Posted by Rob Eshman
I picked up a copy of Dr. Keith Ablow’s, “Living the Truth” on the Barnes and Noble remainder table last night. $5.98 marked down from $25.98. I’ve heard the doctor on the Stern show and have been impressed with his direct, almost jargon-free approach to people’s emotional problems.
What struck me was that the publisher, Little,Brown, didn’t list appearances on the Sten Show among Ablow’s credits. Good Housekeeping, Tyra Banks, the O’Reilly Factor, Good Morning America—but not a single mention of the fact that millions hear the doctor at his best on Stern. His on-air treatment of Riley Mrtin is some of the best radio—and therapy—you will ever hear. (I only wish he’d do the same for Ronnie the Frustrated Jewish Limo Driver).
Why no Stern mention? My guess is that Ablow and his publisher believe it is mainstream poison—another example of how Stern can be at the cutting edge, and constantly get cut out.
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September 25, 2009 | 7:17 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
Yesterday Robin noted that when McKenzie Phillips was hocking her ailing career, Howard was always happy to have her on the show. But now that she has a major scoop about her alleged affair with her dad, she goes straight to Oprah. Robin noted that the show can get the big names on their way up or down, but not at the peak.
“Users!” Howard interjected. “That’s why I hate everybody.”
I can relate. In Jewish journalism, long the journalistic equivalent of FM radio, we can get the big celebs only after they’ve entered adult diapers or when they’re just out of baby diapers… but we do get ‘em….
September 23, 2009 | 2:04 am
Posted by Rob Eshman
Imagine my thrill to hear that jewishjournal.com’s newest advertiser is Sit n’ Sleep. There it is on our very own site, the face of Larry “Or your mattress is free, FREE!” Miller, who I’ve heard for years plugging away on The Howard Stern Show. Me and Howard sharing Larry Miller— I can’t help but think of the poet Alan Ginsburg’s pride when he slept with Dean Moriarity the found out Morairity slept with Gavin Arthur ho slept with Edward Carpenter who slept with Walt Whitman. “I slept with Walt Whitman,” Ginsburg used to boast.
Well, I shared an advertiser with Howard Stern.
What I remember about Sit n Sleep on Stern bac when he was on terrestrial radio was how carefully and precisely Stern would do the lead ins for Miller’s commercials. I began to see that Stern was an excellent pitchman for his products, he took the plugs and placements as seriously as the fart jokes and stripper sketches. Sometimes the copy was awful, but Stern would make it his own, put it in his voice, but infuse it with his on air passion. Didn’t matter whether it was mattresses or Binaca or backhair removers or some spray he was hawking that removed butt odor. Here’s what Stern, one of the wealthiest and most powerful people in media knows: which side his bread is buttered on. He never got cocky or glib with the people paying the bills, the companies whose money keeps the staff employed and the lights on.
A lot of creative types just starting out tend to look down on the business part of show business—they resent the intrusion of commerce in art. And as they get more and more successful, they try to distance themselves from the fact that they are, in a way, selling soap. But Howard pay his dues, dutifully. He taught me to pay attention to advertisers—not to bend standards because of them, but to respect their support, and do what they pay us to do with excellence and attentiveness.
It’s like the Dylan song says, no matter how big you are, how rich you are, you gotta serve someone…
You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk,
You may be the head of some big TV network,
You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame,
You may be living in another country under another name
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed
You’re gonna have to serve somebody,
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.
One day I look forward to calling Larry Miller and talking about his Stern years. In the meantime, click on one of his ads and buy a mattress.
September 21, 2009 | 8:32 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
The blog has made me listen to Howard more intently, which may be a good thing.
Or may not.
I am actually in danger of using the Howard Stern Show as a self-help guide, which when I think about is, is frightening. Who’s your life coach? Deepak? Oprah? Your shrink? Your dad?
No, it’s Howard Stern.
C’mon, I’m fairly convinced even Howard wouldn’t think that’s a good idea.
But I’m going through… stuff… and as I do, I find that the insights I glean from the Show, on the way to work and on the way from work, are very helpful. (My dad’s helpful too, by the way). And yes, I understand it’s a show, and I understand Howard is an on-air persona, not the real Howard. I know enough famous people to know 99 percent of them aren’t looking to be anyone’s personal guru, and 99.9 percent of them have feet, hearts and minds made of clay. Famous people are human, and humans are flawed.
But Howard keeps spinning off insights, which in these times of my…stuff… turn out to be relevant and useful. I call them my “Stern Rules.” Some are simple, but as my wife the rabbi reminds me, most big truths are.
So, yes, Howard Stern is making me a better person. A better manager of my own life. A better husband. A better dad.
How weird is that?
Today’s Stern Rule is, “Be Yourself.”
The comedian Mitch Fatel actually thanked Howard on air for teaching him this. From Marksfriggin.com:
Mitch said that he had to thank Howard for the internship there. He said that when he was a little kid he would listen to Howard and he got from him that he could be cool by not being cool. He said he just wanted to be himself and that’s what he’s done. He said he didn’t have to create a persona for himself. He said that’s the reason he’s successful today. Howard thanked him for that, gave him some more plugs and said he’s very proud of him for that.
“You don’t need to invent a persona,” said Howard.
If you listen to “The History of Howard Stern” show, you hear how Howard himself learned this—it comes out in his voice. In his early shows it is thinner, hurried and forced. As his career progresses his voice deepens, slows and approaches his natural speaking voice. As his persona became more authentic, and less “cool,” his true voice comes out. Voice coaches speak of a person’s “body voice,” which seems to resonate from deep within their chest, not leap out from their throat. Stern developed that as he dropped the persona of the cool DJ. And he passed it on to Mitch Fatel and other listeners, and that can only help them—and me—- with… stuff.
September 18, 2009 | 1:06 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
When you strip the Stern Show down to its essentials, it is this: storytelling.
Howard and his colleagues tell what happened to them. They talk about their pasts. They report on the present. Howard interviews guests, better than any living interviewer, and extracts thir best stories. Sandra Bernhard was in his studio last Thursday—admittedly she’s not the type from whom you have to pull information, with her and a guest like Kathy Griffin it’s more a question of artfully directing their yentas-on-meth shtick to keep it interesting to people other than Sandra Bernhard and Kathy Griffin.
But Howard hit a jackpot—the fact that last July the bisexual Sandra had engaged in a threesome with her partner and show regular Ralph. Once Howard got the headline, he didn’t just wow and guffaw and whoop it up. He carefully led Sandra and the audience through the telling of the story, eliciting the sequence and the details as carefully as any journalist. Because storytelling matters.
The older I get, the more I see how true this is. My friends who work in Hollywood and succeed are without exception good, even great, storytellers. I once knew an agent whose highest praise for a client was, “He can tell a good story.” He didn’t mean on paper, he meant in a meeting. It’s hard to get a writer or director in front of someone who can greenlight a movie. That’s half the battle. But once your guy is in the room, he has to keep their interest, entertain, fascinate—and nothing does that better than a story.
It is the oldest human art. You need a brain and a mouth—something humans have always had, when they had nothing else, not even fire. Darkness would fall, you’d sit in a circle, and even before there was fire there was the warmth of another person’s words, their story.
The Stern Show at its most elemental is that circle. Howard, Robin, Artie, Fred and us, this big, satellite assisted circle. Listen to Howard tell a story. It seems artless and effortless, but it sounds like it would read. The people on his show are all expert at it: they keep your interest from word one. They construct these mini dramas and mini comedies and draw us in, and the stories—the time Gary pleaded on video with his old girlfriend to take him back, the time Robin had passionate sex over a bathroom sink, the time Howard showered with his wife, John Stamos and Rebecca Romjin-Stamos Conelly Eshman (hmm, might have accidentally one too many names there). The gang repeats and refines these stories time and again— and they become as familiar and polished as Biblical passages.
My wife is beautiful and funny and smart, but right up there with the reasons I married her is the fact that she’s an exceptional story teller. She can hold an audience or a dinner table rapt, and she has a million of them. Marriage is long and sometimes hard: having a good strory teller at your side makes it entertaining. And what do we do for fun? Sit arond and listen to The Moth, a story-telling series on public radio. Some of the speakers are Stern Show worthy—and that’s pretty good.
So, now, I’m about to head into a big meeting, and I think it will work out fine, but man would it be easier if I were the type who, at the right moment, could tell the right story. Where’s my inner Howard when I need him?
September 17, 2009 | 9:28 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
Best Jimmy Carter crack ever.
The comedian Greg Fitzsimmons sat in with Howard today to do the news with Robin Quivers. Robin reported how Jimmy Carter said racism was behind the opposition to Obama, and Fitzsimmons cracked:
Jimmy Carter, fresh off his his book, “Fucking Jews,” is deciding who’s racist.
Howard loved it, of course.
My New Years resolution is to keep this blog and Foodaism up daily. If Howard can host a radio show, make a movie, produce a TV show and write two best-selling books—I can handle everything going on at work and write a fachacta blog.
Shana Tova, Mr. Fitzsimmons.