Book Review (Posted on 06-24-2017)
It's a shame that I grew up not knowing anyone, personally, who is also a fan of the King of All Media, Howard Stern
. Am I the only one in my circle? I don't know but I will say I'm one proud fan of Howard Stern. Getting this book, which seems to be harder and harder to find, wasn't a pass-up option. (If Stern read this first part of our review, he'll go on air telling me I need new friends, and slam them for being....well, whatever word[s] he feels they're being towards me.)
Looking at the cover, I thought
it was a hidden exposé about Howard Stern that very few may know about, or at least for me, something I may not know of Stern that hasn't been spoken about. I feel like I know as much as I could, from the small little interviews he held on various talk shows to the "top things" videos about Stern.
After reading the Introduction
, I realized that this book was documenting and talking about the hilarity and Stern's growth to national stardom. The coolest thing about this were the formats and style Stern utilized throughout his radio show, noticing that he's got ideas he was always eager to try. While some of those ideas and gimmicks go against his boss's wishes at the time, he still went on to do it knowing some folks, somewhere, he's getting some laughs. Knowing that, and an increase in listeners, Stern found his niche and suddenly knew he's doing something right. Having numerous offers and living paycheck to paycheck, Stern needed to be at a more stable radio department in a bigger company. Along came NBC
, to which Stern thought was a dream come true, but found that it was the start of his biggest nightmare. Why? Name: Don Imus
. I'll just leave that there, though it's much more than that.
Not only his own bosses but the FCC
has thrown, and likely ran out of, javelins at Stern for his inappropriate content bypassing radio stations' "filters" on air. A perfect example was Stern's bit imminently titled Beastiality Dial-A-Date
which was heard by the top executives at NBC (it's a situation not to laugh at by professional standards, but gosh, I'd be laughing like crazy). You also learn of the crew Stern includes in his team, as he couldn't possibly be where he is without them, such as Robin Quivers
and, now formerly a member, John "Stuttering" Melendez
did a fantastic job running though the memorable, classic, hilarious and timeless happenings on Stern's show, and also includes his own commentary and personal reactions to the various comments, responses and segments that occurred throughout the years on the show. Some were very controversial, some were moments you wished you heard on the radio yourself, some, by today's standards, would flood the internet and offend many people causing boycotts everywhere, while some were just too serious to generate laughs. Along with that, Author Menell informs the reader with some facts about Stern himself, the cast he's worked with, moments/content released for purchase, Stern's, now former, wife and children, the women who bared all on the show and how Menell met with someone whose mutual friend happened to be an obsessive Stern fan, having an enormous library of recorded shows of Howard Stern (what a fan!). Another plus was rare photos of Stern and the crew included in this book!
Possibly the one section of the book I learned a whole lot, and didn't know much about, were Stern's famous, and infamous, feuds with public icons and celebrities. Helping along the jokes thrown at them was John "Stuttering" Melendez, whom, according to Menell, should've had his own Best of
release on home video (I agree). Other than that, it is clear why Stern still dislikes majority of the celebrities up until this day. Will he make amends, and bury the hatchet against figures like Arsenio Hall
and/or Richard Simmons
? Hard to say at this moment, but times change and you never know, though I highly doubt such possibility. From Stern's point of view, yes, some people are just terrible and not all celebrities are friendly people. Time will tell, and we shall see what happens.
Menell then convincingly mentions moments, he feels, are events/situations that don't deserve laughs. One example was when Stern wished former FCC chairman Alfred Sikes
for his death, while Sikes was being treated for [prostate] cancer. Of course, not wanting to forever be friends with anyone
working for the FCC, sometimes, comments like these are too much to even be funny. It becomes an attack, like posting on social media your death threats against someone, whether it's a person you work with, live with, or even our own president. I understand some of Stern's rants and attacks, but whether it was to generate laughs, or get something off your chest, with everyone sympathizing the disgusted attitude, there's a time where you don't want to cross the line too far.
Another example was when Stern made a disgusting, yet racist, comment about Filipino people. Oh? Yes, especially since I, myself, am of Filipino and Spanish descent (to you new visitors of our website). Sure it was very offensive, but for me, I shrug it off. It was kind of funny but not breath-shortening funny. Even the Filipino community called Stern out on his comments. Not just Filipinos, but Stern has made a lot
of racially-struck remarks/comments about Jews, Blacks, Mexicans and various majority/minority groups, especially women. Doing that tactic today is certainly a difficult move to make, even if it's for the laughs, given how sensitive and easily offended people are about the small things in recent years. In short, no one is safe from Stern's hunt to spin something out of what he finds he can make for great radio banter, comedy or otherwise.
Menell ends the book with his very own tips when calling in Howard's show. With this book being released back in 1993, the phone lines would have been insanely busy, not guaranteeing your call will be answered that day, or week, or month....or even the year. This review written in 2017, the phone lines are still busy but not as bad, and Menell shares his ideas in giving something unique and outrageous things to talk about. Nowadays, it's talks about politics some people have called in about, especially at this time when his acquaintance Donald Trump
became president (though Stern admitted voting for Clinton). Other talks include about his time at America's Got Talent
, honoring Eric the Actor
making phony phone calls to The Angry Political Guy
even after Eric's passing, making fun of Bill O'Reilly
every which way, his wife Beth, weird trends on the internet and his limo driver Ronnie
, to name a few.
If you were to listen to Stern today, comparing him to how he was back in the eighties and nineties, he had changed....a lot. Some say it comes with age, some say it's Beth. See what answer you may think it is, as reported here from the Washington Post
. If Menell did a new edition of this today, I wonder what other wacky, crazy moments he'd mention, that I'm sure I missed, his take on the show's immediate reaction to 9/11, his take on Stern being back on NBC, Stern's increasingly heated attacks against Jay Leno
, and so much more.
Regardless of how you feel about Stern overall, and how much he has changed throughout the years, from his comedy schticks, his various points of views on everyday topics right up there with reconciling with public figures he formerly disliked, there's no doubt in anyone's mind that Howard has made you laugh at least once. Driven by his father, and his extreme passion in pursuing radio, Howard Stern will forever remain in the history books of American entertainment.
And I'm sure your book shopping will forever remain in your history book. Get 95% off textbooks with free shipping at rentbooks
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