October 25, 2005

David Lee Roth and Adam Carolla.

They are going to replace Howard Stern who is moving over to Satellite Radio).

Do you think Adam Carolla would be better on the radio than on TV? That is, would you find him funnier if you weren't looking at his face? I think I'd prefer not to have to look at him, I'm afraid. It's not that he's ugly, but his face looks like he's uncomfortable in it. It disturbs me a little.

David Lee Roth -- well, I have no idea what sort of a radio personality he'd be, but I have some old fondness for the man. I like that he's become a real geezer, looks-wise, and don't mind seeing him at all.

Howard Stern? Well, how do you think he'll do on satellite, without the limitations of broadcast regulation to push up against? If he can do anything, maybe it will be less interesting. Oddly, I only know Stern from TV. I've watched the E! TV version of his show many times. I find him sort of a sympathetic character for some reason, even though I find a lot the things he does offensive (because of the attitude expressed toward women some, but not all, of the time). He's been channeling childishness effectively for us. But without "parents" -- the FCC -- telling him he's wrong, maybe we'll come to seem him as just a horrible, horrible man.


Pat said...

Stern was funny as long as it seemed like it was all harmless fun and games, a man pretending to be a teenager that never grew up. When he divorced his wife, I took it as kind of a sign that it wasn't all an act and that he was probably just a terrible man. His move to no-restrictions sateillite will probably just enforce that.

As for Corolla, you're probably right that he'll be better on the radio. He's very funny but whenever I see him all I can think is that he constantly looks afraid to be out on his own (that's why he was at his best on Loveline and The Man Show, he was never the center of attention on either). I can't imagine what Roth would be like on the radio as a DJ, but I'd assume they want a toned down Stern.

Peter B. said...

Carolla. Not Corolla.

He's been on the radio for years, on Loveline. He is very professional as a radio guy, though his personal rants can be as annoying on the radio as they are on TV. Fortunately for him, his grating side is offset by his radio partner, Dr. Drew Pinsky, who is calm and sane when Adam gets going on a rant. Nice balance, and often fall-on-the floor funny.

knox said...

I agree with Pat...the fact that Howard Stern was married and had this really "dull" domestic life was what made his antics so great. Now? zzzzzzzzz.... For me it's that more than the satellite factor.

I think DLR is more depressing than funny. But *not* as depressing as Sammy Hagar.

EddieP said...

Howard used to be funny, and although I still flip him on for 15 minutes once in a while, he is so predictable it gets old pretty quickly. I'm certain there will continue to be a market for his brand of humor, but I won't be signing up for any radio time.

Dogtown said...

Interesting post. I often listen to Stern while driving to work here in Los Angeles, and find myself laughing out loud at the stunts he pulls and the interactions of his cast of very strange characters. And his old mainstays, Robin, Fred, and Gary, define loyalty and demonstrate to me that Howard is, deep down, a good man. (BTW, did Allison divorce Howard, or the other way around, as Pat suggestes?)

I worked with Howard briefly when I was employed at E!. He is a very serious and bright person. He turns on his personna like a light switch. He can have a cold side to him, but it's a coldness that comes from being a businessman. He treats his staff quite well, and appeared to me to be a genuinely good person.

I never have liked the stunts he pulls with women. I always turn it off when he does those skits. He is best when not being sexist, or profane, so I am confident enough that he will succeed on satellite. And keep in mind that he'll have an entire channel to program, not just a few hours, so he'll have a wider canvas to paint on, giving him more exposure to subscribers.

Carolla is best when he's on radio. I agree with Ann that his face is uncomfortable to watch. But on radio, he's a riot, and he's smart about society and current events. Roth, on the other hand, will make a better guest than host. He's too frat house to gain a broad enough audience.

Dogtown said...


Maybe make a note to return to this topic next year for a follow-up? I'm sure I'll still be reading you, if you'll be blogging.

Dwight said...

The only time I listen to Stern is when he is doing interviews of someone I'm interested in. He is able to get things out of people that few others can.

My wife had a Sirius radio installed in my car since my commute time has increased dramatically (and it is the only way I'll catch hockey games). But I am curious to see how Stern does with the new format.

Charlie Eklund said...

I think that Stern will become a more marginal character than he is now. The number of people who subscribe to satellite radio is rather small. That small number then has to be divided again, between XM and Sirius. Is that a formula for increased visibility? Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

Laura Reynolds said...

I agree with Knoxgirl (something that seems to happen a lot.. hmm)

Howard Stern out from under his demons, marriage, the FCC, while funny at times, could get old quick but I'm not going to be surprised if it does well.

Ann Althouse said...

Peter: Thanks for the spelling correction. Years ago, I used to watch "Lovelines" on MTV and thought Carolla was really funny. I can't watch his Comedy Central show. Dr. Drew really helped. Adam was a terrific sidekick for him. DD tolerating him moderated his image and allowed him to get away with saying outrageous things.

And I really agree about how marriage moderated Stern and made us able to tolerate him. His desire for sex with all the other women (who were available to him) but his sticking with his wife was impressive and a source of humor and tension. Without her, what is he?

As to satellite radio, XM has a lot more subscribers (including me). I love my satellite radio!

reader_iam said...

I can't say I've ever been a Stern fan, though for one reason or another I heard him quite a lot for more than a decade (part of the time was even before he went national). Like you, Ann, I've found many of his stunts involving women offense. He lost me COMPLETELY, though, the day he started joking about pedophilia and was deeply, completely inappropriate about a particular act and how it was received by the victim! It was truly awful, so that was it. I won't allow his program to be turned on or remain on in my presence (my car and home ain't no democracy in certain cases).

He'll probably do fine, though.

I think Corolla and Roth sound like a potentially intriguing and funny combo--I might give that a try. I'm chuckling now just thinking about Roth's video of "Just a Gigolo." At the time, it struck me as so cool that he really didn't seem to take himself all that seriously and that he could laugh at himself, unlike th e majority of his peers. If his riffs display that sensibility, this could be good fun.

me said...

I really like David Lee Roth in Van Halen. However, he has done next to nothing since then, and is really one-dimensional. Adam is very funny and will do well. Though the match is probably not very good.

Stern is rarely interesting any more. There are only so many times you can discuss anal sex. His new format will only he make him that much worse.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

I get the feeling that most of the commenters here have a limited exposure to Stern. The antics with women can get old, but he has mostly cut back on those things in the last couple of years. Of course, that's what they mostly showed on E! Stern has been in a monogamous relationship with a girlfriend for the last few years. This seems to have cooled his hotpants act.

THe real joy of Stern's show is his interaction with his co-workers and his regular roster of weirdo guests. There's no end of soap opera material: workplace rivalries, petty fueds, high level corporate power struggles, etc.

The radio show lasts about 4 hours, at least 2 of which are devoted to the above mentioned stuff, most of which never made E! Today, for example, Howard spent a good 45 minutes with two radio DJ's from the NY station who had just found out that their jobs were ending due to a format change.

They found out not in person but when the station released a press anouncement about the change. Stern interviewed both extensively about the effect it would have on their personal lives and families. Bab Booey came in with fresh gossip, other radio proffessionals called in to comment and lament. Finally, the station manager came in to perform damage control, whereupon Stern took the lead in present the grievances of the lesser dj's. He translated the manager's coporate-speak platitudes, advised the dj's on the best course of action, and moderated calls from other proffessionals who had their own 2 cents to contribute.

It was classic Stern: he used his unequalled interviewer's technique to moderate and reveal, while using his massive industry weight and stardom to stick up for the little guys. It was riviting radio, unlike anything one would see or hear in any other medium.

Reducing Stern to the caricature of the "Shock Jock" of the 80's and early 90's does him and you (dear readers) a great disservice.

Icepick said...

Knoxgirl wrote: I think DLR is more depressing than funny. But *not* as depressing as Sammy Hagar.

Sammy's STILL only second best!

Neil said...

The big problem with David Lee Roth is that he's not particular funny.

Laura Reynolds said...


You are correct in regards to Stern's talent, he's quite good at many different things and for that reason he will likely do well. But the Howard Stern of "Private Parts" is long gone, to some that does not matter but for some it does.

Dogtown said...

What does it mean to say "the Howard Stern of 'Private Parts' is long gone"?

Jeff provides a great example of how Stern is unequalled as an interviewer, and entertaining by using prosaic material. I notice when I mention to people that I listen to his show, they invariably say "Oh, that sexist shock jock guy? I don't see what could be funny about him." But this betrays an ignorance of his talent, and buys in to a stereotype of the man that is very unfair.

When Stern goes to Satellite, I am less interested in how he does there, because I think he'll do quite well. I'm more interested in seeing how so-called "free" radio does when Stern is gone. That's a riskier venue nowadays with an FCC that's not all that interested in free speech. FCC chair Kevin Martin's sense of what's indecent seems arbitrary and prudish, and he's prepared to punish radio hosts directly, if he can.

The broadcasters need Stern more than he needs them. If anything, he'll no longer be news for a lazy media looking for a battle between him and the FCC/Broadcasters/James Dobson/etc.

If given the choice between Sirius and XM, I'd probably take XM. I'd rather listen to Bob Edwards than Stern.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Ugh, sorry about all of the typos.

Stern is really an amazing interviewer, much better at fostering a feeling of intimate conversation with his guests, resulting in revealations that would never come about even with decent interviewers like (the highly overrated) Terry Gross.

Having said that, I think the exploitative stuff should be examined for motivation as much as effect. Most of the stunts that come off as demeaning to women have a subtext of choice. This usually takes the form of Stern exacting some form of penalty against women (and some men) who want to use his show as a platform to promote their careers or to get free breast implants and the like.

Stern presents the person with a choice: I will promote you or reward you but only if you are willing to degrade yourself. Some don't, many do. The difference between him and Girls Gone Wild, etc is that he takes the trouble to broadcast the negotiations and the decision-making process which can be quite suspenseful, making the actual stunt sometwhat anti-climactic.

Also, Stern claims that his Sirius venture will be much more free-form and varied than his show now. Not dirtier or more profane, just less constrained and hypocritical. The thing not mentioned here so far is that he will be programming 3 whole channels, of which only a few hours a day will be the Stern show. He is going to use this platform as a laboratory to try out all sorts of new talents and experiments in radio.

I predict a new era of creativity in radio not seen since the early days of the medium. This will be Stern's true legacy, courtesy of FCC overreach and corporate cowardice.

Laura Reynolds said...

What does it mean to say "the Howard Stern of 'Private Parts' is long gone"?

Exactly my point Dogtown, if that means nothing to you I can understand that, I have always liked him for what he has always been. My wife, OTH, thought he had a certain charm back in those days, that in spite of his two year relationship for instance, he does not have now. To her. To some.

Ann Althouse said...

Jeff: The workplace politics stuff did indeed make the E! show. It was excellent! And there were many episodes about people who were trying to use the show to get break into show business (or the stripper business) and Stern always found lots of interesting ways to deal with them. Also there were many E! shows with men who had various serious disabilities, and though a lot of it was cringe-inducing, I think, overall, those guys had a lot of fun and were treated essentially sympathetically.

I'm Full of Soup said...

I was never a big Stern fan but lately (for last year or so) Stern spends way too much air time whining that his employer does not appreciate him.

When he does that, he sounds like a whining mega-rich athlete or movie star. I began to turn him off and expect he will be a shadow of himself on satellite. Afterall, it was his irrevence that got him where he is! He only began to cross the line re the FCC rules when he became an establishment figure and his irrevence and appeal was diminishing.

price said...

Matthew McGrory, the 7-foot tall actor who recently died, was a regular on Stern's show for years before he ever got his big roles. Howard always treated him so awesomely, and Matthew would say in interviews that going on the show basically saved his life.

As for Adam Carolla, he's so much more important to radio, where he's not as awkward as on TV. I listened to Loveline basically every night of high school... it was a huge influence on most people I know who are my age. I don't really listen to radio anymore, but I figured out how to download Loveline for my iPod and so, six years after I stopped, I'm listening to Loveline every night again.

Thanks for posting about these guys! They are terrific.