The drama playing out right now for Howard Stern is the latest illustration.
Remember Howard Stern?
You may have to glace at his Wikipedia bio to remember how successful and influential he was while he was on the radio.
TV shows, two books, two highly successful pay-per-view deals. Even three covers of Rolling Stone.
At one point his self-proclaimed status as “King of All Media” might have been true.
But no more.
Scroll down his Wiki entry to the brief Satellite radio section and you’ll see very little. No book deals, no TV, nothing but two channels on Sirius and a huge paycheck.
Stern’s move to satellite made him very rich but also an increasingly irrelevant talking head. Maybe that's why People declared Ryan Seacrest the new King of All Media a few years later.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that someone leaked that Stern was in negotiations with NBC to be Piers Morgan’s replacement on America’s Got Talent.
He’s floated plenty of deal rumors in the past, but this one is different. He really needs this job.
A chair at the judge’s table would give him the prime-time exposure he needs to rebuild his image as someone who still matters.
Because mass media still matters.
Satellite radio is a niche. Something like 95% of Americans don’t listen to satellite, and only a small proportion of the 5% listen to Howard Stern.
Satellite radio is great place to hide if you want to become obscure.
The only way Howard Stern could become even more obscure would be to move to digital media.
All the upbeat predictions about how new-media is replacing traditional media come from new-media stakeholders who pray it’s true.
How many entertainers have come from Social media or YouTube and gone on to become stars?
Yes, there are plenty of events and people that go viral. Singing cats and talking dogs can generate millions of views. But how many careers have been launched through digital media?
The Internet and social media create instant buzz that fades quickly.
Stern is not the only mainstream media star that has lost relevance by abandoning mainstream. Oprah is struggling with her OWN network. Both Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck are off most people’s radar screens.
As the Wrap recently noted:
With Olbermann moving to Current TV and Beck leaving Fox for a subscription internet service, both have fallen out of the national conversation. The power of broadcast and cable has, in this case, trumped the power of their personal brands.
Howard Stern is a highly talented personality, the kind of personality that radio needs right now. But Stern needs radio as much as radio needs Stern--maybe even more.
People talked about Howard Stern because radio gave him reach and influence.
Let's hope he gets the America's Got Talent job, and then abandons satellite's obscurity for a real radio gig.