Howard Stern may never finesse the art of diplomacy, but he has mastered a talent for ingenuity and humor, says Sweena Rai
He’s hilarious, original and thoroughly entertaining. He also has the balls to say what’s on his mind — a refreshing change in a society that is anally correct.
And now the shock jock of radio is here in Canada. Hallelujah!
On Sept. 2, Howard Stern’s blockbuster radio show exploded over Canadian airwaves for the first time in Montreal and Toronto.
The two radio stations which air the Howard Stern show, Q-107 in Toronto and CHOM-FM in Montreal, broadcast the show with a 60-second delay. With this luxury, the stations did not have to ask the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission for permission to air the show.
The two stations bought the rights to syndicate Stern’s New York-based show to increase ratings, and presumably to give Canadian radio a much- needed face-lift.
CHOM-FM general manager Lee Hambleton says he thinks Stern is brilliant because he knows how to push the envelope by saying things people would like to say themselves, but simply can’t or won’t.
Stern is undoubtedly the biggest radio personality in North America. With over 40 radio stations broadcasting his show in the United States, 20 million Americans tune into Stern’s show each week. And now that he’s aired in Canada, another one to two million people listen to him weekly.
That’s about two million reasons why Stern’s show has staying power in Canada, and will probably expand into new Canadian markets.
In fact, Q-107’s overall ranking went from seventh in the market to fourth after an Angus Reid telephone survey (conducted during the first two weeks of September) asked Torontonians what their favorite morning show was. These are staggering numbers for a show that has barely been on the air for a month!
Stern, however, is used to breaking records and new ground.
In the eight years he has been on American airwaves, he has been the first disc jockey to bring a woman to orgasm on radio, have a naked woman in his studio, talk about lesbian sex, and make the word penis sound like any old body part instead of a taboo five-letter word.
Though some Canadian radio personalities may stray from the polite norm (for example, Doc and Woody from Ottawa’s station The Bear) no one can touch Stern’s controversial show which is steeped in satire and irony, rightfully earning him the title of “shock jock.”
But like Stern says in his movie, Private Parts, “[e]verything I do is misunderstood. I just wanna be funny, but everyone thinks I’m an asshole.”
That’s putting it mildly. During Stern’s Canadian debut, he called French Canadians “scumbags,” “peckerheads,” and “pussy-ass jackoffs,” causing a furor of reaction.
But Stern doesn’t take himself seriously, and he doesn’t expect his audience to either. He is simply a disc jockey who makes jokes.
Most people switch the radio dial if they didn’t like the programming, but Canadians have to launch an investigation to see if he has breached our code of ethics! Lighten up, Canada!
In fact, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council is forming a six-person committee right now to determine if Stern’s comments on French Canadians did, in fact, breach the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Code of Ethics.
The council has received 300 written complaints so far about Stern’s “inflammatory” comments.
Yet we praise and laugh when we watch Canadian satirical shows , such as Royal Canadian Air Farce and This Hour has 22 Minutes. Are Canadians saying they can laugh at themselves when a Canadian is making fun of them, but, behold, an American mocks us and we become uptight?
Apparently, Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom which guarantees “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media communication” is not in vogue this year. Who knew repression was in?
And the notion that Stern’s comments might have an impact on the Canadian unity debate is utterly ridiculous.
If we start letting one comedian’s words govern our country’s stability as a nation, then it’s our government that is the joke.
Ultimately, the reaction to Stern’s comments on French Canadians was blown out of proportion. Holy cow, Batman, the shock jock of U.S. radio shocked Canadians! Isn’t that what he does for a living?
We should be congratulating the man on a job well done, not complaining because he does it too well!
At a Canadian press conference, Stern said that we put him on the front page of Canadian newspapers because, “I’m the freshest, wildest radio host in the world. You’ve now been introduced to good radio.”
He’s right on both accounts. Stern could have been another dime-a-dozen radio disc jockey in the United States, but, instead, he decided to go out on a limb and create a new genre of radio.
That’s admirable, especially as his risk paid off. Last year, Stern earned a salary of $15 million US.
So, if he does put his foot in his mouth, cut him a little slack.
Everybody makes mistakes, and Stern is the first person to admit that he tends to make a fool of himself in public.
“Hey, after all, being misunderstood is the fate of all true geniuses, is it not?” says Stern at the end of Private Parts.
Stern may not be another Albert Einstein or Isaac Newton, but his formula for being a genius is pretty straight forward: Howard = wild + crazy.
So come on Canada, take a ride on the wild side.