The exodus of Howard Stern from old-fashioned radio to satellite radio has turned the radio broadcast industry upside-down. Stern’s FM Empire was split up between many personalities, but for the most part between 4 personalities under the new Free FM banner.
With the advent of satellite radio, as well as podcasting, there are many choices out there, and I have listened to chunks of or entire shows of the main choices out there. So without further adieu I present to you a primer, if you will, of the various listening choices out there: whether you are looking for something interesting on the ride to and from work or are looking for something that may be better than what is on TV. Let's start off with the Man himself:
1. Howard Stern
Can Be Heard On: Sirius Satellite Radio Ch. 100 (Howard 100) 6-10/11am EST and Ch. 101 (Howard 101) 6-10/11am PST.
Howard Stern is the biggest, most famous radio personality of all time, and with good reason. The ignorant out there might dismiss Stern as nothing but tits and ass, but if they actually took the time to listen to the show they would realize that’s not the case. His stunts over the years are too numerous to be mentioned in this primer. Influenced by the legendary stand-up comedian Lenny Bruce, Stern has been a major target of the Religious Right and the US Government. Clocking in at almost $3 million dollars, he is by far the most cumulatively fined radio performer in history. Critics are already expecting Stern to use the FCC free satellite format to curse up a storm, but the swearing on the show has been of a natural flow of speech than swearing for the sake of swearing. Stern is in control of two stations on Sirius, which feature not only his morning show but various other Stern-related programming as well as The Bubba the Love Sponge Show (which I will get to later).
• Started out on a small station in Briarcliff Manor, NY
• Moved to WCCC 106.9 FM Hartford CT in 1978
• Briefly Moved to WWWW (W4) Detroit in 1981/82 until it switched from rock to country.
• Moved to 101.1 FM Washington DC in 1981/82. During his short tenure there he made the station the #1 rated station in the market.
• Moved to WNBC AM in NYC in 1982, airing after then-popular morning man Don Imus. His ratings would soon eclipse those of Imus. Fired in 1985 after numerous battles with management.
• Hired by WXRK 92.3 (K-ROCK) NYC (now Free FM) in November 1985. Moved to the morning-drive in early 1986 and became the #1 rated show in the nation’s biggest market.
• Started Syndication via Infinity Broadcasting in 1986 when he aired in Philadelphia. Despite the naysayers he quickly became #1 in Philly, and subsequently LA, Boston, DC, and various other markets. First syndicated FM morning drive show in history.
• At its peak the show was syndicated in 62 markets across the US as well as Montreal and Toronto.
• Most stations that removed him caved in to complaints rather than low ratings.
• Has written two best selling books; the first, Private Parts was adapted into a movie in which he starred.
• Has had television shows on WWOR 9 TV (NY/NJ) (sketch comedy) early 1990’s; FOX/Syndication (airing of radio show) late 1990’s; E! Television (airing of radio show) late 1990’s-mid 2000’s. Currently has an entire channel of various content on In Demand Networks.
• Constant government pressure and increasing amount of commercials (up to 26 minutes an hour) stifled the creativity and banter of his show towards the end of his FM run.
• Dropped from Clear Channel stations shortly before election time in 2004 supposedly due to indecency, but more likely due to his anti-Bush stance.
• From the time he announced his move to Sirius in 2004 to the end of 2005, Sirius subscriptions jumped from 650,000 to over 3.3 million, closing the gap on competitor XM.
Stern’s Free FM Replacements
Stern’s former employers, Infinity Broadcasting (now CBS Radio), in response to losing their cash cow, have devised a multi-pronged attack to replace Stern based on the advice of Daily Show anchor Jon Stewart, whom they had tapped to take over Stern’s Empire. After Stewart turned them down he said that they shouldn’t try to replace Stern outright, because there was no way it would work with anyone. Thusly CBS decided to split up the former Stern affiliates between 4 acts. I have listened to large chunks of their shows via podcasts (hey I’ve got Sirius and listen to Stern in the mornings), and here is my take on each.
1. David Lee Roth
Can Be Heard On: 92.3 FM NYC, 94.1 FM Philadelphia, 105.3 FM Dallas, 104.1 FM Boston, 98.5 FM Cleveland, 93.7 FM Pittsburgh, 103.1 FM West Palm Beach FL 6-10am EST
I decided to get the worst of the Free FM litter out of the way first. Roth’s act is tired and hasn’t been relevant for 20 years. On his debut show he had his Octogenarian uncle on as a guest for about 90 minutes, which was about 89.5 minutes too long. Before he started he claimed he would be cutting edge and in your face, but in fact he this show has been lame and disjointed, not to mention a scrambled mess. Roth has trouble talking without resorting to that lame Vegas-lounge act bullshit of his. His phone calls are screened thoroughly to weed out the negative calls, which is a shame because it might spice things up and snap listeners out of a catatonic state. He told a female caller that she could ask him anything she wanted, and when she asked him who he was dating he refused to answer her question. At the very least he is not trying to copy to Stern format like many others have, but what we have is a major clusterfuck. To be fair he is just starting out and may improve, but I highly doubt it. Roth is a very dubious choice to replace Stern at his flagship station.
• Former Lead Singer of MTS Inductees Van Halen.
• First radio show host gig.
David Lee Roth Show 1/3/06-4/21/06 R.I.P
2. Adam Carolla
Can Be Heard On: 97.1 FM Los Angeles, 101.5 FM Phoenix, 106.9 FM San Francisco, 101.1 FM Portland, 103.7 FM San Diego, 107.5 FM Las Vegas 5-10am PST
Unlike Roth, Carolla’s podcasts are broken up in short segments usually under 5 minutes (DLR’s are broken up by hours). Also unlike Roth, Carolla has previous radio experience and knows how to speak. With that said, can someone please explain to me why this asshole keeps on getting work? He is not all funny: not on the radio or television. His voice is so nasally and grating; I can’t imagine anyone sitting there for four hours straight listening to this fuck face go on and on in a monotone about such compelling topics as coffee (he likes Starbucks and the LA station provides the cheap stuff) and apples. Yes folks, apples! This jerk-off having any job at all, never mind a million jobs at once, proves that there is no God.
• Began in radio when he answered an ad seeking a boxing instructor to train Jimmy Kimmel of the Kevin & Bean Morning Show on KROQ in Los Angeles. Eventually joined the show.
• Co-Hosted unexplainably popular syndicated talk-show Loveline with Dr. Drew Pinsky, which became a show on MTV for five seasons.
• Starred with fellow no-talent Kimmel on The Man Show and currently stars on shows such as Crank Yankers, Drawn Together, Too Late with Adam Carolla, and The Adam Carolla Project.
3. Rover’s Morning Glory
Can Be Heard On: 105.9 FM Chicago, 92.3 FM Cleveland, 97.3 FM Cincinnati, 107.1 FM Columbus OH, 93X FM Memphis, 97.1 FM Detroit, 94.1 FM Rochester NY, 105.7 FM St. Louis 5-10am CST
Rover’s podcast resides somewhere between Roth and Carolla length-wise, coming in 10-15 minute chunks, and before I go any further it should be noted that Roth’s show is the only available in it’s entirety via podcast. It would be nice if Free FM had some uniformity as far as the podcasts go. Rover comes off as a very “lite” version of Howard Stern genetically spliced with that Doofus Larry the Cable Guy from Blue Collar TV. He has a mid-west/southern twang going on, which would prevent him from being a hit nationally. He got in trouble when he was stationed in Cleveland when he pretended to tie helium balloons to a cat and watch it float away. Concerned viewers called the local ASPCA, and they found out he did not actually go through with it. Of the Stern replacements Rover is the blatant rip-off, complete with a female “voice of reason” that does the news ala Stern’s Robin Quivers. As someone who has listened to Stern for years, this imitation fell flat. He is better than Roth and Carolla though. He is the youngest of the Stern replacement, having not yet reached his 30th birthday.
• Started out as a music DJ at 107.5 FM in Las Vegas before moving on to such markets as Knoxville TN, Denver, and Seattle.
• Recruited for a now-defunct syndication network based out of Los Angeles, his first all-talk show.
• Moved to 92.3 FM Cleveland, and moved his home base to Chicago in 2006.
Off the air in Chicago as of 8/1/06
4. The Junkies
Can Be Heard On: 106.7 FM Washington DC, 105.7 FM Baltimore 5-10am EST
The Junkies is a group of four guys (nicknamed Cakes, EB, Lurch and JP) with a sports-oriented show in the DC/Baltimore area. They rely on heavy usage of some really stupid made-up lingo that would confuse a first-time listener. I had to do some searching to find out just what the fuck these guys were saying. Highlights of these phrases include:
Donkeys (dumb people, people they don’t like)
Silly (a pretty woman)
Bitties (a woman’s breasts)
Hurting (a loser, as in “He’s such a hurting”)
If you’re still with me congrats are in order. Their podcast are in the 15-20 range, and a very regionalized. I sincerely hope they have no aspirations of branching out, because anyone not into DC/Baltimore sports would be as bored as I was. Putting that aside, these guys are just awful. Their humor is lower than grade-school, including using the names of sports figures to describe body parts (ex: a “Clinton Portis” is a clitoris). They are apparently popular down there, but I can’t figure out why.
• Started off with a public access TV show in Bowie, MD in 1995.
• Got their first radio gig at WJFK (Now Free FM) in Washington on weekends, eventually moving to weeknights.
• Moved to the morning drive spot at 99.1 FM Washington DC. Left after station changed formats.
• Returned to WJFK, working the afternoon drive.
• Switched to mornings in DC and Baltimore after Stern went to Sirius.
5. Penn Jillette
Can Be Heard On: 92.3 FM NYC, 106.9 FM San Francisco, 97.1 FM Detroit, 103.7 FM San Diego, 105.9 FM Chicago, 106.7 FM Washington DC, 105.7 FM Baltimore 2-3pm EST
Jillette is not really a Stern replacement due to the late time slot and one-hour time frame, but he joined the Free FM stable at the same time the others did. It’s a shame Jillette is only on for an hour because he is the best of the Free FM personalities by far, but the show can get boring when he talks about magic. Listening to Jillette and being a fan of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, I believe he is better suited for satellite where he would be free of FCC restrictions. His atheist and libertarian views are a major appeal to yours truly.
• Larger, talkative part of the magic-comedy team Penn & Teller.
• Has written 5 books, 2 of which made the best-seller list.
• Co-hosted 4 Television shows, including the excellent Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (2003-current).
• Co-creator and executive producer of the movie The Aristocrats.
• First Radio hosting gig.
Other Prominent Shows
Stern and the Free-FM posse are not your only choices in radio listening. There are literally thousands of DJ’s you can choose from, including many Stern imitators. Hell, you can choose nothing all! Listed below are three prominent radio shows that I have sampled in one way or another.
1. Opie & Anthony
Can Be Heard On: XM Satellite Radio Ch. 202 (High Voltage) 7-11am EST
I’m going to start this one off by saying these guys have a big following. It’s not as big as Stern’s, but impressive nonetheless. I have listened to quite a few podcasts of these guys (I’m already paying for Sirius, I’m not gonna pay for XM too just to hear these jerk-offs) and it is quite apparent that they have a very unhealthy obsession with Howard Stern. They spend an ample amount of time knocking Stern and seem hell-bent on destroying him. Unfortunately for O&A, as big as they are, they are not even a pimple on Stern’s ass. This comes from a gag order imposed by their former employees Infinity Broadcasting against all Infinity employees (including Stern) mentioning and knocking Stern or any other Infinity talent on air. O&A claim this order was imposed by Stern himself, but a little web surfing and common sense reveals that Infinity imposed the order to protect their assets. O&A claim to have been innovators of such ideas as WOW (whip-em Out Wednesdays) in which they encourage women to expose their breasts to any car with an O&A WOW sticker. Of course this kind of bit has been done repeatedly over the years, a variation of “honk when you see our car and get $50”. Another great O&A “innovation” is AOTM: Assault on the Media, in which the duo encourages their fans to disrupt live media events promoting the show. This includes a stunt when a fan blew an airhorn directly into the ear of a reporter doing a live newscast. The reporter may have suffered critical hearing damage; at the time I am writing this it is currently unknown.
Another “stunt” was the Million Pest March. O&A enlisted fans to infiltrate the massive crowd during the 12/16 Howard Stern Rally to celebrate his final day on old-fashioned radio and his move to XM rival Sirius. They had initially estimated that 1000 “pests” would show up to cause trouble, but in the end the number was closer to 75 and O&A declared the stunt a bust while on the air. BURN! Bitches.
• Opie started on WBAB FM in Long Island
• Anthony was a member of a band that sent in an OJ Simpson parody to Opie’s show who later joined the show himself.
• Left WBAB after management refused to move the show its late-night spot to either early-morning or afternoon drive, the most listened to time periods in radio.
• Moved to WAAF in Boston until fired for an April Fools Day prank in which they announced that the mayor of Boston died in a car accident while vacationing in Florida.
• Moved to WNEW in NYC in the afternoon drive slot, becoming the #1 rated show in their time slot.
• Syndicated to 26 markets at their peak via Infinity Broadcasting.
• Hosted a short-lived pre-game show for Vince McMahon’s short-lived XFL football league. The pre-game show did not last the entire season that the XFL was in existence.
• Removed from the airwaves in 2002 by Infinity for a contest which involved a couple having sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral and broadcasting it on air.
• Waited out their Infinity contract and signed with XM in 2004.
Can Be Heard On: 101.1 FM Chicago, 570 AM Los Angeles, 97.5 FM Salt Lake City, 93.5/95.3 FM Champaign IL, 105.1 FM Marion/Carbondale IL, 96.5 FM Peoria IL, 104.1 FM Wausau WI, 96.1 FM Norfolk VA, 94.3 FM Knoxville TN, 102.9 FM Florence SC, 93.3 FM Little Rock ARK, 105.3 FM Joplin MO, 97.3 FM Kansas City MO, 106.7 FM Springfield MO, 98.5 FM Windsor MO, 103.3 FM Des Moines IA, 100.3 FM Boise ID, 106.3 FM Medford OR, 1330 AM Tuscon AZ, 103.7 FM Fresno CA 5:30-10am CST
The list of stations that Mancow is on via syndication may be impressive at first glance, but further inspection shows that most of these stations are in the middle of bumfuck nowhere. He failed miserably in Detroit, and despite his claims to be bigger than Stern his show has never been aired in NYC or the east coast for that matter. Even his LA station is in AM and he gets very low ratings out there. The vast majority of the places listed above never had Stern on the air while he was on old-fashioned radio. A Stern imitator who has gotten into a war of words with Howard himself, he set out to dethrone the King of All Media but was unsuccessful. In the same vain of Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, Mancow sells a lot of useless shit through his website. The podcasts that I have listened to have revealed Mancow to be nothing but a pale imitation of Stern, despite his rants to the contrary. Another loser who is obsessed with Stern like O&A, Mancow claims he does not want to move to satellite, but I know he would jump if offered. This jackass has named himself the King of Free Media in an attempt to knock Stern and his move to satellite.
• Started out in Monteray CA before moving to San Francisco.
• Tied up traffic on the LAX in 1993 for a radio stunt.
• Repeated incident on SF/Oak freeway and was prosecuted.
• Moved to 103.5 FM in Chicago in 1994.
• Moved to 101.1 FM in Chicago in 1998.
3. Bubba the Love Sponge
Can Be Heard On: Sirius Satellite Radio Ch. 101 (Howard 101) 4-8pm EST
Bubba the Love Sponge is an honest, refreshing show, although at times it can get a bit too redneck for my tastes. The show features funny song parodies and bits, and Bubba (who not only trademarked the name but also legally changed his name from Todd Clem to Bubba the Love Sponge Clem) and his crew have great chemistry. Bubba is close friends with Hulk Hogan and race car driver Tony Stewart, who often appear on his show. He is the second highest cumulatively fined radio personality of all time ($1 million). Notorious for giving oral sex to porn stars on the air, this is one of the things that separate this lunatic redneck from Stern. He has stated that he believes 2005 was a quiet year for the FCC because it was not an election year and expects business to pick up in 2006. I do not know much about Bubba and his show (aside from the research), having only listened to his show the past two days on Sirius, but so far so good.
• Started out as Top 40 DJ, working in places like Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Orlando, and Tampa Bay.
• Began in the all-talk genre at WXTB in Tampa Bay, where he became a huge ratings success.
• Arrested in 2001 along with two hunters after the hunters slaughtered a pig on air during an event called “Bubba’s Road Kill Barbeque”.
• Began syndication in 2001 to stations in Jacksonville, Orlando, West Palm Beach and Ft. Myers FL, Shreveport LA, Witchita KS, Macon GA, Hartford CT, and XM Satellite Radio through Clear Channel Communications.
• Fired by Clear Channel in 2004 shortly after Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident and shortly before Clear Channel removed Stern from its stations that carried him. Virtually blacklisted from old-fashioned radio afterwards.
• Brought to Sirius by Stern after two-year hiatus. One time competitors, Stern and Bubba buried the hatchet due to the government persecution they both endured.
So there you have it, my primer into the murky depths of Morning Drive Radio. As you can see from my reviews most of these guys suck elephant balls, and so do most of the thousands of other schmucks out there. Of course this primer only covers the “shock-jock” (I hate that term) genre, and there are many different genres to pick from on old-fashioned and especially satellite radio. If you don’t like any of these guys, by means change the channel or turn off the fucking radio. Do not complain to the government and expect them to take these choices away from the people who want to listen to them however. If you don’t want your kids listening to them (even though all of these shows have next to no listeners under 18) then try parenting your kids yourself instead of waiting for Uncle Sam to do it for you. Otherwise, fuck off.
PS: I know I mentioned doing an article on the Yankees after my last one, but I’ve decided to hold off on that one until baseball season.