Stern versus Powell.
October 26, 2004 5:24 PM   Subscribe

Howard Stern faces off against Michael Powell. Earlier today, Howard Stern finally got to confront his nemesis, FCC chair Michael Powell. This occurred, naturally, on the radio, when Howard called in to another talk show. Powell was a guest of KGO's Ronn Owens and Howard called in, asking Powell, "Does it make you nervous to talk to me?" He accuses Powell of getting his position due to nepotism; Stern also asks about Oprah's indecency, and Powell says Stern "personalizes" the debate and says "I don't think we have made any particular crusade of the Howard Stern Show or you." Howard disagrees, saying, "I hope there's no sort of retribution as a result of my phone call which I believe Michael's capable of." After Howard hangs up, Michael admits, sort of, that "Howard has an argument." KGO has audio of the show for Windows Media or RealPlayer (skip ahead to 32:05 to hear Howard's call).
posted by realityblurred (21 comments total)
Howard was pretty lame, wasting time sniping at Powell's qualifications, and playing the victim instead of talking about the policies that members of congress on both sides of the aisle have charged Powell with enforcing.
posted by 2sheets at 5:39 PM on October 26, 2004

The Boing Boing post has a small 680KB MP3 of just the Stern segment.
posted by Blue Stone at 5:40 PM on October 26, 2004

The first Oprah complaint email at TSG is allegedly from Citizens against Unclean Network Trash [sic]. I suspect there's more than a little bogosity here.
posted by spacewrench at 5:43 PM on October 26, 2004

I was struck by how unconvincing Stern was and by how cool and collected Powell was. Especially when discussing Stern's charges of nepotism: Stern seemed shrill and a little obsessive, while Powell remained calm and brushed the accusations off. A little disappointing: this is not how I would have expected this particular conversation to have turned out.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:43 PM on October 26, 2004

I was disappointed as well. I'm opposed to the FCC's ridiculous fines against broadcasters for indecencies, including accidental ones. Unfortunately, Powell spoke much more convincingly on the show than Howard's incessant whining.
posted by Evstar at 5:51 PM on October 26, 2004

Well, you can imagine the reasons why Stern didn't come off very well:

1. The frustration of his getting fined.
2. Finally getting to confront a man who's been trying to avoid him.
3. The frustration of the litigation process.
4. Being held up to standards from someone who waltzed his way to the position.
5. The fear of getting cut-off, so he was left to impulsively say what came to mind.
6. 2-hour notification to scramble and hope to get on the air to confront Powell.

I'd be venting emotionally-laden drivel too under that sort of pressure.

Meanwhile, it was easier for Powell to remain calm because he wasn't going anywhere, his in-studio voice overrides Stern's call-in, and the host took the side of his guest.
posted by Mach3avelli at 6:09 PM on October 26, 2004

so you're saying that, for Stern, its Hard Work?
posted by thebigpoop at 6:23 PM on October 26, 2004

Jon Stewart should've called in for him.
posted by macadamiaranch at 6:23 PM on October 26, 2004

From TSG link:
The Oprah Show described with graphic detail a sexual term known as "tossing salad". It was so offensive that my child's head literally exploded. Please ban free speech so this never happens again.
Man, I've GOT to start watching Oprah!
posted by obloquy at 6:28 PM on October 26, 2004

Ronn Owens is one of the best talk show hosts in the country, and the interview was insightful beyond the Stern call.
posted by calwatch at 9:21 PM on October 26, 2004

I gave up on Howard Stern years ago when the amount of time he spent whining approached double the amount of time he spent being outrageous or funny. I certainly didn't expect him to come off any better on someone else's home turf (he's been noticably avoiding most forums he doesn't have control over).

I think he's starting to realize that nobody's gonna believe him when he takes credit for Bush's defeat.

Maybe if he gave cars to everybody in his audience...

And, yes, Ronn Owens is good, even though he can't spell his ownn name.
posted by wendell at 9:38 PM on October 26, 2004

I loved that one, too, obloquy. Nothing like some healthy misuse of the word "literally."
posted by rafter at 9:39 PM on October 26, 2004

The thing is, I think that's a proper use of the word "literally". The email is clearly a send-up ("Please ban free speech..."). I think the author meant that the (fictional) child's head did, literally, explode.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:41 PM on October 26, 2004

I've heard Powell many times on the radio. I often disagree with his policy decisions, but he gives real intereviews wherein he talks like a human being, doesn't shy away from hard questions, and knows how to handle himself when confronted. He's his father's son in that regard. He may well have been a nepotistic appointment, but that doesn't mean he wasn't qualified; and Stern was wrong to mistake him for a lightweight just because he's a bureacrat.

Howard's best defense going forward has got to be to live well. Go out and stump for satellite; get active in opposing these draconian "indencency" rules. Stop picking fights with tough guys on their turf.
posted by lodurr at 4:07 AM on October 27, 2004

Mach3avelli got it right. Powell shouldn't be allowed to hide from the public as he does. He came off okay in the interview, but Howard did a great job in that circumstance. He was pushy as necessary and got his message across loud and clear. Even the almighty jon stewart needs time to prep for his (scheduled) ambush appearances...
posted by banjotwang at 7:15 AM on October 27, 2004

im a big stern fan, but how could the fcc not go to court against stern as he charged?

either way its classic radio, but owens, in his rush to get to commercials, should have let stern and powell battle until the commish stormed out of the studio.
posted by tsarfan at 8:47 AM on October 27, 2004

... battle until the commish stormed out of the studio.

[chuckle] Not likely to happen. Powell's no pushover, and without his gang to back him up, Howard's just not that sharp. Plus, he's taken on a lot of easy targets over the years. Now, Stewart or Conan or maybe Chris Rock might have rattled Powell a little, but they'd probably also not have been so obsessed with him being Colin's son. (I've never really understood why people think Stern is such a hot act, but what the hell -- some people like O'Reilly.)

As for "hiding" -- well, what do you expect? He makes more public appearances than any FCC chief that I can remember. And if his FCC has targeted Stern, it won't be difficult to prove in court.
posted by lodurr at 10:36 AM on October 27, 2004

Exactly. He does go out and present himself more than his predecessors, yet when has he availed himself to a dialogue that he's not in control of? Here is a guy who is steamrolling policies that infuriate nearly everybody not directly affiliated with the political and corporate powers that be, and who is he answering to?! How he got his job is absolutely relevant, and I don't consider trying to get an admission of his dad's help to be an obsession.
posted by banjotwang at 12:30 PM on October 27, 2004

How he got his job is absolutely relevant, and I don't consider trying to get an admission of his dad's help to be an obsession.

Actually, it sounds to me like you're arguing that how he got is job is not relevant. He's an appointed official; if it hadn't been him, it would have been somebody else, who would have been just as beholden to the same corporate interests.

In other words: "How he got his job" would only be better if he weren't an appointed official. Fixating on that distracts from the real issues, as you've just pointed out.
posted by lodurr at 2:04 PM on October 27, 2004

I would like to take a moment to thank Democratic former Senator James Exon (Neb) for thoughtfully running interference for the Right during the Telecommunications hearings; keeping the shrill focus on "InterNet pr0n" thereby allowing so much odious horseshit to slip by under the radar. Thanks, Jimbo! You helped decimate commercial radio and turn it into a combination of pasteurized elevator music and non-stop wingnut Squawk Radio. You made it possible for rabid Right syndicates to gobble up large blocs of stations and flaunt their partisanship on "public airwaves". How's that Alzheimer's thing working out for you?
posted by RavinDave at 2:48 AM on October 28, 2004

Radio... it's kind of an abstract for me, over the past 16 years or so. For a very long time, I didn't own one, aside from the one in my car -- well, other than a little battery-powered portable that I found on the ground (still have it) that I used to plug into powered speakers to listen to NPR.

1988 and early '89 was the last time that I regularly listened to non-news, non-national radio -- the RPI and Ithaca College stations, as it happens. I've lost touch with local radio. All the local radio here is basically RavinDave's "pasteurized elevator music and non-stop wingnut Squawk Radio."

Which is to say it's not local, at all. There's a "jazz" station here where I know one of the DJs (friend of a friend). I was talking with him at a BBQ once, and he told me that he actually works for several stations, and he never leaves his house to do any of it -- he just records his reads and emails them along with his playlists. That one of them happens to be in the same town is purely coincidental.

Just a little side-rant, there.... but my inner luddite is squirming (again)...
posted by lodurr at 4:27 AM on October 28, 2004

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