After one year of hype leading up to January 9th, the “new” Howard Stern show has finally debuted on Sirius Satellite Radio. Unfortunately for Sirius, the show quickly proved that even without the restrictions of the FCC and complete freedom to do whatever he wanted, Stern and company had very little new or interesting to offer.
Stern has been very adamant that his show has been subpar for the last 10 years, due in large part to the shackles the government has put on him. Well, now the shackles are off, but the same lame quality of self-indulgent ranting about how great he is followed. Even after several “test-runs” on Sirius in the past week, the new Stern show opened to a volley of technical difficulties that prevented the show from getting into a flow. Within 10 minutes, Stern was already out to music while his engineers worked on the equipment. Once it was correct though, the show proved out to have very little new to offer.
Immediately upon restarting the show, Howard, Robin and company launched into some things that they “could never do in their old environment”. First up, the airing of the Pat O’Brien sex tapes. They went through some song parodies with excerpts mixed in, and played portions of the tapes and commented on them. This was a funny bit… 8 months ago when Opie and Anthony did it on XM Satellite Radio. Coming as their first outrageous bit from a crew that has claimed forever that everyone has ripped them off, it was embarrassing for the Stern show to so blatantly steal this bit. It was even more embarrassing the way that they claimed these tapes were being done for the first time ever in a broadcast environment. Sorry, Howard, but not even close.
Following this segment came the much-talked-about rumor that Howard had gotten married over their time off. Howard initially told everyone that he had gotten married, which was followed by a self-service trip around the room to Robin, Fred, Artie, Ralph and others to give their opinion on this announcement. They all reacted with contrived emotion, which was completely fake sounding. Further, since Howard had referenced this with the cast during one of the “test runs,” it came off as even more nonsensical and phony. By the time he finally told everyone he hadn’t gotten married, the bit was already boring and tepid.
Another much-talked-about segment came next – the Revelations segment of the show. A list of 11 revelations was read by an intern, and the gang all took turns guessing at who was tied to which revelation. This bit went on way too long, and honestly didn’t intrigue any curiosity as to who did what. To top that off, they announced at the end of it that they wouldn’t announce who was tied to each revelation for a week – lame.
The final bit that I’ll comment on was the “press” conference. With the excitement surrounding Stern’s arrival, there were a lot of press there to interview Stern. However, from the start it turned into the same, dumb self-serving commercial for Stern and his show that it has been for the entire of the history of the show. Taking what were obviously canned questions all designed to pump up Sirius and the new show, Stern lamely acted as a king talking to his court.
While my first feel is decidedly negative on the first show, there were a few positive moments. The inclusion of George Takei (Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu) as the show’s announcer was very classic and funny. His revelations about his life as a gay man were equally intriguing. Another very positive point is the use of the freedom of speech from Artie Lang. Artie was very comfortable dropping profanity at every turn. However, unlike the rest of the cast who clearly were uncomfortable with it, Lang really presents a feel that he’s natural with it (which is probably true when you consider his comedy background). But these were rare moments in an otherwise dull show. Robin Quivers continues to add less and less to this show, and Stern himself has been going through the motions for so long that it’s doubtful he remembers how to be innovative and original. The fact that he was stealing ideas from the start pretty much tells you that the Sirius deal was about money, and not the “creative freedom” he’s spewed on his press run for the past month.
The show may get better as they settle in. In fact, it’s almost certain that it will. But if the first show was any indication, those looking for anything more than the K-Rock show with the occasional racy content are delusional.