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.

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."