The self proclaimed King of all Media signed on with Sirius in 2005, and his contract was renewed once again in 2011. Unfortunately, the Howard Stern of 2006 is no longer with us. What we hear today is just a vague memory of the fun and entertainment that was once the hallmark of the shock jock America loved to hate.
Stern’s first contract called for him to be on air four days a week, from 6am to 11am. His current contract however, requires him to be on the air three days a week. Unfortunately that “requirement” is subject to the interpretation, no doubt, of Stern himself, because on any given week subscribers may tune in to Stern only to get some tired repeats, some as old at 20 plus years, called “Mammary Lane” or “The Stern Show Shuffle,” and not live programming.
The reasons for Stern’s continuing absence are less than complicated. He’s been voicing displeasure lately about his life at Sirius. According to a story from local media news site Examiner.com, Stern said on Monday’s show that he was “miserable” and “would be happier if he quit work.” The Examiner.com story also quoted Stern as saying that he might look to leave his contract early.
In 2012, he became a judge on the television talent show America’s Got Talent, replacing Piers Morgan. These days it’s all Stern talks about, and even gave AGT it’s own channel, Howard 101, to a ’round the clock discussion of NBC’s show, disappointing millions of people who enjoyed the diverse programming of Howard 101, including the West Coast Feed, popular for those who don’t need to get up at 0600 hours and drive to work.
The talk of AGT notwithstanding, even when Stern is actually there, the old spark is gone. His ever popular “whack packers,” a motley collection of madcaps and misfits from all over the country, rarely make a telephone appearance, and that makes for a lot less laughs. The behind the scenes interactions with staff are limited to a few brief exchanges. The Howard Stern Show of 2013 is a much watered down, less exciting version of The Howard Stern Show 2006.
Speaking about a lot less laughs, comedian Artie Lange, once a Stern show staple, left after attempting suicide in late 2009, which resulted in an 8 month stay in a psychiatric ward in 2010. This left Stern and his eternal sidekick, Robin Quivers who broadcasts remotely and isn’t even in the studio, to make up for lost comedy fun, and they just don’t get it done.
The Stern show today is an unexciting mess of interviews with porn stars, tired celebrities, and relentless babble, that only succeeds to bore the increasingly frustrated subscriber. And that’s when Stern is actually there, which is rare, as he pursues his new television interests.
According to Stern himself, the bulk of Sirius-XM’s millions of subscribers are there because of him. His fans. Loyal to the end. Those same fans, however, are starting to complain about Stern’s ever increasing absences, sometimes for weeks on end, and they’re beginning to wonder why they’re paying $17.99 a month to listen to someone who is rarely there. I can guarantee when people spend their hard earned money to listen to Howard Stern, they don’t know they’re paying for a memory.
Long time Stern pal Mel Karmazin, is no longer the boss at Sirius-XM, and one can only hope that the new CEO Jim Meyer, will start looking to replace the ‘king of all media,’ whose days of radio greatness are well behind him. After all, that would be the right thing to do for Sirius’ over 22 million subscribers. Are you going to do the right thing Mr. Meyer?