Whether you are a fan of Howard Stern or not, there is no denying his influence on American radio. His show began broadcasting in the Philadelphia area in 1985, and slowly, other stations began to be manipulated by the structure of his show. The fact that he killed them in the ratings didn't hurt, and those stations adopted a "kill or be killed" attitude toward their programming.
Witness the ever-present woman news reader, who for some reason, cannot be in the same room as the hosts (almost always male), just as Robin Quivers was always in a separate room. The fact that it is radio didn't seem to matter. Listeners would know, somehow.
Howard did wacky stunts, so the others followed. Howard had girls in the studio, and the others followed. All in the name of ratings. Forget the fact that Stern has a gift, and could entice listeners with women that his audience could not see, other hosts figured that all they had to do was bring women into the studio and the world would flock to them. It ain't necessarily so.
Today, local sports talk station WIP moved their morning show outside to a local restaurant, where they hosted a Miss WIP beauty contest and another contest where listeners volunteered to do outrageous stunts for a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Some would call it "Theater of the Mind", but to me, a beauty contest on the radio is senseless. I heard the last half-hour as I was getting ready to leave the house, and I couldn't help but wonder what the point was of having a beauty contest on the radio. Then I remembered - Howard did it.
Howard has taken his show to Sirius satellite radio, where I assume he will attract a more affluent audience, since most of America has yet to see the point to paying ten bucks a month for radio. We're still pissed about paying for TV, so I don't think the time for pay-radio is here yet. I don't pay for it, and doubt that I ever will, so I can only assume that Howard is still doing what he used to do (with enhanced language) while the rest of free radio is left to wait for the next trailblazer to give them something to do.
I don't know if radio gets overnight ratings the way TV does, but I could only imagine radios tuning out all over the Philadelphia area, as we looked for other stations with guys talking and not playing as much music as they used to, and a woman in another room laughing at their stupid jokes, reading the news and doing traffic reports - just like Howard.