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Stern Underwhelms -- At Least, At First



After several hours' listening this morning I must report feeling a bit underwhelmed by Howard Stern's much-ballyhooed debut on satellite radio this morning.

And its not because I had to haul myself out of bed early in the a.m. today to set up my home Sirius kit which piped the King of All Media through my home stereo (it involved dangling an antenna out my living room window; 'Nuff said).

True enough, no show could have matched the months of hype leading to the moment when, at 6 a.m. today, Sirius aired a long, blistering fart calibrated to the tune of the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme (Richard Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra, if you can believe that. Until Times researchers confirmed it three times, I didn't).

But despite a nasty phone sex bit with a David Letterman impersonator and a Playboy playmate; lots of dish from surprisingly game Star Trek veteran and newly hired Stern announcer George Takei on his life as a gay man; and replays of Pat O'Brien's blisteringly x-rated obscene voice mail message to a female acquaintance -- something was missing.

And that missing something, strangely enough, was Howard Stern himself.

What listeners got this morning was Howard Stern the media star -- lots of talk about moving to Sirius; whether or not he married his supermodel-pretty girlfriend over Xmas break (answer:no); and celebs ranging from MSNBC's Keith Olbermann to Access Hollywood's Maria Menounos fawning over the King of All Media.

After Stern's first show ended, listeners got a show featuring producer Gary Dell'Abate and Jump the Shark author Jon Hein dissecting what had just happened and a Howard 100 newscast focused on such minutiae as how Howard will punish one of his sidekicks for cursing on air (it's a sexual practice which involves the word "tea." ) and the lighting for Stern's on demand TV show. See the program lineup for Stern's channels here.

First shows are always rocky, and Stern will likely find his groove once he's past the transition hoopla (which means I'll still be uncomfortable with all the female degradation and borderline racist stuff he indulges). But today's taste of Stern proves you can get too much of a good thing -- even in the limitless space of satellite radio.

See a contrary opinion from former Times writer Helen A.S. Popkin here. And of course if you have any thoughts -- especially if you heard the first show -- feel free to leave a comment.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:35pm]


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