The quarterly Arbitron ratings released in January 1981 showed no signs of a strong audience, causing the station to change formats overnight from rock to country music, to Stern's surprise and annoyance.
He lasted a further two weeks before "it was time to hit the road again. Douglas found Stern's next job, hosting mornings at album-oriented rock station WWDC in Washington, D. Stern was cautious about the offer at first as the general manager "was not really aware of what I did", but accepted the offer and started on March 2, 1981.
He hosted and produced numerous late night television shows, pay-per-view events and home videos.
His two books, Private Parts (1993) and Miss America (1995), entered The New York Times Best Seller list at number one and sold over one million copies.
He also completed duties as the station's public affairs director, and hosted a Sunday morning talk show which he favored above playing records At the same time, local rival station WHCN had assembled tapes and press clippings of Stern and forwarded them to Burkhart/Abrams, a radio consulting firm, in an effort to get Stern out of the Hartford market as a rise in his ratings increased his threat to the station's numbers.
He made several visits to his father's recording studio and witnessed "some of the great voice guys" work with him, including Don Adams and Larry Storch voice Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales, which began his desire to be on the air and "do a show", rather than play records.During his time relocating from Detroit, Stern spent several weeks planning out a new show, determined to become more successful as the station presented a good chance for him to work in New York City, his career goal. I was going to say whatever the fuck I was going to say ... He sought a co-host with a sense of humor to riff with on news and current events.Stern "kept chipping away at management's archaic approach and we began to assemble the program I had envisioned", which included the addition of Norris as his writer and producer.Stern accepted a marketing role at Benton & Bowles, a New York advertising agency, which he soon "quit without giving notice" in favor of a position in the creative department. With encouragement from his mother and girlfriend, Stern contacted WRNW for work and agreed to take cover shifts surrounding the Christmas holidays in 1976.
He lasted three hours before he was fired "because their personnel department realized that I was the guy who just quit." Stern then worked in Queens as a radio salesman selling advertising time without considerable success. Stern was hired for the same salary, but worked a more intense schedule.His aircheck was well received by management who made an offer, His efforts paid off with his first industry recognition, winning a Billboard Award for Album-Oriented Rock Personality of the Year For a Major Market and the debut Top Five Talent Search contest in the album-oriented rock category from radio syndication firm Drake-Chenault, which then distributed the winning radio segments to stations across the country.