I first heard Howard Stern back in the mid-late 80's, when he had a show out of Washington DC which I was able to pick up from my lowly post-graduation-first-job apartment in York, PA. It was a Sunday I believe, and the station was replaying his show (or segments from his show), and I was immediately interested. His guest on the show was "The Fabulous Thunderbirds", and they did a raunchy version of "Tough Enuff" in the studio. I was immediately struck how by how different the show was in comparison to the "Wacky Zoo" format stuff that was normally played on the radio. Now I didn't regularly listen to the show back then, but it was my first experience.
My experience with Howard slowly grew from there; while living in NJ (1989) I would listen to him while commuting to work and then once I moved back to Pennsylvania (1990) I'd again listen when I had business in NJ. It's then that I got hooked. Even though I couldn't listen all the time, I took every opportunity to tune him in when I could. He was even briefly on the radio in Scranton, but alas, Scranton and Howard Stern go together like Sauerkraut and Chocolate Pie.
Fast forward to now, and with the advent of satellite radio, I was finally able to fully feed my Howard Stern jones on a regular basis, and I've been listening more or less daily now for over two years.
So the question is this: Why Howard Stern? Here's my list:
- Honesty - Howard Stern is the most honest guy in the media today, bar none. In an age where everything is pre-packaged and focus-grouped, Howard is a guy that always shoots from the hip without a filter. That isn't always pleasant to listen to, but you have to appreciate the fact that the man is honest with (and very mush respects) his audience.
- Interviews - Howard Stern is one the best interviewers in the media today, and probably one of the best of all times. You have to hear him interview someone like Paul McCartney (where he gets Macca to talk more about how he really feels about Yoko Ono that you've ever heard before). For whatever reason, guests seem to be more honest with Howard than they are with anyone else. Why? I suspect it's for the reason I noted above: Howard is honest with them (and his audience).
- Format - Howard Stern practically invented the talk radio format. Before you had Limbaugh, Hannity, or even Don Imus doing radio shows that consisted of almost entirely just conversation, you had Howard Stern doing it. Howard's show really consists of him (and his cohorts) talking to their audience for a few hours each morning. Note the words "talking to"...as opposed to "talking at" or "lecturing to"...as you get the distinct impression that Howard has the utmost respect for his audience.
- Humor - I don't find everything on the Howard Stern how funny (for example, I don't like "fart" humor & I could care less about spanking porn stars), but what I do find funny is often times utterly hilarious. For me, the "golden age" of the how was back in the early 90's, when the show had Jackie Martling and Billy West on...some of the hold David Dinkins and Rudy Giuliani bits still make me bust a gut laughing.