"Howard was there every day," Quivers said of her longtime professional partner and friend
Robin Quivers wasn’t quite sure what to make of the up-and-comer Howard Stern when she started her job as a newscaster at WWDC in Washington, DC in 1981. “Immediately, on day one, he started talking to me [on-air] – which I did not expect,” Quivers, 71, told PEOPLE. “So I’m like, ‘I better say something,’ He said this silly thing in a funny way and I answered him. He let me have the laugh and then immediately went to commercial.”
During the break, Quivers says, “Howard turned to me and said, ‘You're a genius. Please, every time you come in, please participate, talk to me — please, please, please. It took some coaxing to actually get me to do it,” the radio personality says with a laugh. “But the rest is history.”
It was the start of not only a professional partnership that would span four decades, but of a lifelong friendship that would help Quivers through some of the lowest points in her life.
After Howard Stern’s show became the number one radio show in Washington, D.C., he moved to WNBC in New York City in 1982 – with Quivers as his sidekick. They became one of the top-rated teams in radio, and since 2006, the show has been broadcast on Sirius XM Radio in 60 markets with 20 million listeners at its peak.
Quiver’s friendship with Stern proved to be a lifesaver, when she was diagnosed with a rare form of stage 3C endometrial cancer more than a decade ago. “When I told him, he said, ‘What are we – not you – going to do, Robin?,” she recalls Stern saying.
“Howard was there every day,” she says, choking up at the memory. “I’d walk into the house after a doctor’s appointment, and the phone would ring, and it would be him. I’d say, ‘Do you have cameras in here? And he was like, ‘I am worried about you. What did they say? What happened today?’ He has been with me lockstep.”
After undergoing a 12-hour surgery to remove the cancerous mass the size of a grapefruit in her pelvic region in May 2012, Quivers began a 15-month regimen of radiation and chemotherapy.
Quivers insisted on continuing the show from home during her six-week recovery from surgery, and found her job and daily interaction with Stern to be a healthy diversion from her health problems. “Just having the mic go on put me in a different world. I wasn’t in that world where I was sick. But as soon as that mic went off, oh my God – I’d go right back to feeling everything. I couldn’t sit up straight and I was in a lot of pain.”
During those low points – and throughout her cancer journey – Quivers leaned on a foundation of close friends including Stern whom she says, “just surrounded me and made this quilt work of a network to take care of me. I never had to ask for anything. They were just on it. I’d be brought to tears thinking about how much love and support I was getting. It was just overwhelming.”
When Quivers returned to the show in person on Oct. 2, 2013, the shock jock gave her an emotional welcome back. “I have been praying for this day and I am really happy that you are here,” he told Quivers. ”Honestly, I did not know that this day would come. I was very, very depressed about your illness and wasn’t sure what the outcome was going to be. There was a time when I thought I was going to lose you permanently.”
Quivers cherishes her friendship with Stern and is grateful for the many ways it’s enhanced her life. “Our amazing chemistry is both a compliment to the show and a blessing in my life,” she says.
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