Sunday, June 16, 2013
Howard Stern has always been a better interviewer than he gets credit for. As his broadcast radio show grew from a local into a national show, he began to get more and better guests, but he was and is very selective about bookings, he doesn't interview everyone with a book, movie, or CD to sell, like the TV talk show circuit. He only interviews people who interest him or who he thinks his audience will want to hear.
Since moving to satellite radio in 2006, Howard has grown into one of the best interviewers in the business. There are a number of reasons for this. Without the time pressure of commercial radio, and without having to stop for commercial breaks, Howard's interviews can and do go deep, routinely lasting an hour, often longer. Free from the censorship limitations of terrestrial radio, Howard can have natural conversation with his guests, and very often they open up like in no other medium.
In many of his best interviews it sounds like two friends having a conversation, both totally engaged in topics of mutual interest (and of equal interest to the millions of listeners); recently his sessions with Quentin Tarantino, Zach Braff, and Jimmy Kimmel were like that. With Braff, the discussion flowed so effortlessly and interestingly, that the time flew by, and by the time they wrapped, about two hours had passed, and I had decided to back the Kickstarter campaign of Braff's new movie, Wish I Was Here, the long-awaited follow-up to Garden State; I wasn't the only one.
Howard's musician interviews can be amazing, and he's had epic sessions with Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Roger Waters, Joe Walsh, and Stern Show Superfan, Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks, to name a few. His recent interviews with Roger Daltrey and Rod Stewart showed the difference betwneen a great interview, and a merely good one. With Daltrey, Howard seemed to be orchestrating the conversation with prepared questions and even though the topics varied widely, many received the same answer, "you'd have to ask Pete (Townshend)." Stewart's interview took place the same week and by contrast, the conversation flowed and we learned lots of interesting things not commonly known about Rod's long and fascinating career.
On the day of Katie Couric's interview, Howard had already taped an episode of her daytime TV talk show and it was scheduled to air that afternoon. Even though her show is only an hour long, they had taped about three hours worth. When Katie sat down in Howard's studio, it didn't take long to tell that they are friends. After all the years of grousing that he didn't have any show-biz friends, it's nice to see Howard (with his wife Beth), socializing with folks like Billy Joel, Jimmy Kimmel, Matt Lauer, etc.
The Katie interview was great, not only because it flowed effortlessly for almost an hour and a half, not only because Katie is uniquely qualified to discuss one of Howard's favorite topics, TV news and talk show hosts and how they are treated by their networks. He especially loves to talk about NBC (where he works on AGT, America's Got Talent), and their (mis)handling of the Tonight Show, twice (Jay Leno/Conan O'Brien and again with Leno/Jimmy Fallon), and the Today Show (Ann Curry, Matt Lauer).
The big reason this was a great interview is that Katie is intelligent, articulate, and she doesn't hesitate to to tell you what she thinks. That, plus Howard gets out of the way and lets her talk, more so than he usually does. That combination is why the 78 minutes goes by in a flash, and it is why this is Howard's best interview yet. Howard TV has made the interview available, in its entirety, on Youtube, so here it is, enjoy it.
Bonus Video: Here is a clip from Howard's appearance on Katie's show, 5/28/2013.
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