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Why Howard Stern is an Effective Communicator Essay

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Updated: Dec 15th, 2019

In the modern age there are two things that can help quantify the effectiveness of an entertainer or a journalist. The first one is fan base and the second one is amount of money earned directly from doing the work of a journalist and entertainer.

Now, using this criteria one can say that Howard stern is an effective entertainer and journalist because he is rumored to inked a five-year deal with Xirius Satellite Radio to the staggering amount of half a billion dollars. A basic computation reveals that his basic salary is $100 million a year.

But as one takes away the hype and the distractions and get to the bottom of the issue one can find that at the core Howard Stern is an effective communicator. He was not born an effective communicator but through hard work and a clear understanding of the science and art of communication he trained himself to become one.


It is possible for someone to take a look at the sometimes disheveled look of Howard Stern and dismiss him as nothing more than a talkative radio commentator that has nothing substantial to offer. There is so much of reality TV nowadays wherein people without talent and people who did not pay their dues so to speak can go straight to the big stage without going through the process.

They say something funny or controversial and then they disappear. However, the mark of an effective communicator is longevity and the ability to influence people. Think of Larry King and Ronald Reagan. There must be substance. Intelligence is almost always the first requirement to be an effective communicator.

Howard Stern has the intelligence to grasp information and transform into something that even the average person can understand and appreciate. Beneath the unimpressive exterior is a sharp mind that is waiting to be unleashed. It must be pointed out that Stern is no High School dropout who simply happened to have a talent for speaking into a microphone in a radio booth.

He is not just an average opinionated person that one can find hanging around barbershops and public parks eager to speak their mind. Although there is nothing wrong with a non-degree holder who found a way to become a multi-millionaire, it is just important to show that Stern is not just lucky or extremely talented.

Stern went through the process just like the average professional who went through school. Stern is a byproduct of higher education. Stern went to Boston University.

The Art of Communication

He has a degree in communication. He graduated with 3.8 grade average and graduated magna cum laude (Mintzer, p.6). It is impossible to reach this level of academic excellence without learning something about the science and art of communication.

In other words the current success that Stern enjoyed did not comes from blind luck but from hard work. He prepared for his role by going through university and learning as much theory as he could about the ability of a speaker to move his audience.

College was not the only place that honed his talent. After graduation Stern went into advertising. Knowing what he is capable of doing today and knowing his temperament it is difficult to agree that he enjoyed his time working under an advertising agency. But without a doubt it enhanced his abilities and added to his experience when it comes to connecting with people.

One of the things that people may overlook is Stern’s ability to conduct interviews. Every time he conducts interviews he provides a means to show the world why he is an effective communicator in the level of Oprah, Jay Leno, Conan O’ Brien, Larry King and other heavyweights in the entertainment industry and it is about his ability to listen to people.

He is very quick with his wit and humor that it is difficult to recognize at first that he has a keen ear to what people said to him. He talks so fast and sometimes speaks while others are still speaking. But if one will look closely Stern has the capability to immediately digest what was thrown at him and in a split second he can throw it back peppered with a commentary or a brilliant question that draws out the best from his guests.

Stern knew from the start that comedy is key to sustaining listener’s interest. He completely understood that comedy is a tool that can disarm the most jaded listener. He knew that comedy is the thing that can be used to break the wall that separates people.

During his time in the university he mastered the English language and during his time working in the advertising industry he understood how communication can be used not just for the sake of sending a message but to do so with an end goal in mind.

It is not a coincidence that Stern can be compared to a stand up comedian. The purpose is not to become a professional stand-up comic but to entertain his audience.

Stern is an effective communicator because he can make his audience stay with him and not lose interest. In other words Stern has created a system around him that enhances his communication skills and make him an effective communicator.

It can be said that his experience in the world of advertising has exposed him to the idea that a radio announcer should not just be a voice that powers the message; the listener must see the person in his mind as some sort of a desirable product that they want to acquire. Stern made deliberate steps in order to create Howard Stern as an instantly recognizable brand.

One has to understand that Howard Stern as a journalist, an entertainer or as a radio does not always deliver some of the most compelling news items every hour and every minute while he is on air.

But this does not mean that the listeners are turned off and would love nothing to do than switch to another show. They stay with him. They will not change their preference because they know that Stern can be relied upon to deliver a level of quality that others cannot provide.


His skill in communication shines through because he does not only speak with a clear voice, he considers his audience. In communication class the first thing that the teacher tries to instill into the minds of students is the concept called common ground.

There is no need to elaborate that the common ground between speaker and audience should be the medium of communication. This means that if the speaker uses a different language than the audience, there can be no communication that can take place. The message cannot be transmitted and received by the recipient.

Common ground can also be understood as discussing the common interest of the audience and touch on topics that they consider important to their lives. It is no wonder then that Stern talks about current events and the things that directly or indirectly affects the lives of the people who tune in to his program.

He becomes an effective communicator in this way because he knows how to connect to his audience. There is no sense in mastering the art of communication if the speaker is not willing to find out what his audience wanted him to discuss.

It can be argued that there are two sides to his profession. There is the public aspect which is the five hours a day of radio broadcasting wherein Stern sits behind a microphone and talks about the most pressing issues that Americans face on a daily basis.

The second aspect is the less public side of his profession. This is the research, the writing and the amount of effort and time expended to understand the subject matter that he wishes to talk about in his show.

There is a tremendous level of hard work that goes into every show. It can also be said that Stern relies on a team of workers and professionals that help him become the best that he could be. Without a team of talented writers, producers, and researchers then it would be difficult for Stern to be updated with current events and know what his audience are thinking.

It is difficult for a radio host to receive feedback because most of the time he or she is inside a booth transmitting through the airwaves and yet there is no way to know the reaction of his listeners. It is the job of the support team to provide feedback to Stern.

He makes it a point to stay relevant. It is a major mistake for a leader or a journalist to be non-relevant in a fast-changing world. Stern fights to be in the center of it all. Thus, he has shown incredible range when it comes to the topics that he is willing to cover. He can talk about the Iraq War and at the same time he can talk about Charlie Sheen.

Stirring Up Controversy

It is a well-known fact or at least to his avid fans that Stern is Jewish. Thus, the listeners immediately conjure images of a person who went to Bar Mitzvahs and frequents the local synagogue. In other words he should be seen as a religious man and a devout member of one of the oldest religions in the world.

But this wholesome image does not last long the moment Stern opens his mouth. All of a sudden Stern does something to stir the hornet’s nest, so to speak, by saying some of the most irreverent things that has been said against organized religion.

He is not called the “shock jock” for nothing. Stern has the ability to stir up controversy and provoking his listeners to react in a way that increases his popularity or notoriety. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission wanted to make an example of Stern.

Aside from the fact that the Howard Stern show was popular and is able to pull in millions of listener per day, the FCC targeted Stern because of the remarks that he made on air.

He is an effective communicator not only because of his skills in verbalizing his thoughts but it can also be attributed to his ability to take on topics that people wanted to talk about and yet social norms prevented them from doing so. In a way Stern becomes their spokesperson against corruption, indecency, and hypocrisy.

Stern is an effective communicator not because he has a pleasant radio voice that people love to listen to. He is an effective communicator because he compels people to listen to him. He accomplish this by removing limits. There is no sacred cow for Stern and nothing is safe from his sharp commentaries.

His conflict with the FCC is proof that there are times when he goes beyond the limits of decency. And yet again, Stern challenges his listeners to redefine decency. This type of response and the unpredictability of the flow of discussion endears his listeners to tune in every time he is ready to speak.


Howard Stern is an effective communicator because he worked hard to develop the skills needed to transmit ideas verbally. He is a great speaker. But his effectiveness goes beyond his skills as an announcer. Stern did not only focus on perfecting his craft but went out of his way to understand his audience. As a result he wanted to discuss topics that he believed can connect with people.

When he is conducting an interview Stern shows his effectiveness by his capability to listen to what his guests are saying. He is a listener. Using his skills and knowledge about the science and art of communication Stern has created a system that enhances his skills and enable him to draw listeners to him and in a compelling manner entices them to stay a little longer.

Work Cited

Mintzer, Rich. Howard Stern: A Biography. CA: ABC-CLIO, 2010.

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