If you're a fan of The Howard Stern Show, you're familiar with Jon Hein, who happens to hail from Pittsburgh. He co-hosts the daily Wrap-Up Show on Sirius' Howard 100 with Gary "Baba Booey" Dell'Abate, wrapping up each day's show with a one-hour roundtable that usually features other members of the Stern universe.
Jon is also a part of pop culture history, as he is the creator of the phrase "Jump the Shark" and the accompanying website, jumptheshark.com. According to Wikipedia, the term jumping the shark alludes to a specific scene in a 1977 episode of the TV series Happy Days when the popular character Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli literally jumps over a shark while water skiing. The scene was so preposterous that many believed it to be an ill-conceived attempt at reviving the declining ratings of the flagging show.
Jon happens to be the manager of the Houston Astros in our Sporting News 1986:Take Two Simulation League, so I asked him if he could answer a few questions for Mondesi's House, which he happily agreed to. Knowing that he was a huge sports fan who was originally from the Burgh, I was interested to get his take on a few topics. So here is the latest in our Mondesi Interview Series, Pittsburgh's own Jon Hein:
Jon, where exactly did you grow up in Pittsburgh? Do you return to the area much?
I grew up in Mount Lebanon in the late 70's until I moved to New York. I still have a lot of family in Pittsburgh, and I try to visit every year and work in a Steelers, Penguins, or Pirates game. I would have been a better football player if I stayed in Mount Lebanon.
Any particular favorite moments as a Pittsburgh sports fan?
All three teams have thrilled me and broken my heart. Besides the Super Bowl wins, my favorite Steelers game had to be when they thrashed Bum Phillips and the Oilers 34-5 in the AFC Championship at home or when they beat the Colts in Indy thanks to Big Ben's tackle. They destroyed me when they lost the AFC Championship to the Chargers at home in 1995. Watching the Pens win back to back cups was incredible, but being on Long Island when they came back in that five game series in 1982 and blew the 3-1 lead over the Islanders in Game 5 with six minutes left brought me to tears. Willie Stargell shining in the 1979 Series was incredible, but seeing Sid Bream slide home safe off Francisco Cabrera's pinch hit is a memory I just can't shake. The Pirates haven't been the same since.
You're a documented sports nut and a Pittsburgher surrounded by New Yorkers. Are the sports debates at work as spirited as I imagine?
I take a lot of crap every day. Yankees and Mets fans don't care about the Pirates unless Billy Crystal is hitting, so I get more pity than abuse when it comes to baseball. The Pens are a different story as Rangers and Islanders fans now let me hear about Crosby, Malkin and crew constantly. I was obnoxious when the Steelers won their fifth ring, but Giants fans are riding sky high after upsetting the Pats this year. Jets fans are always fun to pick on.
You brought a few Stern co-workers to the All-Star Game in Pittsburgh in 2006. What was that experience like? What did they think of the city and the stadium?
I went to the All Star Game with the great Artie Lange and we had a blast. The Pirates might be struggling, but PNC is still the best ballpark in the country. We ate like pigs, enjoyed the HR Derby, and had a great time at the game. Did I mention that we ate a lot?
You work for the King of All Media, you meet a constant flow of celebrities and Wack Packers, and you get to co-host a daily radio show with the one and only Baba Booey. Is this as fun as it sounds?
It's incredible. I get up at four in the morning every day, but that's easy when you get to go to a dream job. Everyone on the Stern crew is a blast to hang out with and I'm thrilled to be part of such a legendary radio show. The only thing that could ever come close to this would be playing for the Buccos. I still have a decent stick and glove, but no speed whatsoever.
Howard's future wife, Beth Ostrosky, is also a former Pittsburgher. Are the two of you turning Howard into a Steeler fan?
Beth and I are huge Steelers fans, but I think she has a bit more influence over Howard than I do. Howard has been a Giants fan since he was a kid, but he talks about watching the Steelers with Beth at home all the time.
To close, the obligatory pop culture questions: what does the creator of Jump the Shark enjoy watching on TV these days? And what would you call your "all time favorite show"?
There's not a lot to choose from on TV these days. I'm a big Battlestar Galactica fan. I'm sticking with Lost and hoping it all pays off down the road. My all time favorite shows (you can't pick just one) are The Twilight Zone, The Wire, Seinfeld and The Office (UK version). And Happy Days will always hold a special place in my heart.
JON HEIN LINKS: