MORE THAN A NAME: HOWARD STERN’S GARY DELL’ABATE ON LIFE & BOOK
“They Call Me Baba Booey” by Gary Dell’Abate, producer of the World’s most famous radio show now on Sirius XM, will make you laugh, cry and even think. It provides access like never before into the makings of the hit show and the people behind it.
But beyond the funny and dishy chapters there is the story of a regular guy in an unreal job and with a reality show-worthy family.
I spoke with Gary about his new book last week.
TBP: Years ago, you famously said to a former girlfriend that your professional life was at a nine but your personal life was at a two. How would you rate everything today, Mr. Fancy Pants author?
Gary: I would say that both are now a nawn – a nine, without the Long Island accent.
TBP: In between the fun parts of your book you write about your mother’s struggle with mental illness and your brother Steven, who was gay and passed away from AIDS in the late 80’s. I got heat from some ignorant gays for working for Howard. What did Steven think of you being Howard’s right-hand man?
Gary: Sometimes we would talk about what happened on a particular day on the show but otherwise he just thought it was cool to hear me on the radio.
He never came to the studio but he was always very private. Maybe he thought if he came up to the studio everyone would figure out that he was gay – which is probably wrong. Of course, right now, I have created this whole conversation in my own head. It is possible he just didn’t feel like coming up to the studio.
The thing about the chapter about Steven that really strikes me is that it is the first time I have told the story about my older brother from beginning to end. It is not that I was ashamed in any way. It was just that there was no real opportunity.
Each time I read a draft of that chapter, I cried. When I read the chapter for the audio book, I cried. I do not think I will ever be able to read it again. Ever. It was the final stage of loss and healing.
TBP: It is a tough part of the book but really a beautiful part of the book. You know I think the world of you and I was so glad you shared that story. On to happier topics: you, Howard, Robin Quivers and Cathy Tobin – who lives in Asbury Park now – taught me so much. I say you all really gave me a career and life. You all were “the power of one” for me – the difference one person can make for someone else. What has Howard taught you over the past 26 years?
Gary: He always sets a great example in the way he treats people with respect. That goes from Arnold Schwarzenegger to the loser of the Worlds Ugliest Penis Contest. He gives everyone the opportunity to be heard and makes what they say feel important. That is an amazing thing from someone like Howard.
TBP: Absolutely. So, you are sitting on the other side of the interview chair now and have done countless interviews, including one with David Letterman. What is the one question you have hoped someone would ask you but has not?
Gary: Wow. Very few people ask me about my brother but I knew you would. No one has asked me where my mom is now and how she is doing.
And I will tell you that while we speak I am sitting in the parking lot of my mother’s nursing home, with a cupcake that I bring her every Wednesday. My mom is doing pretty good. That is sort of where we are right now – everything is good, a nawn, as I would say. (laughs)
Gary will be at the Ocean County Library for a book signing, Nov. 19 at 7 pm. His book is available everywhere right now. More info at BabaBooey.com.