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.”