January 10, 2010
Howard’s Hidden Demo
I’m at a gelato place in North Hollywood, sitting at a communal table that’s papered over with sections of today’s LA Times and New York Times. An Asian-looking woman sits down and spots the LA TImes Calendar section with its cover story about NBC canceling Jay Leno’s 10 pm show. She picks it up and says to her byfriend, “Howard Stern was right.”
That’s it—point proved. Howard still attracts a demographic completely at odds with his image among his critics. The Asian woman has a pink blackberry and a Bottega Veneta wallet. She’s sitting with two Asian men in button down shirts, talking about real estate REOs. All look around early thirty, professional. His critics say Howard only appeals to post-pubescent white boys addicted to half-naked lesbians and fart jokes. What about thirty-something Asian-American professionals?
I ask the woman about Howard. She says she’s been listening for three years—a lot of her friends do. The two guys with her say they listen too. We get into a discussion about Howard;‘s future on Sirius—and we all agree that the technology itself doesn’t have much of a future. Younger people can just program their listening through Pandora or whatever’s next. Without Howard the company is toast.
“What will happen to Richard and Sal?” the woman asks.
“I’m not worried about them,” one of her friends says. “What about J.D.?”
“He’ll end up working for Ronnie,” the third guy says.
“You think Artie’s coming back?” the woman asks me.
I shake my head. It seems he’s got a long road to wellness, and being on the show full time any time soon seems unlikely. We’re quiet for a second. Mournful. Until one of the guys says, “Man, I drank too much.”