AndrewDavidson.com.  We don't reinvent the wheel... we just make reinventing the wheel easier. Visit PDFCalendar.com for free customizable printable calendars.
Home
Resources
Software
Links
Articles
About
About Drew
Contact
Feedback
Subscribe to our Newsletter:
Printer-Friendly
© 1999-2021
Andrew Davidson.
All Rights Reserved.


Drew's Howard Stern and Sirius Satellite Radio Review

Review By: Andrew B. Davidson - andrewdavidson/at\andrewdavidson/dom\com
Copyright © 2006 Andrew B. Davidson. All Rights Reserved.
Review Written: November 2006

I've had Sirius Satellite Radio since January of 2006. I got it specifically to listen to the Howard Stern radio show, of which I am a fan. Before Howard came to Sirius, I listened pretty much daily. I liked having his talk radio show always available so I could listen while doing laundry or working around the house.

If you haven't been keeping up with the Howard Stern show on Sirius, here is the scoop. There are two Sirius channels devoted entirely to Howard. Howard 100 is the primary channel. The show is live from 6am to about 11am. There is no set ending time for the show, and on some days it can go practially till noon. Immediately after the show is The Wrapup Show (described below), and then the show replays over and over all day and all night. So you can always tune in to Howard 100 and hear the show. This was a very wise move on Sirius's part. It makes it possible to hear the show without having to get up early. One downside is that the replays start at random times, because they just go from one replay right into the next. So you can't necessarily plan on hearing a replay start at a certain time.

The show starts at 9am on the second channel Howard 101, giving effectively a 3-hour time delay for the West Coast people. After that on Howard 101 is The Wrapup Show, the Bubba the Love Sponge, then Special Programming, then Scott Ferrell. See below for discussions of these shows.

During the show, there are commercials. However, the commercials are nowhere near as annoying, long, and constant as they were on terrestrial radio. On terrestrial radio, a commercial block could literally be 20 minutes long. That doesn't happen on Sirius, it's maybe 7-10 minutes at most, and some of that is live commercials so it's still Howard and Robin talking. They usually play pre-recorded bits, prank calls, etc during the commercial breaks too, it's not totally commercials. Also, they are not constrained to have commercials at set times, so a good interviews and bits are never interrupted by a mandated commercial break. Still, commercials are annoying. I listen via time-shifting so I just fast foward through them, but if you're listening live on a radio that doesn't have this option, you are out of luck.

The Wrapup Show, which starts immediately after the main show, is hosted by John Hein (creator of JumpTheShark.com) and Baba Booey. Most of the time Artie Lange will sit in on The Wrapup Show, as well as Benjy, Will, J.D, and and sometimes even Robin and Fred and various comedians and guests they may have had on the show like Greg Fitzsimmons. The Wrapup Show is an excellent continuation of the main show. The participants can discuss the highlights of the show and delve a little deeper. The Wrapup Show lasts just until the top of the next hour, so sometimes it is very short. But sometimes things happen on The Wrapup Show that are so interesting Howard will play clips of them the next day.

The show has pretty much the same format and cast as it did on regular radio. Howard, Robin, Fred, Artie, Bababooey, Benjy, Sal the Stockbroker, Richard Christy, J.D., Ronnie the Limo Driver, Scott the Engineer, Scott Depace, Gangy, etc are all still there, as are all the members of The Wack Pack like High Pitch Eric, Siobahn, Elliot Offen, Beetlejuice, Blue Iris, Eric the Midget, etc. You'll hear the same type of stuff as on terrestrial radio: interviews, prerecorded bits, phoney phone calls, game show parodies, contests, wackiness and hijinks.

The one major advantage of having Howard on Sirius is that he is totally uncensored. If you had any thought that Howard was funny because of the amusing ways he had to dance around the censorship, forget about it. The show is much funnier without any limitations, it's as simple as that. The language is very salty: F-bombs are dropped many times a day, as well as S-bombs and even C-bombs. This is not a show to listen to in front of your kids, assuming you don't want them to talk like sailors. But the main thing that's great about the lack of censorship is the subject matter. Some subjects, particularly explicit sex talk, simply could never be discussed on regular radio. Even using radio-friendly language, you just couldn't talk about certain things. On Sirius, there are no boundaries, and the subject matter can get very raunchy.

On Howard 101 weeknights at 7pm, there is special programming that changes regularly. They will keep a certain schedule for a few weeks and then mix up a few of the shows. One special programming show that has been on since the beginning is The Superfan Roundtable. This is hosted by Mutt, owner of SternFanNetwork.com, and a roundtable of other superfans. Other shows on Howard 101 include Jackie's Joke Hunt, in which Jackie Martling returns and tells his brand of horrible old jokes. Also, Chuck Zito now has an occasional show. There is a show called Miserable Men with host Shuli where he and a roundtable of relationship losers discuss their awful relationships with women.

Also appearing as special programming is The Red Peters Show, The Intern Show where Stern show interns get to spill the beans on the cast and staff, the Sh*t Show with comedian Andy Dick, a show with alien abductee and apocalypse prognosticator Riley Martin, the Victoria Zdrok sex advice show, and other one-off shows like the Danny Bonaducci Show and Tissue Time with Heidi Cortez. There are also occasional specials such as Thanksgiving with the Christies, which visits Richard Christies hillbilly parents for Thanksgiving. And at one point they had a countdown of the top moments in Stern show history.

One annoying thing about Howard on Sirius is that there are rarely new live shows on Friday. Occasionally they will have one, if for example there was a holiday on Monday. They used to have a show called The Friday Show on Fridays, hosted by John Hein, Gary Dell'Abate and Ralph Cirella, but now they have replaced that with a show called Master Tape Theatre, where they replay old terrestrial radio shows in their entirety, but uncensored. If you haven't heard, Howard now has access to his entire archive of old regular radio shows, completely uncensored. A Masterpiece Theatre parody host named Hardan Thicke hosts the replays, which are kind of interesting but for some reason don't do it for me. I'd rather hear new material.

Bubba The Love Sponge is also on Howard 101, with a daily 3-hour show. At first I didn't listen to Bubba, but I gave him a listen and he can be pretty entertaining. He has a definite self-admitted "redneck/hillbilly" slant, but he's good to have around to listen to when is on vacation or for a little change of pace. Scott Ferrell also has a daily show on Howard 101, but his show is a little too sports-oriented for my tastes.

Review of Sirius In General

I have a huge music collection, so Sirius is not really a draw for me for the music. I just wanted to hear Howard. Instead of listening to music via Sirius, I listen to my eMusic music collection. Also, I am not a classic rock fan and there is a large representation of classic rock on Sirius. Not only are there a dedicated channels for The Who, The Rolling Stones, and Elvis Presley, but there are about a dozen other classic rock related channels.

My tastes in music range more toward electronic and dance music, but unfortunately there is not a good representation of this on Sirius. For example, there is no house music channel. There is a progressive trance channel, a breaks channel (hosted by Liquid Todd), a chill electronic/downtempo channel, a channel with "today's dance hits and remixes", and a 70's disco channel.

There is also a large number of sports channels which I do not listen to. Fans of NASCAR will appreciate that fact that it is moving to Sirius in 2007. Sirius has most of the major sports: NFL, NBA, and many more.

There are a ton of other talk channels, including Blue Collar Comedy, Raw Dog uncensored comedy, Martha Stewart, OutQ Gay and Lesbian channel, etc. For a full listing, check out my one-page Sirius Channel Guide or visit Sirius.com.

For variety every once in a while I'll listen to a few other channels. However, I am mostly satisfied with listening only to Howard Stern and then using other sources for my music.

One kind of annoying thing with the music channels is that they are not totally uninterrupted music. There are still DJs that occasionally will chatter about nothing. This give it sort of a "live radio" feel. Thankfully there are no commercials on the music channels.

I would bet that most casual music listeners would love the Sirius music channels. It's awesome to be able to choose from such a huge variety of stations that play commercial-free music. But Sirius has a tough battle ahead of it cometing with alternate music sources like the Web.

Pros of Howard Stern on Sirius

Two full channels devoted entirely to Howard and Howard-related shows.

Howard Stern show repeats all day on Howard 100, so you can listen to the show whenever you want.

Show is completely uncensored and is much better than the old massively censored terrestrial radio show.

About 5 hours a day of brand new Howard Stern show.

Lots of additional Howard-related shows and material.

Old terrestrial show replays are also uncensored.

Commercials are much shorter than in the terrestrial radio days, and are not on a regular schedule so they don't interrupt right in the middle of a good interview.

Howard TV

Free streaming over the web.

Cons of Howard Stern on Sirius

Show still has commercials.

Show rarely is new on Fridays (instead they have Master Tape Theatre)

Some of the comedy bits are not to my liking. But that was a problem on the old terrestrial show too, and probably everyone is going to like some bits but not like other bits.

Show can get a little raunchy sometimes. It's not the kind of show you can leave on it a public place. The F-word, S-word, C-word (and pretty much every word in between) are daily occurances.

Howard TV is not available in all areas, and it requires digital cable, and it is yet another extra monthly fee.

Show isn't free anymore. But we couldn't have an uncensored show without being on satellite radio, so such as it is.

Pros of Sirius Programming in General

Lots of classic rock if you're into that.

Acceptable audio quality.

Dozens of different music and talk channels.

Music channels are 100% commercial free. However they are not announcer/DJ-free. Occasionally the music will be interrupted by DJ chatter.

A bunch of good channels: Radio One direct from the UK, two NPR channels, CNN, Fox News,

Free streaming of many channels on the web (with reduced sound quality).

Cons of Sirius Programming in General

Repetitive song programming.

Poor representation of electronic/dance music.

Music channels still have DJs talking occasionally.

Heavily skewed toward rock, especially classic rock. Other genres might get one channel while classic rock has about thirty. Some genres are completely unrepresented.

Not all channels available for streaming on the web.

Conclusion

If you listened to Howard Stern back when he was on terrestrial radio, you absolutely should get Sirius. You're missing out. You owe it to yourself. The show really is that much better. Hearing Howard and especially Artie uncensored is a must for any true Stern fan, or even a casual fan who is interested in getting satellite radio.

Links

Feedback?

If you have any comments or feedback, you can email me at AndrewDavidson {at} AndrewDavidson {dot} com, or use my Feedback Form if you prefer.

All trademarks mentioned are the property of their owner.