Howard Stern Is Growing Up

Yesterday, I listened for a bit to Terry Gross on her radio show “Fresh Air.” She was rebroadcasting segments of different interviews she conducted of people over the past year. I heard the one Terry did of Howard Stern last May. Now, this is a man who has put me off big-time with his sexism, crudeness, and narcissism, certainly not someone I ever voluntarily listened to. I remember hearing snippets of Stern’s radio show now and then several years ago due to others around me liking it, namely in two former workplaces. (Okay, I admit to finding something he said funny on *one* occasion that I can recall, about Tom Cruise and his then wife Katie Holmes. Otherwise, Stern grated on me.) And I certainly heard friends and family talk about him with understandable disdain.

So, I was heartened to hear what sounded like a relatively transformed Howard Stern talking openly to Terry Gross about him changing his nasty ways, thanks in significant part to entering psychotherapy some years back . While he didn’t directly apologize for his many years of sexism and self-centeredness on his show, he acknowledged how he has developed empathy and a clearer understanding of how his own narrow, sexist perspective was distorted and hurtful. He talked of saying things that have him “cringe” inside these days. He opened up about his grief-filled upbringing and how exploring it with compassion helped him to better understand the suffering of others, such as that of someone he interviewed, Stephen Colbert, who, like Stern, had a very depressed mother while growing up. He admitted to having narcissism and how it got in the way of him actually learning much from those he interviewed. Howard sounded sincere with his openness and insights. I was pleasantly surprised and even touched.

I’m certainly not about to start listening to Howard Stern on the radio. I honestly don’t feel interested at this time. And I don’t excuse him for his many years of crass, sexist, sensationalist on-air bombast. I don’t think Terry Gross– who I respect very much– does either. She rightfully, pointedly called Stern out on his disgusting, objectifying ways he spoke of women so often on his show. But, what I came away with after listening to this interview was a sense of both relief and hope. It is a relief to me when any prominent, powerful man in the public eye acknowledges his harmful behavior and develops insight, empathy, and compassion where little to none of any of these previously existed. I have no doubt Howard Stern still has a lot more healing and growing up to do, but I get the sense he is well on his way, however long that takes. Admittedly, I haven’t listened to his radio show to hear just how sincere and thorough he actually is with walking his talk. However, I imagine that, to some extent or other, Howard interviews from a softer, more listening place than he used to, like he says he does. (I suspect those of you who are mindful, can hold a broad perspective, and actually listen to him regularly can readily confirm or deny this.) Hope then arises in me that other men, and even other people in general, can and will change for the better even when wealth, privilege, and power tempt them into remaining complacent. Perhaps the Me Too movement is due some credit in this evolution of Howard Stern and, by extension, in other men, other people. I’ll quietly celebrate any positive change in someone, however small, wherever I come across it.

8 thoughts on “Howard Stern Is Growing Up

  1. I found that as open-minded as I am about these kinds of people, there is a part of me that is waiting for them to show their true face. Otherwise, I stay firmly planted in a place of distrust and stay clear. Hope, of course, is ever-present in the decency of mankind. Ah, but there is the paradox. Great post! It certainly gives food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are certainly far from alone about having a part that holds distrust for, as you say, “these kinds of people.” I have a part inside me that does as well. But, hope in the decency of humankind is still good to have. So, yes, therein lies the paradox you speak of. It is good practice to hold paradoxes and do one’s best to draw from each side of them, to walk a fine line of ever-revealing truth, parts of it to be found from each side of each paradox.

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  2. I’m afraid this thinking may have more to do with the King James Version of the Bible. “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” When you grow up in a family where you are harshly judged and wrongly so, the need to not carry on that parental legacy is of the utmost importance. From a child’s perspective, it is nothing more than “paving their way to heaven” or “covering their proverbial ass”.

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  3. If there were emoji(s)?? here, I would have picked the haha face. I have a feeling it might be easier said than done, giving up the beliefs I mean, never mind the ingrained behaviors that come from those beliefs. I am pretty sure you know which inner child would be responsible for the HAHA in this case.

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  4. If someone like Stern to have gained even an iota of awareness about his impact, then I suppose there is some hope there for positive change. Too bad all the other spewers of repellent ideas and talk can’t get themselves to therapy too! I think it’s terrific that TG interviewed him. In my opinion, she is the finest interviewer I’ve ever encountered. I really admire the way she can draw people out in such a way that we who listen feel we know them better.

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    1. Hear hear! Like you, I think Terry Gross is indeed the finest interviewer I’ve also ever encountered. I do think that others who come to be interviewed by her surely know ahead of time that they had better be on some path of growth, to a worthwhile extent, in order to answer her questions sincerely and openly.

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