Former Briarcliff Manor deejay Howard Stern yesterday got into an epic clash with Gary Dell’Abate, the show’s executive producer. Stern was angry that Dell’Abate (a.k.a. “Bababooey”) broadcast a prank phone call on the post-show program without first asking Stern’s permission.
During this already uncomfortable exchange, an argument within an argument broke out. Sal “The Stockbroker” Governale entered the studio, claiming he tried to tell Dell’Abate not to play the prank call without asking Stern first. Dell’Abate exploded with expletives at the writer, who was telling the truth but appeared to be kissing up to Stern. It was at this point that I realized that I’m almost always going to side with Dell’Abate over both Stern and Governale, because Dell’Abate seems to be the among the most prepared, justified and well-intended member of the crew.
That got me thinking: With whom would I side if two or more Stern show personnel were arguing, if both/all arguments were equally valid? So, I came up with an arbitrary list of 13 active Stern show regulars (no Jackie Martling or “Stuttering” John Melendez here), ranking them from my most frequent argument ally to my least-frequent argument ally. The list does not include infrequent guests, such as staff members’ family or significant others.
Here are my top three allies, with the rest of the Stern crew listed after the break:
1. Fred Norris – Rarely speaks, but when he does, he’s usually the best voice of reason. I’d actually give Dell’Abate the edge here, but Norris is a Yankee fan while Dell’Abate roots for the Mets. He can be a bit of a music snob, though. Agreement score: 9.5.
2. Gary DellÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Abate – As I mentioned, the guy seems to be the most prepared, justified and nicest guy on the entire staff. He also can remember the details of some of the most obscure moments in show history, so he is a trusted authority. Agreement score: 9.
3. Artie Lange – Perhaps the most naturally funny member of the staff, Lange’s well-placed punchlines, self-effacing nature and generous attitude make me empathize for the guy when the staff is picking on his weight or history with gambling and drugs. Plus, he’s a huge Yankees and New York Giants fan. Agreement score: 8.5.
4. John Hein – Dell’Abate’s co-host of “The Wrap-Up Show” would be higher on this list, but he’s only been a show regular for two years. But the founder of JumpTheShark.com always seems to be right on with his analysis from everything to the demise of “Lost” to the ridiculousness of Governale. Agreement score: 8.
5. Howard Stern (pictured above) – Without him, there is no show. But part of that reason he is radio’s most prominent ringleader is because he’ll get angry or frustrated over things that don’t appear to be a big deal to the audience, or take a controversial stance on a political issue. While this almost always makes for captivating radio, it’s easy to see why fans e-mail Norris to tell him that Stern is overreacting or in the wrong. Agreement score: 7.5.
6. Robin Quivers – Generally even-tempered, informed and funny, the woman in charge of delivering the news at the end of each broadcast has been known to get facts wrong from time to time (to the point that a “fan” launched www.RobinsWrong.com) and have the occasional meltdown at nothing in particular. Also, she frequently dumps on teachers, which is a sore spot for me. Agreement score: 7.
7. Richard Christy – Lovably goofy writer who has a great sense of humor and good intentions, but his lack of basic hygiene and ability to push the needle to the top of the Creep-O-Meter take away from his credibility. Agreement score: 6.5.
8. Ralph Cirella – Stern’s “stylist” spends far more time at home than on the job and aggravates listeners with frequent calls to the show and frequent opinions that few people seem to want to hear. That said, he’s right just a little bit more than he’s wrong. Agreement score: 5.5.
9. Scott Ã¢â‚¬Å“The EngineerÃ¢â‚¬? Salem – Working behind the scenes, Salem’s famous for the “black cloud” that hovers over him and ruins other people’s days. He often complains about not being invited to the show’s most exclusive events and parties, which comes across as desperate. Agreement score: 5.
10. J.D. Harmeyer – Nice guy who never really has an opinion. For that reason alone, it’s hard to agree with this media producer. Agreement score: 4.
11. Ronnie “The Limo Driver” Mund – Almost always in the wrong whenever an argument breaks out. It’s always funny when Ronnie undercompensates or overcompensates when it comes to providing security or transportation for Stern, or hosting a block party. Agreement score: 3.
12. Sal Ã¢â‚¬Å“The StockbrokerÃ¢â‚¬? Governale – He’s defended actions that are too deplorable for print on this Web site, and his Howard Stern hero worship shatters the Creep-O-Meter at least twice a month. Agreement score: 2.
13. Benjy Bronk – Because it’s almost impossible to tell when this writer’s being serious or just locked into a “shtick coma,” his arguments are equally impossible to defend. Agreement score: 1.
(Associated Press file photo/Louis Lanzano)