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Howard Stern in the Land of No Bleep

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Where would Howard Stern be without controversy? The unrepentant bad boy of radio built his career on thumbing his nose at taste, tact, various radio station bosses and the FCC. Having anointed himself of late as a poster child for free speech, he has leveraged his reputation and following to publicize his unquestionably bold move to satellite radio. But when he debuts on Sirius in January, he enters new territory, where the f-bomb drops as frequently as ordinance on an artillery range. How will Stern and crew fare in a medium where the bleep is an endangered species and the particular brand of controversy that has propelled his career is hard to come by?

Will an unbridled Stern simply amp up the frat-boy antics, or will something else emerge?

Stern is at his best when he asks squirm-inducing questions of his guests — lampooning pompous celebrities; allowing starlets, strippers and rock stars to demonstrate their intellectual prowess; and providing a platform for racists, fascists and their ilk to bury themselves in uproarious ugliness.

But the occasional moments of genuine hilarity are too often separated by yet another segment of seventh-grade-level obsession with genitalia and/or the digestive process. Stern talking a woman out of her blouse is just not as funny as Stern asking Tori Spelling to name the capitol of New York State (her answer: New Jersey).

So what happens to Stern when there is no need for a 7-second delay, and no threat of whopper FCC fines? Is there any real mystery about what gets bleeped? And if not, is the ability to hear anyone on the Stern show utter even the filthiest expletive enough to keep a satellite audience entertained, especially when listeners can hear all the nasty language they want on any of dozens of other Sirius channels? In the uncensored world of satellite radio, dirty talk is not a distinguishing feature.

Stern’s move to Sirius is a milestone in the continuing tectonic shift in media consumption. But the self-described king of all media is likely to find that he will need more than the Seven Dirty Words to keep his crown from slipping.

(Also available at brhubart.blogspot.com.)

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About Bob Rhubart

  • Bob, I recently wrote a piece here regarding Howard. I am not following him to satellite (won’t buy the radio; won’t pay for the service). I also suspect that despite talking the talk before leaving “free” radio, that Howard isn’t sure himself what the hell to do over there.

    I hope he finds his way, but every 7th grader knows it’s more fun to laugh when you’re not supposed to. Now Howard has to think of something new or maybe he can get the FCC involved just to stir up some fun. Anyway, I wish him well.

  • Back On Welfare

    Did anyone see Howard on the daily show? He was talking about weighing someone’s bowel movement and how Sirius said it was a health code issue. You can tell by the look on his face that he thought he had comedy gold. Not funny. Jon Stewart asked, Why don’t you weigh him, then weigh him again after he shits? Howard never thought of that. He also said he has the chance to invent a whole new medium… there are already almost 10 million satellite listeners. I have XM and Sirius (sirius free with car purchase). Opey and Anthony on XM 202 is some of the funniest shit I’ve ever heard, and I’m a comedy snob. I hope Howard gets AIDS.

  • I don’t think it will be very long before the FCC is regulating satellite radio and possibly the Internet. Agencies like these need to do whatever it takes to justify their existence and get bigger budgets each year.

  • Guppusmaximus

    Sorry to disagree but Mr. Stern was doing alot of stuff on his Late Night show before Opie & Anthony even brought their Jerky Boy rip off antics to radio. I cannot wait to see what he unveils on Sirius and I’m pretty sure when he’s done with pioneering that media people will still be denying him the credit he deserves!