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Howard Stern begins the Big Bye-Bye

This morning Howard Stern sounded almost wistful.

Today, he said, he has only 50 shows on terrestrial radio left. He hasn’t decided how to say goodbye yet, but he knows many in his audience will be left behind.

Although the end has been coming for months now, I’ve got to say that today was the first day that it really sounded like the END was coming. It really felt – for the very first time – sad.

When you ponder it, it’s an amazing thing. Howard has been on the air in New York for more than a generation and in Philadelphia almost as long. He is an institution very near the top of his ratings game. This is, in a nutshell, much more like the passing of Carson than the passing of WCBS-FM.

No matter what we expect people to feel as a result of this loss, I suspect they will feel even worse. Yes, of course, it’s an easy problem to fix – it’s one Satellite Radio subscription away. But still I can’t think of any stellar entertainment event that began free and then became available only by subscription. Usually it happens the other way around (Sex and the City, anyone?).

The shock and dismay that accompanies the realization of listening to “regular radio” and not hearing Stern will, I suspect, be more shocking and more dismaying than anyone has yet imagined.

Woe to they who tread in Howard’s footsteps.

It’s no accident that Jay Leno’s successor, Conan O’Brien, was both:

A) Very well known for doing almost exactly what Jay does B) Announced years before he actually takes the gig

This is how you replace a legend.

It will not be how Howard is replaced.

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