http://www.newsday.com/long-island/...land-family-a-look-back-1.11146824?pts=670570 (1/2) Earlier this week marked the 30th anniversary of Howard Stern's move to WXRK-FM, where the self-proclaimed King of All Media reigned for 20 years. Stern, who grew up in Roosevelt and Rockville Centre, left the station in 2005 for a $500 million contract with Sirius Radio. In 1993, Newsday visited with Stern's Long Island family during a media blitz for the publication of his memoir, "Private Parts," which later became a movie with Stern starring as himself, chronicling the balance of building his controversial career while maintaining his relationship with then-wife Alison. This story was originally published in Newsday on Oct. 7, 1993 Updated November 22, 2015 8:30 AM By DAVID HERNDON BY MID-AFTERNOON there's a TV crew in the dining room, a magazine photographer in the living room, a reporter in the breakfast nook, another one just snooping around. There's a photographer taking pictures in the upstairs bathroom. The place is overrun, it's a zoo; the White House doesn't attract a crowd like this. But as far as Ben and Ray Stern are concerned, it's another glorious September day, sunshiny and 70 degrees, a day designed for the counting of blessings. And what could be more of a blessing than to be able to open their Rockville Centre home to all the media who are showing such intense interest in their only son, Howard, whose comic memoir "Private Parts" is coming out tomorrow. Sure, Howard's celebrity has its drawbacks. "I can't walk down the street with my son anymore," says his mom, Ray. And then there are the people who just don't get it. They say, "I can't believe you're such a nice lady and this is your son." But mostly, it's a positive experience being Howard Stern's mom: "Just last week a woman said to me, 'I want to thank you for mothering such a wonderful son.' That was so fulfilling to hear, because you realize that they understand underneath all the jokes -- and sometimes it gets a little raunchy or whatever -- they understand what Howard's all about, and they understand his sensitivity." Seated on the couch surrounded by the dated-but-not-faded haute bourgeois furnishings of her living room, wearing pearls with a smart red blazer and a black dress, Ray Stern emanates a maternal pride and joy that would seem corny if it weren't accented by a distinct twinkle of the eye. And there's not a spin doctor in the universe who could hope to sell the idea of Howard Stern's "sensitivity" any more effectively than this dignified, gracious 65-year-old woman. She allows that her son does get a little carried away now and again, like when he gloats about the death of an enemy. ("The friggin' idiot dropped dead. Cow-faced loser. I hope he died of cancer.") Then there are all those women coming up to the studio and getting naked so Howard can drum on their "butt bongos." And sometimes the talk just hits too close to home, like when his wife had a miscarriage and he joked about taking a picture of the blob for the grandparents. That's when it's mom time: "If I don't like it, I will call him and tell him." So then he puts her on the air and asks about her sex life, in graphic detail. ("You don't get up on all fours, do you?") Not many moms have had this conversation with their sons over a mass medium. No problem for her. "What are we all uptight about?" she wonders. "There's nothing to get excited about here . . . "I don't think his sense of humor is vulgar, I don't find him vulgar at all. I never censored Howard at home, and yet he always had good taste and judgment." Good taste and judgment? Hello? Is it possible there has been some big mix-up, and this is the mother of a Howard Stern other than the one who is routinely characterized as obscene, outrageous, sexist, homophobic and racist by people who are sensitive to what he says on the air? Or have we entered the Twilight Zone, a parallel universe where nasty is nice, and vice versa? The question is: Is this nice lady Ray Stern in denial, or is she revealing an essential truth about her son when she says the radio show is a "spoof," and that the Howard she knows "is a different person." Will the real Howard Stern please stand up? 'I know he always wanted to do something verbally," says Ben Stern, a hale gentleman of 70 years. It all started with puppet shows. For the grown-ups it was Jerry Mahoney and "Fiddler on the Roof." Down in the basement it was another story, sailors and pirates and even horses being naughty with the nice little puppet girl. "Anything he wanted to do creatively, I always supported him," says Ben. "I built him a stage for the marionette. He wanted to have a band, so I got him a keyboard and wired it up and made him an amplifier." Ben was part owner of a recording studio, and he used to make tapes of the children on the holidays. (Their daughter Ellen, who lives in Merrick, is four years older than Howard.) He'd ask them questions about current events, the Kennedys and the UN. "So when I asked him these serious questions, he ends up with being a wiseguy. And so I got mad and said, 'Shut up and sit down. Don't be stupid, you moron.'" Over the years, Howard has gotten a lot of mileage out of that tape. "My father's favorite sport was yelling," he writes in the book. "And he was pretty scary . . . And being called a moron to me was real. I thought I was a moron." But name-calling is no big deal as far as Ben Stern is concerned. "We put too much credence on words," he says. "Actions are what count. I mean, people talk all day long -- it doesn't mean nothin'." Living in Roosevelt gave the Sterns an important lesson in the relationship between actions and words. Their white friends and neighbors would have meetings about remaining in the neighborhood as more and more blacks moved in, and then they'd move out by cover of night. In one of the great backfires in the history of liberal social engineering, the Sterns decided to make a stand. "Meanwhile," Howard writes, "I was beginning to get the -- beat out of me every day by the welfare recipients who are moving into my neighborhood . . . By the time I hit seventh grade there were only a handful of white kids left in the school. That's when the beatings began to get regular." He felt like an outcast. White friends from other neighborhoods wouldn't come visit, and his best black friend was beaten for hanging out with a white guy. That was the last straw; when Howard was 15, they moved. "I didn't know it was as bad as he made it out to seem," says Ben. For Howard's father, "It really wasn't that bad. I mean, I never had a robbery there." "It wasn't any better in Rockville Centre," Howard writes. "I couldn't adjust at all. I was totally lost in a white community. I felt like Tarzan when they got him out of Africa and brought him back to England." Walking into the foyer of his parents' living room, Howard still looks out of place, a refreshing shot of upset to the staid suburban decorum. He's an an exotic bird of a man -- tall, all arms and legs and long hair -- draped with with bracelets and chains and a loose sweater over a suede vest, sleeveless T-shirt, white jeans and big black boots. He keeps his circle sunglasses on indoors. He's wilted from having put in a day's work already, so he goes upstairs to freshen up, with the help of his stylist, Ralph. Recently they've gone from the layered shag haircut he's featured for so long to the "one-length look." "I work hard to make Howard look good," says Ralph soberly. Not as hard as Alison, Howard's college sweetheart and wife of 15 years. "I think when people see me, it makes him look a little more normal," she says. IT'S TRUE that she looks more regular than he does -- fewer eccentricities, but also stylish in a youthful way, dressed mostly in black -- but she's not just talking about visuals. She means the impression he creates with the way he treats women on the show, as if each and every one of them had volunteered for bachelor party duty. It's taken her a long time to get used to it -- their own sex life, of course, provides an endless source of raw material - but she's arrived at an understanding. "He's being like Everyman, and saying things to men in general," Alison says. "The wife on the radio is a wife he's created. It's based a little bit on me, and some of it he twists and embellishes." Alison and Howard, both 39, have three daughters, ages 10, 7, and a few months. The family lives in a very private home on the North Shore; Howard and Alison try to shelter the kids from the consequences of Howard's celebrity (they've had to move twice because of intrusions), and that's why the home is off-limits for interviews. By all accounts, the Sterns lead a very low-key life that puts a premium on good old-fashioned family values, and if that comes as a shocker, maybe you just haven't listened long and hard enough. "I think you can hear the values he has and that he is a caring husband and a caring father," says Alison. "I think it's from things taken out of context that people tend not to understand the full picture of him."