Monday, September 9, 2013

THE BACK PAGE: Howard, I Love You, But...

A personal, yet public letter to Howard Stern

Dear Howard,

Unlike many of your long-time fans, I've only been a fan of yours since just before the Private Parts movie came out. I even remember the first E! show episode of yours when you gave a partially-paralyzed woman shot by her boyfriend breast implants.

I grew up in northern Michigan, where the media was - and still does - only care about the dumbass yokels that live there. Radio stations passed on your show and aired crap like Bob and Tom instead. Our local CBS affiliate did air the Saturday night show for a few months, but canceled it. It led me to create this site 14 years ago, which was originally called Bring Howard Stern to Northern Michigan Radio and TV.

In 2002, I moved to Grand Rapids, where your show aired on WKLQ. They canned the show and moved it to their crappy AM sister station, WBBL 1340 for no reason. It angered a lot of your fans here in west Michigan, and thankfully, the man who ran KLQ eventually was fired and is out of a job after a drunk driving incident last year.

Thankfully, we fought hard. You moved to Sirius in 2006 and I followed. When the announcement was made in 2004, I ordered my subscription. I even took the screen off my living room window so I could drag the antenna in and out of my apartment nightly so I could listen to your show. KLQ's parent, Citadel went belly-up and is now owned by Cumulus.

But sadly, so much has changed in the past few years, and a lot of it's not 100% good. In 2010, I got into a car accident and it was my fault. I only had PLPD coverage, and was only able to sell my old car to a junkyard for $300. Even worse, the car I purchased had multiple issues and the dealership I took it to to get them fixed ripped me off horrendously.

I was hoping that I would have enough overtime at my work pay off my bills for a long, long time. However, in 2011, work slowed down to a mere trickle and our boss eliminated any incentives to keep us moving. I tried to find other jobs to no avail. I was so broke that I had to cut my cable and even started to donate plasma. However, I had to stop doing that because after a few months of donating, they no longer deemed me healthy enough to donate because of stress issues.

The good news was that last year, they moved us to first shift and our hours increased. The bad news was that I was on second shift and since I was now on days, my shift premium disappeared. Because my boss was an asshole who capitalized on Bush's bullshit, he never gave us raises and even forced us into a Health Savings Account where he expected us to use our own money to pay off a high deductible. I was now making less money than when I started in 2002.

When I moved to days, I started drinking coffee in the morning. With the stress of moving to days, plus having my asshole boss looking over my shoulder all the time, I developed panic attacks. Not to mention, there was now a huge turnover of people in my department, which made the drama even worse. However, there was some good news: my boss retired at the end of last year. But, the damage was done. I had a major panic attack at work, and it was so bad, I had to go home.

I did see a doctor twice and she found nothing. Blood and urine work was done and I'm OK. I also canned caffeine for good. But, I still had some anxiety issues. A family member recommended seeing a chiropractor, and that's what I did. They told me that part of my problem is that I'm looking down all the time at work, and it's affecting muscles in the head which end up making me tired. So, I ended up seeing them a few times a week. But since I'm still paying off the car I purchased in 2010 that had a myriad of problems, I also have a six-month car insurance bill that's a bitch to pay off, especially in the Summertime.

A few weeks ago, SiriusXM sent me a bill for $300 to renew my subscription for another two years. I asked myself, "is it worth it?" Let's face it: SXM has major competition these days. There's Slacker, Pandora and so many others that provide the same types of music channels, but for free. Yeah, there's a few commercials here and there, but then again, they air fewer commercials than on your show. Yeah, there's your show, but there's an issue I have with that.

When you joined SXM in 2006, you did five shows a week, then you moved to four. Now, on your current contract, you're down to three, and now that you're doing AGT, it's down to two. I know, when that show's on, it comes first, so your listeners are being forced to more repeats. It's nice that people in places where your show never aired before are now being treated to classics from the K-Rock days, but this is troubling:

Yup, apparently, you can no longer use gay slurs on your show. I loved hearing the Iron Sheik on your program a lot. Artie was also the man back in the day, but apparently, you've done a good job sweeping him under the rug as well. He has a new radio show, but you don't promote it. Hell, there's The Abe Kanan Show on your Howard 101, but you never plug that, too.

I understand. You're 59 years old, happily married to the beautiful Beth and you live in a nice, $50 million mansion in Florida. You're *reportedly* the highest-paid man on TV. Me? I'm broke and trying to find a way to pay off my car insurance bill come next month. I did get a raise recently, but it's more of a "partial shift premium recovery". I bust my ass off day in and day out, sometimes working six days per week. And you expect us to pay $15 per month to hear censored content?

It's come to this: when my subscription renews later this month, I'll call Sirius to cancel it. It's not worth it to me to listen to a show that's on just three times per week, and when it is, you get crappy guests (ie the New Jersey tanning mom and Robin Thicke) and the show is just not what it was when you moved to Sirius in 2006. Yeah, I love Sal and Richard's Tradio calls, but the fact that I'm broke and a lot of my hard-earned money is going to your wealthy lifestyle is really starting to piss me off. Yes, you deserve it, but I'm tired of bowing to people who say that they're against censorship one day, and the next day, you're telling the people who edit your past shows to censor the crap out of them. I'm happy that there's a ton of sites that air your show for free, and I'll try them out.

I'd like to help with the Revolution, but not when you're trying to juice a stick of beef jerky.

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