Howard Stern, master of the art of the interview, works three days a week (Mon/Tues/Wed) for the handsome sum of $90 million per year, on a fiver year contract set to expire this December. This reflects a $10 million per year increase over his previous contract from 2010 to 2015 that required him to work four days per week. On Tuesday March 10, 2020, Howard was doing his in-studio show while Coronoavirus news was breaking quickly around him. As his sidekick and former Navy Nurse Captain Robin Ophelia Quivers was wrapping up her news segment of the show, talking about how Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune would be doing their shows without an audience, and how celebrities were beginning to self-quarantine, Howard said they had to finish the news because he had to hide from the Coronavirus. Little did listeners know that as Dr. Fauci and the CDC were beginning to grasp the magnitude of COVID-19, Howard was making plans to hunker down in his mansion on Long Island. Characteristic of the highly secretive and close-to-the-vest Stern, there was no announcement that he would not be live on the air for his Wednesday March 11 show, and listeners were left to wonder when and if he would resurface.
Behind the scenes, Howard was busily setting up camp in his basement. His plans to broadcast from the bunker mirrored the time frame that his late night buddies Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon would begin broadcasting from their homes. But aside from Howard being OCD and a control freak, his live morning show was more of a challenge because he had to coordinate his Zoom broadcast with Quivers and fellow sidekick Fred Norris, Producer Gary (Bababooey) Dell’Abate, Director of Talent Relations Steve Brandano, and a host of the other remote support persons that normally make the show seem seamless.
Howard had spent hours preparing at home, after the sound crew dressed in Hazmat suits moved the equipment in and set things up. Without an engineer, the King of All Media was working on wires and other delegated tasks that he hadn’t fiddled with in years. Key to the 66 year-old Stern’s complete sanitization was his 47 year-old second wife, Beth Ostrosky, busily Cloroxing everything in her own Hazmat suit (use your imagination). Normally occupied with keeping their felines clean and healthy, Beth had been pressed into service as The King’s hand maiden. To show his appreciation for putting up with him, K.O.A.M. would write a touching tribute song that he played on air April 6th. (Is it me, or is the cadence of the tune a repressed knock-off of Neil Young’s Old Man [Look at My Life]?):
Giving credit where credit is due, Howchie did his best to reassure himself and his audience a day later, by bringing in Dr. David Agus to address the emerging Coronavirus. Agus, known as the Billionaire’s physician of choice according to Forbes magazine, has a show business father-in-law (Maury Povich) and a grandfather who was a Jewish scholar (Rabbi Jacob Agus). At that point in time, a month ago, it was a nice synopsis of a very confusing situation to which he was able to lend clarity. Agus was Howchie’s personal Fauci.
Dr. Agus was so well-received that Howchie brought him back on the show this morning for an encore interview. Once again, Agus was a voice of reason and very optimistic that significant progress had been made in vaccine development.
Dr. Agus makes a further cogent point that in the realm of public health, the victory against smoking in public was not that smoking is bad for you, but that second hand smoke is harming loved ones and others around you. And while you may have a constitutional right to do as your please regarding your own health, you do not have that right regarding someone else’s welfare. That is why as soon as an effective vaccine is developed, we have to encourage as many people as possible to take it who we anticipate will benefit from it. Moreover, when Howard says worries about the Donald Trump’s capabilities, Dr. Agus says that he doesn’t want this to be all about politics. We have one President and like it or not, we have to work about him as well as we can. His thinking is very much in line with my centrist position.
Howard had A-list celebrities Zoom in during the month who were fans of the show, most notably Paul McCartney and Tom Brady. But his biggest coup was nabbing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose daily broadcast press briefings were quickly becoming “must see TV”.
More on the daily Cuomo show will be forthcoming …