Just a little less than a month before Howard Stern leaves the conventional airwaves for the auspices of satellite. Actually, as I sit here and type this at 5:12 AM, the official countdown clock says 29 days, 18 hours, and 47 minutes. Stern only has 13 more original shows left, with the month being rounded out by various "Best Of" shows.
Of course, this all comes with mixed feelings in the general public. A lot of people cheer Stern's departure from public airwaves the way an Iraqi cheers the falling of Saddam's statue. Many conservative Christians have long held grudges with Stern over what they perceive to be profane and immoral broadcasts. Many fans of the show are saddened that they'll now have to subscribe to his show on Sirius. On the other hand, a lot of people are excited to see what new uncensored topics and content the show can now pursue.
I, for one, am sad to see him go. I say this as a conservative and religious person. Over the course of the years, I've listened to Howard on the air and watched his E show many times. I've found his humor to be sophomoric, vulgar, and downright offensive many times. However, I've also found him to be funny, enlightening, and inspiring at other times. His frat boy humor can range from being bizarre to being very endearing, and at times his outlook on life can go from being wacko to just plain right. I've never known his show to be uninteresting, and no matter what he says, I keep coming back, listening, laughing, and yeah, occasionally getting disgusted, but so what?
I believe no matter what I might disagree with Howard on, radio is better for his having been here. A lot of syndicated morning shows around the country owe their existence to him and his formula (my own morning shows included.) Howard has always challenged the medium of radio to be more than what it is, pushed the boundaries of what can be said and what cannot be said, and redefined what mornings should sound like. More and more, people are waking up to the fact that the government has exercised its powers to silence views and expressions that it doesn't want heard. His fearlessness in tackling issues behind the microphone have let people know what really goes on. I listened vigorously to his discourses on George Bush, his overt bashing of the FCC (loud audible cheering here), and his ramblings about life in general. I mean, what else is left to say that he hasn't already said??
There is almost one universal response when you bring up Stern's name among conservatives or religious people, and that response is "he should be banned from our airwaves!" I hear that, and I sigh. These are the same people who complain whenever someone pulls the Ten Commandments down from the courthouse steps. "But there's a difference!" they claim. No. There's not. If you take away someone else's right to free speech, you are handing them the right to take away yours. I wonder if conservatives have considered what might happen if a radically liberal administration, one unfriendly to Christianity and conservatism, won an election and took over this country's government. I wonder how loud they would cry if suddenly their right to public expression via radio or TV was silenced. Unfortunately, by silencing voices like Stern's a hideously dangerous precedent is being set to work against the very people who are proposing it.
And who could blame Howard for going to satellite? I sure wouldn't. When you have to be careful of every word you say in order to avoid millions of dollars in fines from the FCC, why would you not choose to move to a place where the FCC can't yet touch you?? Why would you navigate through a mine-field where Janet Jackson's partially exposed breast at the Super Bowl gets millions of dollars in fines while an inmate stabbing a guard to death on Prison Break doesn't get noticed? Why would you stay in an arena where Oprah can openly discuss rimjobs but Howard has to pay millions for suggesting it? Why would you work in a place where you're not even allowed to say the word "Sirius?" And work with Tom Chiasano?
And the ripple effects go on and on. The Bob & Tom Show, once very edgy and outright hilarious, has had to water itself down to nearly nothing. Music stations are having to weed out their playlists of classic songs just so they don't have to worry about some moralistic thug siccing the FCC on them! Everybody is having to watch their back.
So, with that all said and done, I wish Howard well on his journey to Sirius. I will miss your show a lot, since I'm an XM subscriber, but hopefully you'll do what you do well and continue to change the face of the business and break down those walls. Thank you for what you've done for our industry.
Oh, and Tom... give him the carts, man!