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Gary Dell'Abate talks about his book, working for Howard Stern, and being Baba Booey

November 22, 2010 |  3:57 pm

BabaFor a guy with his first book on the New York Times best-seller list for two weeks in a row, Gary Dell'Abate is having a rough November.

The longtime producer of arguably the most successful radio show in U.S. history has grown used to making a fool of himself on "The Howard Stern Show," but on his trip to L.A. earlier this month he embarrassed himself once again, this time on national television.

While promoting his autobiography, "They Call Me Baba Booey", Dell'Abate, a huge sports fan, was invited by Jimmy Kimmel to vindicate himself on Kimmel's ABC late night talk show. This summer Dell'Abate had embarrassed himself before a New York Mets game by throwing the ceremonial first pitch so far off-target that many called it the worst pitch in the history of baseball. Stern, his throngs of listeners and sports hosts everywhere ridiculed the lovable mensch endlessly, and a photo of the pathetic pitch adorns the back of the Baba Booey book.

Kimmel walked 60 feet away from Dell'Abate, crouched down in front of his studio audience and watched the 49-year-old father of two wind up -- and throw the baseball wide left into the crowd. After a third attempt  Dell'Abate's wild pitch smacked an unsuspecting woman squarely in the head.

 

Bababooey had done it again.

His co-workers call him a retard and a monkey, his merciless boss torments him with a wooden puppet carved in an unflattering likeness, and the listeners create song parodies celebrating his every misstep. But Dell'Abate comes to work every day with a smile on his ridiculed face and a long list of tasks to accomplish.

His nickname comes from an encounter in 1990 when he inaccurately described an animated cel he was about to purchase. While on the air one fateful morning he was proudly explaining to Stern how he had decided to buy a collectible featuring Hanna Barbara cartoon character Quick Draw McGraw and "Baba Booey." The sidekick's name is Baba Looey.

Dell'Abate thought the goof would resonate no more than a few hours; 20 years later, the joke is still on him.

About 24 hours after the now-infamous pitch on Kimmel's show, Dell'Abate found himself on the fifth floor of the Los Angeles Times being bombarded for 22 minutes about his 26-year career with Stern, and his book that spans his entire life.

In this first segment he discusses his infamous nickname and the various versions of the moniker, some of which he doesn't like at all.

Next Dell'Abote chats about his favorite guests and the one former SNL cast member that he has yet to land for the Stern Show.

In the final segment, the producer explains that some of his duties include appeasing the sensibilities of the dozens of guests that enter the studio each month. "You have to make a porn star feel as comfortable as Billy Joel," Dell'Abate said. "And that's my job."

He also talked about how he feeds off the pressure and drama of the show. In the book, Dell'Abate reveals that his mother suffered from mental illness. Coping with her while he was growing up  prepared him to handle the many moods of Howard Stern and the cast of crazies that would parade through the five- to six-hour show. But there was one woman early in Dell'Abate's radio career who really got under his skin. He writes about her in the book and then explains to us why she riled him up so much.

-- Tony Pierce

Video shot and edited by Tim French / Los Angeles Times

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