July 24, 2012
Terry Gross v. Howard Stern
This is a blog post with an unfair headline.
In her interview with Andrew Goldman in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, NPR Fresh Air host Terry Gross has very nice things to say about Howard Stern. Here’s the good parts:
So let me point out three reasons why Stern is actually a far better interviewer:
1) No subject is off limits. This goes without saying. He will push into people’s sex life, anatomy, religious beliefs, political opinions—all the areas decent law abiding interviewers stay far away from. He’ll push and push for answers. I can’t see Terry Gross asking Alec Baldwin how many times he has sex with his new young wife. Instead of trivializing people, it humanizes them.
2) He is not afraid to be personally revealing. If Howard asks about masturbation, he’ll throw in his own answer as well. Sometimes he’ll do it jokingly (penis size) but more often than not, he makes people feel comfortable, or beholden, by first fessing up himself.
3) He’s in therapy. The more therapy he does, the better he’s able to push people, to uncover their motivations, to get deeper into their psyche. The result is people who I’m not particularly interested in (say, Billy Corgan, or any porn star) become interesting, because Howard manages to unlock something universal in their particular stories.
Terry Gross is well-prepared (Howard’s crew does a great job with his notes as well). She’s a good listener. She’s politically pretty bold. But she’s no Howard Stern.
Speaking of Howard’s honesty, his willingness to deal with his dog Bianca’s death on air—and cry over it—made for very powerful radio.
To donate to North Shore Animal League in memory of Bianca, click here.