I realize that bringing up the name Howard Stern causes all kinds of differences of opinion. It’s sort of a risky thing to admit to some people, depending their generation or tolerance for shock value that I truly adore him. I know that there has been a longtime hatred from many people due to his representation of women as sex objects and other questionable acts on his show over time. I get it. I understand why people become so upset. Listening to him (for lack of a better metaphor) is sort of like eating oysters. To so many people, it seems gross and indigestible. They look at them and want to gag. But, if you allow yourself time to try and appreciate the taste and texture, they can become a favorite delicacy of sensation and overall experience.
In my opinion, The Howard Stern Show offers an array of relevant content, an interviewing style that I think cannot be replicated, a view on politics that I personally respect, and an understanding that not all of America wants to watch the same generic sitcom about a family living in an opulent neighborhood cracking jokes about how hard life is when the wifi goes out for five minutes. Most of America is way more raw than that, and his show provides a platform to a population that most of the media ignores. His humor and unfiltered ideas reach all races, social classes and demographics. Howard Stern has a solid philosophy that I have been trying to achieve for years: do what you believe in and have no apologies for it, no matter whom you piss off.
I’m by no means a Howard Stern Show expert. I don’t love the whole “Wack Pack” gimmick, and there was a time when he would have on strippers and porn stars and I would simply turn it off because it didn’t appeal to me. I’m not mad about it, I just am not interested in those aspects of the show. But that’s what I find to be so incredible…the subject matter runs the gamut. The formula is so unique and widespread that he can hit over 50 topics just during one show. He and his staff offer opinions and ideas that are refreshingly void of arrogance. They don’t claim to be superior voices on anything. Because of this, the show draws in a population with whom other entertainers cannot seem to connect. He provides a platform to the men and women who so often are left out of our nation’s conversation, whatever that might be at that time. When they come on the show, Howard is always honest concerning whether or not he agrees with what they’ve said, but at least they’ve been heard.
I first fell for Howard when I saw his autobiographical movie, Private Parts. Before that I really disliked his whole persona. The film, however, offered a glimpse of his life from “behind the scenes,” and caused me to gain a new appreciation for him. I started to listen, and was surprised by his charm and less publicly known qualities. He is loyal (his employees have been with him since the very beginning, and as he has climbed the ladder he has brought them with him), determined (when people don’t believe in him, he simply changes his venue, not his ideals), charitable (he and his wife are avid animal rescuers, and have fostered hundreds of kittens in their NYC penthouse), a mush (when his sidekick Robin Quivers was sick with cancer, he was a mess and admits he cried and prayed often), a devoted father (he has three daughters whom have grown up to be active contributors to society and make a social difference), and progressive (he is constantly voicing his support for Gay rights and women’s rights). His own multi-faceted personality is perfectly supplemented by Robin, who adds so much to the show as a well-educated, strong, eloquent, successful woman.
Altogether, it’s a recipe for something that I crave as a stay-at-home mom who spends hours in the car, running errands and sometimes feeling the monotony of daily life. I might not always agree with the segments, but there’s always the option to turn it off. However, as I get older and know my own beliefs, I’m less bothered by the antics that the show sometimes presents. I’m way more interested in the way Stern and his show have consistently evolved over time. We all hope to be on top of our game as we age and mature, and that is exactly what he has done. His interviews (if you have Sirius, check out the ones he recently did with Ashton Kutcher or Anderson Cooper, or go into the archives from the past few years and check out Carol Burnett, Madonna, or Sally Field) are so comfortable and accepting that guests almost always divulge way more information than they do in any other situation. The show has come to place less emphasis on the “shock” and more emphasis on the “value.” It’s truly a rare gem, and when it’s gone, there will never again be anything like it.
Personally, I’m a girl who wants some raunch and filth in my life; just enough to make the hairs on my neck stand up and to laugh a little uncomfortably at least once each day. The shows that are aimed for my demographic: The View, The Talk, Rachel Ray…I cannot connect with any of them. I don’t dislike the women, just the unnecessary banter, constant bickering and superficial subject matter. They don’t provide the risque humor or indelicate realness I am seeking after a morning of making lunches and looking for lost shoes. I want to be taken out of my comfort zone and have my buttons pressed. Sometimes my reaction to the Howard Stern show feels like a horror movie during which I have to shut my eyes but still want to peek at what’s happening, and other times it feels exactly like a discussion I would have with my husband or best friends, densely saturated with off-color remarks, sarcastic comments, and crude innuendo. It’s hysterical, genuine, and explicit enough to keep me interested and intrigued.
Do I agree with everything Howard and his staff say or do? No. But I am so impressed by the way Howard is always morphing and growing as a human being, admitting his flaws and working on them. If you haven’t given the show a chance recently, maybe check it out with an open mind and an understanding that he might not be speaking directly to you, but he still wants you to be a part of the discussion. Whether you hate it or gain a new respect for it, he continues to survive all opinions, and that’s something to be admired. As long as he’s on, I’ll be listening. Sometimes I’ll choose to tune out, but his self-deprecating, sensitive, provocative nature will continue to turn me on emotionally. That’s something I’m really grateful to have as part of my sometimes boring, mundane agenda. Thanks Howard, you make this stay-at-home mom of three a little more excited to wake up and start the day.
(This post originally ran on Where The Eff Is My Handbook)
About the author: Danielle lives in NJ with her husband, three kids, and two rescue dogs. While she admits she’s one bad decision away from being the mom version of Lindsay Lohan, she’s trying her best to keep life exciting and entertaining despite the monotony stay-at-home life can present. Her blog, www.wheretheeffismyhandbook.com is meant to bring humor and support to women everywhere who are trying to keep it real along this crazy journey. You can also follow her on Facebook.