By Darren Johnson
Campus News and Nu2U
An old article of mine, “Podcast wars: Next up is Howard Stern and a former sidekick,” recently has been getting a lot of hits. I did a search: It’s because that sidekick, Artie Lange, has been doing the rounds, saying the same thing again, this time to The Daily Mail and Opie Radio.
In my article from last year, I took Lange’s side. It did seem strange that they wouldn’t have the former sidekick on (Stern says it’s because of Lange’s past drug abuse and suicide attempt, and having him on may cause some kind of relapse; in other words, never trust a drug addict), and it did seem strange that “The Howard Stern Show” had suddenly become painfully PC.
I also wrote an article on how PC the show had become, which I know SiriusXM brass — and thus Stern — had read, because some PR person called me about it to complain.
And the SiriusXM show did take a sudden turn for awhile, as Stern was also hosting the horrible “America’s Got Talent” show on NBC and decided to clean up his act overall.
But after his time at NBC ended, he listened to some of the criticism and returned many of the classic elements back to the show. So I wrote this piece in February: “The Howard Stern Show is back to abnormal — and that’s good news!”
The sentiments in that article still stand, so I haven’t felt the need to write anything new. Over this past summer, I listened to the shows Stern is now putting out and, while Stern is still a bit too fawning when he has an A-lister on (he doesn’t ask them dirty questions anymore, and he seems to overhype them — the one-note Hugh Grant, for example, was rather boring on the show this past August, and Stern was much too kind to this guy, who seems to put out the most meaningless movies in celluloid history; his hooker story from 20 years ago, and how that had changed his life, would have been a more interesting topic), he has gone back to goofing on staff and wackpackers. He had his staff — with crazy comedian Eric Andre (who presently is the best guest a radio show or podcast can book) — go to a Manhattan proctologist to get their prostates examined, to be aired live. The catch was, they had to sing karaoke while being probed. (Sal the Stockbroker won the contest.) The gag was hilarious. He also is back to calling certain wackpackers “retard” and had Wendy, formerly “The Slow Adult,” drive up with the staff’s Shuli from Florida, wearing a diaper and talking about her defecation habits in depth.
In other words, “The Howard Stern Show,” while a bit softer on A-listers than a decade ago, when Lange was a raunchy sidekick, still is not PC.
And The New York Times examined this dichotomy in July.
So Lange is currently working on old information. Perhaps he’s trying to get more listeners to his paid podcast. Perhaps Stern is right, that former drug addicts are manipulators, and it’s best to avoid them.
I gave up on Lange’s podcast. There were just too many instances where he had no new content or energy and just rambled for an hour. As for Stern, I can understand his being softer on A-listers. They wouldn’t go on the show in the first place if there were penis questions, and there is value in having a whole hour with a celeb, vs. the 10 scripted minutes we normally see when they are on TV talk shows. Stern will still sneak in some tough questions, after buttering them up. It’s a good style.
In any case, I guess it’s good news that these people can still generate hits. I learn a lot about who’s really popular based on the hits counts on my articles. Stories on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast, for example, generate no hits.
But I’d bet this piece gets at least 10,000 views right away.
So, Bababooey to y’all!
Darren Johnson writes about Netflix and podcasts and everything else. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.