The Howard Stern Show is ever evolving. Spend a random afternoon listening to the “Shuffle” program that runs on Howard 101 and you will see how different the show has sounded over the years. Unfortunately, at least in this listener’s opinion, the show is currently in a particularly fallow period of its existence. Here’s why:
Too Much Wack Pack. Air time whores like Mariann from Brooklyn and Bobo are guaranteed show killers at this point because they serve only one function - gratuitously sucking up to Howard. It’s neither fun nor funny, but rather, predictable and boring. On the other hand, a few minutes with Eric the Midget can be interesting (emphasis on *a few*) but the inevitable devolution into “ack, ack” sound clips, Eric cursing others and Johnny Fratto plugs serves to extend segments that outlast their shelf life. And don’t even get me started on Debbie the Pet Lady. Worst. Wack Packer. Ever.
Fake Staff Fights. Did you hear Jon Hein and Jason Kaplan are mad at each other? What about Scott the Engineer? He and Shuli have beef. Don’t believe me? Just tune in for a 45 minute segment that conveniently ends like a scripted wrestling match. Back in the day, staff members had dramatic fights that led to them quitting the show (Fred), calling in sick (Robin), or assaulting other employees (Artie). Now? They find the closest microphone (not Teddy) to kvetch into in an effort to sell tickets to the next “Block Party.” No thanks and please shut Ronnie up.
Reliance On Ancillary Programming. Did you hear what happened on The Wrap Up Show yesterday? No? Don’t worry. Howard will waste 30 minutes talking about it. What about that great new segment of Fine Time on Howard TV? Don’t get Howard TV? Wow, you suck, just ask Bobo. You won’t hear Rachel’s penetrating interview with Ronnie the Limo Driver over which male staffer he would want to blow him if he was forced to get head from a guy.
Guests? They Have But A Few. One of the casualties of the “reduced” schedule appears to be the show’s guest list, which is unfortunate because Howard has nailed interviews with Rachel Maddow and John Cusack within the past month. Instead of moving the show toward a format that feels something like: A Block –
AGT (more on that below); B Block – news update/fake staff fight; C Block – H101/ HTV show plugging; and D Block – News, more interviews would be a major plus.
Howard’s ad nauseum recitation of his
AGT experience notwithstanding, it’s really of a piece to a larger whole – the elephant in the room that is his relationship with Sirius. Obviously, we all know about his lawsuit (and recent loss) against Sirius, but what’s become much clearer in the wake of his re-signing to a “reduced” schedule is not that Howard did not want to work anymore (which he claimed was true while negotiations dragged out), but rather, that Sirius wanted him, but at a substantially reduced cost, which he agreed to while exploring other alternatives. Howard’s contract stipulates that he provide somewhere around 110 shows a year for Sirius (the actual number was mentioned recently), which, even with 10 weeks of vacation, averages out to less than three shows a week. In the meantime, he recouped some of the money he “lost” by signing with America’s Got Talent. Once the show starts broadcasting next month, expect what few original radio shows Howard airs to be heavy on AGT recap. As for those vacations he will be taking, I guess the “tapes team” will be earning their keep. Just remember kids, *this* is what the revolution looks like.