Peter Greyson wants to be able to like the good qualities of Howard Stern without remorse.
“Oh yes, Roger Moore is still alive. I heard him interviewed on Howard Stern the other day.” ERRRRRRRRRRRRR TSSSS! The conversation train had come to a screeching halt and suddenly every eyeball in the faculty lounge was on me. “HOWARD STERN! You mean you listen to that filthy pig?” exclaimed Mrs. Volpe the school librarian, holding back a vomit. As though I had just declared my intentions of creating a local N.A.M.B.L.A. chapter, suddenly I was under assault from an over caffeinated pack of self-righteous educators. Like a frightened turtle, I shriveled in my chair as the onslaught came on fast and furious. “That man is disgusting!” retorted the band director. “He is a blatant misogynist and a horrible role model for kids!” blurted Mr. Jarvis our P.E. coach. I couldn’t believe that even he could throw me under the bus like that. What happened to the Code of Men?
These people who I had taught along side with for the last eleven years, who personally knew my family, my values, and would entrust me with their own children were now judging me as a disciple of the Anti-Christ. You’d think we were discussing an issue of life or death by the intensity level in the room. Words like vulgarity, sexualization of young women, sadomasochism, and detriment to society were being bounced around as I sat there, mouth agape and contemplating my rebuttal. Should I stick up for this guy who I’d never even met and destroy my reputation or just accept defeat and chalk it up as a lesson learned? With one deep breath I mustered up the courage to stand and utter these words as I left the room, “He makes me laugh!”
I remember the first time I heard his name. It was back in 1982 during family dinner when I noticed my father quietly chuckling into his RC Cola. When my mother inquired as to why, he replied, “There’s this new guy on NBC named Howard Stern who is really wild! Today he was calling the traffic reporter whose name is Donna FaDoucha… Donna FaDouche Bag! I almost pulled off the road from laughing!” “Eww, what an animal! Please don’t bring up his name again while we’re eating!” pleaded my mother. At 10 years old I didn’t even know what a douche bag was, but I could feel in my gut that it was something edgy and controversial. So I just stored the name away in the depths of my subconscious and continued being a kid.
It would be another decade before I would be enticed into the magical world of drunken dwarfs, granny porn stars, racist clowns, limo driving celebrities, high voiced slackers, and pineapple headed anomalies. As I became part of the labor force in my early twenties and realized the sheer misery of the morning commute, I was in desperate search of anything to ease the pain. One day as I considered filling my car with noxious fumes and taking a peaceful garage nap, I stumbled upon a familiar name as I turned the radio dial. It was one of the defining moments of my life. A day when I learned what real honesty in media was about, that genuine belly laughter soothes the soul, and also the reason why I would see people hysterically laughing in the cars around me on the dreaded Long Island Parking Lot.
Each day as I absorbed his side-splitting humor and brilliant social commentary my stress melted away and suddenly my morning commute was something I actually looked forward to. He interviewed celebrities, athletes, politicians, and rock and roll royalty with real questions we all wanted to know and never kissed their ass or avoided touchy subjects. He also gave airtime to controversial guests like the Grand Dragon of the KKK and The Westboro Baptist Church on occasion. In doing so he wasn’t supporting their messages but making us aware of the unfiltered world around us. He was like our unofficial tour guide through a crazy world full of crazy people.
As time passed and I learned more about Mr. Stern and his legion of fans numbering in the millions the more I was proud to be one of them. Sure, there were “Wack Pack” regulars like Captain Janks, Bobo, and Speech Impediment Man endlessly waiting on the phones for the chance to contribute, but there were also regular Joes like me who never called in but just loved being within earshot of the melee. There were people from all walks of life among us…doctors, lawyers, truck drivers, actors, homeless people, socialites, even over-opinionated street sweepers creating a rich tapestry of personalities to fuel the show’s genius. Although our lives were worlds apart we all banned together during weekday morning drive time with one common goal…keepin’ it real in the field!
Why is this man who I have faithfully listened to for that last 20 years looked upon with such repulsion? I mean, as far as I know, he’s a faithful husband, loving father, caring son, staunch supporter of no-kill animal shelters, honorable businessman, loyal boss, and a superlative voice of truth in a time when mainstream media inundates us with deceit. And because of his affinity for lesbians and toilet humor he is considered a detriment to our culture? It literally boggles the mind. Everyday I see loving parents dropping their kids off sporting athletic jerseys with famous athlete’s names on the back. Some of which have been either accused or convicted of heinous crimes in the past like sexual assault, drug trafficking, vehicular manslaughter, and domestic violence to name a few. Are these the role models we allow for our offspring while Mr. Stern is brutally vilified for harmless acts like burping into microphones and using real everyday language? No scandals, no arrests, no intern love-nests, just raw honesty.
How are we to judge a man’s goodness by today’s standards? Is it by wealth, looks, college degrees, acting prowess, marital status or even how someone throws a football or drives a racecar? Or should it be something of much more importance…the depth of his character? I think if we all looked within ourselves and asked this question our hearts would reveal the answer. Does he live by a certain set of principals that he is hell-bent on adhering to? Does he admit to his shortcomings and try to improve himself from the inside out? And does he accept others for who they are and not be quick to pass judgment? And in my heart of hearts I believe the answers for Howard are yes, yes, and yes!
As I listen to the droves of phony broadcasters out there forcibly invading our ear canals with their political agendas and religious dogmas I am further solidified in my stance that Mr. Stern is a brilliant entertainer, a friend to animals, a hero of the misunderstood, and a resilient voice of integrity in a world full of liars, cheats, and thieves. And, yes, in my eyes, he’s a good man. He’s pro gay, pro choice, pro cops, pro military, pro America, pro equality, and pretty much pro everything else that liberty and freedom were built upon. So all you haters can hate and pass blame on him for the breadth of society’s evils. But I for one will forever raise my fist in solidarity with the king of all media. Long live The Howard Stern Show! Baba Booey, Baba Booey, Baba Booey…
Peter Greyson has been enriching young minds for over ten years. He holds a B.S. in Education and a Masters degree in Literacy from Brooklyn College. An avid runner, soulful musician, and perpetual teenager, Peter currently resides in South Florida with his wife Gina, their four children, and two dogs. His first book “Dear Lilly” has gained critical acclaim and sold thousands of copies worldwide. Please join the Dear Lilly Facebook page or find it on Amazon.