The king of all media

I’m going to stop by 56th Street this morning to see Howard Stern’s farewell — and his fans’ farewell — to broadcast. Mark this day: We’ll track back to this as a tipping point for broadcast, though the truth is that that came years ago, when the internet gave us control of media and when the FCC tried to take our control of media away.

At 11, I’ll be on Brian Lehrer’s show on WNYC … and Sirius satellite radio, too. Subject: Whither papers.

While we’re on a hyperoll, I’ll be on Howard Kurtz’s Reliable Sources on CNN Sunay. Subject: Stern.

: LIVE: It is insane on 56th Street. Thousands upon thousands of fans are jamming the street from west of 6th avenue to east of 5th avenue. Bigger than any megachurch.

I’m sitting in a Starbux on 56th and 7th, watching the show on Yahoo and listening on the radio and telling you about it. I have my Howard poster, which I’ll proudly carry around New York today, and my Howard sticker and my Howard Id card. Laugh if you want, but thousands upon thousands of us are here doing the same thing because we belong.

When a Stern regular walks by, the crowd starts chanting his tagline. There goes Elegant Elliot and the crowd chants, “Riiiiighht.” Inside joke. Hadda be there.

Robin says now on Yahoo: “There is nothing wrong with what we do. We are just having fun.”

Howard takes the stage and says: “I stand before you today erect. I don’t mean like that…. I love you guys, I really do…. Does anybody work anymore? No wonder the Japanese are beating our asses…. How am I going to sum up 20 years with you guys… I’m here today to let you know how much I appreciate you, the audience… My friends, we’ve done it all…. Clear Channel commmunications, the religious right have taken over the airwaves… I am the last of a dying breed…. We will not bow down… You guys are the last of a dying breed? When are we ever going to see an audience like this again?… There will never be another radio show like this. There will never be another audience like this… We are all the last of a dying breed. Together, we are strong. Thank you for being in my corner for all these years…

“When I was 5 years old, I dreamed I would have a club, a crowd, a show [and someone from the audience adds: a naked girl]… Everybody said we couldn’t get away with this we couldn’t get away with that but we got away with it all. Why? Because we are the last of a dying breed.

“I don’t think you’ll ever see the likes of this radio show again… We are a bond, this is a family, we’ve done it all, we are the last of a dying breed….

“When everybody else played by the rules, we didn’t…. And I’m proud of that. And I think this ride is just beginning….

“I’m coming across America. Uncensored. Are we ever gonna bow to the government? No. Are we gonna bow to the religious right? No. Are we gonna bow to the FCC? No…. Because we are the last of a dying breed…. The government clean up your act and we say never…. We beat ‘em at their own game….

“There’s a reason the rain stopped. There’s a reason the sun is shining. Because we’re the last of a dying breed….

“F the FCC. They can’t break us, the can’t break the bonds between us…. The religious right is the American Taliban and we can beat ‘em. All these radio stations that fired me, F ‘em. You fire me? We fire you!… Their radio stations sunk because they stunk….”

Howard thanks his fans, family, and friends as a big, purple double-decker Yahoo bus with Howard plastered on the side backs up into the scene by the Starbucks window. More later….

  • Frank

    Howard Stern rules!!!!!!!!!!!
    Keep up the excellent Howard Stern coverage Jeff. This is going to be an exciting time in broadcasting with Howard moving to satellite. Im looking forward to hearing your comments as the King of all Media develops and innovates an entire new medium.

    Frank

  • http://www.ralston360.com Peter

    iTunes:

    In case you have been further out in the boonies than Bend, OR you might not know that Brian Lehrer’s show can be had on Podcasts on iTunes.

    So, you can take your Jarvis out for a long walk.

    P

  • http://www.lostremote.com Safran

    Jeff: Listened here in Boston to the radio, deliberately, to see how they would handle it. They edited it heavily. At one point, there were so many skips in the broadcast (as they time-delayed-out his words that could bring down sociery as we know it) that it was like listening to a scratched CD. Today’s show could not possibly have made his point clearer. Once again, Howard proves he is the Lenny Bruce of our times – perhaps even more so. Good for you for going down there to witness true broadcast history. ***FYI: The radio broadcast ended with a scratchy, old recording of a single bugler playing taps. Amen.

  • jake thompson

    They edited it heavily. At one point, there were so many skips in the broadcast that it was like listening to a scratched CD. Today’s show could not possibly have made his point clearer.

    slow down Safran… they were dumping out curses from the live audience. as you know… we can’t have curses over the air waves.

    ramoooooone

  • http://skinnyfarm.com Matt Terenzio

    I was able to listen in to the show from Stamford. We get WNYC over the air, but I was at my desk and streamed it. Then I tried to call in, was put on hold, but never chosen as a caller. So I come to the Blog to post a comment.

    The above scenario speaks exactly to the point I was going to bring up.

    The Newspapers (or Radio here) aren’t dying because of bad journalism, but because of an empowered web-user who is disintermediating the relationship.

    One caller call this damaging. I say it’s wonderful.

    ebay allows us to sell an item without a Newspaper classified ad. Future versions of Structured Blogging will allow us to do this without ebay.

    SharedNews, a name I’ve given to two-way or public feeds will allow us to fully collaborate on everthing from news, calendars and events, jobs and merchandise. The two-way web is here, and it’s here to stay.

    So, moving to the web isn’t enough for newspapers. They must embrace the empowered individual and full allow them into the conversation.

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  • W.J. Jones

    How is Howard innovative and a pioneer, because he flipped off the FCC and stepped out from beneath their umbrella?

    Unless Stern invented vulgarity and four letter words, then he’s just a disc jockey with enough audience who told the radio station owner where he can stick it and walked out of the building.

    That certainly shows his power, but he’s not innovative and pioneering. The medium in which he delivers his schtick is innovative, not Howard, and there’s a difference.

  • EverKarl

    …when the FCC tried to take our control of media away.

    The FCC’s existence took our control of media away. Once the government nationalized the spectrum, the only sense in which “we” have control over it is through the political process. You may not like the result of that process, but the loss of control happened much earlier.

    BTW, Sirius is running ads in movie theaters promoting Stern, though you don’t see or hear him. Instead, you see a night sky in which the stars rearrange themselves into the shape of a penis, which then ejaculates. So the next time that tony or his ilk start whining about how Stern is stereotyped, they should take a look at how he is being marketed (without any complaint from Stern). I’ll defend Stern’s First Amendment rights (which were never violated), and congratulate him on the mega-millions flowing his way, but I’ll remained puzzled at those who choose to see him as some sort of martyr.

  • http://common-fire.blogspot.com/ DB

    The FCC didn’t take control of our media away from us. The FCC is there to protect our media. The airwaves the Howard Stern uses are public airwaves. There is a point at which one can reasonbly say this is no longer acceptable for the public. I certainly would just change the channel if I didn’t like a program, others may file a compliant with the FCC. That is the point. Corporations control our media and the FCC is controlled by our political system. If corporations control the political system then the FCC is controlled by the corporation. Rather tha complaining about the FCC get off your ass and take back our democracy.

  • http://common-fire.blogspot.com/ DB

    The FCC didn’t take control of our media away from us. The FCC is there to protect our media. The airwaves that Howard Stern uses are public airwaves. There is a point at which one can reasonbly say this is no longer acceptable for the public. I certainly would just change the channel if I didn’t like a program, others may file a compliant with the FCC. That is the point. Corporations control our media and the FCC is controlled by our political system. If corporations control the political system then the FCC is controlled by the corporation. Rather tha complaining about the FCC get off your ass and take back our democracy.

  • http://www.tonypierce.com/blog/bloggy.htm tony

    Jeff,

    it was heavily edited here in LA and no it wasnt because of cursing Jake

    one ironic editing bit was when Robin said, “i can’t wait till we go to a place where we can say whatever we want.”

    it was spliced to “i cant wait till we go.”

    All these dinosaur stations proved exactly why Howard had to leave and about what’s wrong with radio today. the censorship over things that arent illegal or obscene is unbelieveable.

    right.

  • chico haas

    You mark this day. Seems to me the tipping point in the broadcast/First Amendment issue came when Pay TV began and the FCC, which you make sound like a new regulatory agency, no longer had control over the nature of content which appeared on people’s televisions. What is worth noting, sort of, is that the inauguration of Pay Radio followed by decades Pay TV, a medium which it preceded. Just science, I guess. On this particular subject, you come off as little more than a Stern flack. A viral marketing tool.

  • jake thompson

    All these dinosaur stations proved exactly why Howard had to leave and about what’s wrong with radio today. the censorship over things that arent illegal or obscene is unbelieveable.

    and here is the irony… when opie and anthony worked for infinity… they were not allowed to talk about howard on the air. any time they mentioned his name, they were dumped. why? because howard ran to uncle mel and asked him to make opie and anthony stop making fun of his daughters. yup…. howard the censor.

    tony… your hero is a phony.

  • http://blowingsmokethemovie.com Jim Treacher

    It was a veritable monster rain of support for Stern! This is not your father’s radio, but your mom’s box. I think I speak for everyone when I say to Howie: Good luck, bro!

  • http://unbeknownst.net KirkH

    Flickr Photos from the event, camera phones getting a workout…
    http://flickr.com/photos/tags/howardstern

  • http://www.onsquared.com Scott Anderson

    Yahoo coverage of the live news event was shockingly putrid. Some ranting, here at Squared.

  • ct

    Jeff felt inspired to describe the crowd as bigger than any ‘megachurch’.

    No comment necessary on that.

    How empty anything involving Stern is. His humor was incredibly unfunny in the Jackie years and only improved when they got a real comic (Artie Lange) in the studio. Stern himself is as untalented as most everybody’s embarassingly dull uncle. Fred thinks he’s been a member of the Rolling Stones for the last 20 years and not a guy who hits buttons to make fart sounds four hours a day.

    Stern conintually claims no one was doing what he did before him. The Real Dan Steele is Stern’s model. Stern even modelled his look after him. More recently Rush Limbaugh of all people was doing ‘Stern’ type things in Sacramento (on air abortions, etc.) and then syndicated across the nation years before Stern. Stern gets around these uncomfortable facts by saying Limbaugh was inspired by Stern’s Washington, DC show, like Limbaught in California doing his own show knew anything about an unknown Stern in DC. Stern’s fans buy it.

    Stern can be entertaining. He’s good with celebrity interviews. Unfortunately you have to wait – or wade – through 95% of a show that is a long fart sound to be entertained by the 5% that is legitimately entertaining. His friend Ralph could have probably replaced Stern in the main chair and with the rest of the same cast the show would have kept its audience and been even funnier.

    The execs who panicked and hired David Lee Roth showed they were the equal of Stern in their unimaginativeness and mediocrity. Stern mostly, with his juvenile power trips, poured cold water on the show. His main tool for staying around was, ironically, a person even dumber than him: Robin Quivers. She, as Ralph stated awhile back, ‘fills up the show’, despite being braincell-killing dumb (in the areas of politics and religion, which she insisted on preaching about each morning). She would have been hard to replace. But Artie and Gary and Fred (the mimic) plus a new host could have carried on. And they would have if the money had been offered. Another of Stern’s loathesome traits is his greediness and pleasure he gets in keeping his hirelings down.

    Have fun in satellite radio, Howard. Where at any given time perhape – perhaps – a hundred thousand people will be tuning in…

  • JoeD

    Funny that Mr. Jarvis was posting from the middle of the area, yet made no mention of the hundreds of Opie and Anthony fans aka “pests”, who were there to wish Stern well, not!

    Listening to the O&A show today there were many times that they and callers reported hearing more O&A chants coming over the radio broadcast of Stern’s show. From tv coverage, you could see lots of O&A signs also, again according to O&A. One caller said Stern looked pissed as the bus left to go to the Hard Rock and another reported that it appeared that some of the chantes for Howard were coming from a prerecorded tape.

    When Stern and O&A were both on Infinity, Stern hated them. They are hipper, younger, and funnier. Howard forced Infinity to put a gag order on O&A because they made fun of him all the time. What kind of comic “genius” and shock jock cannot take riibbing from his rivals? Howard is the first to claim he invented every gag that O&A do, but he cannot take their crap.

    Now that their rivals again, it will be fun watching O&A riip good old (and do I mean old) Stern apart.

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  • kat

    I think the drama queen of media is a more fitting title.

  • Jimmy Robinson

    I’m a former Stern listener and I broke my habit because he dropped the compelling, truth telling, everyman persona in favor of Hamptons Howie – the rich, model-schtupping, Nobu-eating phony he always used to make fun of on his show. I couldn’t listen to him waste his radio time talking about his OTHER projects like the failed Son of The Beach, or the failed Saturday night CBS show, or dead in the cradle ripoffs like his planned cartoon on his High School years or remaking Rock and Roll High School and Porkys. What kind of alleged “comic genius” would think remaking those movies is a good idea? Some innovator. The Howard of the golden days (the age of Billy West and Jackie Martling) would have RIPPED Hamptons Howie just like he ripped Chevy Chase and a dozen other used-to-be-funnymen. Old Howard would have realized that taking calls from the same half dozen superfans was comedy death and would have resisted the temptation even though it felt good for his ego. Oh, and asking a naked chick if she is into lesbianism and anal was risque and interesting in 1992 – nowadays we have this thing called the internet and we can see pretty much every legal sex act possible (and a few that aren’t) so that part of Hoo Hoo’s act is no longer shocking. Why would anyone pay $13 a month plus the investment in hardware (which is lackluster compared to the competition) to hear a guy who thinks Tissue Time and weighing bowel movements are good radio? Being dirty is not what made Howard great at his peak, but that is all he has left to offer and it won’t be enough – especially since he is going to rip off his subscribers by working only 4 days a week. I wonder how many Sirius subscriptions will be cancelled on Fridays when people tune in for Howard and instead get the Superfan Roundtable with Ralph and High Pitch Eric? His last shred of honesty has forced him to concede that he has been doing “sub-par radio for the last ten years” but then he goes on and blames the FCC for this fact. Yet, during this time Opie and Anthony have built their careers as shock jocks playing by the same rules (and more since Howard forced Infinity to forbide them from mentioning him) and did a show that had a bigger audience than Howard in the markets the shared before they were fired. As soon as O&A became the pioneers of satellite radio a year ago I signed up with XM and haven’t looked back. If Howard hadn’t been so disappointing for many years it might have been a tougher choice.

  • Justin

    Do O&A still have a show? I used to listen to them before they got the boot. They’re actually pretty funny. Not as funny as Howard, but funny.

  • http://blowingsmokethemovie.com Jim Treacher

    XM Satellite Radio, Channel 202.

  • Roy

    Who the hell would like two sleaze-buckets who broke the law (the St. Pat Cathedral mess) in order to get ratings?

    I guess I answered my own question. :D

  • http://blowingsmokethemovie.com Jim Treacher

    They didn’t break any laws, and their ratings kind of suffered when they were off the air for over 2 years. But other than that.

  • C Bennett

    This is an empirical question, but one thing NBC gave to Howard was “underdog” or “oppressed” status — an enemy, a prudish straight-man, a doll everyone wanted to stick pins in.

    In the new “no rules” environment, there is not as much cache to gain from being a rebel — without the law there is no sin and sin has always been a bit of the shtick.

    I’m likely wrong, but I’m curious to see how long he milks the “religious right,” and the FCC and all the other rule-keepers who couldn’t make him bow but could give him energy. Now, no one wants him to bow; he’ll still be funny, but at 52 I imagine he got more energy from his rebel status than he may have suspected. He will tire more quickly now, I’m guessing.

    I give him three years, max; after that, he’ll have middle-of-the-road ratings, his humor will be to satellite radio what Laugh-In humor became to evening TV and what stand-up became to cable; go all the way to porn and he’ll cut his audience; stay middle-of-the-road-raunchy and he’ll get those kind of ratings. Still funny, but no longer a standard-bearer.

    It doesn’t detract from the significance of the move — I just wonder if this isn’t the end of being unique and the beginnnig of being just funny: rare enough, but no longer one of a kind.

  • Janis Korkos

    There was a time when I did not like Howard Stern. But, I always said to myself this guy is a great Father, so he has scrupples indeed.

    After listening to a few interviews about Howard Stern, I have come to the conclusion he is a VERBAL ART MEDIA and is genius……..

    He is honest, open and clever.

    May we always be able to hear him.