Conspiracy theories abound as a shock jock finally takes a personal day

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By Darren Johnson
Campus News

I often write a column called “This Week in Podcasting,” but my Internet exploded yesterday after a SiriusXM show suddenly went dark.

“The Howard Stern Show” was expected to be live on Wednesday morning — perhaps Jimmy Fallon was to visit — but listeners were met with reruns on channel 100.

Stern — the master of habit-forming radio fodder for three decades — took an unheard of personal day, and staff were left to scramble. In the live “after” show with John Hein and Gary “Bababooey” Dell’Abate, curious listeners got no satisfaction, as the two staffers merely glossed over Stern’s absence and got into their usual droning nonsense.

But the Internet was abuzz. Funny, in that Stern-related Internet chatter tends to be dominated by people who claim to never listen to the show anymore, saying it was better in the last century, etc.

However, thousands of people were wondering today what went wrong. These are their leading theories:

  • Robin Quivers is gravely ill. Fans have been speculating for weeks that Stern’s excellent co-host has not been in-studio and has been working via ISDN line from home. She had also done this during her cancer scare a few years ago and many SiriusXM shows are done this way. The sound is near-perfect, so it’s hard to tell. Stern has said he’d quit the show without Quivers’ presence. However, she has otherwise sounded energetic and lively on the air of late — even if she is telecommuting — and her social media was active today, though maybe such posts are automated.
  • One of Stern’s parents is gravely ill, or worse. Ben and Ray Stern are 93 and 89. Recently, Stern said he had called them from the road, but they had refused his request to visit them. He seemed taken aback by this, and on Tuesday’s show, he did a long bit, making fun if his aloof father, in comparison to staffer Richard Christy’s loving, homespun dad. Stern Wackpacker “Elephant Boy” tweeted his condolences.
  • Stern’s wife, Beth Ostrosky Stern, is upset. Stern recently made fun of his wife for her inability to sing “The Name Game,” and she seemed really annoyed when he called her live on the air and tried to have her sing it. He also recently reported that she yelled at him to shut up for laughing too loudly while watching “The Sopranos.” He often reports that she goes out while he sits at home and plays video chess, or watches pornography. But Stern didn’t miss any shows during his divorce from his first wife, other fans note, so this theory seems least plausible.
  • Stern himself is ill. He recently reported going to California for medical tests and, despite his never calling in sick to work, he does come off as a hypochondriac at times. As well, he hates to travel, so going to California is an odd move for him.
  • Legal issues, such as the IRS/Sirius lawsuit. However, Stern has been involved in lots of litigation in the past, and that hasn’t held him back.

Stern, who has said he visits a psychologist multiple times a week, had been really dour all week, admitting that he was going through some “personal things.” He lambasted both Christy and Dell’Abate for about an hour each, as the former accepted a bit role in a movie Stern didn’t approve of and the latter was seen tethered to his smart phone during a recent taping of “Saturday Night Live.”

Whatever the case, I’m sure we’ll hear what happened soon enough. Hopefully, all’s well.


Owner of newspaper that hits 37 colleges, Darren Johnson writes about podcasts, Netflix, higher education and more. Contact him at