This past Friday, Howard Stern predicted his own national radio
program demise. Stern, known for everything from paying for women’s
breast implants to having a repeating guest known as “Gary the
Retard,” has consistently pushed the limit of the First Amendment
“The show is over. It’s over,” Stern announced Friday morning on
If Stern’s prediction does in fact come true, he will be missed
and I will be one of those who will miss him.
Clear Channel Radio has preempted Stern from six stations in
Rochester, N.Y., Fort Lauderdale Fla., Orlando Fla., San Diego,
Pittsburgh and Louisville, Kan. following comments made by a
listener during an interview with Rick Salomon-the same Rick
Salomon who performs on a homemade video with none other than yes,
Paris Hilton. Salomon just seems to keep popping up in
controversial situations, doesn’t he?
Anyhow, a listener called into the show, made a racial slur and
some offensive sexual comments. Is it OK to have that stuff on the
air? No, because the airwaves are free and can be accessed by
children and others who are either too young or stupid to take what
Stern says with a grain of salt. Was it anything more than what
Stern has done in the past? No, it’s just part of a Federal
Communications Commissions crackdown that began steamrolling after
we learned that nipple shields are not just protection for say
She-Ra, Princess of Power.
Stern faces an interesting dilemma due to the nature of his
medium. The radio broadcast waves belong to the people of the U.S.
and can be accessed, free of charge, by anybody within the range of
a given signal. This makes it possible for children and idiots to
be offended by Stern’s antics. Unfortunately, idiots seem to
pervade the FCC, Clear Channel and the rest of the nation.
Just because the government said there were weapons of mass
destruction doesn’t mean I believed them. Mel Gibson’s father
implying that the holocaust was exaggerated makes me grimace at his
ignorance, but I don’t think he should be gagged. And Howard Stern
recently noting the irony of him looking like Jesus being
persecuted really is laughable. I am not offended by him comparing
himself to Jesus, I’m simply amused.
What really is ironic, however, is the timing of Clear Channel’s
decision to pull Stern from the air. The decision came the day
before John Hogan, head of Clear Channel Radio, was scheduled to
testify before a congressional subcommittee hearing on broadcast
indecency. Clear Channel Communications has what many would call a
mutually beneficial, “I’ll scratch yours,” relationship with the
Bush Administration. These ties cannot be overlooked.
In the end, Stern is – after everything else – only one guy.
Sure a lot of people listen to his radio show, but I’d like to give
the American public a little more credit than it would seem Clear
Channel or the FCC does. When I was a child I didn’t want to listen
to Howard Stern, and even if I did, my folks wouldn’t have gone for
it. By the time I was a teen-ager I had gained the ability to
separate what somebody said from what I did. Stern kept me
entertained for an entire summer at the worst office job ever. Now
that I’m an adult I appreciate that our country was founded on free
speech and Howard Stern, although loud, crass and objectionable, is
just saying what’s on his mind. And that’s alright by me.