Maybe audiences aren't interested in a kinder King of All Media. Or, perhaps Howard Stern's Kryponite is appearing sans lesbians.
Stern's debut as the new judge on NBC's "America's Got Talent" drew a smaller crowd than last year's season opener. The Entertainment Weekly report notes that "Talent" faced stiffer competition this time around, but the presence of Stern should have more than made up for that factor.
Stern appeared everywhere in the days leading up to his first "Talent" episode. He did his usual shtick for the press, poking hot button issues like politics and celebrities, knowing that approach is guaranteed to gain our attention.
Yet most folks simply looked away.
One of the more arresting moments in Stern's 1997 film biography "Private Parts" came when the befuddled radio suits marveled at how Stern drew people to the radio.
Researcher: The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes. The average Howard Stern fan listens for - are you ready for this? - an hour and twenty minutes.
Pig Vomit: How can that be?
Researcher: Answer most commonly given? "I want to see what he'll say next."
Pig Vomit: Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?
Researcher: Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day.
Pig Vomit: But... if they hate him, why do they listen?
Researcher: Most common answer? "I want to see what he'll say next."
That was 1997. Today, Stern's shtick is more than tired. It's clear even he isn't interested in it. His SiriusXM work schedule has him live sometimes as little as two days a week - assuming he isn't on yet another vacation. That fire in his belly appears to have flickered out some time ago. He's been off terrestrial radio for years, and many people still don't subscribe to satellite radio for their Stern fix.
Now, he's back on free broadcast television, but his ability to attract both fans and enemies alike seems to have faded away like so much radio static.