Friday, December 16, 2005

Howard Stern

Today was Howard Stern's final broadcast on what's called "terrestrial radio." I am not sure about that terminology, but the news media is using it to describe the end of his free, over the air radio show, contrasting his new gig on satellite radio.

In January, Howard will begin broadcasting on Sirius, one of the two satellite radio providers. The other is XM. Since leaving New York just over a year ago, I have missed Howard's morning show dearly. Every other morning show is absolutely dreadful! So it would seem to be a no-brainer for me to sign up for Sirius next month, right? Well, here's the thing...

I think the reason Howard Stern is so misunderstood is because of how the E! television show is edited. If you tune in to that show, nine times out of ten you'll see a stripper or a wanna-be stripper taking their clothes off or being humiliated for the right to take their clothes off. Now, I have nothing against naked women, but by far the best part of Howard's radio show was not that element.

The best part was the honesty. When Howard and Robin and Baba Booey and whoever happened to be in the studio would just sit there and talk, or argue, or make fun of each other, it was real. It wasn't contrived conflict, like what is so prevelant on every other morning show; it was real, even if sometimes it was real immature. Also, Howard's interviews with celebrities were fascinating. We always learned way more than on other radio shows or TV talk shows where again and again the same softball fluff questions were tossed at the stars. Howard asked the best questions, the hard questions.

So, as I go on and on about the greatness of Howard's show that I miss so dearly on my short morning commute, why wouldn't I be salivating at the opportunity to reconnect with Stern on his new Sirius gig?

Frankly I am worried. I am worried that with the FCC restrictions lifted, Howard's show is going to become an even raunchier, uncensored version of his E! show. A non-stop parade of strippers and profanity. I fear Howard's true talent is going to be lost among the mayhem.

And the celebrity interviews. Howard played to an ENORMOUS audience on his broadcast show. Even the celebs who were scared of answering his questions were almost obligated to appear on his show to promote their latest project to Howards giant audience. That audience will be decidedly smaller on Sirius. Sirius total subscriber base is about 2.2 million. Over the air his audience was about four times that. Will he still be able to book celebs on his new show?

Finally, my other hestitation has nothing to do with Howard at all. It has to do with the other thing I miss so much about radio in New York. XM Radio, Sirius' competitor, is the only way I can listen to radio roadcasts of Mets games down here in North Carolina.

Won't these two companies make my life easier and just merge already?

1 comment:

John said...

I agree with most of what you are saying. Honestly, I haven't listened to Howard in years, until the last few weeks of the show. And each one was great. His last few weeks brought us back to the old days. I especially loved when Jackie came back into the studio to say goodbye. I didn't realize how much I liked him, much more than Arty or whatever his name is. But mostly the reason I don't think his show will interest me at least is what Jackie said. Part of the fun of Howards show was getting close to crossing the line. Doing jokes and other things that walked the line, but now won't have to. I am not sure that will be as funny! At the very least it will be different and I am sure many of his fans that listen to him for strippers and raunch will be very pleased. So, he won't fail, just not sure he will get the average me!