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Where Do I Begin?

Stories (I Sort of Remember) from a Life Lived Out Loud

In this New York Times bestseller, host of one of the nation’s top morning shows Elvis Duran shares his wildest stories and hardest-learned lessons with his trademark honesty and “bighearted, deliciously warm” (Barbara Corcoran, star of ABC’s Shark Tank) humor.

Elvis Duran’s nationally syndicated radio program, Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, is America’s most-listened-to Top 40 morning show and one of the 10 most-listened-to programs in all of radio, heard live by nearly ten million people every morning.

But his success didn’t happen overnight. Elvis spent years navigating the wild world of radio as a DJ for hire, working (and partying) in markets around the country before taking over the morning shift at the legendary Z100 in 1996. Over the last twenty years, he has become one of New York City’s signature voices (Variety calls him “a permanent fixture of the area’s daily commutes”) thanks to his show’s exciting mix of music, new artist discovery, interviews, gossip, and live listener interaction.

Along the way, Elvis has become known not just for his incisive interviews (and occasional feuds) with pop music’s biggest stars, but for the show’s commitment to kindness and positivity and Elvis’s own candor and openness with his audience.

Bold, funny, and totally candid, Where Do I Begin? is sure to be loved by anyone who listens to Elvis live every morning—or anyone who wants to know what really goes on behind the scenes of the pop music machine from the “man who has been as big a part of the industry’s success as anyone” (Ryan Seacrest).

Prologue: This Is a Nightmare PROLOGUE This Is a Nightmare
My pulse is pounding. My hands are sweaty. I think I just crapped my pants.

Look. I don’t get nervous. Not even when I’m about to go live to ten million people as the host of a national radio show with my name on it.

That stuff’s easy. But this? Writing a book? A book about me?

This is agonizing.

You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to talk about myself. I do it every day on the radio. And it’s not as if I’m afraid to tell you embarrassing stories about myself. I mean, this whole book is full of stories about getting drunk and getting high, getting fired and getting dumped, getting fat and getting thin. Want to hear about the time I pissed the bed on a romantic vacation? No problem.

One time, the guy I was dating took me to Hawaii. I’d been going nuts with work, and I was stressed out and exhausted, so he swept me away to this gorgeous house we’d rented on a hillside overlooking the ocean. Hot, right?

So, we get to this peaceful oasis, have a piña colada or two, and then within about five seconds of putting my head on the pillow, I’m out cold. After months of pent-up exhaustion, I’m taking the greatest nap of all time.

And then, well, you know how sometimes you have a dream where you really have to go, and you make your way to the dream bathroom, and you’re dream-peeing, except then you wake up in a puddle of hot pee?

And you know something? I didn’t try to hide it from my guy. And I have no problem telling you about it, either (after all, it’s not like I peed in your bed). My point: Most people would never admit they peed the bed. Me? I talk about it in a book. Not gonna hold back from ya, okay? In fact, that’s not even the only story about inappropriate urination in this book. I should have called it All the Places I Shouldn’t Have Peed.

I have no shame, and no filter, when it comes to talking to you about wetting the bed. What bothers me is having to dig deeper.

I know how to ask the kind of questions that get to the heart of who a person really is and how they got that way—I do it every day on the radio. But having to answer them is terrifying. Jimmy Fallon recently invited me to be a guest on The Tonight Show. Where HE’S the interviewer. But it didn’t take long before I found myself flipping the script and starting to ask HIM questions. I’m just more comfortable on that side of the conversation.

But as much as I’d rather talk about you, this is a book about me. And if Elvis Duran were a guest on my show, I wouldn’t let him get away with just telling some funny stories. I’d want to know exactly how a kid from a small town in Texas made his way to New York City—how a shy, quiet loner wound up on top in a business where all you do is talk to people. And if he said, “Oh, well, just lucky, I suppose,” and then tried to change the subject, I’d say, “Bullshit.”

The truth is, I have been lucky. Unbelievably lucky. But I’ve also had setbacks. I’ve made mistakes—not just the lose-your-hotel-room-deposit kind, but the people-get-hurt kind. And I’ve learned some tough lessons the hard way—not just about the radio business, but about myself.

Which brings me back to this book—or, rather, the blank page I’m staring at that has to turn into a book or else the ghosts of Simon and Schuster themselves are going to come downtown to my apartment in Tribeca and burn out my eyeballs with their cigarettes.

Turning the microphone on myself like this is a total nightmare. But I’m going to do it anyway. And here’s why.

My favorite thing about what I do for a living is that, even though we play music and talk about Hollywood gossip, our show is about real people. Even someone like Katy Perry—someone who’s way more famous than you or I will ever be and talented in ways we can only dream about—she’s a real person, just like anyone else.

The thing about real people is, we all go through moments of doubt. We all have pet peeves and secret fears and aspirations we’re too embarrassed to admit out loud. We all screw up. We all have dreams that haven’t come true—yet. And whether I’m talking to a Grammy-winning pop star or a caller on her way to drop her kids off at school, that’s the stuff I think is fascinating. The real stuff.

And I’m a real person, too. My life is fast and fun and occasionally fabulous, but the stories that have shaped it—the moments that made me who I am—could have happened to anyone. And if I tell you those stories in these pages, maybe you’ll recognize something from your own life. Maybe you’ll realize something new about yourself. Maybe we’ll be able to connect on a whole different level. Making those connections is the best part of my job. I think it’s the best part of life itself.

So, fine. I’ll tell you everything. Even the stuff that makes me cry or cringe or want to slam my head on the coffee table.

Deep breath.

Here goes.
Photograph (c) Robert Milazzo

Elvis Duran is one of America’s most well-known and widely admired media personalities. His nationally syndicated radio program, Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, is America’s most-listened-to Top 40 morning show and one of the 10 most-listened-to programs in all of radio, heard live by nearly 10 million people in more than 80 markets across the country. Meanwhile, Elvis’s regular appearances on NBC’s Today, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Entertainment Tonight, and other television shows have made him not just a beloved voice, but a familiar face for fans of pop culture.

“Growing up in Atlanta, I listened to Z93 and would call into Elvis’s show to request songs. What sets radio apart from any other medium in the world is that it provides its hosts and listeners with a special bond. We become a part of one another’s lives. This book is the rest of the radio story told by a man who has been as big a part of the industry’s success as anyone.”

– Ryan Seacrest

“Nobody keeps it as real as Elvis does, and that’s the reason we all love him because his authenticity is magnetic. First time I ever got drunk with him he shared this jewel: ‘Charla­magne, you know what they say, you didn’t have a good night if you woke up and there was no blood on your pillow.’ I have zero idea what that meant but it’s inspiring and I won’t stop until I have one of those nights.”

– Charlamagne Tha God, co-host of The Breakfast Club

“Elvis has a liver more powerful than a sewage treatment facility and a heart that pours joy into everybody blessed to meet him. But his real gift, reflected in this book, is asking the extra question that takes us deeper into the stories that matter to all of us while making us laugh the entire time.”

– Mehmet Oz, MD, host of The Dr. Oz Show

“Elvis is bighearted, deliciously warm, and truly thankful for his fortunes and adoring friends. He brings out the best in people, making each feel like a million bucks. I hope this is the first of many books; I’m already waiting in line.”

– Barbara Corcoran, co-star of ABC’s Shark Tank

“From his humble beginnings to radio star­dom, Elvis has always been an unsung hero who tirelessly gives to those in need. I’m grateful to be the lucky recipient of his wicked wit, and now readers can be too. Tequila shots not included.”

– Bobbi Brown, beauty and lifestyle mogul

“It is impossible not to fall in love with Elvis. No, not THAT Elvis—MY Elvis. I know I have to share him with the world but I don’t like it! He’s one of my favorite people and I’m so grateful to call him my friend.”  

– Kathie Lee Gifford