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Howard Stern on Sex, Therapy and Charlie Sheen

Revealing quotes from his Rolling Stone cover story

Larry Busacca/WireImage for Sirius Satellite Radio

“The biggest criticism of my interviews is that I cut people off. I think my biggest asset is that I cut people off. It sounds like a contradiction, but the fact is you can't allow people to drone on. You are the orchestra leader. You are the one who is saying, ‘My audience wants something new. I've got to get out of this. I gotta keep it fresh.’”

 

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Howard on Artie Lange

"Finding Artie was a great joy. But Artie's demons got a hold of him, and I'm probably the last one to really have realized what he was going through. To me, Artie was coming in and doing his job and he did it so well that I really didn't think he had a problem. Toward the end, I got it. You'd have to be blind not to see it. But I'm not a drug guy, really. Early in my life, I took drugs, but I'm very naive about it. Maybe I just wanted to have blinders on, I don't know."

 

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Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

Howard on Therapy

Howard Stern in the 1997 film Private Parts

"Therapy has opened up new sides to me. I'm more willing to explore areas that I didn't understand before with people. I was more one-dimensional, like Cro-Magnon in a way, banging people over the head in my early years. Sometimes when I hear the old shows broadcast, I want to cringe."

 

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Howard’s Career Advice

"Absolutely. I get angry with performers like Rush Limbaugh who are just shills for the Republican Party. I'm not a big listener of his, but wouldn't he be a lot more interesting if once in a while he was for something that the Republican Party was against? I thought he had a real opportunity with that whole drug-addiction thing to maybe open up and say, "Man, I'm as confused as all of you." But, no, he has to keep the persona. He's an expert. He knows everything. It's boring. You've gotta grow. The audience has to feel that growth. There are so many guys doing the same act, like Sean Hannity. If Limbaugh was the one guy who started talking about his insecurities, then he'd have a following that would be 10 times the size. If you want to go to the next level, you gotta open up a whole bunch more. That's the secret for anybody who's considering a career in radio."

 

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Howard Gets Bitten in the Ass

"Those [old] shows can bite you in the ass, because I think the war in Iraq is ridiculous, but you can hear old shows of me screaming, "Come on, we have to go to Iraq and blow everyone up." Oh, fuck, I sounded like an idiot."

 

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Howard Becomes a Human

"Talking on the radio is a performance. Even though it's pretty raw, what I do, and I do open up, it's still a performance. If you go to a therapy session, it's a whole 'nother level. It's been useful to me because I think it's just opened me up as a human being. I feel less like a detached robot. I actually feel human. I don't think I did before."

 

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Howard’s Radio Strategy

"When I was starting out, I came to the revelation that if I was going to go anywhere in radio, I can't be playing records. I said, 'I can't rely on the Beatles or the Rolling Stones to get me ratings. Every asshole can play those. But if what I have to say was important, no one can replicate that.'"

 

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Howard Makes Friends

"I notice when I'm able to break through my fear and hesitance and create some friendships, it really feels good. I missed a lot of that by not fully being human. It's really hard, because I'm the first one to tend to shut down. I'm the type of guy who will invite you to my home and then all of a sudden, I'll be angry you're at my house, like, 'When can I be by myself?'"

 

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Steve Eichner/Steve Eichner Inc./WireImage

Howard on His Divorce

"[Getting a divorce] felt like such a failure. It's so complicated, and it's hard for me even to figure out at this point what went wrong and how things that were so good could go so bad. It's tough. I think I'll spend the rest of my life trying to analyze that."

 

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Howard on Competition

"[In the past] I was a slug, and I was down in the mud. I felt very defensive. I had to do whatever I had to do to make a living, and that I would tear the fucking head off of anyone who got in my way. And now I'm more comfortable with my place and what I've done. I don't feel as threatened by anybody else. I have a really nice friendship with Jimmy Kimmel. Years ago, I could have had a friendship with anybody in show business, and I didn't, because everyone was a competitor."

 

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Photograph by Platon for Rolling Stone

Howard Seeks Balance

"I had something to prove to the world, to my father, to every woman that never fucked me. You know, everything. I'm not saying I'm fully evolved now. I'm not Buddha. Sometimes it's hard for me to accept that I don't have every listener and I haven't written every good joke. I get competitive. But that's no way to live. I'm tired of walking around angry. It's a burden. And that's why I'm trying to find balance."

 

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