×

Is Radio’s Shock Jock Era Over?

Once a pillar of radio broadcasts, terrestrial and otherwise, the popularity of shock jocks, like Howard Stern, Opie and Anthony and Bubba the Love Sponge, has withered in recent years. With Stern expressing remorse over his previous airwave antics during the promotion of his just-released book, “Howard Stern Comes Again,” trade site Radio Ink offered some fascinating insight into why the shock jock format seems to be floundering.

Perhaps the most obvious reason, offered Jacobs Media Strategies president Fred Jacobs, is the rise of political correctness and radio companies’ overall wariness of potential PR issues. “No one wants to offend advertisers or audiences,” said Jacobs. “The king of the shock radio movement, Howard Stern, is now apologizing to the many people he’s managed to offend. What does that tell you?”

According to Walter Sabo, CEO of Sabo Media, the “shock” part of shock jock has just become the norm on many daytime talk shows. TV segments will regularly discuss celebrities’ sex lives and use language that used to be taboo on the radio. Saying “douchebag” once got Stern suspended for a week, but now nobody would bat an eye if someone said the word on air.

“In an era when there is daily news about the president of the United States paying off a porn star … and telling Billy Bush that he can feel free to grab a woman’s most private parts, shock radio has become reality,” said Jon Quick, president of Q Public Relations. “So how can we be any further shocked?”

Veteran radio consultant John Sebastian said Stern leaving the airwaves was the beginning of the end for the shock jock format. “Other shockers demanded salaries way higher than today’s operators are willing to spend,” he said. “Operators today, generally, are afraid to take any risks, any controversy. At a time when ‘safe is unsafe,’ radio is playing it so safe they’ve starved its creativity and ingenuity.”

Finally, Lee Abrams, a co-founder of XM satellite radio, which in 2008 merged with Sirius, home to “The Howard Stern Show,” believes the market has been flooded with low-quality shock jock imitators. Said Abrams: “There’s no ‘next generation of Howards’ in the bullpen to replace the first generation, and most of the new comic minds aren’t looking at radio, but you can find them on YouTube.”

Read the full article at Radio Ink.

Popular on Variety

More Music

  • Woodstock Festival of Arts and Music

    As Woodstock Turns 50, the Fest's 10 Most Sacred Music Moments (Watch)

    Cars were left abandoned along the New York Interstate. Electrical and speaker systems fuzzed and popped. Amps blew then went silent. The rain was endless as the mud sank deep and rank. Young children ran naked and dazed through crowds of strangers. Food was scarce. Water, unclean. Looking back, Woodstock seems a more apocalyptic, than [...]

  • 'ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band

    Film Review: 'ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band From Texas'

    Settling in to watch “ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas,” you may have a burning question that applies to almost no other rock documentary, and that is: Who, exactly, are these guys? The ones behind the beards? If you’re old enough, of course, you probably know that ZZ Top started out, in 1969, [...]

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST

    Jay-Z to Acquire Ownership Stake in NFL Team (Report)

    Jay-Z will soon acquire a “significant ownership interest” in an NFL team, TMZ reported on Friday. The team was not disclosed, but a source told the site the deal will happen in the “near future,” adding that the billionaire rapper “wants to continue to be a change agent for the NFL.” Jay-Z’s company, Roc Nation, [...]

  • Blake Shelton, Trace AdkinsCMA Music Festival

    Blake Shelton Takes a Shot at 'Old Town Road' in New Single

    Blake Shelton and Trace Adkins have just released a duet, “Hell Right,” that seems to have a beef with “Old Town Road.” But is it a light-hearted, maybe even affectionate slam — or should anyone read culture-war significance into the two country stars expressing a preference for Hank Williams Jr. over Lil Nas X, the breakout [...]

  • Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven

    Department of Justice Backs Led Zeppelin in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Copyright Case

    The U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on the next big music copyright case on the horizon following the Katy Perry “Dark Horse” decision, and taken Led Zeppelin’s side in the long-running copyright dispute that pits the writers of the group’s anthem “Stairway to Heaven” against the publishers of the earlier song “Taurus” by [...]

  • Teddy Riley Walk of Fame

    From Blackstreet to Hollywood Blvd. as Teddy Riley Receives a Star on the Walk of Fame

    Many musical artists are responsible for hits, whether recording and writing for themselves or producing smashes for others. Teddy Riley’s got the success, having fashioned platinum-plated R&B works for, and with, Bobby Brown, Michael Jackson, Keith Sweat, Doug E. Fresh and more since the mid-’80s, not to mention the music of his own slick soul [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content