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The Baba Boodyssey

Howard Stern Shows Gary Dell’Abate joins the ranks of Stern Show authors

You would have no idea from listening to or being a fan of the Howard Stern Show, but producer and frequent comedy target Gary Dell’Abate has endured tragedy and built fortitude, as he recounts in “They Call Me Baba Booey,” published Nov. 3.

Dell’Abate lost a brother to AIDS and grew up with a mentally ill mother who would fly into unprovoked or barely provoked rages.

But where the fortitude comes in is when Dell’Abate recalls just how driven he was to have a career in radio, working hard at several overlapping internships in the industry while attending college on Long Island. At one, he doggedly pursued former Yankee catcher Rick Cerrone at the height of his early 1980s fame for a radio interview. In another sports-show oriented gig, Dell’Abate recalls the tricky task of corralling hockey players for post-game interviews, most notably when he needed to get Wayne Gretzky to talk to a host whom “The Great One” didn’t like.

What Dell’Abate learned from these trials by fire … could be how to stand up to Stern’s ridicule, or at least not let it get to him. There’s a frequent refrain in the stories Dell’Abate tells that “it’s all for the show” when he takes heat for some misstep – such as when the show unearths an embarrassing videotaped speech Dell’Abate made to try to win back an ex-girlfriend.

Despite all these personal sturm und drang stories, “They Call Me Baba Booey” is fun -- don’t get that wrong. The aforementioned videotape story is certainly cringe comedy, as are Dell’Abate’s dental disasters, also gleefully mined by Howard for the show.

You might not believe it, but there are unexpected moments of tenderness here, especially Howard’s support for his producer when his brother was dying; and the show’s crew of Howard, Robin, Fred and Jackie celebrating Dell’Abate’s wedding. 

“They Call Me Baba Booey” is certainly a must-have for Stern fans, but does stand up on its own for other audiences, like pop culture addicts or music trivia and sports fans.

Footnote: This reviewer, a once-rabid Stern fan, went to a Dell’Abate appearance around 1990 and said (fawningly) “I watch your [old Channel 9 TV] show every Saturday night,” to which Dell’Abate said, “You should be out getting laid on Saturday night.” A fun little anecdote for your amusement. And I meant that I taped it. ;)




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