[Allow me to set up this clip before you listen. Tracey is the Stern show's office manager, and she has a tendency to go off on people she thinks are disrespectful. Grillo was a former Stern staffer who promised to take Tracey and the interns out to a bar, but reneged on his promise to buy them drinks when they arrived. Stern, Robin and Artie play the clip and of course, have a fun time poking fun at the whole debacle, which if you give it more than one listen, you'll have to admit, is pretty damn funny.]
Full exposure: I used to hate Howard Stern. In fact, I detested him. To me, he represented everything that I despised. I thought he was rude, brutish, mean-spirited, sexist, homophobic, and stupid. I developed these heated impressions not from listening to his radio show, but by reading news headlines.
A couple of years ago I decided to give him and his radio show a chance, and I was glad that I allowed myself to be more open-minded because it exposed me to a perspective I would have normally discarded.
I am a supporter of free-speech. Being someone who says things that people frequently find objectionable, or who blurs the line between what is socially acceptable and not, I appreciate comedians like George Carlin, who challenged our conventional thoughts and wisdom and provoked us to think deeper.
So many of us go through life just wanting to be liked, and we turn ourselves into characters to achieve this objective. What I have noticed in my experiences is that by doing this we are seldom authentic. In fact, being fake is the best way to lose yourself, in my humble opinion.
It doesn’t always make me likeable, but I prefer to be loyal to my feelings and judgments, and learn as I grow, even if it means a few people here and there won’t find me suitable to introduce to their mother. It’s a risk I am willing to take. Being true to my character is more important to me than putting on a cardboard mask with the goal of being liked.
Some of my friends think it’s questionable of my character that I profess an admiration for Howard Stern. In truth, there are many facets of his on-air personality that I do not enjoy. I think he’s overly concerned with appearances, convention, position and fame, while he admonishes these traits in others. I suppose that for me, I can relate, because my contradictory interests make me more human, and therefore more flawed, and perfection has never been one of my goals.
What I learned about Howard was that he was unlike how people perceived him. Behind his rough exterior is a man deeply concerned with gay rights, animal welfare, fitness, health and philanthropy.
What I also learned, and perhaps it’s something I often fail to recognize in others, is that words, despite their power, betray the actual merit of an individual.
I am always open to asking more and more questions. Stern feeds on curiosity while being one of the best interviewers I have ever known. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I guess that’s what I find enticing about him.