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Howard 'Depressed' Over Friend's Death: Donald Jay Barnett Dies After Health Battle

Inset of Donald Jay Barnett Wearing White Shirt and Tie , Sad Looking Howard Stern Looking Left
Source: Courtesy Of The Barnett Family; Shutterstock

Nov. 12 2019, Published 4:54 p.m. ET

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The man who took a chance on Howard Stern and gave him his first radio job has died, has learned.

The Shock Jock revealed the sad news on The Stern Show Tuesday morning, Nov. 12.

Donald Jay Barnett was just one week shy of his 80th birthday when he passed away on November 8, 2019 after a years-long health battle.

"I was depressed all day yesterday. The guy who gave me my first radio job died," Stern revealed on the show.

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"I was wearing a suit, you know the jacket and tie — a corduroy jacket I remember. I walked in, I said Mr. Barnett 'how are you, I'm a broadcaster...'" Stern said explaining is first introduction to Barnett at WRNW. "He goes 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, give me your tape.'"

Stern, 65, reminisced about the time Barnett grudgingly gave him the gig.

"And he called me the next day and goes 'look I'm going to be honest with you, it's not a very good tape. But I'll tell you what. You got short hair. You got a short haircut and I'm so tired of all of these f**king hippies who come in here and can't show up for work. You look like a guy that might show up for your air shift, so I'm going to give you a shot. That was Donald Jay Barnett," Stern, who is now known for his long curly hair, said.

"I f**ked him up the first time I was on the air. I woke him up out of bed. I screwed everything up. I jammed the board, he didn't even fire me when I screwed up."

Stern explained that he found out about his friend's death after a letter was sent to his production team from one of Barnett's sons.

Barnett underwent a medical procedure in 2012. According to his family "he nearly died" from the surgery and was forced to endure six weeks under a "intubated ventilation in the ICU."

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His health declined from there.

According to one of his his sons, Barnett listened to The Stern Show religiously.

"We thought Howard would like to know, my father was quite fond of Howard and spoke of him warmly,' one of his three sons wrote in a letter. "He listened to the Howard Stern show religiously through the years, especially during his commute into the city and the first few hours in the office. My brothers and I bought him a satellite radio as soon as the show moved to Sirius. It was one of his favorite gifts from us. Though my father was proud to work with Howard, he never boasted about it. We were proud his relationship with Howard...My father listened through til the end."

Stern ended the segment with a few last words.

"I owe this guy my career. I really do. He gave me a shot and he was patient with me. Very nice man. Thank you Donald Jay Barnett. Rest In Peace. You ran your race."

Barnett spend the last few years in an assisted living home following his wife's death three years prior.

He is survived by his three sons Kyle and his wife Sara (Ruelke), Jeffrey and his wife Nikki (Vittore), Michael and his fiancee Courtney (Horgan).



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