Several of the questions were about Stern’s outrageously antagonistic interview style and the impact that it had on his guests.
You say that you didn’t like your old interview style. What were you doing wrong back then?
I was obsessive about the ratings. I wanted to continue being number one.
…I had to entertain the audience and give them more and more. So on terrestrial radio, where you’re getting rated literally every minute, a guest would walk in and I say to myself, “I gotta get right to the f*cking outrageous.”
What was going through your head?
“F*ck you. I need all the attention.” I was a baby. I want every listener. I want everyone focused on me. You’re not going to be funnier than me. You’re not going to come into my studio and steal the moment from me. This is who I was.
Rather than say to Robin Williams, “My God, you’re here,” and celebrate an amazing talent and the beauty of that guy’s career, he walks in and I start in, “Hey, you’re f*cking your nanny.” Bam, sledgehammer. Sock him right in the f*cking head. *sshole. Me, not him. And my audience is cheering me on because who does that? There’s a lunatic loose from the mental asylum.
What made you change?
I have gone and done psychotherapy. I’ve learned there was a way to talk about what was going on in Robin Williams’ personal life. I could’ve expressed to him the beauty of Robin Williams. Who knows what he would have revealed? Who knows what impressions he would have broken into? It brings me to tears to imagine what that moment could have been like.
…I had this idea that I gotta call him and apologize. I started to put it in process and see if he would take my call, but he k*lled himself. I get chills when I tell you.
Is there anybody you called to apologize to who didn’t want to hear it?
Yes. I don’t want to say who, out of respect to that person. Listen, it’s not like I’m an alcoholic who made calls to everybody in my life. But I did call certain people. Most were very gracious and said, “I’m glad you made this call.”
And this one person — I don’t think they were wrong — said to me, “You know what? You caused me a lot of pain and grief. I don’t know that I can really get over this.”
I said, “I’m not looking for you to get over it. I’m not looking for anything other than letting you know I was a d*ck and I’m a fan of yours. And I’m sorry I caused you so much grief.”
Similar: Howard Stern on Jennifer Lopez
Guest Who Wouldn’t Accept Apology:
[Optional] Are you a fan of Howard Stern? Why or why not?