They have a special relationship -- the King of Late Night and the King of All Media. In honor of David Letterman's final show Wednesday evening, we pieced together a snapshot of memories from when David Letterman and Howard Stern first met and the birth of their 30+ year relationship that has included appearances on each other's shows (and the 'Private Parts' movie), ill-fated personal phone calls, hilarious sound bites, and some of the best radio and television programming ever made.
David Letterman: "Well in the very beginning I guess I didn't know anything about Howard Stern and I remember one night we had been on the air at NBC. I'm not sure how many years. We were up on the 14th floor and I was leaving to go home, and it was probably 9 in the evening, and a guy gets off on the elevator on 14 who I have never seen before and clearly did not belong where he was and looked like a drifter and he's kind of looking around and looked at me discouraged and disappointed.
I said, 'Can I help you?' He said, 'Yes, is Howard here?' And I said 'No Howard, not here.' That's when I became aware that Howard was in the building."
Vinne Favale (VP of CBS Late Night Programming, East Coast): "Dave used to watch Howard through the glass while he was doing his NBC show – and this preceded his first appearance by a couple years. Dave went on the air in '82 and Howard's first appearance was '84."
Howard Stern: "Well, doing Letterman for me meant everything because, again the one thing that bothered me in my career was I felt I was a performer to be reckoned with and it drove me crazy I was not recognized on a national level.
Here I was doing some of the best radio of my career and obviously David Letterman thought I did too. I was only known in New York. Now you see all these guys with national shows; there were no national shows. It was my dream to be on the radio nationally. Why couldn't a good radio show be on the morning nationally? Every radio station was saying you can not take a local morning show and make it national.
So when Letterman asked me to come on his show this was a real nod of approval from somebody with a network program and a opportunity to say to America there's a guy out here who is doing great radio and you can't hear it."
DL: "He had great energy and great commitment and great enthusiasm for his cause, whatever that might be. That always made for a good guest."
VF: "Dave's a broadcaster. Howard's a broadcaster. That is a fundamental thing that those guys have. It's not an accident that Dave's got this classic radio mic or old TV mic on his desk. Dave started out broadcasting – he was the weather guy. He's done radio. I think he respects the art of radio."
DL: "It seems to me like there are multiple Howards. There's the Howard on the radio that can eviscerate somebody, that can shred somebody, that can make someone weep or sweat behind the knees … or having naked women bring him coffee or whatever. I don't know what goes on up there. And then there's the Howard who couldn't be sweeter, couldn't be a nicer fellow, couldn't be more friendly, couldn't be more easygoing, couldn't be more understanding."
VF: "[Howard] can carry the conversation; he has opinions. He's a smart guy. Dave is a smart guy. They could actually have conversations about anything that was topical – the problems of the world, how things should get solved … or at least how Howard would do it."
HS: "I'd always drop whatever I was doing and go on his show and he was always generally pleased with my appearances and I'd always perform well in the ratings."