Sunday May 9, 2021

updated - May 9, 2021 Sunday EDT

Being Howard Stern: It's Complicated

Mar 04, 2013 12:13 AM EST | By Amy Silverberg

Radio personality Howard Stern might find himself in the land of women on this upcoming season of America’s Got Talent. Though Howie Mandel remains on the panel, “The Talk” host Sharon Osbourne left over disagreements with NBC. Former Spice Girl and British X Factor judge, Mel B, has already signed on for the new season. During a recent broadcast, Howard sounded skeptical but open to the change. She was the only one in that band who sang, Howard said. Plus, she’s easy on the eyes.

Now, a new twist. The Hollywood Reporter says Heidi Klum is slated to be the show's fourth judge. Though the Project Runway star hasn’t opened up about AGT rumors, she did hint at exciting news in a recent Twitter post: "Going on a journey," accompanied with a photo of an airplane. Though wary about a fourth voice with which he’ll have to compete, Howard surely won’t mind the spectacular view.

And Howard Stern has made a very successful career enjoying that view—that view being beautiful women, of course. But any avid listener of his radio show or recent America’s Got Talent fan knows the truth about Howard: he is as multifaceted as he is misunderstood.

I happen to be a longtime fan of the controversial radio personality, who in my opinion, is less shock jock and more honest, undeterred, and often, singular voice of the people. As much as Stern skewers popular culture and its beloved celebrities, he skewers himself—opening up about his long hours spent on his therapist’s couch, where he dissects his endless personality defects, his close but complicated relationship with his parents, and the struggle to sound like himself in a world where many people wish he sounded like anybody else.

If nothing else, he encourages his largely male demographic to be more sensitive and communicative about the struggles common to men. Would these men even know these struggles were common if it weren’t for Howard Stern? After all, he talks about his private battles with bullying, depression, and masculinity. (He watches the Bachelor! He cried over the death of his dog!)

Lest you think he’s a close-minded frat boy, he’s changed the landscape for gay people—popularizing openly gay Star Trek actor George Takei—and constantly spouting his support of gay marriage. Lest you think he’s sexist, he has helped to launch and publicize the careers of female comedians like Sarah Silverman, Whitney Cummings, and Lisa Lampanelli. A father of three girls, one gets the feeling that the porn-star IQ tests and stripper bologna tosses which are so common to the show are, for Howard, performed with a secret brand of irony difficult to detect during a first listen. He provides a platform for the taboo material which doesn’t otherwise creep into the mainstream, and the show is more about that—conquering a new and untouched terrain—than any sort of misogynist intentions. Howard talks about sex because other radio shows do not. Now he judges a family network television show because nobody thought he would. Watch, and you’ll see he’s pretty adept at assessing talent—from porn star to partridge family and everything in between.

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