Howard Stern and Social Criticism Research Paper

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Howard Stern and Social Criticisms

When most people, hear the words Howard Stern they will think of the radio shock jock that has been on the FCC's most wanted list for years. The reason why, is because his show will often involve him doing outrageous skits and it is utilizing content that is considered to be adult orientated. This has created tremendous amounts of animosity within the world of entertainment. As, many supporters of Stern will claim that his actions are protected by the First Amendment. However, there have been a host of different Supreme Court cases that are giving the government the power over how to regulate the airwaves.

What happened was the Supreme Court gave the FCC specific guidelines for determining, what is acceptable radio content through: the Federal Communications Commission vs. Pacifica Foundation decision. In this situation, a father and son filed a complaint about how a 1973 broadcast of the George Carlin show was considered to be obscene. After hearing the arguments, they ruled that the content was considered to be indecent but not obscene. However, the court also ruled that the government has the power to regulate the kind of content that is on airwaves under two conditions. To include: shielding children from offensive material and ensuring that unwarranted speech is not entering the home. The combination of these elements is important, because they established the basic foundation that was used by the FCC when regulating radio and television broadcasts. ("FCC vs. Pacifica Foundation," 2011)

Then, in 1987 the FCC broadened its guidelines about what kinds of content will be monitored. This is because they began receiving complaints in 1981 about the Howard Stern Show and the topics he was discussing on the air. This led to an investigation and the expansion of these regulations based on the fact that they had limited powers. Over the course of time, this increased the amounts of animosity between Stern and the government. This is significant, because it is showing how the regulators were responding to the social criticisms that he was receiving. As a result, this has caused Stern to move to Sirius XM satellite radio in an effort to avoid the overall amounts of regulatory guidelines. To fully understand what is happening, requires looking at the different social criticisms in comparison with the show. This will be accomplished by conducting an annotated bibliography and examining the methods that were used during our research. Once this occurs, it will offer the greatest insights as to how these criticisms have resulted in: increased amounts of regulation and the way that Stern has adapted to them. This is the point that we can see how these issues are impacting his show and the format that he is embracing. (Mintzer, 2010, pp. 19 -- 32)

Annotated Bibliography

Stern, H. (1993). Private Parts. New York, NY: Pocket Books.

In this piece of literature, Stern (1993) is talking about his public and private life. What is most interesting about this source is that Stern acknowledges that he has issues with the FCC. However, he believes that this is not based upon the content. But, an attempt by: conservatives to control the public debate and agenda in America. For shows like Howard Stern, this is troubling because it means that they are being unfairly targeted based upon them having a more open format. (Stern, 1993, pp. 57 -- 129)

According to Stern, he believes that these kinds of actions are considered to be a violation of his constitutional rights. The reason why, is because the intent of law is so ambiguous that it allows the FCC to go after anyone who they do not like. As they can claim, that the more controversial shows are in violation of these regulations. Yet, they are not specifically saying how these provisions are infringing on the law. Once this takes place, it means that there is increasing amounts of regulations placed on shows such as Stern's. (Stern, 1993, pp. 57 -- 129)

A good example of this occurred, when he had two lesbians on his show and they were talking about their relationship. During the course of the interview, Stern began to ask more racy questions about what made them want to them become homosexual. At which point, the conversations would become more focused towards sex and the various encounters of these two women. After hearing this, the FCC would fine Stern's employer $15 thousand. This is significant, because it is showing how the content is considered to be racy. Yet, it is not directly targeting children (according to Stern). The reason why, is because they are talking about topics that they will see as well as hear about on: television, in the movies and interacting with people on a regular basis. This means that any kind of claims under this guideline are incorrect, as they will be exposed to these ideas on regular basis. As a result, Stern believes that his content is within the same guidelines as others who are on the radio and television. As he feels, that his show is being intentionally fined for this kind of content. While television is allowing lesbian kisses to occur and they are discussing gay related issues. Since he is talking about this, Stern does not think that he is in violation of these provisions. At the same time, he thinks that his actions are protected by the First Amendment. (Stern, 1993, pp. 57 -- 129)

The information from this source is useful, because it is showing Howard Stern's views about the kinds of fines that he is receiving. As, he believes that he is doing nothing wrong and that his actions are talking about similar kinds of content that are seen in the mainstream press. These elements are important, because they are illustrating how Stern thinks that his show is catered towards a key demographic. As a result, those people who are opposed to his format will frequently complain. Once they do this, is when they will exaggerate their claims. This is the point that the FCC will begin taking their side and they will sanction the show for noncompliance with regulations. However, because the language was written so vague, they have the power to effectively target him on a regular basis.

Stern, H. (1996). Miss America. New York, NY: Harper Paperbacks.

In this source, Stern (1996) is continuing to discuss his views about life and society. As he believes that everyone should be entitled to express their opinions about a host of different subjects. This is based upon his conservative upbringing in Long Island and being told to always be quiet. Over the course of time, this helped him to become more outspoken and do a host of activities to draw attention to himself. (Stern 1996, pp. 14 -- 106)

A good example of this occurred, when he ran for the Governor of New York in 1992. What happened was, Stern wanted to do something about the delays on the roads by having crews work at night instead of during the day. This helped to fuel his only campaign promise and illustrate how he wanted to bring the spotlight to himself. As he was able, to receive tremendous amounts of exposure and he began to have a following outside of the radio show. This increased his popularity and allowed the show to quickly become syndicated in other markets. However, after being in the race a short while, Stern was required to disclose his financial holdings as a part of running. He refused to do so, because he felt it was an invasion of his privacy. As a result, he exited the race. This is significant, because it is showing how Stern was able to use this event to increase his overall amounts of exposure. (Stern 1996, pp. 14 -- 106)

As his popularity was increasing, is when Howard's show was receiving the greatest amounts of listeners who are both fans and critics. The fans will support his activities based upon their turnout at public related events. This has helped Stern to be able to rise in prominence, as could utilize them to have an impact on political issues (such as: supporting Clinton for President or Whitman for the Governor of the New Jersey). These different elements have given the show a tremendous amount of clout. (Stern 1996, pp. 14 -- 106)

However, many of the critics believe that the topics and kinds of guests are considered to be indecent and they have campaigned to have the show taken off of the air. These two factors are important, because they have caused Stern's ratings to skyrocket. While at the same time, they have increased the overall number of complaints that the FCC was receiving. This meant that the show had increased amounts of notoriety, while having to deal with greater levels of scrutiny from regulators. The combination of these factors is what would make Stern such a high profile target of regulators. (Stern 1996, pp.…[continue]

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