SBD/Issue 132/Sports Industrialists

Catching Up With "Howard Stern Show" Producer Gary Dell'Abate

Dell'Abate Has Produced "The
Howard Stern Show" Since '84
Gary Dell’Abate has been the producer of “The Howard Stern Show” since ‘84, and he also co-hosts “The Wrap Up Show with Jon Hein” on Sirius XM, a daily look at the day’s happenings on the popular talk show. In addition, Dell’Abate writes a column for "Sound & Vision" called "Gadget Gary" in which he reviews the latest tech products, a subject he is very passionate about. His role on “The Howard Stern Show” is multidimensional. He is called upon to play peacemaker and dealmaker, and is expected to have a thick skin, as he often finds himself the butt of the joke. Television Editor Paul Sanford recently caught up with Dell'Abate on his daily commute home, and after first pulling over to a safe spot off the road, Dell'Abate gave some insight into his passion for sports and his love of technology.

Favorite Vacation Spot: Chatham, Mass. It's on the elbow of the Cape and it’s nice and relaxing and it’s sort of low key.
Last Movie You Saw: I’m going to sound like a jerk when I say this, but I just finished building a home theater at my house, so I got all the Academy screeners. So of the Best Picture, Best Director and the four acting categories -- 30 potential nominees -- we saw 28 of them before the Oscars. 
Music in iPod: There’s a lot of everything. A lot of Springsteen, a lot of U2. I haven’t put anything new in lately. People say this all the time, “My tastes runs the gamut,” but it really does. Somebody just sent me a Sinatra collection that I’m going to put in. 
Last Book You Read: I’m a huge audio book guy and in fact I just stopped my audio book that I’m reading right now. There’s three audio books in my car right now. I’m currently reading the new John Grisham book called “The Associate.” Before that I had Joe Torre's book (“The Yankee Years”). The last book I have is the Artie Lange book.

Q: Being such a big tech/gadget guy, let’s talk about technology and how you use it. Do you Twitter?

Dell’Abate: I just joined Twitter the other day because I thought I was joining so I could follow a local politician of mine who sent me a note to follow his Twitters. But instead, it appears -- this is how bad I am at this -- that I’ve actually put it out there that I’m going to Twitter so two people have already requested to be on my … I don’t what you call it. But I don’t have anything to say, so I think everyone is going to be really disappointed.

Q: Do you watch sports through devices other than a conventional TV, such as a Blackberry?

Dell’Abate: I have Slingbox on my Blackberry. So a couple of weeks ago I was at my kid’s basketball game, but I can catch the end of the football game, although that’s a last resort. At the end of the day I’d rather be watching football on a big-screen. But you got to do what you got to do when you got a family.

Dell'Abate Loves MLB.com, NFL.com
Q: Favorite sports Web sites?

Dell’Abate: I think MLB.com might be one of the best run Web sites of any kind -- high resolution video, access to every game, amazing archive of games that you can go look at. I love NFL.com, although I wish they would offer more video. But they offer an amazing package. On Monday morning if you go on there, you can watch your game that’s summarized in six, seven minutes, all the top plays, which are really well done. ESPN is probably the best one (for scores and news).

Q: Cable or satellite TV at home?

Dell’Abate: I’m both. The only reason I have satellite is for the NFL package, which is really worth it. I’m getting the baseball package this year on my cable system. I usually get the baseball package through MLB.com.

Q: How many sporting events do you attend in a year?

Dell’Abate: I try to go to one Jets game a season. I’m not a season-ticket holder for baseball, but I probably was getting to about 3-5 Mets games a year. Last year, it was probably a big year for me. I probably did about a dozen because there was a lot going on. I went to the first game of the last season of Shea, I went to the last game of the last season of Shea and I went to a bunch of games in between because Shea was closing and I just wanted to go to a lot of games. I usually get (tickets) through friends. I usually try not to bother the Mets that much with (ticket requests).

Q: Favorite memory of Shea Stadium?

Dell’Abate: I was at (Game Six of the ’86 World Series against the Red Sox). Actually, it was very memorable. My dad and I, who just passed away, I got a pair of tickets to Game Six and he was the only one I thought to take. Kathleen Turner was sitting about six rows in front of us in the orange seats and that’s my best memory of Shea. My second-best memory of Shea was when I threw out the first pitch about five or six years ago. And that will hopefully be eclipsed by my next great memory of Shea, which will be May 9th of this year when I’m throwing out the first pitch again. I guess my goal is not to end up as an ESPN highlight.

Q: How do you feel about the Mets' ballpark naming-rights deal with Citi and the controversy of Citi receiving TARP funds?

Dell’Abate: The Mets cut a deal legitimately with Citibank and Citibank paid it. I think the Mets have a legitimate claim to the money. If it were a different company, nobody would be saying anything.

Q: Who was the most memorable sports guest to appear on “The Howard Stern Show”?

Dell’Abate: I got to go with Mickey Mantle just because the dude was a living legend and he really seemed to be amused by Howard, and I think he was sort of amused by the fact that it wasn’t the same old hero worship interview. Howard just sort of treated him like a guy, and I think Mickey got it and liked his sense of humor.

Q: Has there ever been a sports personality that you’ve tried to book for the show and weren’t able to?

Dell’Abate: I tried to get Torre on for the book. I tried hard. I tried like crazy. I called the book company. I called his manager. He was up at Sirius but I couldn’t get him on the show.

Q: Has there ever been any feedback from teams, leagues or agents saying they would never allow their players to appear on the show?

Dell’Abate: No, because I think people are at the point now where if they tell me that I’ll probably say it on the air and they’ll look even worse.

Q: Who is the more famous Adelphi Univ. alumnus: you or Public Enemy lead singer Chuck D?

Dell’Abate: I’m more famous with people who aren’t into rap.

Dell'Abate Remains Friendly
With Dan Patrick
Q: In 2003, Captain Janks crank-called ESPN’s “SportsCenter” with Dan Patrick pretending to be Steve Bartman. What was the reaction to that?

Dell’Abate: That one we really had nothing to do with. It’s one of those things where Captain Janks is up to God-knows-what and all of a sudden my phone starts ringing and everyone’s like, “Oh my God, you just missed it, you just missed it!” The funny thing is we’ve become pretty friendly with Dan Patrick since then and Dan -- just to show you what a great guy he is and what a great sense of humor he has -- was gracious enough to call our show and accept the F-Emmy for “Best Crank Phone Call.”

Q: What is the best part of the XM/Sirius merger?

Dell’Abate: The best of it is we increased our subscribers dramatically and that’s a huge help for me when I’m booking guests. There’s no downside. The company is growing so there’s no downside. The more listeners the more it validates us the better it is for me getting guests.

Q: What are your Final Four picks?

Dell’Abate: I have not been following it as much as I used to. I’m a big Big East fan. At heart, I’m a St. John’s fan but they clearly have given up on trying to win. I like UConn, Louisville, Pitt and Memphis with UConn winning the championship. 

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