December 10, 2010

Raise your hand if you hate Howard Stern..!

Thousands of lives were saved today,

or at least extended five more years, thanks to Howard Stern re-signing with SiriusXM radio thru 2015.

Stern, who is pro-choice, pro gay marriage, the most honest personality in media, an intellectual, and with no doubt the best interviewer in the history of the world (if you don’t believe me, ask Roger Ebert) is unfortunately better known as a sinner than a saviour.

Howard has millions and millions of fans, but most of the other people on the planet think he’s the devil. There’s not a lot of middle ground when it comes to Howard, and that’s what makes him so great. He expresses his opinions exactly how he sees them and doesn’t pander to the greatest common denominator. In other words, he’s real. His detractors say he’s crude, obnoxious, sexist, and grotesque. They don’t like the fact that he interviews porn stars and strippers (God forbid these women have a platform to express themselves). He’s labeled sexist and exploitive, but can you give a woman a voice and be exploiting her at the same time? A voice that without the Stern Show would not likely be heard?

The truth is, Howard hardly ever has strippers and porn stars on his show. He doesn’t even talk about sex that much, although this week George Takei has been a guest host on the show, so there’s been a lot of discussion about gay sex. George is gay and wonderfully open about his life and his recent marriage to his partner for over 20 years, Brad. All week long there’s been conversations about being in a gay marriage, and the message sent was there’s no difference between a gay marriage and one between a man and a woman.

When Howard does retire he will be a man with many legacies. Some good, some bad, some deserved, some not, but his greatest achievement as an entertainer will be the lives he saves every day by putting on a show. There are a lot of people out there who struggle to find a reason to get up in the morning. Life’s a bear, and sometimes our will to survive hinges on the simple pleasures that, though they may seem frivolous, are in fact the fuel that keep us going. For many this lifeline is…the Howard Stern show.

I’m very close to one such person who I’m convinced would have taken her life had she not had the Stern Show to listen to every morning. So in an homage to her and the show that saved her life I dedicated my second book to the show’s executive producer’s teeth (a long-running joke.) Steve Langford, a reporter for the Stern Show’s news team called me to do an interview about the dedication just as I was walking into my shrink’s office. I wasn’t expecting the call, but didn’t want to lose the opportunity so I stayed on the line and was late for my appointment.

My shrink was confused by my tardy arrival. He’s a soft spoken man who lives in Nederland, Colorado. He has a PhD, a wife and kids, and grew up in Boulder, Colorado. I wasn’t expecting him to know much about Howard Stern and figured my explanation would make him jot down in his notes that I was crazier than he’d originally thought.

Meds might be in order.

Much to my surprise not only did this man know all about Howard Stern, but he had more than a few patients whose lives he felt were also saved by the Stern Show. I couldn’t believe the coincidence, but the doc didn’t think it was all that remarkable since there were thousands of people out there in a similar boat.

Then we spent the rest of the session talking about the importance of routine, the relentless grip of loneliness, a smile’s saving grace, and the safe harbor of family, be it by blood—or by radio.

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