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Howard Stern jockeyed to stardom on morning show
Connecticut Jewish Ledger - April 1997
Nineteen years ago, WCCC radio, owned by Sy Dresner's Greater Hartford Communications Corporation, hired a new voice for its morning radio show. The unknown disc jockey's name was Howard Stern, and his two years at WCCC helped put him on the road to stardom.
Dresner recalls that Stern was promotion-minded. "He didn't depend on anyone else. He was a great promotion person for himself.
"He deserves this success. He worked himself up nicely; he was very persistent," Dresner says of Stern, whose autobiographical movie, "Private Parts," premiered recently.
"Howard really blossomed in Hartford," added Dresner's son, Ron, who is WCCC's V.P., marketing and programming director. "That's where he met Fred Norris, who's currently a writer-producer of Howard's show."
WCCC began broadcasting Stern's syndicated program in May.
Ron Dresner said that even back in the late 1970s, Stern could be controversial. "He got national attention for his `To Hell with Shell' promotion," which urged listeners to boycott Shell for two days and turn their headlights on to protest high prices. "He used the phones a lot. For example, when Paul McCartney was arrested in Tokyo for marijuana possession, Howard called Japanese officials to ask for his release.
"But the concept of `shock jock' didn't exist then like it does today," noted his father, who is a volunteer at Hartford's Hebrew Home and Hospital and a former federation Super Sunday campaign co-chair.
Controversy or not, Ron Dresner is pleased about WCCC's prominent place in "Private Parts."
"I'm very happy that Howard included WCCC in the movie and in a positive light. I'm looking for ratings out of it."
Ron Dresner was part of a 25-vehicle caravan that left Washington on Feb. 25 for the "Private Parts" premiere in New York.
The red carpet was out in New York, all the way down 31st Street, where the premiere was held at the Paramount Theater. The motorcade" got a lot of attention and I had the opportunity to walk down the red carpet with Howard's sidekick, Robin Quivers," Dresner said. "People either like him or hate him, but everybody knows who Howard Stern is."
The premiere was studded with celebrities, including late-night television host Conan O'Brien, model Carol Alt, director Ivan Reitman and musician David Lee Roth.
Seated behind Dresner at the screening were Joey and Mary Jo Buttafuoco. "I don't think they're Jewish," he joked.
Dresner thought the movie was "great," and not just because Stern wears a WCCC T-shirt and uses a microphone with the station's call letters on it.
"The overall theme is a love story between Stern and his wife. The second theme is how Stern kept to his guns and did his own thing" on the radio, Dresner noted.
Looking back on the role WCCC played in Stern's rise to success, he said, "We feel good about helping him blossom, regardless of the controversial issues."
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