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Howard Stern: the New 'Hanging Judge' on America's Got Talent



Howard Stern - SIRIUS Satellite Radio

Howard Stern - SIRIUS Satellite Radio

Howard Stern - SIRIUS Satellite Radio
News came this past week that Howard Stern will descend from his lofty perch on Sirius XM Radio's orbiting satellite where he has been employed doing his radio show since January, 2006, to become the third judge on America's Got Talent.

Keeping the Formula Correct

Will Stern be able to adequately replace Piers Morgan who is leaving to concentrate on his CNN program? I suspect he will. The formula for the three judges on America's Got Talent is the same formula often used in creating successful radio morning shows. It's a formula called "Dick, Dork, Dear."

Very simply put: You throw together a nice, wacky guy - the Dork; a tougher but honest guy - the Dick; and a woman who is there to resolve conflict: the Dear. These three personas generally represent much of the audience so viewers relate to at least one or more judges. The conflict or agreement between all three tends to be realistic but usually comfortable.

Indecency Train Off the Track - Performers Thrown Under Bus

When Howard Stern abandoned traditional radio in the mid-2000s, it was after at least 20 years of butting heads with the Federal Communications Commission, pushing broadcast boundaries to their breaking point, and receiving record fines for indecency.

By 2004, millions of dollars in fines were being levied against various companies and performers and Radio was under siege by the F.C.C.. Even lawmakers had passed legislation to increase future indecency fines. To project broadcast licenses and revenue, the industry reacted in fear and decided to throw a lot of talented, controversial personalities under the bus. The times were changing and the F.C.C. had Radio on the run.

The climate in Radio turned hostile toward high-profile performers who drew big audiences, big profits, and big fines. In 2004, Clear Channel Radio instituted a "Zero Tolerance Policy" for indecent content right after removing Stern from 6 of its radio stations and Bubba the Love Sponge from several others. The fines and firings didn't stop here.

To survive in Radio, a talent either had to clean up their act fast or escape from the business altogether. Stern chose to bail and went to Satellite Radio where he has been able to ply his wares without regard to fines, regulation, or interference. In trade for that, Howard Stern gave up one thing: mass notoriety. Yes, he's still famous - just not as infamous as he used to be because there's no F.C.C. to duel with on a regular basis. Confounding the F.C.C. made for headlines and ratings. It's harder to be a bad boy when there are no rules to break. The only folks really up on Howard these days are the subscribers on Sirius XM who pay to hear him.

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