The moment you’ve all been waiting for. The Howard Stern Intern story. I brought this up on my post a few weeks ago about working for Pfizer, and the demand was high. Please note this was 14 years ago and the photos were taken on a Sony CyberShot. Enjoy.
“Just do it. Apply. Why the hell not?” said my best friend, Andrew. He had been trying to convince me to apply for an internship at The Howard Stern Show for weeks. We listened to him every morning on our drive to High School together, and he wanted to live vicariously through me. I wasn’t surprised that he was pushing me, it was just getting on my nerves.
“Dude, no! There’s no way they’ll choose me,” I argued.
“You never know!! Come on do it. Do it for meeee”, he pleaded, as a mega Howard Stern fan.
“Ugh fine, I’ll do it,” I replied grumpily, and filled out the necessary paperwork online.
Literally the next day, I got a call from Tracey, the manager and intern wrangler at The Howard Stern Show. I got an interview.
I was so giddy and nervous when she called me, I don’t really remember what I said but I’m sure it wasn’t very intelligent. I am terrible on the phone. I’m one of those people who blends phrases together or starts off saying one and ends with another. “Great talking to you tomorrow” is probably what I said, which is “great talking to you” and “talk tomorrow” put together. Awesome.
Anyway. I remember not knowing what to wear. It’s The Howard Stern Show I kept telling myself. I wanted to look professional but also kind of cute. Why do I need to look cute? I asked myself. Because there might be celebrities there. IT’S THE HOWARD STERN SHOW.
That sounds reasonable, don’t you think? I settled on black pants from The Loft, flats (I hate heels), and some form of short sleeve blouse with little flowers on it.
Perfect, I thought, the flowers soften me. I’m one of those people who naturally exudes dark vibes and masculine energy, so any extra dash of femininity I can add to my outward appearance is usually helpful.
I barely remember this interview, but I knew that I had a much better shot once she met me in person. Must be my sparkling personality. That was sarcasm, but over the years I’ve learned that my likeability increases in person, for some reason. I’m pretty down to earth and humble, as well as self-deprecating, which most people find refreshing. Some people find it uncomfortable though, so you really have to know your audience. Something told me that The Howard Stern Show would not exactly scare easy – I’m sure they’ve seen a lot worse.
It’s hard to say for sure, as I’m going back 13 or so years, but I think she hired me on the spot. I was SO nervous and happy, I couldn’t wait to tell Andrew. Telling my mom, however, was a different story.
“Don’t worry, I won’t take off my clothes for any reason,” I told her.
With my mom, it’s best to confront the most absurd, panic-inducing topics first, then follow up with the rest of the details. To be fair, she didn’t seem THAT concerned, but any time I leave the house I have to tell her why, so ya know. Can’t be too careful.
“Well ok, I guess it’s a cool opportunity,” she replied, “do you think you’ll get to meet him?”
My immediate thought was “duh, I’m his intern!” But I knew I was one of many, plus IT’S HOWARD STERN. Maybe he’s too big to care? Or too busy? I knew I was intimidated at the thought, but I was hired to work the morning shift, which meant I had to be at Sirius XM at 5 am, because he went on the air at 6.
“I don’t know but I imagine yes,” I replied, “can’t be too many people in the building at 5 am other than us.” Spoiler alert: I met him multiple times and even got a pic with him. I’m 5’5, so he really is just that tall.
On the days I worked at Stern, I stayed over at my Dad’s place, since he lives in Manhattan. I would get up around 3:30 or 4 am, and be out the door and in a cab by 4:45. Maybe even 4:30. NO ONE is more punctual than I am. I cannot be late. It gives me anxiety to be even 5 minutes late, so if I’m not 10 minutes early, I’m panicking. But I digress.
I got to the McGraw Hill Building on 49th and 6th, right next to Del Friscos (mmm steak), and it was still dark outside. It felt so strange having to go to work at that time, but I reminded myself, IT’S HOWARD STERN, BE PROUD THAT YOU’RE EVEN HERE.
I could feel my heart pounding as I approached security, somewhat bleary-eyed, and they gave me a temporary ID card to get upstairs. A chipper looking girl (well, chipper for 5 am) let me in to the 36th floor, and moments later, Tracey appeared.
“Morning! Come on back,” she said loudly as she waved me over to the door. Tracey was awesome, one of those no-bullshit kinds of people that I was immediately afraid of at the time. Now, we’d probably be best friends.
I sprang out of my seat and she walked me back to “The Bullpen” – that’s what they called the area where the interns sat. I imagine they still do – it’s a cool name, and it’s not offensive to anyone. These are things you have to consider in 2021.
The Bullpen is in the same room as Will and Jason, the producers! No way, I thought to myself as I look around, taking it all in, you listened to this show every day on the way to school and now you’re an intern here sitting next to the producers and FEET away from the studio!! This is so cool!
I decided to step off of cloud 9 for a second, sat down at a random computer and looked uncomfortable. I’m good at that. Since I was one of very few people in the office and it was the crack of dawn, no one was talking yet. I yawned and Jason looked over at me.
“Fun being up this early, huh?”, he asked in a joking way, with a big grin. Such a nice guy, it was almost unsettling.
“Oh yea, totally”, I replied and laughed.
CRAP. I scold myself. Did that make it sound like I don’t want to be here?? Oh god, I hope they don’t think that. I hope they know I want to be here and I think this is an excellent opportunity and one that most people would die for. Oh man, can I undo this? Should I say that? No, but say something, idiot!
“Last time I was up this early I was probably still drunk,” I said too quickly, it was almost like a reflex.
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?! I asked myself, as I felt the heat rising in my face, THAT is what you lead with?! Now you sound like every other dormitory idiot that walks these halls. They probably lost any ounce of respect they had for you. Good job. Hope you enjoy your future career as a hot dog vendor. Maybe when you’re done here you can go tell jokes on the corner outside Port Authority, Chuckles.
Thankfully they laughed, but I continued to verbally abuse myself internally for the next 30 minutes. Little did I know just a few months later, I’d be taking semi-drunken pics with Jason and other members of the staff. But these are the things you learn in the work place, ESPECIALLY during an internship: no one really gives as much of a shit about you as you think they do. And I mean that in the nicest way.
Shortly after this brief dialogue, I was given a breakdown of my job duties – the main one being to screen calls. Remember how I mentioned I’m not great on the phone? Well, I guess I can thank The Stern Show for forcing me out of my comfort zone on that one. Not only did I have to answer a phone every 5 seconds, I had to do it efficiently and be able to shoot the shit with almost anyone. And I mean ANYONE.
If you’re familiar with the show at all, you have probably heard the term “Wack Pack”. This was a group of…interesting individuals. It’s 2021, so I’m scared to use any other word to describe them. I’m honestly not even sure they still call them Wack Pack or Wack Packers. I wouldn’t be surprised if Howard got shaken down on that one and changed it to something else. Standby, I’m Googling.
Confirmed they are still the Wack Pack, but I have a feeling they changed some names. This is the excerpt taken directly from Wikipedia:
The Wack Pack is the name given to an assortment of personalities heard throughout the history of The Howard Stern Show, American entertainment talk radio show. As a parody of the Rat Pack or Brat Pack, they are considered part of what the radio show became notable for.
So there you go. Assortment of personalities indeed. My favorite caller out of this crew was “Sour Shoes”, a man of many voices. He would call the show and do impressions or just make up characters with different accents. It was hard to even tell if it was him sometimes, but the one distinct voice I remember was the baby voice. He would talk to me in this baby voice and he wouldn’t even answer questions because, well, he was in character. He was a baby. A man of commitment to his craft, one might say. On the days where the phones were ringing off the hook or I was just not in the mood, I would put the phone down (but not hang up) and just let him “coo” at my desk for a while.
On one particular day, I got a call from someone new. Someone named Henry Hill.
“Henry Hill?” I asked.
“Yea, this is Henry I wanna talk to Howard put me through to Howard please”, the man asked quickly but still nicely.
“Umm one second, please hold,” I said in the most unsure voice I could find.
I put him on hold and stared blankly at my screen for a while. Where do I know that name from?? I asked myself. Then it hit me like a golf ball to the brain. HOLY SHIT!! IT’S THE GUY FROM GOODFELLAS!!! The real-life version of Ray Liotta!! OMG OMG OMG. Flashbacks of scenes with Joe Pesci and Robert DeNiro were going off in my head like Poprocks. Goodfellas is easily one of my top 10 favorite movies, so I was internally freaking out, but I always maintain my composure around important people. I don’t know why, but I was after all, a professional. A professional that was merely 21 and still in college but whatever.
I turned to Will and Jason (I honestly don’t remember who) and said, “I have Henry Hill on the line.”
They didn’t even look phased. One of them just said “got it” and my phone line stopped blinking.
WOW. What a moment. Those 2 minutes made my entire day. TOTALLY WORTH GETTING UP AT 4 AM. And the best part? I spoke to him quite a few times after that. Nice guy. Always asked how I was doing that morning, and we chatted about the weather, as people tend to do when they have nothing else to say to each other. I remember I told him I was hungover once and he seemed to enjoy that.
One day, I got assigned to get breakfast for Howard and Artie. WHOA. I thought to myself. I know how important food is to me, so I was nervous as FUCK. Getting eggs for two people was something that made me nervous. How did I do literally anything in my 20’s?? The self-doubt was egregious.
My memory of the minor details evades me somewhat after all this time, but I want to say Howard got something with egg whites, turkey and toast, and Artie got eggs, bacon and potatoes. That sounds right though, don’t you think? Either way, I must have succeeded in this arduous task because I did that quite a few times after. *Adds to resume*
After I was clearly trusted with breakfast duties, I was given the job of “handling talent releases”. This roughly translates to: when celebs come on the show as guests, you act as their bitch. Just kidding, sort of. I would bring them the “release forms” to sign before going on air, and ask if they need anything. It really wasn’t bad. I met a lot of people, but hands down, Adam Levine was my favorite. He was SO nice (and so hot), I was actually surprised by it (the niceness not the hotness). He introduced me to his entire team and asked if I wanted to sit and chat with them. I was like…I’m a lowly intern, you are giving me way too much credit, Adam.
Whenever I talk about this time in my life, people always have a million questions, so I’m going to try and answer some for you here. The first is always “how was Howard in person?” and the second is “how was Artie in person?” I’m going to disappoint you with my responses but…both very nice people. Not one bad thing to say about either of them. Everyone on staff was down to earth, and no one had any airs about them, considering they worked for one of the most famous men in the world.
In the limited interactions I had with Howard, he was kind, professional, and I’d even go so far as to describe him as “shy”. I remember when the new batch of interns started, he came into the Bullpen to welcome us and thank us for being part of the team. It was a short introduction but still way more pleasant than I would have expected. His brash tone on-air seemed to be the opposite of how he was in person. Then again, what do I know, it’s not like we were best friends or anything. But considering every girl rolled their eyes and asked if he was a scumbag or flirty, my answer is always a FIRM “absolutely not, not even close.”
There is ONE story though, which I always tell, to this day (partially because it’s funny but partially because it’s flattering to me), and that was the day that Artie asked me to be on “The Hottest Regular Girl Contest”.
I knew this was a thing, along with “The Intern Beauty Pageant” (which, fun fact: me and the other girls boycotted that year), but I didn’t see this coming. I was standing in the lobby of the building, on the ground floor, so I wasn’t wearing my Sirius XM ID card, and I saw Artie hanging in the lobby too. I kept my head down and said nothing, because I was pretty shy at the time, and all of a sudden, I saw him walking towards me out of the corner of my eye.
“Excuse me miss, I’m sorry to bother you, but I work for The Howard Stern Show and we’re doing this ‘Hottest Regular Girl’ Contest…would you want to be on it? As a contestant?”
Inside, I’m beyond flattered, but of course, me and my dickheaded tendencies replied with “I know who you are, I’m actually one of your interns. I’ve been getting you breakfast in the mornings and screening calls”, and I laughed.
Artie looked mortified and started apologizing profusely. I laughed and told him it’s fine, “if anything I’m flattered!” I yelled nervously as he walked away, still apologizing.
The next day, he brought it up ON the Stern Show, but didn’t mention me by name. DAMN IT ARTIE. I thought that would have been so cool if he did. But…I did get my moment on the Stern Show, and it was because I and another intern wore the same dress on the same day and we sort of looked alike, except she had quite a few inches on me. Not sure why that warranted a guest spot, but I’ll take it. Evidence below. Why the men are matching too, I wish I could tell you.
Another cool part about being a Stern Intern? The Intern Show! A weekly show they let the interns partake in, with our host, Steve Brandano. I have copies of those shows on a CD somewhere, but the problem is, how does one even play CD’s anymore?? God, I’m old.
Alas, I remember that being one of the first times I decided I really liked entertainment. I liked being on-air or on-camera. I felt comfortable in those moments, which is weird for me, because I’m pretty uncomfortable anywhere else. It felt similar to the rush I used to get from dancing and being on stage. I mean, it’s still performing, right? Just in a very different way.
Fast forward to now, and I guess you can say I went from a big stage to a tiny stage (and by that I mean, the one that you hold in your hand). Half of what I do on the internet is for education, the other half is for entertainment. Or maybe it’s 60/40, I’m not even sure. My point is, I hope you get something out of this. Isn’t that what we all hope for? To be entertained, educated, or inspired? Ideally, I like a combo of all three.
Did I walk away from Howard Stern with a slew of incredible new skills? Not really. But I was HIGHLY entertained. I met some amazing people, and I learned a lot about how hard they work behind the scenes to get that show up and running. Being at work every day at 4 am or so is no joke.
My main takeaways from interning at Howard Stern would be the laughs, the friendships, the thicker skin, and the absolutely unduplicated experiences. I planned to intern for one semester but stayed for two because I knew it was going to give me something special. You don’t get that from a regular internship at any old media company, and I’m so grateful I got to be a part of one of the most popular radio shows in history. I look back on that time very fondly, and I will always remember Ronnie The Limo Driver’s Block Party.
Great story. Love the Stern show and glad you had a good experience!
Thicker skin is a great takeaway!