"That moment occurs throughout my day," Stern says later. "I often sit and go, 'Jeez, what did I just do? What are the consequences of what I just did?' And it's tough because I do not ever want to lose the premise that you have to just talk about whatever's on your mind. When I come into the house and get into an argument with Alison, it's happened to me a million times in my life. I know she's gonna give it to me. I'm like, 'Hey, honey, I'm home!' but I know I'm gonna get nailed.

"That's that open-ended issue in my marriage, but it was also important to show why we're friends. What goes through my mind when that happens is, 'Uh-oh, I'm fucked. I'm in for it. I'm gonna get yelled at.' And yet there's a tremendous satisfaction of having just revealed things to my audience [and that] I'm on a roll. And that roll is, like, unbelievable."

People have long tried to find the "real" Howard Stern, but in the end there's really only one -- the shock jock who surprises even himself, who traps himself in cages of his own creation and spends his off time trying to extricate himself until the next jam. On the air, he turns on his friends, betrays his wife even by his own admission, wishes death on his enemies, and maybe even feels bad about it. For a second. But did he make you laugh?

"Another day in paradise," he says when this is all over, when 10 a.m. rolls around and the on-air light is dark for another weekend. Stern's whole body seems to groan, his every muscle and follicle exhausted.

"Shit," he says, stretching and yawning, looking ready to hide again. "I'm tired.

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