When Howard Stern joined the panel of judges on America’s Got Talent, true to form, he immediately triggered strong opinions both for and against his addition to the judge’s panel. This profile of Howard Stern highlights some of the events along the personal and professional paths that led the “King of all Media” to America’s Got Talent.

America's Got talent 2013 judges

Howard is credited by many viewers as being someone who will “tell it like it is” to the contestants and for being the most honest judge the show has.  Sometimes that honesty comes at a cost to those who audition hoping for their “big break” and has resulted in many tearful contestants slinking off stage.  Even children have not been immune to Howard’s sometimes biting criticisms and have been carried off stage in the arms of host Nick Cannon, usually to a chorus of “boos” from the audience.  An executive at NBC said of Howard, “We know he believes in America’s Got Talent and that dedication comes across in a genuine way to our viewers.”

Howard Stern was born on January 12, 1954 in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY.   The family lived in Roosevelt, Long Island, a predominantly African American community and then when Howard was 15, moved to Rockville Centre, where Howard said he felt out of place in what was mostly a Caucasian community.  He said in an interview “that he felt like Tarzan leaving the jungle”.  He graduated from Boston University with a BA in Communications in 1976.   Howard now funds a scholarship to the university.  He is the father of 3 daughters with his first wife, Alison, who fans will no doubt remember from his early years on The Howard Stern Show.  Howard routinely incorporated Alison into his on-air skits via early morning phone calls to their home.

His first radio show was at Boston University as a volunteer on the college station.  Along with other students, Howard created a show called the King Schmaltz Bagle Hour which was a takeoff on the popular King Biscuit Flour Hour.  What was to be a harbinger of things to come, the show was soon canceled due to controversial segments such as “Name That Sin”, a game show where contestants confessed their worst sins.  After graduating from BU, Howard got his first paying radio gig at a small station in Briarcliff Manor, NY.

Howard says “I always resented the label of ‘shock jock’ that the press came up with for me, because I never intentionally set out to shock anybody.”  He claims that all he does is tell the truth and say the things others are thinking but are afraid to say.  Howard refers to himself as “The King of All Media” a moniker which he came up with as a parody of Michael Jackson’s designation as The King of Pop.

Howard is the author of two best-selling books,  the autobiographical “Private Parts” and “Miss America”.  His acting credits include playing himself in the film version of the book also entitled, “Private Parts”.

In addition to being one of the highest rated radio hosts of all time, he is also the most fined radio host of all time.   It is estimated that Howard has incurred millions of dollars in FCC fines for indecent content over his 20 year history on broadcast (aka terrestrial) radio stations.  Howard’s polarizing style has pushed the limits of free speech and what is socially acceptable to be broadcast over public airwaves and over the years it has resulted in a chronically contentious relationship with the FCC.   Howard eventually landed a spot on WNBC in New York which he saw as his big break after years of toiling in the small markets of talk radio.  Eventually, due to his on-air antics which caused the station to lose significant advertising revenue, WNBC had no choice but to fire Howard losing millions of listeners along with him.  Howard then moved to a rival New York station and began his now infamous morning drive time show.  The Howard Stern Show was syndicated nationwide and was #1 in several major markets.  In 2004, Howard was finally suspended from terrestrial radio due to the alleged indecent content of his broadcasts.

In an attempt to avoid the FCC fines and censorship that Howard’s brand of humor repeatedly incurred throughout his career on radio, he signed a contract reportedly worth $500 million to work exclusively with Sirius Satellite Radio which is not subject to the content restrictions of the FCC.

Howard is free to say whatever he wants to now that he is on Sirius XM radio and he takes full advantage of that.  His well-publicized criticism of NBC’s Tonight Show host, Jay Leno, that aired on Howard’s radio show would never have been tolerated on terrestrial radio.  He says “I don’t answer to anybody”.  Howard has clearly stated his delight at having been hired on as a judge on America’s Got Talent saying “I love my job. I love working for the people at NBC they’ve been nothing but wonderful, but please don’t tell me what to say…I’d rather leave the job than not talk about Jay Leno.”  Howard continued his rant against Leno while a guest on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last Monday saying “If they had replaced Jay with Ahmadinejad over in Iran, I am telling you, I wouldn’t have cared.  As long as it’s not Jay Leno”.

After years of carefully constructing his adults only, on-air persona, Howard has now established a firm fan base among the younger audience of America’s Got Talent.  During his appearance on “Late Night” he said  “You know, it’s unbelievable.  I go into restaurants now and 5 year-old kids, they’re like, ‘There’s Howard!’ like I’m a Muppet.”  “They have no clue that I’m Butt Bongo Howie” or even “remember Fartman at the MTV awards.”  He went on to say “I mean, I’m a monster, and these kids look at me and I’m like Santa Claus in the mall.”

Howard Stern’s reputation as a “shock jock” seems to be toning down every time he professes his love for his new gig on America’s Got Talent, which he frequently talks about at length on his radio show. Some die-hard fans of the “old Howard” have accused him of becoming too mainstream and losing the “outsider, tell it like it is” persona that made him one of the most famous and infamous radio personalities ever to grace the airwaves.  If Howard has any say, he won’t be going anywhere any time soon and the high ratings America’s Got Talent generates seem to support Howard’s particular brand of commentary.

Watch the video below of AGT’s judges including Howard Stern in San Antonio, TX

Tell us what you think of Howard Stern and his “Tell it like it is” judging style on the new season of America’s Got Talent in the comments section below.

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