Stern vs Shaffir


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From 1993 to 1997, I had spent many school bus rides listening to my Sony Walkman. I would tune in to the local rock station and listen to The Howard Stern Show. Howard, Robin, Gary, Fred, Jackie the Jokeman, Stuttering John and a whole cast of misfits known as “The Wack Pack” would get me through those very early morning rides to school. If I was lucky, my first period would be a study hall and I could sneak in some extra time listening with my headphones on and my head hidden behind a book. That may be my fondest memory of high school. Stern, along with David Letterman, George Carlin and my repeating the hilarious things I had heard to my friends, as few of them as there were, was really the Genesis of my career in stand-up comedy.


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I continued to listen beyond high school. For a period of time, I lived in Florida, just outside of the range to catch the Orlando feed of Howard Stern. I would still try to listen, dealing with as much static as I needed to. I’d occasionally listen to Stern’s Tampa rival, Bubba the Love Sponge, in disgust because I had been brainwashed to believe that any rival of Howard was the enemy. But, Bubba was cutting edge. He crossed boundaries that Howard never did. Begrudgingly, I became a closet Bubba fan. I was thankful to move back to New York, where I could again listen to Howard every morning. The show would change at around this time. Jackie would decide not to stay with the show, for financial reasons. Hilarious comedian Artie Lange took his place. Stuttering John left for a major opportunity as the announcer of The Tonight Show, which Stern hated.

Howard eventually moved to satellite radio, bringing a huge audience to Sirius with him. He was free from the restrictions put on him by the FCC and terrestrial radio. Uncensored and more entertaining than ever, it was can’t-miss radio for years! Howard would even bring his former rival Bubba the Love Sponge onboard as the afternoon guy. I could openly be a fan of Bubba! It was a great time to be a Stern fan! Sirius would later get rid of Bubba because he was too hardcore for even uncensored satellite radio. Howard married supermodel girlfriend, Beth O., despite many listeners reminding Howard of the years that he preached the evils of marriage. Artie Lange suffered through personal issues on and off the air, until things came to a halt and he was off the show. Stern signed on to judge a family friendly talent show on television. Wack Pack members would appear less frequently, and things became more politically correct. Wack Packer “Gary the Retard” was even renamed “Gary the Conqueror”. It got too much for me to continue listening when Howard started to hype up the Howard Stern Birthday Bash – an A-list celebrity gathering with the sole purpose of kissing Howard’s ass. His ego in the low years of the show was enough for me to search for something else to listen to, and I landed on Opie and Anthony. I could do a whole ‘nother article on what’s happened with O&A since then, but I still listen to Opie and Jimmy as well as Anthony Cumia’s podcast. I listen to the free best of the week version, because I’m a cheap bastard, but that’s enough for me right now. In addition, I listen to several other podcasts. Marc Maron’s WTF was the first podcast I became a fan of. Now, I listen to Maron, Bill Burr, Adam Carrolla, Jim Florentine, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and more. They’re uncensored and free to say whatever they want. It reminds me of the first few years of Stern on Sirius. My listening tastes have evolved since 1993, and I’ve changed with the times. Technology is a beautiful thing. These days, anybody who wants to broadcast can do so. Everyone is given a fair opportunity, so the only way to achieve success is by being the best at it. That’s something Howard Stern didn’t have to compete with on his way up. In the 1980’s, only a handful of people were given the opportunities that Stern was given. He only had to prove himself over a few people. Who’s to say there wasn’t someone a lot more talented that just couldn’t get on the air? Since the podcast explosion, Howard has ranted several times that podcasting is a joke, and that “real” broadcasters go to radio school and beg to get on the air and wait for a ratings book to come in. However, he’s preaching for a medium that he himself has also claimed several times to be dead.

Terrestrial radio has long been dead. Few people still listen to AM/FM while satellite radio, iPods, podcasts and other forms of audio entertainment have taken over.

In his latest rant, Howard targets comedian Ari Shaffir, host of the Skeptic Tank podcast, because he took exception to some of the things Ari had to say about Stern on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Stern seemed rattled by things said on a show that he claims “7 people listen to”. There’s a lot of truth to what Ari had to say, though. Howard is out of touch these days. His better years are behind him.

Howard Stern attacks Ari Shaffir

I once was a loyal Stern listener who couldn’t imagine what the world would be like if Howard retired. Now, I feel like he should have decided to walk away at the last contract negotiations. He and his show are as out of touch as my Walkman from 1993. Podcasts offer a more enjoyable listen. Howard should stick to the family game shows.

Ari Shaffir, the comedian that Howard claims to be unsuccessful, has his second stand-up special of 2015, “Passive Aggressive”, as well as his storytelling series airing on Comedy Central, “This Is Not Happening”. Check local listings.

Ari Shaffir responds to Howard Stern.

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– Jason Smith

Twitter: @ComedianJasonS