Saturday, November 19, 2005

Howard Stern's incredible final weeks

You’ve got to tune in to Howard Stern’s final radio shows.

They are killers. Historic. Captivating. Very, very funny. And very real.

If you’ve been listening to Stern’s show for the past fifteen or twenty years, you don’t want to miss this final valedictory lap. Everything is being wrapped up, confessions are revealed, cliffhangers are set in place—and it’s hard to turn off the radio and get out of the car.

You get the idea. Stern’s farewell to radio is cultural milestone, a transition in entertainment on par with Carson leaving The Tonight Show or the Hudson Brothers ending their summer replacement run. Stern leaves radio on December 16. He shows up on satellite in January. He’s already running satellite channels, including a news channel, Howard 100, dedicated entirely to news about Stern.

One of the Howard 100 reporters is Steve Langford, who was a reporter and producer for A Current Affair. (That’s Steve, second yellow jacket from the right.) Small world. But tabloid television and Stern have always had a close relationship.

Check out Tabloid Baby and the chapter “Howard Rules & Elton Sues,” beginning on page 238. And there’s an interesting tidbit about Stern and Tabloid Baby author Burt Kearns on page 303.

Back in the Hard Copy days, and even in this year’s short revival of A Current Affair, we’d run a story on Howard Stern because we knew he’d talk about it on the radio and give us publicity.

On page 302 of his book, Miss America, Stern reprints the script of an early 90s Doug Bruckner Hard Copy segment. Howard writes, “The narrator sounded like he was right out of the film Reefer Madness.”

Back in May, A Current Affair ran-- and Doug wrote and voiced, Reefer Madness style-- a segment on Stern’s girlfriend, Beth O. It was chock full of ”Beauty and The Beast” references. Predictably, Stern did a bit on it the next morning, claiming to be offended that we focused on his ugliness. He railed about Rupert Murdoch and his young bride and said he was going to seek out embarrassing photos of the Murdochs and A Current Affair personnel. He vowed to “make their lives miserable.”

The next day, Stern said he’d no longer discuss the segment. We later got a tip that Stern’s people had gotten a call from someone at Fox, warning that if he took on Mr. Murdoch, A Current Affair would run a story on Howard’s daughters. Case closed.

Tune in these last shows. This is radio like it never was before and never will be again.

The morning drive is going to be very empty without the Stern show. How long til we buy a Sirius receiver?