Perhaps this Saturday night, 'round about 10:35 p.m., all Utahns should give KUTV-Ch. 2 a rousing and heartfelt standing ovation.
The station isn't airing "The Howard Stern Radio Show." Hip, hip, hurray!This may be the most brilliant programming decision since NBC decided to take a chance on "ER." Stern's latest foray into TV is not only predictably stomach-churning, but it's also just plain boring despite the nudity, naughty words and tasteless vulgarity.
(And it is indeed significantly more lewd than anything else on broadcast TV - "Jerry Springer" and "NYPD Blue" look positively tame in comparison.)
The show is being syndicated by CBS-owned Eyemark Entertainment and appears on 12 of the 14 CBS-owned TV stations. Only Ch. 2 and the station in Green Bay, Wisc., opted out.
And what a wise decision that was. The only way to see it locally is on satellite - and that fact alone may be reason enough to scrap your satellite system.
We're talking about an hour culled almost entirely from video clips of his daily radio show. Only instead of hearing him talk about the naked women in his studio, viewers actually get to see them (albeit with their private parts obscured electronically).
From an opening segment about President Clinton that's so crude no part of it can be reprinted in a family newspaper through the closing bit where a scarred, handicapped woman - hoping to win free plastic surgery - bared her breasts to the vicious comments of a panel of losers in the "First Annual Howard Stern Frankenstein Makeover Contest," it was vintage Stern.
It's not so much that he's shocking. He's just plain boring, because he continues to mistake vulgar for funny. And he allows that vulgarity to drag on so long it's sheer torture to watch.
A segment with a female bodybuilder - whom Stern accused of being a man - seemed endless. Also included was a Howard Stern look-alike (poor guy) who sang a song about Monica Lewinsky that even Stern attacked for being stupid and unfunny.
(If that made it, it sort of makes you wonder how bad the rest of his radio show was last week.)
And, proving that Stern has absolutely no idea what is actually funny, there was an animated bit with a little blonde-haired girl saying, "I'm JonBenet, and if you stay tuned, I'll reveal my killer by the end of the show."
The only segment that had any possibilities at all was an on-the-golf-course interview with O.J. Simpson, in which the man held legally responsible for the deaths of his ex-wife and Ron Goldman continued to spout ridiculous fantasies of his own. But Stern marred his own efforts with racist mocking of the guy.
It was also somewhat surprising what an amateurish effort "Howard Stern" turned out to be. The camera work was a bit better than you'll see on his daily show on the E! cable network - but not much. And the editing was just plain bad.
Of course, it's difficult to take a week's worth of junk and edit it down to an hour of something wonderful. It just can't happen.
Stern wants to be shocking. And he is - for about 30 seconds.
Then he's nothing more than a bore.
DOUBLE STANDARD: It's hard not to be struck by the lack of controversy that has surrounded Ch. 2's decision not to carry "The Howard Stern Radio Show."
Particularly in light of the disproportionate controversy that surrounded KSL-Ch. 5's decision not to carry "Stressed Eric."
In both cases, management at local stations determined that the programs were not something they wanted on their schedules and that the backlash they would receive from viewers who would be offended by the content of the shows wasn't worth whatever ratings they might bring in.
The situations weren't exactly the same, but they were close. "Eric" is an NBC network show that NBC-affiliated Ch. 5 decided not to carry. "Howard Stern" is a product of CBS syndication.
The big difference is that when KSL decided not to carry "Stressed Eric," screams were heard throughout the state. There may not have been a lot of people raising a fuss, but the ones who did make noise made a lot of noise.
Ch. 5 was accused of betraying viewers, and local radio personalities were getting all worked up on the air, and local college professors were commenting on how disturbing it was that KSL was "censoring" what Utahns get to see on television.
And when Ch. 2 kept Howard Stern off the air . . . there was nothing of the sort.
The only real difference between the two incidents is that Ch. 2 is owned by CBS and Ch. 5 is owned by the LDS Church.
DEBATING THE RATINGS: CBS was all but ecstatic in announcing how well "The Howard Stern Radio Show" did in its debut on Saturday.
NBC responded by pointing out that the numbers for "Saturday Night Live" were not only higher than Stern's but represented a 10 percent increase over the corresponding week in 1997.
Comparing "Stern" and "SNL" nationally isn't fair. The NBC show is cleared on the vast majority of that network's affiliates (KSL being an exception) and Stern is seen in only about 70 percent of the country.
But "SNL" averaged a 6.4 rating in the overnight ratings, and "Stern" averaged a 4.9.
That doesn't tell the entire story, however. "The Howard Stern Radio Show" finished first in its time slot on seven of the 12 CBS-owned stations that carried it and provided numbers that more than doubled what those dozen stations did a year ago.
Stern beat "SNL" in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Miami, Pittsburgh and Boston. And in the 19 metered markets where the two shows aired head-to-head, it was a close competition - "SNL" averaged a 6.1 rating to Stern's 5.7.
All of which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that there's an audience out there for anything, no matter how terrible it might be.