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I Never Thought About Suing Howard Stern


As the jury awaits instructions in the Bubba The Love Sponge defamation lawsuit Wednesday, we spoke to someone who can certainly relate to Todd "MJ" Schnitt's situation. John DeBella was the radio king in Philadelphia from 1984-1989. His Morning Zoo program on rocker WMMR earned him big money (a 2002 Philadelphia Weekly story claimed DeBella was making $1.2 million a year) and big ratings. It also earned him a big target on his back. And taking aim at that target was radio's leading sharpshooter, Howard Stern.

In 1986, Howard Stern was being piped into Philadelphia on WYSP. And, as Stern did with every top-rated morning show he competed against, he went right after DeBella. There was the typical name-calling, and long tirades with Stern delivering nasty, nonstop verbal assaults. Then came the more personal attacks.

When DeBella and his wife were having issues, Stern threw a "divorce party."

Stern did eventually become number one in Philadelphia, which led to gloating that culminated in Stern's making a trip to Philly to stage a mock funeral for DeBella in Rittenhouse Square, right below the windows of WMMR. Stern even burned DeBella in effigy.

For his part, DeBella never engaged on the air with Stern, and he says not once did he consider filing a lawsuit against Stern for the things he was saying. We spoke with DeBella to get his perspective on the Bubba/Schnitt defamation case, and his thoughts on what he went through with Stern back in the 1980s. HERE'S THAT INTERVIEW.

John DeBella is still on the air in Philadelphia, doing mornings on Greater Media's classic rock WMGK. Many years after the "Funeral in the Street," Howard Stern invited DeBella on to his show and apologized.

You can e-mail DeBella at

(9/27/2015 9:49:37 PM)
Howeird was always an A HOLE. Piping in from N.Y. was not a fair fight. John on the other end was great WAS he left WMMR learned the P.C. and later Internet and now over time is an a hole himself. A shadow of a Hungry Comedienne. Mark RIP Chip MIA Clay IN L.A.

- Pete Meat
(10/15/2014 6:50:22 AM)
I remember when Stern attacked John. Howard Stern is your typical scumbag who ruins lives for a profit. He is ugly inside and out.I hope someone he screwed comes back to get him.

- S. Gallagher
(1/30/2013 5:48:01 PM)
This only person you should sue is the one who let you leave the house with that horrific mustache.

- Steve C
(1/30/2013 12:04:50 AM)
While there may be differing opinions from the pundits about the content, the grownups in the room also appreciate that it's still (just) Show Business.

- Ronald T. Robinson

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