In the modern world of radio, raunchy DJs and morning shows are a dime a dozen. There are hundreds of Preston & Steves and Opie & Anthonys and everything in between. Radio wasn’t always so forgiving to the world of comedy, though. Someone had to pave the way. Someone had to punch a gaping hole into the world’s preconceived notions about the lines between obscenity and entertainment and give the censors a reason to get up in the morning. That person was Howard Stern.
Although the roots of Stern’s legacy started well before, the 90s were the decade of superstardom for a lanky half-jew from New York. Despite his ill-begotten stints on WNBC and WWDC, his most long-winded radio role took place at New York’s own KROCK radio station where he spent 20 years entertaining the masses on terrestrial radio.
Everyone always tried to pigeon hole the guy by associating him with nothing more than shocking material, dick, and fart jokes. The man, his show, and his legacy was so much more than that. He didn’t just infiltrate the mediums of radio, television, film and literature, he CHANGED them.
Before Howard, it was impossible to find a radio show or celebrity interviewer who asked the questions people were really thinking about. He didn’t sit there and stroke celebrities when he was faced with them or kiss their feet and grovel like so many talk show hosts, he came at them with every hilarious and off-putting question and wouldn’t stop until he got a taste of the truth. Some people thought it was too aggressive and intrusive while others felt it was a breath of fresh air and a bit of fun. Either way, it was something NEW.
No radio host exposed themself (both figuratively and literally) as much as Howard did either. Speaking about unusual topics such as his wife’s miscarriage, the allegedly microscopic size of his penis, and his bathroom habits pioneered the attitude and personality of the limitless number of radio clones to rush through the door after him. I always wondered why the credit he deserved was never slung his way, though. People waited for his path to clear before budging into the market after him, avoiding all of the controversy that he had to deal with.
Pushing limits in both comedic content as well as conversational topics, Howard pulled no punches until he was forced to by the unconstitutional hands of that fuckstick of an organization, the FCC. While listening to some of his old tapes on “The History of Howard Stern,” I am still filled with an equal amount of rage for the FCC’s treatment of Stern and his cohorts in the past as well as the present. I can’t say I blame him for his move to Sirius after the amount of bullshit he had to put up with, especially following the Janet Jackson boob fiasco.
I never have and never will understand the propensity for humanity to allow themselves to be governed by the principles of few when it comes to absorbing entertainment and media. They take false news reports as gospel and label renegades and truthsayers as obscene idiots. Is it really that impossible for people to decide what they want to hear/see? There’s no reason for a body of government solely dedicated to destroying art, stifling sexuality, and infiltrating every sacred corner of human existence. The same can be said for drugs and how federal bodies love to tell living creatures what they can and cannot ingest in the name of social control. To me, it’s all idiocy. As long as you’re not stomping on someone’s right to live, feel safe, and own possessions, there should be no question of legality.
Sorry for the soapbox, but issues of censorship have a way of enraging me. I was raised listening to Howard Stern thanks to my father, and the show was instrumental in making me a skeptical, thinking person who questions everything and sees through the illusion most people like to reside within. It’s about time I pay due respect to an iconic media figure who influenced the world in a positive way. Howard Stern is a revolutionary, a pioneer, a legend, and an example of a man who let nothing stand in his way or deter him from being who he is. All of us are in need more people like Howard Stern to fight this facade we call civilized society.