, Seinfeld got out on top. Their legacies are cemented forever, I don’t think I can say that about Stern.

    1. I agree with most of this. For me, the end was Sirius. Bringing the profanity and pornography to the forefront made him much less funny and edgy. What made Stern funny was doing all the things he did without using that stuff. Anyone can stand up there and tell jokes and curse, try to do it without the cursing crutch. For me, he couldn’t and didn’t pull it off

      1. He had to get off normal radio because the FCC was fining the hell out of the station- and it was pretty random.

        I rarely listened to him after the move- but he really had to do it.

        1. The problem is that back then he was fighting the FCC for freedom to say what he wanted to say. Now he goes out of his way to get people fired from their jobs for not believing what he believes. Total sellout and hypocrite.

    2. Interesting response. Down in Houston, we had our own shock jocks – or sports radio, so I don’t think I knew much of Stern other than his movie (which I thought was pretty funny). Beyond that, to me he’s just another bitter, old weirdo.

    3. Stern was funny and I agree his cast made the show but Stern was never “Great”. He was annoyingly insecure which is why he went through cast members. i stopped listening the first time he cried about someone bashing him. I thought he was a typical POS who could insult anyone but could never take it.

    4. Some years ago I started putting Glenn Beck’s radio show on of all things. Yes, I dfid listen to Stern in the ’90’s during traffic counts. In those days he was Goood. One bit stands out, so mother had brought her teen-age son in from out of school so he could see his idol–and Howard chewed ’em out on live radio for skipping school. That took GUTS! He lost it when he got divorced and I have gathered it was originally Allison’s fault. Robin Quivers keeps Howard going; when she goes–that’s IT for Howard!. But Getting back to Glenn, I noticed how much the Glenn Beck Program was like a clean Howard Stern show, the same banter between the Big Guy and his minions but nothing ever raunchy. But Glenn has sold out too. We had Renegade Radio at AM1510 in Boston ca. 2016 running a semi-parody of an AM Shock Jock show, re-breaking Already-Broken News from yesterday, that sort of thing; then they disappeared too. Now it’s just The Kuhner Man in the Morning.

    5. I would say the show was still listenable until around when Artie was fired and when he started doing AGT it was all over. Totally different show. He wouldnt even have long time guests like Gilbert Gottfried on anymore.
      He’s been phoning it in for a decade and now he’s literally phoning it in.

    6. I started listening around 95. The final straw for me was after his divorce, when he was apparently dating, and Gary and other people on the show tried asking him who he was dating. He pretty quickly put a stop to that. His dating life was off limits. This was the guy who demanded the most private life and sexual details from celebrities, who demeaned women in studio, he was so much of a hypocrite that he couldn’t even mention who he went out with.

      Losing Jackie also made the show very dull. He was the one normal guy there, and he fed Stern most of the funny lines, and lightened the show up with his positive energy and laugh. I never listened to the Sirius show, never heard Artie on, aside from random youtube excerpts. It’s easy enough to download the shows, but you couldn’t pay me to listen, especially now with his TDS and somehow becoming ultra left. The guy turned out to be such a waste of time. I could have been reading books all that time.

  2. That article’s pretty spot on. Somewhere along the line, Stern went from a straight talker that would bash anyone and everyone he thought was wrong about something to a liberal left-wing lapdog that excoriated everyone to the right of Hillary Clinton while giving Dems and other left-wingers a free pass. He used to adore Donald Trump…until Trump had the audacity to put his money where his mouth was and run for office. Then Stern got a gigantic case of TDS and acted like Trump and anyone that supported him was a Nazi. I used to love listening to Stern back when he was more authentic. These days? Hell, he’s just the radio equivalent of one of the late night left-wing “comedic” shills that carry water for the corrupt as hell Democrat party. Pretty sad that a once proud individualist turned into a neutered little lapdog.

    1. Perfect analysis. He’s become the kind of joke he used to viciously and hilariously tear apart. Time to retire. He’s become what he always hated most – Don Imus (kinda looks like Don did at the end, too).

      1. There is a clip on YouTube going around with Stern from either the late 80’s or early 90’s and him making fun of Imus hanging around radio too long. He pretty much says that it’s pathetic that Imus won’t quit radio because of his ego. He also rails against him for marrying his trophy wife who is 30 years younger then him, as he knows she is only with him for his money and not his looks. It’s like Howard Stern was describing Howard Stern in 30 years. LOL

        1. That clip says everything. Hanzi had it right. Howard had been around long enough to become Imus.
          Personally, I think the show turned to sh*t after Eric the Actor died.

    2. He was slightly conservative- he played with the Libertarians. I think when he remarried and his daughters got older the social pressure on him was just too much- he had to go Left. Sad- I remember when OJ was acquitted he was ripping him big time- today- he’s stay away. Sell out.

      1. I remember Howard would get Stuttering John to ask celebrities during the Trial in 1994-95, “Is OJ innocent or guilty?” Celebrities wouldn’t touch the question and usually walk away. It was the strangest thing that all of Hollywood were afraid to say OJ was guilty, while Stern was really the only saying he 100% did it back then.

    1. Used to be in partnership with a Mr. Foster. Or was that Peabody? The great rich friend of President Coolidge was named Stearns and owned a department store in Boston and used to summer in Nantasket when rich people did that. Now no one does that—now people live there year-round.

  3. Huge fan for 30 years but the last 3-4 have been miserable. 5% entertaining, 95% re-re-re-re-re-re-telling stories from the 90s or blabbing about how hot Beth is. He sounds bored af most of the time. He knows he’s phoning it in.

    That said, his interviews since he became a pussy have become awesome. Neil young, Eddie vedder, Billie eilish, jagger, McCartney, etc., All really damn good.

  4. You’re all idiots and hypocrites. You all claim Howard sucks now, but you also say you haven’t listened to him in forever. You all bitch he takes too much vacation, but none of you would work for even 5 minutes a year if you had as much $ as he does. He was on the air 5 days a week 4+ hours a day for over 30 years and you can’t see why someone at his age & success would maybe not want to continue that same grind – who would? You also complain “he’s not the same, blah blah blah”. Who stays exactly the same as they get older? Stupid people – that’s who.

    1. Howard from the 80s and 90s would rip Biden apart for what’s going on in thos country, now he’s just a liberal shill

  5. It’s none of the above – it’s the money. He’s got so much more to lose now, and tracks like Howard Hughes. In real life (please don’t confuse entertainment with reality), Stern is a kind, generous, loyal, and most importantly – interesting – guy. The lesbian dwarf-tossing was always a sideshow – the real Howard pontificated like a king.

    Now, he must have hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars – he can’t go out in public like average people, can’t get a feel for the hurting American, and no longer bashes the boss. Because he’s now the boss. Everyone listening to him from the late 80’s wants to tell their boss to go fuck themselves – and Howard did it for them, even if it meant getting fired.

    He can’t do that anymore. Any of it.

    He’s morphed into Howard Hughes with all the money, scared of getting sick from his own shadow, no real-world experiences, and outside of Robin – no real friends to speak of. You think Jennifer Aniston digs him? Pa-lease.

    This is what the article should speak to – treating Howard like a human being. Wave $100 million in front of anyone’s nose and they will change. Bigly.
    Rodney Lee Conover

    1. I agree, the money is obscene. It’s tough for anyone else to really relate to certain decisions and in Howard’s case even the haters have to respect him a little – he did it all himself. Went from barely hanging on in radio early on to making hundreds of millions of dollars, all while being UNLIKE his peers which is trying to sell you junk on their websites. But with that said… the show now is embarrassing. And even Howard must know it – that’s why it’s interesting to me a guy who is so obsessed with his legacy and the product he delivers to his fanbase actually pretends this is a valid show. He has to know people are not that dumb, and Sirius has to know because I’m sure they see his declining numbers. What gets me is also the fact that even they say they have like 60 writers and staff. What exactly are these people doing? Howard comes on for 9 shows a month and talks about updates on his parents, updates on the bachelor, updates on Beth, and some current events thoughts. He basically talks to Robin every day about his strange home life and expects us to be entertained, then ends the show. Oh, with a little bit of Ronnie Mund mixed in. It’s a trainwreck as far as entertainment, and much like Private Parts told us – I still listen to see what on earth he’s going to do next. We know he’s not going back to the studio – which he knows would improve his show immensely, he’s not giving more focus to Sal and Richard who most the audience love and who are almost non-existent on air now, and he knows most of his loyal viewers do not care one iota about these celebrity guests he has on Zoom (Rosie O’Donnell? Yet another talk with Jimmy Kimmel? Machine Gun Kelly? More David Spade?). So what we are left with is this current show that Howard simply cannot end because a company continues to throw insane stacks of cash at him. There are no competitors left to keep Howard on his toes, there are no ratings books to keep Howard on his toes, there are no FCC rules to keep Howard coming up with creative ways to do bits, and now there is no in-studio people or drop-ins and it’s Howard in his basement alone on Zoom. What a country.

    2. So wait a second. Calling for Aaron Rodgers to be fired from the NFL, for the tennis player, whatever his name is, to be thrown out of tennis, to say that unvaccinated people should be denied medical care and deserve to die – these are the hallmarks of a “kind, generous person”? Dude, if that’s what you consider to be kind, I’d hate to know what you consider to be mean. This is a guy who once swore up and down that it was morally wrong for JC Penny to fire Ellen DeGeneres and how he would never ever advocate for someone to lose their livelihood. Now he wants everyone who doesn’t agree with him to be cancelled and lose their jobs. Dude’s a dick. Face it.

  6. Howard Sterns “legacy” is one of SPEWED FILTH . Noting more. He is a cretin and only cretinous sc*m like him.

  7. I used to love Stern in the early years because he was a straight talker.

    What made him funny on terrestrial radio was that he had to walk that thin line of FDA obscenity.

    When he got to Sirius, he just wasn’t funny anymore. He lost Jackie and brought in that coke addict Artie, who was never funny. He dumped his wife and became the frat boy on the loose.

    He’s a great interviewer, I’ll give him that. But Now he’s just another woke celebrity, afraid of the real world.

    In every aspect he literally became what he hated most – Don Imus.

    In a sentence, Stern is now a woke, snowflake pu$$y.

  8. We do an amazing podcast mocking and analyzing his decline on YouTube and patreon and every other streaming service for years. It’s really thoughtful and fun- we go over key parts of the show, analysis, and laughs. We also interview key ex employees and comics about Stern – listen to Quite Frankly a Podcast About Howard Stern

  9. Coward Stern. He’s become a flaming left wing liberal politically who’s desperate to be part of the cocktail party crowd. Awful show. Awful politics. Awful period. Get off the radio old man.

  10. He is a complete and utter sell out, I listened for YEARS until it became impossible to listen to. He jumped the shark but hey most do but he definitely should call it a career.

  11. I started listening to Howard when I was 19, I’m now 56. He has evolved as a broadcaster as I have as a person, neither of us are the same at all. There is still no better broadcaster ever, Stern is the VERY BEST

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