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Chart Rewind: In 1997, Howard Stern Was King of the Billboard 200

In 1997, the soundtrack to Stern's biopic "Private Parts" marked more media that the Radio Hall of Famer conquered.

By 1997, Howard Stern, then 43, was already the self-proclaimed “King of All Media.”

Then, Paramount Pictures’ release of ­Pri­vate Parts, the Stern biopic starring himself, Robin Quivers, Fred Norris, producer Gary Dell’Abate and other members of his on-air radio team, made the boast closer to the truth and pushed Stern into pop-culture’s mainstream – and sent him to the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart.

Based on Stern’s best-selling 1993 memoir of the same name, Private Parts finished atop the U.S. box office in its opening weekend (March 7-9, 1997), earning $14.6 million (and $41.2 million to date, according to Box Office Mojo). Its ­dominance quickly extended to the Billboard 200, where the movie’s soundtrack debuted at No. 1 on the chart dated March 15, 1997. It sold 178,000 copies in week one in the U.S. and has moved 564,000 to date, according to MRC Data.

The album includes songs by AC/DC, Cheap Trick and Van Halen, along with Stern’s performances of “The Great American Nightmare” (with Rob Zombie) and “Tortured Man” (with The Dust Brothers), which later served, respectively, as his radio show’s opening and closing theme songs. Also on the set are bits from Private Parts, from a disastrous DJ intro during his earliest on-air days on Boston University’s WTBU to likewise disheartening feedback from his first professional program director (the track’s title: “Howard You Stink.”)

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In 2005, Stern left terrestrial radio (from then-WXRK New York) to join what is now SiriusXM satellite radio. Its initial 400,000 subscribers have since exploded to more than 34 million, in no small part because of his appeal. In 2012, he was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame and, in his most family-friendly turn yet, he became a judge on NBC’s America’s Got Talent, where he stayed for four seasons through 2015.

Stern signed a five-year contract extension with SiriusXM ­in December 2020 (as part of a larger 12-year deal that grants the broadcasting company further use of his audio and video content). In a 2014 Billboard cover story, Stern said, “There’s no reason to [leave SiriusXM]. This is my dream. I feel like we’ve ­created a new home for broadcasters. I’m doing radio the way I wanted to as a little kid.”

Stern echoed his sentiments in December 2020, calling SiriusXM “the greatest content provider in media today,” adding: “SiriusXM, I love you, and I’m thrilled to continue our journey together.”