America’s Got Talent – mostly in one of the judges

Howard Stern comes to Australia, shame its not on radio

Earlier this year, my wife, Pauline, and I were in New York and hired a car for a day to drive up a stretch of Long Island to visit Shahinian Accoustics, the birthplace of my cherished hifi speakers and to have lunch at one of the picturesque coastal villages along the way. The radio in the Chevy we hired from the Hertz SoHo depot came on with the ignition as car radios mostly do. 

It was a talk show and the first word we heard was f***k. Followed by several more expletives in rapid fire. We thought, WTF is this? Such language at nine in the morning in the U.S of A? Surely the triple j signal doesn’t reach this far. And then it dawned on us. This, of course, was satellite radio and we were listening to Howard Stern.

navarro_150.Stern’s guest was Dave Navarro, (right) lead guitarist of alternative rock band Jane’s Addiction. This was no 10 minute guest spot, Navarro stayed for the three hour duration which was much more talk than music. When you’ve got the exclusive use of Howard Stern and paying him around $83,000 ($A87,253) a day, you’re not going to dilute him with songs anyone can play.

When we heard all that swearing coming out of the Chevy’s speakers, our first instinct was to change channel. Not because we’re prudish, far from it. It was just that it was unexpected, and confronting – out of context coming from a car radio at that time of day.

But as Pauline’s hand reached for the dial, she hesitated, waiting  to hear a resolution to the current topic before making the switch. Then she hesitated again to hear what was coming next. And after a third time, finally settled back in to the passenger seat defeated by arguably the most compelling radio talent on the planet.

There’s the type of guy at a party who can’t tell a blue joke without revolting everyone. And then there’s the guy who can tell the same gag to the same people and have them rolling in the aisles.

Stern is the latter, but of biblical proportions. He would have made a fitting court jester to Moses.

He can describe the lewdest of sex acts with such charm that otherwise conservative Americans in their millions are happy to part with aroud $12 a month to listen. 

Stern is a master of conversation, for that is what it was, not an interview. He was asking Navarro, who is no shrinking violet, about his busy sex life and how he picks up strange women via twitter. Stern wanted to know everything about his anonymous encounters with these women and for him to describe in graphic detail all the sexual acts he performed.

You could hear Navarro blush as Stern persisted with his interrogation. “I can’t tell you that,” protested Navarro as if he were a shy schoolgirl asked about her first kiss.

In the end, with Stern’s uncanny ability to play good cop and bad cop both at the same time, Navarro finally cracked and told him everything we thought we didn’t want to know but couldn’t resist when we heard it.

Howard Stern may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but there is no doubting his sheer ability to tell a story, make a point or coax the deepest secrets from his guests. It is compelling radio at its best.

It’s not often we would plug a TV show on radioinfo, but America’s Got Talent premiers on Fox 8 tonight at 7:30. And while we can’t vouch for the contestants, the talent of Stern on the judging panel is sure to entertain.

Watch the videos from NBC above and below as Howard Stern completely dominates the interview and sets the agenda.

 Peter Saxon