Thursday, December 15, 2005
It's 1985. I'm driving home from my new job at 5:00 pm. While surfing down the dial I land on 92.3 FM K-Rock from New York City. Little did I know this was the beginning of a 20 year relationship with a nutty, neurotic and hilarious character named Howard Stern. My sense of humor has always been known to be off the wall and less than appropriate. Now I hear this guy saying everything I think is truly funny for four hours a day.
Howard quickly moved to morning drive time and I looked forward to the daily commute and put a radio in my office so I could hear the entire show.
Six years later, I came down with a life threatening illness where I was confined to a hospital bed for almost two months. It seriously affected my ability to walk, talk or feed myself. My wonderful wife-to-be asked if I needed anything. Without hesitation, I muttered "walkman". For four hours a day, Howard Stern took me away from my hospital bed and transported me to a wild world of wacky bits, strippers, the Wack Pack, celebrities, contests, and song parodies. I have very little family and what got me through was Howard, Robin, Fred, Jackie and Bababooey (Gary).
Now, 14 years later, I hear Howard's routines destroyed by edits and bleeps that I used to enjoy uncut years ago. Has the definition of obscenity changed? Not possible, since obscenity has never been defined in the first place. It's the result of pressure applied by the religious right on George Bush and the FCC. Specifically, the FCC previously run by Michael Powell, who was appointed by Bush because he was the son of Colin Powell.
If only one radio station had fought the FCC fines in the courts, the challenges to free speech would most certainly be found unconstitutional. But it never happened because of the gestapo tactics of Mr. Powell. Since the FCC controls the granting and renewal of station licenses, radio stations were told that all new license acquisitions would have to be suspended until the trials were over. Thus, it became more cost effective to pay the fines.
As of 12/16/05, Howard Stern will no longer be heard on terrestrial radio. This is sad because the religious right-wing wackos have won and "free" radio moves another step closer to homogenized, republican claptrap such as Limbaugh, Hannity and O'Reilly, that is truly obscene.
Fortunately, Sirius satellite radio has guaranteed us at least five more years of Howard restored to his former glory beginning 1/9/06. Is this to be considered a defeat for free speech? I think it's more like a draw. Unfortunately, more and more progressive, intelligent, free thinkers are being forced to join the exodus from terrestrial radio.