The Howard Stern Fallacy

Posted on June 17, 2011


“Writing is Easy; Editing is Hard.”

What a great headline! I wish I’d written it.

The credit goes to Greg McFarlane, one half of the team that writes Control Your Cash, a no-nonsense, practical blog about managing your finances to which I now subscribe.

He wrote a fantastic guest post at ProBlogger that’s been ringing in my ears since I first encountered it a few days ago.

Here are a few pieces of choice wisdom from the post:

 “Unless you have an extremely captivating story to tell – about how you climbed all Seven Summits or fed starving Sudanese in Darfur – merely sharing your day-to-day experiences isn’t blogging. It’s narcissism.”


“Saying nothing bold or different is no way to build an ardent, devoted audience.”  


“Have consideration for your reader. Assume he’ll take it personally if you waste even a millisecond of his time.”

So say we all!  (That’s Battlestar Galactica-geek-speak for amen.)

McFarlane really hit on two separate problems that plague radio talent as much if not more than bloggers.

The first is what I call The Howard Stern Fallacy. If you have ever thought, “I don’t need to do show prep. I listen to Howard and he just gets on the air and talks,” you are a victim of The Howard Stern Fallacy.

If you really believe the most popular and successful airtalent in radio history, guys like Stern and Rush Limbaugh, don’t work hard at crafting their show every day before they set foot in the studio, you need to find a new profession.

The second is a fundamental misunderstanding of the words “show prep.” If preparing for your show doesn’t involve both learning about the biggest news stories that are of interest to your listeners AND preparing unique opinions and observations about them, you aren’t doing your job.

In both cases McFarlane is right; you are being inconsiderate of the audience and shouldn’t be surprised when listeners change the station.