Saturday, November 6, 2010

His life as ‘Baba Booey’

Gary Dell’Abate, Howard Stern’s producer, at Northeastern yesterday. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)

Longtime Howard Stern sidekick and show producer Gary “Baba Booey’’ Dell’Abate stepped outside his normal wacky radio studio environs yesterday to give readings at Northeastern University and the Brattle Theatre. Dell’Abate is in the middle of a tour to promote his new memoir, “They Call Me Baba Booey.’’

What do you think will surprise people the most in the book?

I think the biggest surprise will be about how I grew up. I came from a dysfunctional family. I had a mom that was suffering from depression. I think if you’re a big fan of the show and you read those first few chapters, you’ll go, “Oh, now I get it, now I understand it.’’

Does it feel liberating to be able to address this stuff outside the context of the show? 

I talk about a lot of stuff, my mom’s mental illness, I had a brother who died of AIDS, and I tell the story of how that all happened. Then I tell funny stories. . . . I made a videotape to a girl I was in love with and it got out on the show, I talk about that. Then I talk about how I met Howard, so there’s a little bit of everything.

Did your real family prepare you for your dysfunctional radio family?

There’s no doubt in my mind. Some people say, “Your mother gave you a hard time. Isn’t that terrible?’’ I look at it this way: My mother sort of got me ready for the job of a lifetime, because I always had to think five steps ahead. The mood swings in my house were so crazy when I would come home I never knew what I was going to get on the other side of the door. It’s sort of like producing a show.

Howard has been pretty hard on the book on the air.

Yeah, but it’s all in good fun. He wants to talk about the book, and it’s not our nature to say, “This is great, this is great.’’ So he’s got to figure out ways to make it interesting and entertaining, and goofing on me is always a good fail-safe.

Do you have a favorite time someone has shouted “Baba Booey’’ on the air when they shouldn’t have?

I’ve got a ton of them. Probably the best one was during the OJ car chase. Peter Jennings was live on the air and a guy called in and claimed he was right across the street watching the whole thing. He was doing the worst voice ever. It was so obvious it was a phony phone call after the first two words. Jennings was letting this guy go on. Even though I didn’t know it was one of our listeners, I could tell. And at the end he yells out “Baba Booey to y’all!’’ That’s one of my favorites.

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