Who’s to blame for Stern’s Hall of Fame shame?
National Radio Hall of Fame
On his SiriusXM Radio show Monday, the King of All Media lambasted the Chicago-based shrine for snubbing him up to now and for honoring less worthy inductees before him. His selection by acclamation of the steering committee this year followed four rejections in past balloting.
Stern aimed his most intense vitriol at Radio Hall of Fame chairman Bruce DuMont for telling me in an interview last week that he hoped Stern would show up at the ceremony last Saturday, but had no idea whether he would. Stern said his agent had made it clear that he would not attend. He also challenged DuMont’s authority as a broadcaster. “Who the f--- is this guy?” Stern said. “Who is he to say who should go into the Hall of Fame?”
On Tuesday, DuMont responded. “I have no need to keep the Howard Stern issue alive, but Howard’s blast of me and the Radio Hall of Fame yesterday was unfair and factually incorrect,” he said. “I want people to know who is telling the truth about when the RHOF was officially notified he was not coming and our efforts to get him to attend.”
DuMont shared a personal letter he wrote to Stern on November 6, making a final plea for him to attend and hoping to clear the air: “I have always felt badly about the public displeasure with the Radio Hall of Fame that you have expressed, especially because I am a fan of yours and feel strongly that you deserve induction,” DuMont wrote. “I also admit that the induction is long overdue.”
It came after a certified letter last June and three subsequent phone calls to Stern’s agent, Don Buchwald, went unanswered, according to DuMont. Through an intermediary, Buchwald responded on November 8 — the day after my story appeared — informing DuMont that Stern was “unavailable” and would not be coming.
DuMont took particular offense at Stern’s personal attacks: “Howard suggested the Museum of Broadcast Communications was run by a man who knows nothing about radio — from his basement,” he said. “I have been in radio since 1966, working at major stations and in national syndication since 1992. Also the MBC and the RHOF gallery is in a $25 million building on State Street in downtown Chicago.”
I told DuMont I thought Stern wasn’t treated as respectfully as the other inductees Saturday, and that there appeared to be hostility on both sides. Even the choice of Chicago Bears defensive tackle Amobi Okoye as his presenter seemed like an insult to someone of Stern’s stature. The 25-year-old Nigerian-born athlete is hardly a household name.
“At airtime, we knew Howard was a no-show,” DuMont said. “He did not respect the honor nor take it seriously. Thus a lighter introduction was appropriate, and a real ‘Howard fan’ [Okoye] was chosen — and delivered his lines quite well.”
Though the quality of Okoye’s delivery was debatable, his totally snide induction of Stern never made it onto the national broadcast. Instead, it was edited into the webcast afterward. “The actual broadcast did run long, but it is live radio, and giving an open microphone to a broadcaster on the biggest night of their professional lives has peril,” DuMont said. “A few ran over their allotted time, and we were cut off. But the online video version of the show does carry Howard’s induction.”
Perhaps it would have been more fitting, DuMont acknowledged, if one of his earlier choices had done the honors: “Roger and Chaz Ebert, Richard Roeper and Rick Kogan would have brought a different style and tone of introduction, but each of them declined the opportunity to induct the King of All Media,” he said.
I can’t promise this is the last time I’ll write about Stern’s induction, but I certainly hope it is. Now what was that about Steve Dahl not being in the Radio Hall of Fame yet?