Howard Stern Calls Interview With Robin Williams His Biggest Regret

By Tiffany Meier

American radio and television personality Howard Stern recently opened up about some of his biggest regrets over his four-decade career.

In his upcoming book, “Howard Stern Comes Again,” the 65-year-old delves into new interviews and the one thing he regrets to this day.

“Possibly my biggest regret was my interview with Robin Williams,” he told Page Six of the late actor.

“I loved Robin Williams, but there I am beating him over the head with, like, ‘Hey, I hear you’re [sleeping with] your nanny?’ I could have had a great conversation, but I’m playing to the audience,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “They want to hear outrageousness, and that’s my arrogance thinking that Robin Williams can’t entertain my audience. How stupid am I?”

Stern interviewed the late Williams in the early 1990s, when his show was still known for its lewd humor and outrageousness.

“Years later, I realized I finally needed to apologize,” Stern wrote in his book, according to People magazine. “It took me twenty years to work up the nerve. I was in the midst of tracking down his phone number, and the next day he died. I’m still filled with sadness over his loss and remorse for my failure to reach out sooner.”

He also recalled the earlier years of his career.

“I was an absolute maniac,” he told Page Six. “My narcissism was so strong that I was incapable of appreciating what somebody else might be feeling.”

Stern added that while he “wasn’t rude with Robin Williams,” he “asked some questions that perhaps went into areas that [Williams] had enough of,” he said on his show at the time. “I wasn’t trying to be mean to Robin Williams. I was just trying to be provocative and interesting for the audience, and doing what it is I thought had to be done,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “And so that always haunted me.”

He also admitted, “This was a guy who should have been celebrated.”

If he had gotten his chance to apologize to Williams, Stern told USA Today how his apology might have gone.

“I would say to him, ‘I’m sorry, because I am such a huge fan, and you didn’t even know that, and I didn’t allow myself to be a fan of yours, and I didn’t allow you to have the microphone and entertain my audience, and I learned nothing about you in the interview I did.”

He added, “‘I was just an attacking maniac, and I want to tell you it is one of the biggest regrets of my life because I hold you near and dear to my heart. But I was in such a bad place I couldn’t allow myself to be a fan of somebody. I was so crazed about ratings and keeping the audience’s attention, I had no business conducting an interview with you like that. So, I just want to apologize.'”

As for what contributed to his change in character, Stern said it’s because of switching to SiriusXM radio and seeing a psychotherapist.

When he went into therapy in the late ’90s, for the first time he told USA Today he felt listened to “in a way that I’ve never been listened to before.”

From his therapy sessions, he also learned that being “a good interviewer” involves being “willing to let somebody else shine.” Additionally, “you have to be willing to give them the spotlight, and that wasn’t easy for me,” Stern admitted to USA Today.

“This was a real conversation that felt like being fed,” he said. “It was so nourishing that I thought, ‘Well, not only is this good, but maybe I gotta rethink my whole approach. It might be really nice to let other people be heard and take a step back and not be the star of the show and put the show in their hands.”

Another contributing factor was when he had a cancer scare in 2017.

“I freaked out,” he told USA Today.

“I was having a hard time coming to grips with my own mortality, and also when I went back on the air a week later, I was having a lot of difficulty after the surgery,” he told Page Six.

He went into surgery after a growth on his kidney was believed to be 90 percent cancerous. It turned out to be a benign growth. However, the threat of mortality was enough to make Stern reconsider some of his life choices.

“I wanted one great thing that I could hand to somebody and say, ‘Here’s what I’m doing. Here’s what I think I’d like to be remembered for,'” he told Page Six.

“When I had that cancer scare, I was like, ‘Oh, wow, I’m not going to live forever,'” he added. “I hadn’t even considered it [before] … I just figured, ‘Oh, I’ve got a lot of time.’ And I don’t.”

Stern told Page Six, while “I’m not proud of my first two books,” he feels differently about his latest one. “I feel like I could walk up to somebody, hand them this book and say, ‘This is what I’m up to now.'”