NEW YORK — Shockwaves hit the morning show landscape as NBC announced that shock jock Howard Stern will replace longtime co-host Matt Lauer on the “Today” show starting this summer.
“Today” will begin simulcasting on SiriusXM satellite radio on June 26, beaming all four hours of its news, weather, banter, concert features—and soon, fart jokes—to commuters and office drones desperate for background noise as they slog through their morning routine.
Tom Dasher, executive producer for “Today,” insisted that the shakeup was perfectly in keeping with the broader softening of television news. “Howard has a way of seamlessly transitioning from intelligent discussion of breaking news topics to soft-core porn that few drive-time hosts can pull off.”
President of NBC News Deboarah Turness described the change as offering “a huge strategic boost for us,” citing Stern’s successful turn as a judge on the NBC show “America’s Got Talent” even as competitors like “The X Factor” and “American Idol” peter out.
“Today” has struggled to reclaim its former dominance in the ratings since ABC’s “Good Morning America” ended its 852-week winning streak in April 2012.
Many media watchers blame the show’s sloppy ouster of co-host Ann Curry for driving many in the television audience to reach for their remotes, especially as rumors circulated that it was her poor rapport with Lauer that ended her run on the couch.
“I remember jokingly suggesting at one meeting that the self-proclaimed ‘King of All Media’ might be NBC’s only hope to stanch the morning ratings bleed,” said Scott Greenstein, the president and chief content officer of the satellite radio service. “Not only did NBC sign the deal to simulcast on Sirius that day, they said they were dead serious about having Howard join their morning family.”
Stern recently brushed off the idea of hosting a late-night TV talk show and suggested that Stephen Colbert might be making a mistake in leaving his “fantastic” cable show to “just go interview an actress about her latest movie.”
Admitted Stern, “Still, if I could interview Jenna Jameson about her filmography in order to make Al Roker poop his pants, I’d throw Lauer off the couch in an instant.” Indeed, he was quick to accept the morning gig once he learned that NBC was willing to double his current $400 million contract for Howard 100 and Howard 101 by adding “Today” (Channel 108) to his long list of credits.
The network is also planning to refurbish the “Today” studio according to Stern’s specific needs. All the furniture will be covered in plastic and flame retardant.
“That treatment will come in handy if the ratings war ever heats up enough that I’ll have to mud wrestle George Stephanopoulos for morning dominance,” claimed Stern.