To millions of Howard Stern fans, Kevin Metheny will forever be “Pig Vomit,” his character
in the 1997 autobiographical film Private Parts, played by Paul Giamatti. (Stern called him “Pig Virus” in real life.)
While Metheny never worked in New York City after being fired from WNBC, he did build a deep resume as a go-to radio programmer in numerous markets.
Metheny died Friday night of a heart attack while on the job as operations manager at Cumulus’ KGO and KSFO in San Francisco.
Stern this week referred to his former boss as a “Nazi vampire.” Although he was sad to learn of Metheny’s death and that he leaves behind two daughters, Stern is not sure he “ever fully recovered” from the way Metheny ran WNBC.
Stern was hired as afternoon personality in 1982. Private Parts documents Stern’s journey to becoming New York’s top rated DJ.
In 2012, marking the 30th anniversary of Stern’s arrival, Metheny told me that the movie and book were not gospel.
“I think [there’s] a fair and appropriate amount of artists’ liberties taken with factual elasticity in order to make a more interesting project,” Metheny said.
But he did acknowledge that one famous scene from the movie was based on reality.
“I’m certain that I was a pain in the tush with respect to putting the emphasis on the “N” in WNBC,” Metheny said.
He and Stern had gotten “quite cordial” by the time the program director exited.
“That, however, doesn’t make for an interesting movie,” Metheny recalled.
Stern succeeded Frank Reed in p.m. drive. For Reed, there would be no such “Pig Vomit.”
“In a business where loyalty is not often celebrated, he always had my back,” Reed says. “When I was going through my addiction issues, he was one of my biggest cheerleaders. People like that earn a place in your heart that cannot be replaced.”
Unlike Stern who severed ties with Metheny when WNBC ended, Reed says he remained in touch with his former boss.
For many in the industry, Metheny is not just a larger than life movie portrayal. In more than four decades, the radio lifer also had stints in Dallas, Chicago, Cleveland, and Jacksonville. After leaving WNBC, Metheny was named director of programming at MTV. In 1985, he helmed a management team secretly launching VH1.
Reed says, “The outpouring of love for him on his Facebook page is off the charts, which I think is quite a tribute to him.”