All weekend the Stern Show has been replaying tape of a visit the Howard Stern Show took to the Playboy Mansion in 2001. Howard’s interview with Hugh Hefner got me thinking about something I’d given a lot of thought to in the past: Why isn’t there a Howard Magazine?
Howard has had success in radio, television, movies and books—almost all media. He demonstrated his ability to create and serve a huge audience across many different platforms. But he neglected to conquer the one media that would ensure his vision and values endure even as he leaves radio and, like Hef, grows old.
I’m sure Howard has thought about doing a magazine. After all, one of his major influences was Mad magazine. And think how much of his show revolves around what appears in Playboy, Penthouse and the pages of national magazines.
These days of course the media environment makes the chances of launching a successful print periodical about nil: anything he does now would have to be web-based with a specialty print component (monthly limited circ collector’s editions, perhaps). But, still, there are two compelling reasons he should try:
1. To ensure his values will continue to influence the culture. As I’ve tried to prove in this blog, Howard Stern stands for something beyond boobs and fart jokes (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The values that animate his show—humor, tolerance, honesty, fairness, fun—need to be part of the American conversation.
2. To rebrand the Howard Stern Show. He can’t keep doing the radio show forever. Even if he re-ups another couple of years, at some point the air goes out of the balloon. What he needs to do is what Hef brillianty did—create a vehicl that can stay young and fresh even as he ages. Howard then becomes the impresario and Creator-Genius, with as much or as little hands-on involvement as he wants, but he doesn’t have to wake up at 5 am every morning to do it.
3. To serve his fan base. When Howard does leave radio, he will leave a lot of hungry fans, and that’s money left on the table. He would never stoop to gimmickry to mine their last dollars, but a web/print publication could maintain his standards, attract advertisers and serve his fans long after the show—and God forbid even Howard—are gone.