The PTC has long warned audiences about the corrosive influence of radio “shock-jock” Howard Stern. In the June 3rd issue of TV Guide Stern boasted of his role a judge on an NBC reality show: “The best part of America’s Got Talent is that appeals to the base instincts of us all.”
“The appeal is the same as the gladiators going into the Thunderdome…It really reminds me of guys being slaughtered,” Stern continued, discussing the reason he thinks America’s Got Talent is a wonderful show.
Such a sentiment is hardly a surprise coming from Howard Stern. After a thirty-year track record of degrading, debasing, and sexualizing women and the handicapped, promoting pornography, and routinely employing the harshest profanity, Stern has become the poster child for misogynistic behavior. Even at a time when the Federal Communications Commission was doing virtually nothing about broadcast indecency, radio stations carrying Stern’s show were still getting hit with fines because of his antics.
“Every time [someone] says the word ‘penis’ on the air, you have me to thank,” Stern has boasted; and he continued his perverted attitudes on last year’s premiere of AGT, during which he commented on a contestant’s “man boobs” and “small package;” told a group of bikini-clad dancers, “Maybe if your implants had all exploded, we would’ve gotten a kick out of it”; and thrilled to the sight of a man being kicked in his genitals: “One guy’s act is he gets kicked in the nuts. He comes out with three guys, takes off his pants, you can see he’s not wearing a cup and they start to kick him in the balls…Maybe they’ll shoot his balls off,” Stern said in interviews last year, while roaring with laughter. Stern concluded his remarks by noting, “You don’t get that kind of talent on other shows.”
NBC expected America’s Got Talent would become a ratings powerhouse when Stern became a judge on the show; but the network didn’t get its money’s worth. Despite agreeing to pay Stern $20 million to host the show; despite agreeing to move the production of the program from Los Angeles to New York solely to accommodate Stern; despite numerous media stories that promised that Stern’s legions of devoted fans would provide a huge boost to the network; despite untold millions of dollars in network promotion provided by NBC – in spite of all this, the ratings of last year’s premiere of AGT were actually lower than those of the year before.
Twenty-five years ago, NBC President Grant Tinker – under whose leadership NBC developed and aired such classic programs as The Cosby Show, Cheers, Family Ties and Hill Street Blues — fired Stern, saying his show was “disgusting.” Yet now, the same network has made Stern a judge on a previously family-friendly show. Given the direction of NBC in recent years, it is sadly no surprise that they have given the shock-jock a starring role – or that they promote a show on the basis that it “appeals to the base instincts of us all.”