Is Howard Stern (search) bigger than radio?
I don't think so. But no matter what I think, Stern is about to find out just how big he is — or is not — when he leaves commercial radio for what he believes are greener pastures above the ionosphere on satellite radio.
If you haven't heard, Stern signed a multimillion-dollar contract with Sirius Satellite Radio, which he'll start in 2006, after his current contract with Infinity Broadcasting (a division of Viacom) expires.
Love him or Grrr! him, Stern is an immense talent. But so are the people who built Windows Media Player 9, and just ask them how hard it is to get people to click a button on their computer screen to upgrade their older player. Do the people at Sirius (search) and on Stern's show really think that John Q. Sternfan will go out and purchase a satellite receiver and install it in his automobile? Personally, I have my doubts.
Both Sirius and Stern say they need about one million new subscribers to pay for Stern's contract. That may seem like a paltry number when you think about some 17 million people who listen to Stern daily. Actually, it's a huge leap of faith when you're talking about changing the way people live their listening lives.
And don't forget the intangibles. I don't know about you, but I have a car lease that's about to expire, so even if I were inclined to subscribe, I wouldn't. And by the way, I don't have a cassette player on that car stereo, so my options are limited when it comes to easy installation of the satellite player (although there are models that can transmit from a receiver to your car's stereo FM tuner -- thanks to a few Grrr! readers for setting me straight on that). But, by the way again, I already have XM Radio (search) in Mrs. Grrr's car, so paying for new hardware and another subscription just so I can listen to Howard is not going to happen.
And I am a Stern fan.
But my fandom is confined to my iriver MP3 player and the short commute to the park and ride, neither of which are satellite equipped.
There are rumors that Viacom may purchase Sirius, which would be smart for the media giant. That way they could run an FCC-friendly version of Stern's daily show on commercial radio, and an uncensored version for curious subscribers on satellite radio. But that would probably not sit well with Viacom's commercial radio affiliates, so you can see how difficult Stern's jump will be for everyone involved.
I wish Stern all the luck in the world, but the reality is, he's not bigger than radio.
Perhaps instead of looking to hold onto their big moneymaker, Infinity and Viacom should cut their losses and syndicate Jim Kerr's Rock and Roll Morning Show, (search) which can be heard on New York's classic rock station WAXQ 104.3 every weekday.
Imagine a smart, classy commute including great classic rock music every morning? And here's the best part. It's free.
"Dazed and Confused" ... Grrr!
Did you hear about the lawsuit against director Richard Linklater and Universal Pictures filed by a few of Linklater's high school classmates? They are the pals on whom Linklater based characters in his 1993 indie hit "Dazed and Confused." In the movie, they are portrayed as drug-using slackers.
"We had fun in high school, but there is nothing true about that movie. Yet, I am having to deal with it all the time," said Richard "Pink" Floyd, who works at a car dealership in Huntsville, Texas, where the men went to high school, in an interview with the Associated Press.
Floyd is joined by Bobby Wooderson and Andrew Slater in the claim.
Some of the stuff that these guys say they're dealing with is people assuming that they use illegal drugs, or think of them as slackers. They also say they suffer embarrassment and ridicule as a result of the flick.
What? Come on guys, it's been more than 10 years now. The only way people could possibly know Linklater's characters are based on you is if you tell them! Oh, wait a second. I see. The statute of limitations for defamation and false light is about to expire.
Once again the American justice system is mistaken for the state lottery. You know what they say: "A lawyer and a dream."
Starbucks Raised Prices ... Grrr!
If I have to hear one more Grrr! about Starbucks raising prices I'm going to scream. Wahhh, Wahhh. Shut up! You're already paying close to $2 for a cup of joe, what's another dime? Here in New York this is like big news. It's in all the papers. People are talking about it on the street. Grrr! readers are e-mailing me about it. You would think we were talking about gas prices. Oh, that's right. Gasoline is more than $2 a gallon. Where's the Grrring about that?
This is simple, folks: If you want stale, burnt coffee from underpaid clerks who couldn't care less about serving you, then by all means hit the corner deli. If you want to contribute to society by patronizing shops like Starbucks or other specialty coffee houses that provide decent wages, health benefits and a 401(k) plan to their employees, then suck it up and pay the price. And if not, make your own. This is America after all.
Now for your Grrrs! Don't forget to Spot the Oblivion:
Bethany G. in Tempe, Ariz.: "Oblivion" has become a commonly used word in our family. For example, when we were taking an evening walk last weekend with our 5-month-old daughter in her stroller, and five or six people walking down the sidewalk towards us just pushed on past, forcing us to quickly move with the stroller onto the grass, my husband shook his head in disgust and muttered, "Oblivions!" Without overlooking the fact that it's rude in general to continue walking two and three abreast on the sidewalk when there are other people trying to use that sidewalk, I had to wonder, did they not see the stroller with the baby in it? Do they not know that it is, at the very least, impolite to mow down defenseless children? Keep up the good work, and God bless you!
Trooper Chuck responding to Rob in Vt.: I think this week's Oblivion was way too obvious ... anyway ... let me say this to "Rob in Vermont" our weekly Obliviot. As a State Trooper with over 20 years of experience, I can truly say that you "Rob" are the problem. It is not your job to enforce the legal speed limit on our highways ... it's mine! Kindly move over and let them continue down the road where I will lawfully impede their progress by pulling them over and putting a "cost factor" on their speeding adventure. Most people will slow down dramatically in the future when they see the fine and, more importantly, how much their insurance increases with the points a ticket imposes. The only thing you contribute by being a Left Lane Vigilante is increasing the level of road rage out there. I've seen self-righteous people such as yourself shot and killed by imposing their will on the unexpectedly wrong person. You never know who is in that car behind you and how far they are willing to go once they are in a rage. You will also statistically contribute to a higher percentage of fatal accidents by your behavior. Lastly, I can tell you that in my state what you are doing is as illegal as speeding. The fine is very stiff and can result in the loss of your license ... probably a good thing. So, in the end, pull over and get out of their way and MINE!!! Failing that ... please take your Sunday drives on side roads and make my highways less dangerous.
Martha T. in Indianapolis, Ind., responds to Nathan from last column: Ummm, Nathan, who forced you to put a TV, computer and toys in the kids' rooms? I have never understood this "logic" because the last I heard, parents have the authority in the family. If you want to punish your child by sending him to his room, you get to make sure there's nothing "fun" in it. You can even remove the "fun" stuff if you want. That's the beauty of being a parent (evil laugh)! Now, I'm not suggesting you turn the kids' rooms into the set from "Oliver," but come on! With very few exceptions, what child needs more than a bed, a dresser and maybe a desk and chair in the bedroom? *I* don't even have a TV or computer in my bedroom.
HF in cyberspace: Grrr! to the legal system for another episode of custom justice. In many states in this country, a conviction for DWI results in a jail sentence to be served immediately. A second conviction usually results in automatic jail time as well. Imagine, if you will, the second conviction coming while still on probation for the first conviction. Do not pass GO, right? Hmmm ... apparently not in Georgia. Not if your name is Rafael Furcal, you happen to play professional baseball for the Atlanta Braves and your team is in the middle of postseason playoffs. On Wednesday, Oct. 6, Furcal was sentenced to 21 days in jail for violating probation with his second DWI conviction in 4 years. Judge David Darden, however, ruled that Furcal does not have to begin serving his sentence until AFTER he is finished with postseason play. So, as long as the Braves are winning, he stays free to do his part. Does this mean that if any of us regular folk get jail time for a second offense for DWI (it's not like anyone ever dies from DWI, right?) that it is fair for us to be able to put off serving our sentence until the big project we are on at the office is complete? Somehow, I doubt it. Grrr! to Judge Darden and Grrr! to Major League Baseball.
Maybe Lady Justice wears the blindfold not because she is blind, but because she is embarrassed.
G., Somewhere in the land of Brrr! on her boss' use of the Speaker Phone: I e-mailed him your column today and I highlighted the part about the speaker phone. He's still doing it. Grrr! I can't stand it, it gives me a headache. He listens to his voice messages, everybody else's messages including mine (double Grrr!) on speaker phone and even holds long conversations on speaker phone! I wish there was a door in his office so I wouldn't have to put up with his loud, obnoxious conversations! GRRRRRR!
Chris G. in Rockford, Minn.: I agree that each American should plan and save for their own retirement. I am 29 and do not plan to receive money from the government for my retirement through the Social Security system. At the same time I don't want to be taxed by the government for Social Security. My Grrr! goes to those people who are now nearing retirement or in retirement and want Social Security reformed to ensure they keep getting paid. One reason Social Security cannot continue to function is because these same people did not pay their fair share. Get rid of the system and stop taxing the young to pay for the older generation's retirement. The young know it is a donation we are paying directly to the older generation not a Social Security plan for ourselves.
Julie in cyberspace: I just want to send you a BIG Thumbs Up! You speak your mind and that is something most people don’t do. I enjoy reading your articles and get a big laugh out of the people that get upset over certain issues. Keep up the good work! You won’t get any belly aching from me! By the way, I never voted either but I will be this year and every time after! The vote speaks for you! Have a great day!
J. Dartt in the parking lot: Last week I had to run into the local discount store for diapers, cream, etc. with baby in tow. I came out to my car and had two SUVs on either side of it. I didn't think much of it until I went to try to open my rear door to put the baby in the back seat. These Obliviots both parked too close to me to get the car doors open far enough to fit the baby carrier through. I had to go back in the store with license plate numbers to get the customer service people to page the drivers to move their SUVs. I drive a VW Golf. Just because my car doesn't take up the full amount of room between the lines, it doesn't mean your vehicle has the right to usurp that space. Needless to say, Obliviot couple number 1 and number 2 have learned their lesson on parking properly between the lines. Thought you might find this one amusing, because at the time, I didn't.
Stupid Lit'l Dreamer
Remember, Stupid Lit'l Dreamer is a term of endearment, meant to make light of the fact that people tend to belittle or make fun of other people who dare to dream of a better life, a better career, a better world. Here in the land of Grrr!, Stupid Lit'l Dreamers rule.
So, this week's SLD mention goes to Tony Award-winning Broadway star Idina Menzel. (search) Idina is the gorgeous and talented star of the hit musical "Wicked," which tells a backstory of "The Wizard of Oz," based on the novel by Gregory Maguire. In the musical, Menzel is green, which is odd, even for Oz. And even though it's common knowledge that water will melt the witch away, it's the hearts of all audience members — men, women and children alike — that do the melting whenever Menzel belts out her story.
I interviewed Menzel last week for an upcoming FOX Magazine feature (an exclusive behind-the-scenes piece), and one of the things that struck me is that despite winning the Tony, despite being married to "Kevin Hill" star Taye Diggs, despite being a huge star on Broadway, Menzel said she tries to never miss a show — because she knows the power a positive Broadway experience can have on young people. She wants to be there to help provide those moments, because she remembers her first magical theater experience so well.
That, my friends, is a star ... and a Stupid Lit'l Dreamer!
The Cutting Room Floor
This week's FOX Magazine will feature my piece on Brian Kilmeade's book "The Games Do Count: America's Best and Brightest on the Power of Sports," and also on "The Big Smoke," where cigar makers and employees of Del Frisco's Steakhouse (search) mingle with readers of Cigar Aficionado and the magazine's brass — along with a plethora of beautiful models and wait staffs hawking cigars and fine scotch.
Tough assignments, I know, but somebody around here's got to do it (wink).
Until Next Week ... Grrr!
Mike Straka is the Director of Operations and Special Projects and columnist for FOXNews.com and contributes as a features reporter and producer on "FOX Magazine." He was also in the movie "Analyze This," and has appeared in various commercials, theater and TV roles.