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American radio ‘shock jock’ Howard Stern became the host of a syndicated TV talk show in 1990, featuring guest stars from the world of show business and other lesser-known personalities from the seamier side of life.
The show also featured Stern’s crew of radio show regulars including:
- Robin Quivers, a newswoman who was coaxed into remaining on the microphone after she had delivered the morning news early in Stern’s radio career and who eventually became his on-air voice of reason
- Comedy writer and stand-up comic Jackie “The Jokeman” Martling
- ‘Frightening’ Fred Norris, who provided sound effects for the show and acted in skits on the show
- Gary “Babbabooey” Dell’Abate (Stern’s much-maligned producer)
- ‘Stuttering’ John Melendez, who asked rude questions of celebrities at various premieres and awards show ceremonies
In the mid-1990s the Entertainment Cable Network (aka E!) began to videotape Stern’s early morning radio shows in the studios of WXRK in New York City and screen the programmes on its network.
The show was a success and watched by millions of Stern’s loyal fans six nights a week from 11:00 pm to Midnight.
In 1998 CBS began to produce carefully edited excerpts from Stern’s E! shows and telecast these once a week in the 11:30 pm Saturday slot opposite NBC’s popular Saturday Night Live.
The menagerie of Stern’s “Wack Pack” favourites included:
- KC Armstrong, a muscular good-looking assistant producer on the show
- Ralph Cirella, Stern’s judgmental hairstylist who believed himself to be an expert evaluator of feminine perfection
- Scott the engineer, who worked on Stern’s radio show and was always accused of messing things up
- Benjy Bronk, an overweight intern-cum-segment producer who would do anything – including making a complete ass of himself – to get air time
- Ronnie, Stern’s highly critical limousine driver
- Beetlejuice (above right), an undersized black man with a tiny head and a large sexual appetite
- Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf
- Nichole Bass, a female bodybuilder whom Howard insisted was really a man – until a test proved him wrong
- Croix, a spacey elderly exotic dancer who insisted she was an architect
- Crackhead Bob (George Harvey)
- Elephant Boy
- Vin the retard
- Joe Cancer
- Captain Janks
- Slow Adam
- Crazy Alice
Howard was often joined by porn stars Kendra Jade, Amy Lynn, Brandy Rodrick, Houston, Janine Lindenmueller and Janet Jameson (among many others), who only too willingly removed their tops to reveal their breasts – as well as any other part of their anatomy Howard wished to see.
Some of the show’s most popular sketches were ‘Homeless Jeopardy’, ‘Who Wants To Be A Turkish Millionaire?’ and ‘Wack Pack Squares’.
The show was especially popular with males aged between 18 and 49.