I was watching Howard Stern’s movie Private Parts the other day. Great movie. I listened to Howard for 3 years when my car had satellite radio and I miss him dearly because now I have to listen to local radio on my drive to and from work.
Music being pumped out of stations these days is absolutely horrible. There is only one station here locally that is playing good music by people with actual talent. If all else fails, the classic rock station is an option, but I can only hear Def Leppard’s “Photograph” or Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” so many times before I lose my mind.
The majority of stations are owned by huge corporations who either syndicated national morning shows or seems to have a strict formula for their station’s local morning shows to follow.
I was a huge fan of The Radio Men when I was growing up. I’m not sure of the politics, or exactly what happened, but they were eventually pushed out for a nationally syndicated show.
Then there are those morning shows that have been around for so long, they are sort of grandfathered into the system, have a loyal following and can pretty much do whatever they want. But do they take advantage of this? I suppose if you call aimlessly talking about absolutely nothing taking advantage of it, then yeah.
But they get the ratings.
Back to Howard Stern. In the movie, while trying to understand his huge ratings, some suit says to another suit (thank you IMDB),
Researcher: The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes. The average Howard Stern fan listens for – are you ready for this? – an hour and twenty minutes.
Pig Vomit: How can that be?
Researcher: Answer most commonly given? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”
Pig Vomit: Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?
Researcher: Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day.
Pig Vomit: But… if they hate him, why do they listen?
Researcher: Most common answer? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”
Sometimes you hate something so much, you just can’t turn it off. That is the spot I’m in every morning. I’m sure the folks at this show are outstanding people. I’ve never met them, and they certainly pull in way more fans/viewers/listeners than I have or ever will, but I drive to work every morning and by the end of my drive, I’m usually yelling at my radio “Why!?!”
The format seems to be this: Each person goes on and tells the listening audience (a rather large audience according to online ratings I found) exactly – EXACTLY- what they did the day or night before. No matter how pointless or mundane. I listen and I expect a punchline, or a point, or some sort of revelation at the end of these stories, but IT. NEVER. COMES! Yet I can’t turn it off. Why?
I’m constantly reciting in my head Steve Martin’s epic rant at John Candy in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: “You know everything is not an anecdote. You have to discriminate. You choose things that are funny or mildly amusing or interesting. You’re a miracle! Your stories have NONE of that. They’re not even amusing ACCIDENTALLY!…Here’s a good idea. When you’re telling these little stories. Have a point. It makes it so much more interesting for the listener.”
There usually isn’t a point. So why do I, and a whole bunch of other people, tune in to hear a couple of people talk about nothing? It worked for Seinfeld I guess. But again, Seinfeld‘s stories were pointless but amusing. Entertaining. WE are listening to this show to basically hear these people tell us their grocery shopping lists.
To be fair, I only get to listen to 15 minutes, at the same time every morning. Perhaps the other 3 hours of the show are completely different and unique.
Again, I’m not trying to throw stones. I’m just trying to understand. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so I’ve heard, so as I was driving to work on Thursday, my favorite pointless radio show had apparently taken the morning off, so I decided to just fill in the blanks of what I most certainly would’ve heard anyway. For the next 7 minutes on my drive to work, I made great radio. And I couldn’t turn it off. I now hate myself. But at least I listen to myself longer. Here’s what you missed if you were in my car this morning: