In an interview with "CBS Sunday Morning," to be broadcast May 12, radio giant Howard Stern talks with Tracy Smith about his decades-long career in broadcasting, including his 13 years at Sirius XM; his experiences with therapy; and his many, sometimes controversial celebrity interviews, which are the subject of his new book, "Howard Stern Comes Again," out May 14 and published by Simon & Schuster (a division of CBS).
Why do celebrities open up to Stern? "I think what happens is they – and I've spent a lot of time reflecting on this – you know, my whole career has been about honesty, painful honesty." And it's that honesty, Stern said, that makes his guests open up to him.
Among those frequent guests over the years has been Donald Trump. "He's one of the best guests ever," Stern said. Why? "Because as a radio guest, he says whatever pops into his mind. And he understands how to play that game – doesn't appeal to everyone, but it appeals to enough people, that style appeals to enough people, to turn them on."
Great guest, but what does Stern think of Trump as president?
"Well, listen, he asked me to endorse him, and I couldn't," Stern says. "I had to say to Donald on the phone – it was uncomfortable – 'I can't endorse you.' And I haven't heard from him since. ... We don't talk at all."
Moreover, Stern said the 2016 Presidential election might have been different if Hillary Clinton had appeared on his show. "I was a Hillary Clinton supporter," Stern said. "I think she could have walked in my studio and changed enough minds … I look at those numbers in a couple of key states, couple of thousand dudes in each one could have swung [the Electoral College] differently for her."
In his interview with Smith he also reveals he suffered a serious health scare, which hit him "like a ton of bricks."
Stern missed a day of work in the spring of 2017, an extremely rare occurrence that shocked the SiriusXM jock's listener base. At the time, he said he'd had the flu. Now however, Stern says it was something more serious – he'd had surgery because doctors suspected a spot on his kidney was cancer. (It wasn't.)
"The weird thing about it was, I couldn't admit it to the audience. I was afraid to," said Stern, who has made a career out of getting others to open up on his radio show. "I didn't want to admit that I was somehow getting older and, you know, it brought out a lot of issues. I wasn't indestructible. I'm not Superman; I'm human."
He also admits he went through a rough period personally just as his professional status was rising, with a book, movie, and fame. Several years ago, he started seeing a psychotherapist.
"I was childish, a narcissist, I wanted everyone listening to me," he said. "There was a program director when I was on terrestrial radio, they said, 'You know, one in every four cars on the Long Island Expressway in New York, the largest market in the United States, one in every four cars is tuned to you.' And all I could think about [was], there were three cars that weren't listening to me."
Stern said therapy has changed him, to a point. "I'm still pretty miserable," he explained. "There's still an angry guy in here somewhere."
Stern, whose contract with SiriusXM is up in two years, tells Smith he toys with the idea of retirement: "But then the panic sets in. So, like, okay, I've had this in my life, my entire life. I've been dreaming about being on the radio since I was five. Now, we're up to 33 million paid subscriptions and growing, and just acquired XM, and acquired Pandora. If that's not a legacy for me, I don't know what could satisfy me. That should be enough!"
"Sunday Morning," hosted by Jane Pauley, is broadcast on CBS Sundays beginning at 9:00 a.m. ET. Executive producer is Rand Morrison. "Sunday Morning" also streams on CBSN beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET and repeated at 1 p.m. ET, and is available on cbs.com, CBS All Access, and On Demand. You can also download the free "Sunday Morning" audio podcast at iTunes and at Play.it.
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