Over the summer, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres found herself in hot water when dozens of current and former employees accused her of turning a blind eye to racism, intimidation, and sexual misconduct on the set of her talk show. Now, the shock jock radio host Howard Stern has found himself in a similar situation, as insiders are accusing him of being a nightmare to work with behind the scenes.
“Worse than Ellen [DeGeneres],” one industry insider told the New York Post. Another comedian who appeared on the radio show said that he was told “not to look” at Stern.
“The hallway had to be cleared out before he walks down,” said “Stuttering John” Melendez, an on-air personality who worked with Stern from 1988 to 2004.
Steve Grillo began as an unpaid intern on “The Stern Show” in 1991, when he was a student at Hunter College. Though he received school credit, he hit the maximum number of hours after six months. Since Grillo did not want to leave, the show allowed him to keep working as an unpaid intern, which he did for six more years. Looking back decades later, he now sees the situation for what he says it really was.
“From 1992 until 1997, I was just working for free still as an ‘intern.’ That’s what my title was. But I was definitely a producer. The amount of responsibilities I had was through the roof,” Grillo said. “That’s slave labor. I was a slave. You can’t have people work 60 hours a week and not pay them.”
Grillo added that in order to make money, he hustled small-time gigs in New York City, trading off Stern’s name.
“I would host a beauty contest at Hooters [for] 500 bucks,” he said.
Grillo went on to say that he and Stern were close, and that the host even dedicated his 1995 book, “Miss America,” to his interns and gave Grillo a specific shoutout.
“For the last four years he has been my intern doing every lousy, menial task for me for free, including getting my meals and opening the door to the building every morning at five a.m.,” Stern wrote in the dedication. “He’s never late, he never complains, and he always has a smile on his face.”
However, Grillo said there is “no way” that Stern didn’t know he wasn’t being paid.
“Nobody gave a f–k,” he said.
Grillo finally left after the show refused to give him health insurance.
Melendez said that he was “livid” when Stern advised DeGeneres earlier this year to lean into the negative way she treated her staff.
“My jaw dropped,” he said. “If anybody should own it, it should be him. All the abuse he gave us and all the bullying. You take what is given or you’re gone.”
This piece originally appeared in UpliftingToday.com and is used by permission.
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