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HOWARD LOSES INFLUENCE, LOYALTY

Howard Stern was riding high in 2004:

Declaring a “radio jihad” against President Bush, syndicated morning man Howard Stern and his burgeoning crusade to drive Republicans from the White House are shaping up as a colossal media headache for the GOP, and one they never saw coming.

The pioneering shock jock, “the man who launched the raunch,” as the Los Angeles Times once put it, has emerged almost overnight as the most influential Bush critic in all of American broadcasting, as he rails against the president hour after hour, day after day to a weekly audience of 8 million listeners. Never before has a Republican president come under such withering attack from a radio talk-show host with the influence and national reach Stern has ...

“He’s got one of the biggest audiences in all of radio, and perhaps the most loyal,” says Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, the nonpartisan monthly that covers radio’s news/talk industry. “And that’s why he’s so dangerous for the White House.”

Two years later ...

The self-proclaimed King of All Media once commanded a national audience of 12 million daily listeners before jumping to satellite in January. But since then, his kingdom has shrunk to a small fraction of that size ...

According to industry analysts, the new Stern math scans something like this: At best, he took between 1 million and 2 million listeners with him ...

Posted by Tim B. on 04/11/2006 at 10:13 PM
  1. Since satellite radio requires a special receiver and a subscription service, this should come as no surprise. I doubt more than half of his previous audience could afford it. Or aren’t as loyal as was believed.

    Posted by Spiny Norman on 2006 04 11 at 10:31 PM • permalink

  2. I’m just wondering how Wronwright got Stern to switch to satellite.

    Posted by paco on 2006 04 11 at 10:34 PM • permalink

  3. Were there really people who thought that Stern was just so gosh-darned indispensible that 12 million people would pay for satellite radio just because of him? Gee, how surprising that that didn’t work out.

    I’d like to think that the incessent anti-Bush whining of his has something to do with it, too, but in the end I suspect that would be too overreaching a conclusion.

    Posted by PW on 2006 04 11 at 10:37 PM • permalink

  4. Plus, the strippers he’s spanking don’t look nearly as good on satellite radio…

    Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 04 11 at 10:44 PM • permalink

  5. Richard, I’m not so sure they looked that good on analogue radio either…

    Posted by Dan Lewis on 2006 04 11 at 11:47 PM • permalink

  6. Stern was funny when he was (a) married and couldn’t do everything he wanted (and his audience wanted him) to do but his situation wouldn’t allow it and (b) on a semi-restricted format where he couldn’t say everything he wanted (and his audience wanted him) to say but his situation wouldn’t allow it.

    Now that both of those restrictions are gone, Stern is pointless.

    Posted by Andrew on 2006 04 11 at 11:55 PM • permalink

  7. Don’t let Jarvis see this! Anyhow, I’m an O&A fan myself.

    Posted by Jim Treacher on 2006 04 11 at 11:56 PM • permalink

  8. “And that’s why he’s so dangerous for the White House.”

    I remember reading that and laughing out loud. As if. The only people who are persuaded by the likes of Michael Moore and Howard Stern are already members of the choir.

    We’re all of like mind—that move to satellite had to be one of the bone-head marketing blunders of all time.

    I confess I’ve never actually heard Stern on the radio but I did see the movie—Private Parts?—which I actually enjoyed. Some of his stuff was very clever and funny, but his sexcapades were just juvenile, not to mention boring (and in the movie you could see what was going on) and hardly shock inducing. ‘Course I understand if you’re a guy, your mileage may vary.

    Posted by Kyda Sylvester on 2006 04 12 at 12:07 AM • permalink

  9. Got to admit, that Stern is hilarious!

    Posted by WeekByWeek on 2006 04 12 at 12:39 AM • permalink

  10. In the words of philosopher Yogi Berra, If there’s something people don’t want to do, nothing will stop them.

    Posted by Mystery Meat on 2006 04 12 at 12:48 AM • permalink

  11. Who are all these brilliant “analysts,” anyways, the guys at the water cooler?  People won’t pay $13/month for something to take their minds off traffic while they’re driving to work.

    Posted by Patricia on 2006 04 12 at 01:22 AM • permalink

  12. I must confess I am one of the people that listened to Stern religiously from high school to my early 30’s.  Listening to him allowed me to feel connected to NY (i.e. home), even though I had moved to the West Coast.  I had moved 3,000 miles away from family and friends, but Stern remained the same.  So, it was less out of loyalty to Stern as it was just something that made me a New Yorker.  Plus his competition was horrid.  I really just can’t stress how bad the local morning radio show is in most US cities.

    He became much more listenable when I started to use a PC FM receiver (1997), and would record the shows to mp3 (allowing me to fast-forward through his 20 minute commercials).  I had to tape-delay his show by 1 day, but that was fine.

    Yeah, he was funnier when he was married, and more Average Joe.  He was OK after that.  But he was really unlistenable when he started going off 24/7 about Bush (early 2002).  His claims of oppression and apocalypse sounded more and more deranged as nothing happened to him.  If you are going to claim to be oppressed you eventually need to actually be oppressed.
    Actually, what made Stern dangerous politically was that his listeners listened everyday, for hours each day.  Mike Moore you watch a movie and go home.  With Stern you listen everyday to his unceasing drumbeat to anti-GOP rants.  The only way to avoid his (and, his sidekick, Robin’s) rants was to not listen, period. 

    I had stopped really listening to him around 2004, due to the constant rants which had replaced his jokes.  But I still felt it was something I was supposed to do, like root for the Yankees and hate the Buffalo Bills.  Fortunately, I took his going to satellite radio as a way for me to stop feeling obliged to listen. 

    Everyone expected his listenership to drop this much.  In fact, I think he did a good job to retain the 2 million he now has. 

    As for terrestrial radio, I am no longer interested in it.  I listened a few times to the Adam Corolla Show (Stern’s West Coast replacement).  He is good, but not as interesting as he was on Loveline (teen sex question/answer show on at 10-midnight).  The other guys are still horrid (Corolla is better than them).  But, I would rather channel hop, or listen to mp3s (no US radio show just plays music in the morning; they have to be wild & crazy).

    Posted by EvilDave on 2006 04 12 at 01:36 AM • permalink

  13. I really just can’t stress how bad the local morning radio show is in most US cities.

    God, how true that it is.  God bless my iPod in alarm mode.  Satellite radio, I hear, is quite good, but I haven’t made the jump there just yet.

    As for Howard, being a (nearly) life long resident of the West Coast, I only heard him on his TV show (usually while channel surfing late at night), and whenever I traveled to the areas that had him.  And I have to admit, he was never funny to me.  I’m amazed he had 12 million listeners, and that there are 2 million people actually willing to pay to listen to him.  To each his own, I suppose.

    Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 04 12 at 01:55 AM • permalink

  14. People won’t pay $13/month for something to take their minds off traffic while they’re driving to work.

    So far, over 10 million people say you’re wrong.

    Posted by Jim Treacher on 2006 04 12 at 01:57 AM • permalink

  15. Stern is stuck in the Bush Derangement Syndrome quagmire.

    Posted by perfectsense on 2006 04 12 at 02:01 AM • permalink

  16. He’s a foulmouthed idiot with nothing original to say. I’m suprised his listener base isn’t 25 million.

    Posted by Texas Bob on 2006 04 12 at 03:55 AM • permalink

  17. But I still felt it was something I was supposed to do, like root for the Yankees and hate the Buffalo Bills.

    As a Buffalo native now living in New England (i.e., lifelong and forever Bills fan and newly-minted Sox devotee), may I say that you are the most evil person I have ever encountered. Your name should be TotallyFrickin’EvilDave.

    I listened a few times to the Adam Corolla Show (Stern’s West Coast replacement).  He is good, but not as interesting as he was on Loveline (teen sex question/answer show on at 10-midnight).  The other guys are still horrid (Corolla is better than them).

    Well, OK, if you’re a Loveline and Corolla fan, you’re not totally frickin’ evil. I think a lot of people here would dig Adam’s social and political rants.

    Posted by Dave S. on 2006 04 12 at 04:04 AM • permalink

  18. Actually, up here in Seattle we do have a station that plays music in the morning.  They have a web feed too (http://957kjrfm.com) It’s classic rock type stuff (although more of the softer stuff like Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac and Chicago than you’d find on most classic rock stations.  It’s the only thing on the radio I can stand to listen to before 10 in the morning.

    Posted by Vexorg on 2006 04 12 at 04:18 AM • permalink

  19. I can’t stand talk radio. There’s something about people talking on the radio that drives me up the wall. It didn’t used to be that way—though I never cared for talk radio, I didn’t actively hate it like I do now. Probably because once talk radio at least once used to consist of actual talk, not a bunch of deejays sitting around talking about lesbians. And the local talk radio show that comes on my alarm in the morning (I set it to that station because talk radio irritates me so much I have to get up to turn the radio off) shows this trend of having really annoying raucous-voiced female deejays joke along with the guys, which I think is one of the Stern show’s presents to the world of talk radio (one of his sidekicks was that Robin something woman, don’t know if she’s still a sidekick because thank god he’s no longer on the non-pay airwaves).

    Unfortunately the people I ride to work with listen to this tripe in their car because they don’t have a cd player.

    Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2006 04 12 at 06:51 AM • permalink

  20. I just thought of something else: once in the long ago people on the talk portion of the radio sounded like they had at least a modicum of higher education. Now they all seem to have the level of education of the average fourteen-year-old C student, only not even that smart. They all sound like high school drop outs, and they all affect that 21st century uptalk “like, ya know” speak that makes everyone who uses it sound like a stoner, and it’s pathetic coming from adults. Come to think of it, most talk radio deejays make Howard Stern sound like Alexander Woollcott.

    Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2006 04 12 at 06:59 AM • permalink

  21. Folks, could we take up a collection so our administrator could install a CD player in her carpoolmate’s car? /shameless pandering OFF/

    Posted by Tommy Shanks on 2006 04 12 at 07:05 AM • permalink

  22. Stern’s tasteless.  So are his fans.  Tasteless people don’t mind getting pelted with 30 minutes of IT’S TRUCK MONTH per hour of Stern’s show, as long as they don’t have to pay for it.

    I’m surprised, though, that Stern came out against Bush.  True, he needs a nemesis (FCC) he can paint as a priss, but even many tasteless people vote Republican because they think Republicans are bigots like themselves.

    In light of this brilliant analysis, Stern’s slide is no surprise.  No one will pay to hear something they don’t agree with.

    Posted by Rittenhouse on 2006 04 12 at 07:06 AM • permalink

  23. #22 Rittenhouse:
    I’ve never been able to get Stern here in Australia.  Is that a bonus?  No, never heard him, but I know about him.

    Posted by Stevo on 2006 04 12 at 09:03 AM • permalink

  24. Andrea ... ever thought of changing stations?  I do regularly, and the kids help me when they’re around ...

    Posted by Stevo on 2006 04 12 at 09:07 AM • permalink

  25. So some 10 million listeners thought he was ok when they did not have to pay for him but he is not worth it otherwise. I was never a fan of his.
    As Yogi Berra also said, “they stayed away in droves.”

    Posted by Latino on 2006 04 12 at 09:09 AM • permalink

  26. #25: I believe that’s a quote from Samuel Goldwyn, another coiner of malaprop humor.

    Posted by paco on 2006 04 12 at 09:46 AM • permalink

  27. Howard’s stern was riding high?

    Posted by crash on 2006 04 12 at 09:57 AM • permalink

  28. Paco, I think you are right. I must have been thinking of Yogi’s quote, “if people don’t want to come to the ballpark, how are you gonna stop them?”

    Posted by Latino on 2006 04 12 at 09:59 AM • permalink

  29. SO XM’s theory was that people who stay home and listen to talk radio for hours each day must have a lot of discretionary income because they obviously don’t have to work…

    I have this vague feeling there’s something wrong with that theory but I can’t put my finger on it…

    Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 04 12 at 10:08 AM • permalink

  30. EvilDave 12

    I really just can’t stress how bad the local morning radio show is in most US cities.

    Amen my bruthah!  But here in Norfolk, it’s actually real good.  I never notice how good until I leave town, but you’re not kidding, everywhere else one goes, it SUCKS!

    But he was really unlistenable when he started going off 24/7 about Bush (early 2002).  His claims of oppression and apocalypse sounded more and more deranged as nothing happened to him.

    Same effin’ thing happened to everybody I “knew” out in cyberland.  Not radiotainers, but just ordinary emailers, of widely-ranging degrees of education, amiability, and humorosity, over about one year (2001) they devolved into shrill, repetitive, conspiranoid ninnies.  It’s as if W broke their brains, some how some way. 

    (no US radio show just plays music in the morning; they have to be wild & crazy).

    None?  Well, wait… maybe I’m more spoiled than I thought, BUT, if you live in a town large enough to have 2 public radio stations (NPR-affiliated or not), then at least 1 of them should be playing classical music during morning drive time.

    Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 04 12 at 11:53 AM • permalink

  31. Agreed on talk radio, Andrea. It’s just crude bloviation now. I remember about ten years ago, I used to listen to The Gil Gross Show at night at work. Pure class. Used to have authors and such as guests, and actually interviewed them with thoughtful questions and gave them more than ten seconds to answer. Lonnnnng answers. Meaty stuff, thoughtfully and soberly delivered. It was like those old network interview shows where two guys in a couple chairs on an empty set had a deep discussion while chainsmoking like m***erf***ers.

    Posted by Dave S. on 2006 04 12 at 12:13 PM • permalink

  32. And they all seem to sound like Crusty the Clown nursing a hangover.

    Posted by Texas Bob on 2006 04 12 at 12:19 PM • permalink

  33. SO XM’s theory was that people who stay home and listen to talk radio for hours each day must have a lot of discretionary income because they obviously don’t have to work…

    XM doesn’t have Stern, Sirius does. XM has Opie & Anthony, who crack me up.

    Posted by Jim Treacher on 2006 04 12 at 01:07 PM • permalink

  34. I listened to talk radio for a while, but once I realized I can get the same thing out of 10 minutes of reading a local political blog as I could out of three hours of talk radio I stopped.

    Posted by Vexorg on 2006 04 12 at 02:14 PM • permalink

  35. Of course, there’s always the BBC solution, as mentioned in the Neal Boortz thread higher up.  We could tax (excuse me, charge a license fee to) people and force them to pay for Howard Stern whether they listen to him or not.  That seems fair and equitable, doesn’t it?

    Posted by kcom on 2006 04 12 at 02:37 PM • permalink

  36. kcom, I would take up arms if forced to listen to Howard Stern.

    Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 04 12 at 03:06 PM • permalink

  37. Howard Stern’s potty humor serves to massage the ego of all the age-indifferent adolescents who wish they’d dreamt up such juvenile nonsence.

    And he wasn’t funny when he was married, except if you think being, or causing, an embarassment is funny.

    Stern is no different from a nightclub entertainer who inserts vulgarities into their act in order to generate a cheap thrill. Boring.

    Back when I commuted to work, we didn’t have radio, we had to walk uphill, both ways, in the snow, barefoot…

    Posted by Forbes on 2006 04 12 at 04:16 PM • permalink

  38. Spiny Norman sez:

    Since satellite radio requires a special receiver and a subscription service, this should come as no surprise. I doubt more than half of his previous audience could afford it. Or aren’t as loyal as was believed.

    That ain’t the half of it…you’d figure for the subscription service you would get commercial free satellite radio.  Well not if you got Sirius to listen to Stern or any of the other “talk show hosts” Sirius have.  The Sirius talk show channels are jammed with commercials.  So users are paying to listen to commericials.  No wonder Stern’s audience numbers dropped off.

    Posted by Bucky Katt on 2006 04 12 at 06:36 PM • permalink

  39. Sean Hannity interviewed Stern on the Fox News Channel and fawned over him.  It sounded like he really did get ill-treated by Les Moonves, but since I’ve never heard Stern’s show and never wanted to, I changed the station. 

    It’ll be a cold day in the Yucatan before I pay for radio.

    Posted by AST on 2006 04 12 at 09:57 PM • permalink

  40. Sirius got Stern by giving him a reported US$500,000,000 over several years. When criticized for spending so much, the CEO stated that he only needed to get 1 million listeners to come over to break even. So if the estimates are now 1-2 million new subscribers, then Sirius is at least breaking even and maybe has increased profits by US$150,000,000. Not a bad deal for either Stern or Sirius.

    Posted by skepticblue on 2006 04 12 at 10:15 PM • permalink

  41. When Nina Totenburg and Howard Shore and old what’s his name from Minnesota’s Poetry Minute are the most exciting thing going in Morning Radio, it’s easy to see why Stern has an audience—and a paying one, too.

    Posted by Melissa on 2006 04 12 at 10:29 PM • permalink

  42. It’ll be a cold day in the Yucatan before I pay for radio.

    That’s what people said about cable TV 40 years ago

    Posted by Sooke on 2006 04 12 at 10:34 PM • permalink

  43. I walked to school, five miles, uphill both ways, barefoot, carrying both my brothers on my back.

    I don’t know why anyone would expect Stern’s listeners to have much effect on elections.  First, they’re 98% adolescents, no matter their age, and adolescents rarely vote.  Second, 90% live in New York, which is already non-Bush.  Third the 10% who don’t live in New York largely live in big, liberal cities.  I can’t fathom why anyone who gave it half a second of thought couldn’t have seen this.

    Morning radio is so bad that I routinely listen to NPR just so I don’t have to listen to hyenas.  NPR is incredibly biased in the morning, but at least there’s no cackling (well, very little, anyway) and no idiot sexual innuendo.  Stern is not exactly Noel Coward.

    And scepticblue made my point.  If Stern draws in 1 million viewers at 13 dollars a month that’s a helluva draw.  Plus, it’s easier for the rest of us to avoid him.  You’d have to pay me a lot more than 13 dollars a month to listen to him, I can tell you.

    Posted by JorgXMcKie on 2006 04 12 at 11:05 PM • permalink

  44. Stern’s whole shtick has been “He can’t do that on radio.” Now he can. Now that it’s no big deal, it’s boring.

    Posted by nofixedabode on 2006 04 12 at 11:23 PM • permalink

  45. Actually Sirius is up to almost four million subscribers now. Stern is responsible for about half that as their subscriber numbers doubled once he said he was moving to satellite.

    He can be pretty funny at times, in a juvenile, tasteless manner of course. The right-wing bashing does get old as it’s pretty obvious that neither he nor anyone on his staff really follows the news much beyond mainstream media headlines. But it ain’t the show you tune in for the latest in political commentary. Now if it’s listening to porn stars have sex with power tools that you’re interested in, he’s your man.

    I agree with previous comments that he is not nearly the vote mover that some thought he would be. There haven’t been any studies to prove it one way or the other that I’m aware of, but I’d be willing to bet that the average Stern listener wakes up on election day and suddenly remembers that he never got around to registering to vote. Or he plans to vote on the way home from work but stops off for happy hour first and the polls close while he’s starting his fourth beer.

    Still, I think he’ll do quite well on satellite now that he doesn’t have the FCC looking over his shoulder and fining him for any slip of the tongue. And finally, people who don’t want their kids exposed to that kind of humor don’t have to worry anymore, while his fans get what they are paying for (the porn stars with power tools referred to earlier).

    Posted by DanG on 2006 04 12 at 11:24 PM • permalink

  46. Some of them may have grown up and some, like me, may be sick of low-class people.

    Posted by jonlester on 2006 04 13 at 07:23 AM • permalink

  47. I was a huge fan of Stern in the 90’s, but the simple fact of the matter is he does not produce a good show anymore.  Even Stern admitted he phoned it in the last few years on terrestrial radio.  Simply put, once a price tag was applied to his product, the free market corrected his value.  Hooray capitalism.

    As an XM subscriber (again, Stern is on Sirius), I can say that I will never go back to commercial radio, just as people have said about cable tv.  No commericals on most music stations, better content, and exponentially more choices.  $13 a month?  People spend that much in one day at Starbucks. 

    I can plug my unit in my car and listen to it on my commute, and then I’m fortunate enough to have an office job where I can take said unit and use an inexpensive home kit and listen to it all day at work.  It’s a fantastic investment.  I know, I know, hooray for me. 

    And just to make Treacher smile, O&A is infinitely better than Stern.  O&A Party Rock.

    Posted by ubermosher on 2006 04 13 at 09:25 AM • permalink

  48. I’ve always thought of Howard Stern as odorless, colorless, and tastless.

    Kind of like carbon monoxide…

    Posted by 3M TA3 on 2006 04 13 at 09:29 AM • permalink

  49. I really just can’t stress how bad the local morning radio show is in most US cities.

    That is so, so, SO very true. 

    I was fortunate in Milwaukee to get the Bob and Brian show, which is actually amazingly good for such a small market.  It’s not “wacky” or “crazy” or “perky”

    Posted by TallDave on 2006 04 13 at 10:37 AM • permalink

  50. My hubby, who is no prude and used to love Stern, has listened to him lately on Sirius and pronounced him a sick and rabid lunatic. He just got rid of that car and with the new one the dealer only installs Sirius; I told him we are not giving one more dime to Sirius and he’s going to an aftermarket dealer for XM, which he always preferred anyway (previous previous vehicle). I’ve listened to XM on our DirecTV satellite and I’m not impressed; I certainly wouldn’t pay for it in the car.

    I never, but never listen to radio anymore. I get Rush podcasts and listen to music on my iPod in the car. The only radio I hear is about 30 secs’ worth each morning on the alarm clock. Technology allows us to avoid everything we hate - wonderful! (I never watch live TV anymore, either - only recorded shows on my satellite DVR and we zap all commercials.)

    Posted by Peg C. on 2006 04 13 at 10:38 AM • permalink

  51. I should have said, people won’t pay $13/month to listen to Stern while…I mean, what other explanation is there for the loss of his base?

    Posted by Patricia on 2006 04 13 at 11:57 AM • permalink

  52. O&A PARTY ROCK!!!

    Posted by Jim Treacher on 2006 04 14 at 02:09 PM • permalink

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