Howard Stern becomes one of the most successful radio show hosts in the nation, despite also being reviled. He also remains devoted to his wife and growing family throughout.
This biopic is based on Howard Stern's autobiography and thus, the film is from Stern's POV.
The film starts with radio DJ Howard Stern (playing himself) receiving disgusted looks from fellow performers at a gig as he performs as his alter-ego, the chaps-wearing Fartman. We also watch as an executive for Washington, D.C. radio station DC101 named Dee Dee (Allison Janney) talks about how disgusting Stern is. Finally we see that a female passenger asks to have her seat moved rather than sit next to him on the plane (though she is forced to do so since the plane is full). Stern explains that he is simply misunderstood and begins telling us his life story.
Stern grew up in a progressive Jewish home in New York and attended a heavily integrated school system. His father worked as a radio show producer. Stern falls in love with radio and becomes a DJ at his college's radio station. He also meets and eventually marries fellow student Alison (Mary McCormack). Stern gets his first job as a traditional DJ (i.e. primarily plays music) at a small New York station. Stern is so bad that the station owner makes him a producer instead. Eventually, Stern grows tired of being behind the microphone and he quits.
Stern then gets a job again as a traditional DJ for a Connecticut station WCCC AM 1290, where he meets Fred Norris (playing himself) who will become Stern's longtime collaborator. Stern begins to find his voice at this station. One night, he and Fred are invited to the hotel room of a B-movie actress, and though Stern gets into a compromising situation with her, he leaves before he cheats on ALison. Stern ultimately accepts a job iatDetroit's WWWW W4 Stereo - the city's lowest rated station - as a morning host. Alison, who believes Stern cheated on her, initially doesn't come with him, though they soon reconcile. The station struggles and ultimately converts into a country music station, prompting Stern to quit.
Stern settles in Washington, D.C. where he works at a morning show for WWDC DC-101. He is hired by Dee Dee and paired with newswoman Robin Quivers (playing herself). With Robin as the show's rational center, Howard ramps up his antics, even taking a female caller who he gets to orgasm on air. The station executives are aghast and try various unsuccessful tactics to tone down the show. Stern eventually rises to #1 in the ratings, giving him enough power to get the station to hire Fred. During this time, Alison suffers a miscarriage and she and Stern fight after he discusses the topic on air, though they reconcile once again. Ultimately, WNBC NBC radio in New York City takes note of his ratings and offer Stern a mega-contract. Stern and co. accept and they all move to New York. They had not listened to his show before he was hired and are disgusted by his antics. An executive named Kenny (Paul Giamatti) is tasked with reining Stern in like he had done with notoriously cranky radio host Don Imus.
Upon reaching New York, Stern's show hits new heights of salaciousness. Stern interviews many lesbians (taboo at the time), talks openly about race relations, says words on-air that are banned by the FCC, and even hosts nude women on the show. The station can't afford to fire Stern, so they fire Robin instead. Stern's behavior then goes even more over-the-top and he launches an anti-NBC campaign, forcing the station re-hire her. The tension continues to mount to the point where Kenny and Stern come to blows over the show. Ultimately, Stern's show becomes the highest-rated show in NYC, making he and his staff virtually untouchable (and Kenny tries to apologize to Stern and asks to stay on-board, though Stern brushes him off). Stern throws a free concert for his listeners and he and Alison welcome their first child into the world.
We then learn that Stern has told this entire story to the woman onthe airplane, who now flirts with him. With some misgivings, Stern rejects her advances and steps off the plane to meet Alison and his kids (though he does try to convince Alison to agree to a threesome). Stern is truly living his American Dream.
There are three post-credit scenes:
1) Frequent Stern collaborator Stuttering John complaining about not being in the film
2) Howard Stern beating out Hollywood's elite for the Best Actor award for his role in this film
3) Kenny talking about how he is now out of radio, before letting loose a stream of epithets at Stern for ruining his career.