A recent article in the LA Times asked the question: where have all of Howard Stern’s listeners gone? As Howard himself complained to Entertainment Weekly, not enough have followed him to Sirius, and as the early ratings have shown, many didn’t stick around to listen to Adam Carolla or David Lee Roth.
I can’t speak for the 9,999,999 listeners who didn’t go to Sirius, but as a Stern detractor who became a listener who became a fan over the past decade, I can tell you why I didn’t go to Sirius and why I’m probably not helping Adam Carolla’s ratings.
First off, I probably need to say that morning drive radio shows are one of my great guilty pleasures, and over the years, I’ve enjoyed such shows as “Dean and Don’s Breakfast Club” on KKDJ in Fresno; “Alex Bennett in the Morning” on Live 105 in San Francisco and “Kevin and Bean” on KROQ in Los Angeles. All of these were local broadcasts, which means local flavor, which is important in the morning.
It was, of course, the one thing that Howard’s show always lacked, which ensured that during my morning run and communte, I would have several things from which to choose when he went to commercial: the aformentioned Kevin & Bean, Indie 103.1, Stephanie Miller on Air America, whomever is on ESPN and music from that always-in-progress personal music bubble I’ve been able to create for myself with my mp3z.
The point being that Howard Stern was one of several choices in the morning, not the only choice. I liked him, but not to the exclusion of everything else. I like sampling all of these things at any given time, and choosing the one that seems the most interesting, and since there aren’t any personal AM/FM/Sirius/mp3 player devices out there, choosing Sirius would limit my access to these other things.
So where did this Howard Stern listener go? Same place I’ve always been: everywhere at once.
Adam Carolla is a pro, and he’s become part of my mix — not as much as Howard was, but more than I’m guessing the one-joke David Lee Roth would have been — but it remains a mix. And since my current commute is only 15 minutes each way, a Sirius car system really doesn’t make too much sense. My guess is that I’m not the only person who uses radio in this way and who misses Howard, but not enough to get Satellite Radio.
Speaking of Satellite Radio: I’m not so much interested in the music there — I’m sure that there are great stations, etc. but believe me when I tell you that I’m already drowning in new music as it is. (Oh, and yay!) So, there are two things so far that would even tempt me to get it: Howard, of course, and Major League Baseball. I really miss my SF Giants broadcasts. But MLB is on XM, not Sirius.
In a weird way, this isn’t so far from the Blu-Ray / HD-DVD debacle: a very interesting technology, but two competing formats, making it difficult to jump in and make a choice. And unlike the new Hi-Def formats, Satellite Radio isn’t interested in manufacturing players that are backwards compatible.
So really I need someone to make personal AM/FM/XM/Sirius/.mp3 player that would work equally well with my home receiver, my car stereo, and a pair of headphones. I would totally be in!
But until that moment, Howard, and/or the services merge and/or my commute gets long enough for it to make sense, I am going to continue to miss your show on a daily basis.
You need ala carte radio.
I think I have to speak on behalf of Sirius here.
I have, quite gladly, opted in to stay. Here’s why: As a casual fan of Howard’s old school radio show, I too switched between all the above mentioned people. Except for Alex Bennett, who, lo and behold, is here on Sirius in unexpurgated form. A nice discovery for me. Also, the amazing Stephanie Miller is on Sirius in drive time, a repeat of her morning show so I’m not conflicted there. (And if you have not heard Ms. Miller, you are really missing out. She is witty, smart and just wonderfully sarcastic. It’s amazing how many right notes she hits every day. Give her a listen if you haven’t already.)
So, back to Howard. I can give several reasons why his Sirius show blows his old show away, as well as any other show on the regular airwaves. But I’ll give this example: A couple of weeks ago, infamous racist and Klu Klux Klan man Daniel Carver was roasted by about a dozen comics (gays, jews, lesbians, blacks, etc.) who just hate him. Of course it was mutual, as these people represent every group or race that he despises. Daniel, to his credit, took it in stride. I put that down to his obvious inbreeding. He’s obviously an idiot, that’s not the point. The point was just what could be said on air, and what was said on air. If this event was on terrestrial radio, you can only imagine what people would have liked to have said. Here, you had all these comics just verbally assaulting this guy and it was, without a doubt, some of the greatest radio I’ve ever heard. When you look at the potential here, and compare to the still funny, but very emasculated Kevin and Bean, there is no comparison. Sure, I listen to Ralph’s showbiz report and movie beat, but I’ve tried Adam Corolla and realized that yes, given no other option I might tune in occasionally. But it ain’t worth the price of all those goddamn commercials, for starters. It lacks a punch.
When someone as engaging as Howard Stern can speak openly, and without any censorship, either internally or externally, then it is truly amazing. And when I say Howard Stern, I mean his entourage. I have no problem with my commute time now (about 35-45 minutes), and I will have a much longer one starting next week when I move offices (1 hour, minimum). But I don’t care. I have Howard.
I can’t remember if it was during the Carver roast, or when some totally hot model or actress was orgasming on air, but Howard just let out a scream: “I LOVE SATELLITE RADIO!!” It was genuine, enthusiastic, and truthful.
I, for one, will never go back to commercial radio. Sorry folks. And you know what, you can get the player for your car, which in turn can pop into a little player for your desk or for at home so you are never without. It ain’t just for the car.
As for the music? Who cares. I have my iPod handy to shuffle through 8.5K songs. But the only time I listen to commercial radio now is when, uh, well, almost never.
I think that was a very eloquent and illuminating defense of Sirius. And knowing all of those things, if I had your commute, Alex Bennett & Stephanie Miller might just be tipping points.
Still, I happen to know that you really didn’t choose to stay as staying chose you. I will give you the benefit of the doubt in that, if you suddenly had to, er, um, pay, that you now would.
But wouldn’t you also love to have Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow too? I mean, if the Giants ever play another game.
Well, Sirius sans MLB is a detractor. But my workaround is to TiVo the games and avoid the scores!
Couple of other points for Sirius: BBC World News and, one I have yet to try–The Playboy channel. I hear it’s $$$.
To be honest, I haven’t really strayed much off of the Howard channels, Talk Left and BBC World News. There may be lots of other good things out there. I may channel surf more when I am in transit to Santa Monica every day.