Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling settles a few scores with his former employer Howard Stern in his upcoming memoir “Bow to Stern.” The 69-year-old comedian recounts the excruciatingly drawn out negotiations over his contract at the end of 2000.
Martling admits that he was drinking heavily and knew that he wouldn’t be able to quit alcohol if he stayed on the show. Also his marriage to wife Nancy was falling apart and the idea of announcing it on air was horrifying.
The Long Island native says that he was earning just shy of $ 578,000 and decided to ask for an average of $ 1 million over five years. K-Rock’s general manager Tom Chiusano offered $ 611,000 and finally bumped it up to $ 650,000 although he admits he would have settled for $ 800,000.
The rock station gave Martling a deadline and warned that if it wasn’t signed the deal was off the table. Martling writes that his lawyer advised him to not go into work so he emailed Stern to let him know he wouldn’t be in that Monday.
Martling complains that Stern theatrically complained, “Where’s Jackie” that morning knowing full well that he wouldn’t be in. That night they spoke on the phone but Martling writes: “I could tell as I spoke to him that his relatively new girlfriend was sitting there, because he was acting somewhat “on,” and posing a bit. We weren’t on the same wavelength.”
Stern’s girlfriend Beth Ostrovosky eventually became the radio personality’s second wife.
The crude comic admits that initially it was very difficult not being on the show and at least twice tried to accept the station’s offer and return. Martling says he even wrote a heartfelt note after 9/11 telling his old boss that he thought the tragedy would be a perfect opportunity for him to return to the airwaves and bring some levity to listeners, but he was rebuffed.
Tellingly there are no photos of Stern or Robin Quivers in the book although there are photos of show members Gary Dell’Abate and Fred Norris. Troubled comedian Artie Lange who took over for Martling wrote the book’s foreword.
Martling who hasn’t had a drink since May 2001 also writes of his childhood and reveals that his brother Bobby died of alcohol related illnesses and another brother Jimmy shot himself in 1993.
Martling’s book hits shelves on Tuesday.
With Nicki Gostin