Rolling Stone and Howard Stern

So the latest issue of Rolling Stone features Howard Stern on the cover, which I immediately found to be somewhat bizarre because, frankly, who cares about Howard Stern anymore?

This isn’t meant to bash the man—merely to state a simple truth: Since Stern left for satellite radio five years ago, he has turned, for many, invisible. This “many” includes one Jeffrey Robert Pearlman, who probably hasn’t heard Stern’s voice more than three or four times since the move. I’m definitely not alone. Whereas once upon a time Stern was an iconic national figure, known to all from first graders to grandmothers, he’s now, well, oddly invisible. If you listen to his show, naturally, he exists. But unless you’re tuning in, Stern’s become vapor. Again, I mean this not as an insult, but a truth. The guy who once penned best-selling books and starring in a film about his life wouldn’t register in the Top 100 Most Famous Americans list. Ten years ago, he probably would have been, at worst, 10th.

As soon as I read the piece, I thought about my own experiences in magazines, and how sometimes editors are the worst judges of what’s actually going on. My guess—and it’s merely a guess—is that Neil Strauss, the writer, was assigned the article by someone without much of a nose for pop culture; someone who thinks he’s smarter than he is.

Because Stern is ancient news.


PS: That being said, the Q&A is riveting. I especially loved this quote, via Stern: “I get angry with performers like Rush Limbaugh who are just shills for the Republican Party. I’m not a big listener of his, but wouldn’t it be a lot more interesting if once in a while he was for something the Republican Party was against? I thought he had a real oppprtunity with that whole drug-addiction thing to maybe open up and say, ‘Man, I’m as confused as all of you.’ But, no, he has to keep the persona. He’s an expert. He knows everything. It’s boring. You’ve gotta grow. The audience has to feel that growth. There are so many guys doing the same act, like Sean Hannity. If Limbaugh was the one guy who started talking about his insecurities, then he’d have a fallowing that would be 10 times the size. If you want to go to the next level, you gotta open up a whole bunch more. That’s the secret for anybody who’s considering a career in radio.”

13 thoughts on “Rolling Stone and Howard Stern”

  1. I agree with you, Jeff – I was a chronic Stern listener when he was on *free* radio, and sadly I haven’t missed him at all. Saw him on Jimmy Kimmel a couple of weeks ago and, again sadly, his appearance didn’t make me nostalgic for his show. If Stern falls in the atmosphere and no one is around to hear it, does he make a sound?

  2. Jeff, you’ve not actually heard (many of) Stern’s Sirius programs — which are arguably superior to the work he did on K-Rock and WNBC but feel justified in saying he doesn’t deserve a Rolling Stone cover? A cover that might’ve otherwise gone to, I dunno, the Strokes? Rebecca Black?

    If Stern isn’t a wildly popular figure in 2011, how would you account for the likes of Piers Morgan, Jon Stewart and Jimmy Kimmel falling over themselves to book him? Why did Sirius lavish a 2nd consecutive monster contract on Stern if he’s such a fringe figure?

    I find myself in the unusual position of defending the Rolling Stone editors you accuse of lacking “a nose for pop culture”. I have a very strong suspicion the newsstand sales of this particular issue will be robust by contemporary standards.

  3. If he is so irrelevant why did Sirius invest 1 Billion over 10 years?

    Just because you don’t have Sirius , doesn’t mean 20 million others don’t.

    Name any other radio performer who would get his contract… Rush… Beck…. c’mon.

    Also, check the ratings when he on Letterman, or do a follow up piece on the sales of this RollingStone.

    Nice Blog.

  4. Agreed….
    I had a enough-pop-culture-knowledgeable friend the other day get a new car. And with it came the free month of Sirius. He called me “how long has Stern been on Satellite?”. He literally did not know thats where he went. He just forgot. outa-sight, outa-mind for sure…

  5. Howard’s listership, fanbase, and influence are still immense. I get that you and lot of other people no longer hear him, but don’t make the mistake of projecting your own experience onto everyone else. When Howard has a big guest on the show, that person routinely goes to the top of Google searches for the day, thats one way to see that he’s still incredibly influential.

  6. I think at what we are getting here is Howard’s impact on the media now as compared to the “glory days” of the 80’s and even up to before his move to Satellite radio.

    Before then EVERYONE listened to him in the mornings and was very, very influential for a lot of talk shows. You can’t deny that even to this day. TV, radio, whatever type the guy did change morning radio.

    But let’s fast forward to now. The guy moved to Sirius promising to “change the face of radio again” and took an enormous pay-day to do so which you know what, good for him who wouldn’t take $500mm to do the same thing he was doing with no rules. However, Has he really changed anything since that move and can anyone relate to Howard anymore?? Besides the normal mention here and there is the media really talking about him like back then whether it’s the news or the watercooler??

    Look, I drank the Kool-Aid and was a HUGE Stern fan for decades. Read all his books, saw his movie opening night, watched the specials and the Sat night show because he was someone I felt and I think most men could relate to. The “every man” nerd type guy who was struggling with marriage, kids and every day life. But near the end of his run on K-Rock let’s review:

    “I am tempted every day with strippers, but I still love Allison!!” = he gets divorced.

    He gets divorced, ok whatever but now he can go on a tell all tale of the sexual hijinx like he always said he would if he ever was single = nada

    “Marriage is for suckers!! I’ll never get married again!!” = he gets married again.

    It’s all for my fans!! Sure, if you pay $14 a month (and if you have XM instead of Sirius like I do..I have to pay MORE for just him) You want to watch Howard TV?? Pay up for that too.

    He’s locked away in the Hamptons now with his model wife making gazillions of dollars, going to work in a limo and still complains to the dude driving a delivery truck. How are we all supposed to relate??

    Look Howard will always have his die-hard fans and is he a great interviewer of celebs?? Absolutely. But I’ve checked out his Sirius show (for a free week on XM) recently and it’s him surrounded by people kissing his ass, then after the show it’s another show talking about how great he is?? Come on…

    And don’t be fooled that 20mm people have Sirus solely for him. Back when the companies were divided XM had 3X the subs and that’s 20mm people who subscribe to the service, not Howard. How many are paying extra $$ for Howard or are just listening to him??? I’m sure that’s a very different number.

  7. People listen to people like Howard, Rush, Coulter, etc for the same reason – controversy.
    As Ann says she just wants to stir the pot, it makes them money.
    I have never found any of them to be worth listening to.

  8. What an asinine article, lol.

    Neil Strauss is the writer of “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists” and a contributing editor to the Rolling Stones. No “out of touch” editor assigned a staff writer to Stern. Instead, Neil approached Stern asking for an interview, and Stern replied only if he did it.

    Here on the east coast, Stern is still huge. The cabs in NYC were streaming headlines saying “Stern Show Employee Gets Volunteer Job” along with their Japan and Sheen headlines just last week.

    It’s clear that none of you, Jeff and the commenters, have listened to the Stern Show for more than 30 minutes for the past 5 years.

    1. DB, this is sort of the point, isn’t it—”It’s clear that none of you, Jeff and the commenters, have listened to the Stern Show for more than 30 minutes for the past 5 years.” I know so many people who used to listen and moved on. The point of the piece—that he’s as big as ever—is ludicrous.

  9. I think that the point of the piece is more so that he’s “happier than ever,” not “big as ever.” Please read the article before drawing conclusions.

    1. sorry, db. read the story, you’ll see. the headline might be his happiness, the inside message is his hugeness. which is simply off.

  10. Stern has a fan base so loyal we pay to hear him on satellite radio. Who gives a crap if “kindergarteners and grandmothers” don’t know his name. Name 1 person who could get 8 million people to fork over 120 bucks a year to listen to them for 16 hours a week? Stern fans don’t care if people like you think he’s relevant! Just like you probably don’t care that i think you are irrelevant ! Baba booeyyyyy…hey now

  11. Grgry u are a jealous nebish dork. Whaaaa why does Howard get the model wife and the Hampton’s house? ….go find a girlfreind dude, u r wayyy too uptight

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