Gary Dell’Abate, the executive producer for The Howard Stern Show affectionately known as “Baba Booey”, has a lot of good stories to tell. And with more than 20 years of radio experience under his belt, Dell’Abate is completely comfortable doing his own voice work. He’s also been a longtime supporter of the audiobook medium, to such an extent that he even hosted the 2010 Audie Awards. Listening to him tell his own life story is like meeting a really cool weirdo at your local bar, getting chatty, and then getting sucked in to the point where you are surprised that the lights have come on and it’s closing time.
There are three types of chapters in Dell’Abate’s rotation. One set of stories, natch, concerns all the crazy highlights from his time with Howard Stern. Fans will appreciate fresh, deeper analysis of historic moments like Dell’Abate’s completely lame first pitch at a Mets game for an autism charity, his never-ending quest to win back ex-girlfriend Nancy that culminated in a very embarrassing video surfacing a full eleven years after the breakup, his car chase with the Ski Bunny’s crazy tire iron-wielding ex-boyfriend, and, of course, how he came to be known as Baba Booey. The second thread concerns more personal stories of Dell’Abate’s early life, from his mother’s terrifying mood swings and his father’s stoicism, to his hippie brother’s short-lived Woodstock hitchhiking attempt and his gay brother’s death from AIDS-related illness. The last type of chapter is a short series of interludes. Sometimes these take the form of lists of Dell’Abates favorite things, from best concerts ever to albums needed if trapped on a deserted island, and sometimes he is interviewing the people involved in the narrative of the previous chapter.
For people who care about the voice work industry, the cameos are terrific. There’s a brief snippet from narrator Edward Herrmann of the History Channel, as well as the producer at cutting edge radio station WLIR who gave Dell’Abate his first big break. For those who care about Dell’Abate himself, the cameos also offer major satisfaction in the form of his older brother and famed ex-girlfriend Nancy. None of the major Howard Stern Show personalities drop in, but that’s the way it should be. Dell’Abate has made a career out of acquiescing to be their whipping boy, and this book is an honest navel-gazing triumph that deserves to be heard without their interruptive jackassery. Besides, Dell’Abate is at his self-deprecating best here, and doesn’t need any help from professional put down artists. Whether or not you are already familiar with Baba Booey, his memoir is a guaranteed enjoyable listen that will leave you feeling like you’ve made a new friend. Megan Volpert