Howard Stern regrets 'meaningless,' 'antagonistic' interview with Robin Williams: 'He was furious with me'

Howard Stern has spent decades building his career, but the world's highest-paid radio host says he regrets many of the choices that got him here.

In his new memoir, "Howard Stern Comes Again," Stern acknowledges that his rise to the top was largely built on "meaningless" interviews that now make him "cringe": "It was just me being self-absorbed and compulsive about asking something that would provoke and antagonize," he writes.

"George Michael's band Wham! — everyone I worked with said, 'Whatever you do, don't ask them if they're gay. Do not ask them if they're gay.' Within twenty seconds, I asked them if they were gay," he notes. "Eminem came on the show once then never again. Same with Will Ferrell."

In more recent years, he's personally apologized to many famous faces, with some being more receptive than others. (One major comedian said he didn't know if he could ever forgive him.) But he was never able to make amends with two people in particular: Robin Williams and Gilda Radner.

“Possibly my biggest regret was my interview with Robin Williams," Stern writes. He pushed Williams, who had divorced his first wife and married his child's former nanny, to spill details of the affair. Williams was embarrassed and angry, and two decades later, Stern decided to seek out his phone number to apologize.

"The next day he died," Stern says.

Howard Stern's new memoir, "Howard Stern Comes Again"

As for Radner, the "SNL" comic was taken aback by questions about her sex life and reportedly left the 1983 interview in tears. She passed away in 1989.

"My narcissism was so strong that I was incapable of appreciating what somebody else might be feeling," he writes.

Years of therapy, Stern says, have given him a better perspective and sense of emotional intelligence. While his interviews are still raunchier than just about anything else on radio, he says he's developed a sense of empathy that usually warns him when it's time to back off. (It also helps that today's guests know what they're getting into.)

"Those weren't really interviews. They were monologues," Stern reflects. "Instead of a conversation, it was just me blurting out ridiculous things."

As for his first two memoirs, 1993's "Private Parts" and 1995's "Miss America"? Stern told Page Six: "Burn them."

28 PHOTOS
Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky Stern through the years
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Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky Stern through the years
Howard Stern and girlfriend Beth Ostrosky during Showtime's "The Boys of Second Street Park" Hamptons Premiere at Sag Harbor Cinema in Sag Harbor, New York, United States. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/FilmMagic)
Beth Ostrosky and Howard Stern during Absolut White Party 2003 at Sean "Diddy" Combs Residence in East Hampton, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage for Bad Boy Entertainment)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 08: Radio personality Howard Stern and girlfriend, actress Beth Ostrosky, watch the action as the New York Knicks play the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Howard Earl Simmons/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 29: (L-R) Howard Stern, Beth Ostrosky and Bianca attend North Shore Animal League Hosts America's DogCatemy Awards at Capitale on November 29, 2006 in New York. (Photo by Matt Carasella/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky during Legally Blonde 2 Red, White & Blonde - Special Screening in Southampton, New York at United Artists Southampton Theatre in Southampton, New York, United States. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
Beth Ostrosky and Howard Stern during 2003 Clive Davis Pre-GRAMMY Party - Arrivals at The Regent Wall Street in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jason Nevader/WireImage)
Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky during 2003 Clive Davis Pre-GRAMMY Party - Inside at The Regent Wall Street in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Carson Daly, Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky during 2003 Clive Davis Pre-GRAMMY Party - Inside at The Regent Wall Street in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Howard Stern, Beth Ostrosky during FHM celebrates its August issue and cover girl Beth Ostrosky at Whiskey Park Club in New York, New York, United States. (Photo by Sylvain Gaboury/FilmMagic)
Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky during Howard Stern Farewell Radio Broadcast on K-Rock Radio at 56th Street in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage)
Howard Stern, Beth Ostrosky and Bianca (Photo by Hal Horowitz/WireImage for North Shore Animal League America)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 13: Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky arrive at a screening for Fox Searchlight Pictures' "Juno" at the Four Seasons on December 13, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Loud/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 09: Beth Ostrosky, Howard Stern and daughter attend the Utah Jazz vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on November 9, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 18: Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky attend the Los Angeles Clippers vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on December 18, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - NOVEMBER 19: Beth Ostrosky and Howard Stern attend THE CINEMA SOCIETY & D&G host a screening of "THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON" at Landmark Sunshine Theater on November 19, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by BILLY FARRELL /Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - JANUARY 20: Howard Stern and Beth Stern attend THE CINEMA SOCIETY with DKNY JEANS & DELEON Tequila & amNewYork host a screening of "NO STRINGS ATTACHED" at Soho Grand Hotel on January 20, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt /Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
AMERICA'S GOT TALENT -- Episode 827 -- Pictured: (l-r) Howard Stern, Beth Ostrosky Stern -- (Photo by: Lucien Sims/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky attends the Cinema Society & DKNY screening of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1" at Landmark Sunshine Cinema on November 16, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Rabbani and Solimene Photography/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15: Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky as seen on November 15, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jackson Lee/Star Max/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 18: Radio Personality Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky Stern attend the 20th Century Fox With The Cinema Society & Brooks Brothers screening of "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty" at Museum of Modern Art on December 18, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 20: TV personalities Howard Stern (R) and Beth Stern enter the "Late Show With David Letterman" taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on November 20, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12: Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky Stern attend the Orlando Magic vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on November 12, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 20: Howard Stern and Beth Ostrosky Stern attend the 2015 North Shore Animal League America Gala at The Pierre Hotel on November 20, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 24: Howard Stern and Beth Stern attends the Broadway Opening Night Performance of 'Bright Star' at the Cort Theatre on March 24, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 01: Howard Stern and Beth Stern attend the 2017 North Shore Animal League America Gala at Grand Hyatt New York on December 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
EAST HAMPTON, NY - JULY 29: Beth Stern and Howard Stern attend The GOOD+ Foundation's Hamptons Summer Dinner co-hosted by NET-A-PORTER on July 29, 2017 in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Net-A-Porter)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 30: Howard Stern and Beth Stern attend the North Shore Animal League America's Annual Celebrity "Get Your Rescue On" Gala at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers on November 30, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 17: (NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) Radio personality Howard Stern and wife Beth Ostrosky attend a game between the New York Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden on October 17, 2018 in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Hawks 126-107. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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