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Will Satellite Radio Destroy Howard Stern?
by Mark on 12/10/2004 (0)

Will X-rated radio ruin the R-rated Stern?
NEW YORK - Shock Jock Howard Stern, in a landmark industry decision, will move to SIRIUS beginning January 1, 2006. SIRIUS proclaims itself as "The premium satellite radio provider known for delivering the very best in commercial-free music and sports programming to cars and homes across the country."

For those not familiar with Stern's new hookup, listeners will need to buy a new radio for their cars that can process the digital SIRIUS transmission. Existing FM radios cannot be upgraded or modified to accept the digital signal, leaving tens of millions of loyal Stern fans in the immediate lurch.

But even if fans (including yours truly) make the digital switch, there is another aspect of digital radio that some fans might find harder to swallow.

Commercial-free digital radio is not subject to FCC regulations, therefore Stern is free to say and do whatever he likes, with no restrictions on the level of adult language and content he chooses to broadcast on the "air".

But will that serve Stern or destroy him?

Indeed, it is my observation that the the greater part of Stern's success lies in his eternal tussle with the FCC. Stern uses great genius and creativity to tickle and circumvent FCC regulations (not always getting away with it, as the many fines levied against him have shown). But without big brother watching, Stern is free to swear openely and broadcast purely adult content without fear of FCC backlash.

But do Stern fans (inlcuding yours truly) really want to hear Stern unplugged and uncensored?

As I see it, without the FCC as a tempering factor, the Stern show will denegrate into an on-air Hustler magazine, more befitting of Al Goldstein and Larry Flynt fans than the common morning commuter. Sometimes too much of a good thing is just too much, and that is certainly true of adult oriented media of any kind. There is only so much that a man can take over his donuts and drive to work in the morning.

Without censoring of any kind, will the Stern Show continue to appeal to the average morning masses? Or will the absence of the watchfull ear of the FCC trash the show, and plunge it into repugnant grotesque hardcore?

Only time will tell, but I believe satellite radio may ruin Howard Stern. Sometimes all of us need a powerful overseer to bring out the worst, and as in Stern's case, the creative best in us.

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