Howard’s Beginning

How this most proper of cities launched Howard Stern, this most improper of celebrities

It is morning rush hour, and Ken Stevens is already in his suburban Virginia office at Washington’s WJFK-FM, the Infinity station he runs in addition to WYSP. It is a surprisingly corporate-looking office, and Stevens looks right at home, wearing a white shirt and red tie, looking out his window at all the passing cars. He smiles, because he knows that, inside most of them, Howard Stern’s voice fills the air.

He is asked if, when he was among those making the decision to simulcast Stern in Philly nearly eight years ago, he ever dreamed he’d be creating other, quirkier celebrities such as Janks and Kallenbach.

"God, are they really celebrities?" he asks in mock horror. "I guess they are. It shows Howard’s power. I mean, whoever heard of Larry ‘Bud’ Melman before Letterman? These guys are Howard’s version of Ed McMahon. It took someone of Carson’s magnitude to make McMahon a star, so maybe it takes someone of Howard’s magnitude to give Kenneth Keith whatever-his-name-is a shot at stardom."

Stevens shakes his head after the full import of his words have settled on him. "It’s a wonderful country, isn’t it?"