Robin Quivers talks food addiction, living vegan and her new book
Say what you will about radio and TV personality Howard Stern, but one thing's indisputable: His relationship with on-air-sidekick Robin Quivers has had remarkable longevity -- they've been colleagues and friends for more than 30 years, moving together from their first radio station gig in Washington, D.C., to their current home at SiriusXM radio, where "The Howard Stern Show" reaches millions of listeners. But they're not just tuning in for the so-called shock jock. Over the years, Quivers, 61, has developed her own fan base.
In 1995, she wrote her first book, "Quivers: A Life" (Regan Books), which exposed childhood violence and sexual abuse by her father. This month, she releases her second, "The Vegucation of Robin: How Real Food Saved My Life" (Penguin Group), in which she conveys her struggles with food addictions and poor health, followed by juice cleanses and embracing a vegan lifestyle that has dramatically changed her condition. She urges readers to consider a plant-based diet to foster good health.
Quivers survived a health scare of her own. She chatted by phone with Newsday contributor Claudia Gryvatz Copquin about her recovery from endometrial cancer after a 12-hour surgery in May 2012, and the mutual adoration between her and Stern, who recently tweeted: "Side by side. Don't know what I'd do without her ... "
You and Howard have been together since 1981, yet you've been quoted as being somewhat surprised by his recent public outpouring of love for you. Why is that?
I don't think it surprised so much as -- we always say "I love you." We've been through everything together. But it was the demonstration that was so amazing. It was so selfless. It still makes me tear up, him saying, "I don't want to work without her." You don't necessarily say that to each other every day, and over 30 years nothing like this had ever happened to us before. Helping someone through the breakup of a relationship is one thing; helping someone save their life is a completely different deal.
He helped save your life?
Yes! Howard was there every day, asking "What did the doctors say today?" He was with me every step of the way, we made all the decisions together.... Howard even volunteered to go the appointments with me! I can imagine us showing up together at a doctor's office ! That's going to be fun! But he was willing to do anything.
It was also amazing that you seamlessly did the show from your home since the surgery. (She returned to the show's studio on Oct. 2.)
We had ISDN lines installed in our homes just in case there was ever an emergency and we couldn't get into the studio. When this started and I knew I had to have an operation, I said let's make sure it's working. As soon as I could, I wanted to get myself to my desk in my home and get back on the air.
How did that work?
I could see through Skype everything that was going on in the studio. If I wanted to, they could see me, but after surgery, getting up in the morning trying to be camera-ready wasn't what I wanted to do.... You do physically change after chemo and radiation.
But how was that transition -- working in the studio, to surgery, recovery and working from home?
It was awkward at first for me; it was physically different, and I was in pain. It was hard to sit for four hours, but it felt good to do the show. Then, it became less painful and almost therapeutic -- for four hours, I wasn't thinking about myself.
You've been a vegan now since 2007, but you write about having an addiction to ice cream, among other things. How did you beat that?
I started doing juice cleanses. They get rid of cravings. When you're really cleaning out your body and nourishing it, you discover you stop needing the things you thought you need. I never had coffee again, and I used to drink gallons of coffee! The world of nutrition and dieting are two different things. Dieting is restricting yourself from what you love; nutrition is giving your body what it needs.
There's been talk of a TV show for you. Where does that stand?
There were a number of opportunities before I got sick, and thank God that never happened -- I certainly wouldn't have been able to do it. The timing was prophetic. But now, I'm open and ready to entertain all kinds of ideas.