Howard Stern Leaves America's Airwaves This Morning
America's top early morning radio personality, Howard Stern is leaving America's airwaves this morning. Despite 14 million listeners, Howard Stern's top rated radio program is being forced from American's airwaves in a repressive climate created by extremist pressure groups after the Superbowl incident a couple years ago involving Janet Jackson.
Howard Stern's program was an interesting mix of staff banter, interviews, wild stunts and games. Both fans and critics tended to listen for an average of two hours each day, often only "to see what Howard would do next".
Many top celebrities including New York Republican Governor, George Pataki, Donald Trump, David Letterman, Catherine Bell, Darva Conger, Gary Shandling, Gilbert Gottfried, Willie Nelson, Melissa Gilbert, Chris Rock, late Rodney Dangerfield were either fiends of the show or were interviewed by Howard Stern on his program.
Despite his long hair and interviews with so many top celebrities, Howard Stern could hardly be seen as any "Hollywood Liberal". Stern often supported Republican candidates for local or state elections, although he opposed Bush in 2004, largely because of his opposition to Michael Powell, the son of Colin Powell who was the FCC Chairman, and directly responsible for huge fines against the radio network that carried the Howard Stern program in a worsening climate of censorship slowly sweeping accross America. Stern was also a strong death penalty supporter as well. Yet, Stern managed to draw a huge audience, mainly comprised of young males 18-34 who were loyal fans of the program. It didn't matter whether one was liberal or conservative, Stern's program drew a wide cross section of listeners.
Stern will go to satellite radio in January. His public airwave broadcast will be taken over by Adam Carolla on the West Coast, and former Van Halen frontman, David Lee Roth, on the East Coast. Roth had been working as a rescue medic recently.
The Howard Stern program lasted 20 years on public airwaves. But with the repressive antifree speech climate slowly sweeping over America, Stern felt just too much restrictive pressure to continue. More and more seemingly harmless speech was edited out in various areas or by the staff censor that his parent radio network had closely watching the program. The staff censor was actually a seeming fair and even religious man, but his job was to protect the radio network from any more huge FCC fines.
Most disc jockeys played records. Stern discovered that very open interviews, outrageous stunts and oddball or unfortunate regulars such as the "Whack Pack" became big draws. One of these, a mentally handicapped midget, "Beetlejuice", became a major minor star and his segments on the program were a strange of funny, pathetic and exploitive.
Why the Stern program worked so well for 20 years is not really known. But for some strange reason it had an appeal. Whether millions of listeners will now pay a subscription fee as well as purchase expensive satellite radio equipment to follow the next generation of Howard Stern's radio program on satellite radio is a good question. But some in Congress, such as far right Alaska Senator Ted Stevens wants to expand censorship to satellite radio as well.
If Congress continues to box in Howard Stern's options to conduct a program as he sees fit, then at some point he'll no doubt leave radio for good. But Congress should realize that they're simply going to far in their repressive climate. Huge increases in indecency fines that could hit radio station and personality both, as well as chasing free speech, have taken much of the fun out of radio. The day of the "shock jock" may be limited.
Regardless of this increasingly repressive political climate, Howard Stern offered 20 years of outrageous fun. Thanks for that Howard. You were appreciated by millions with that fun ride.