You’ll Have Him to Kick Around Some More

Howard Stern disciples finally can breathe after about 18 months of open discussion on what the future holds for their messiah.

five more years! five more years!

five more years! five more years!

During his Thursday morning show, Stern announced he’ll be staying on SiriusXM for the next five years — financial terms undisclosed — ending months of speculation about his radio future.

That doesn’t mean the questions are done:

What will the schedule be?

Stern said during his announcement Thursday morning there will be more “flexibility” with his schedule. In the last year of intense and open discussion with listeners, Stern spent ample air time stressing how much he loathes getting up at 4:30 in the morning, or 5, or whatever unholy time he has to wake up. It’s caused him to curtail severely whatever social life he wanted to have. As happy as he was about that flexibility, he was even more cryptic about what it means for the show. He wanted less hours — did he get it? He wanted to work fewer days — will he?

“I believe there will be enough of me to go around,” was the most detailed answer he could give Thursday.

And this — that when the show comes back from its Christmas vacation on Jan. 3, the show will go from 6 to 10 a.m., and it will be four days a week. He promised that could change because all the details haven’t been worked out yet.

Who’s coming back?

The problem with Stern delaying his decision was that other people’s professional lives literally hung in the balance.

we'll have to wait to see who's coming back

we'll have to wait to see who's coming back

The contracts of his on-air partners Robin Quivers and Fred Norris — and possibly other staffers — also end Dec. 31. They couldn’t re-negotiate those contracts with SiriusXM until now because they didn’t know if the show would exist there.

Now, they’ve got three weeks to get those contracts done. Not exactly a lot of time to hammer out what could be complicated, six-or-seven-figure contracts (if that’s what they’re making, I’m guessing).

Both Quivers and Norris expressed their desire to stay with the show Thursday, half-jokingly, but repeatedly, saying “if” they’d be back on Jan. 3.

So was it really half-joking?

Where’s Artie?

Ten years ago, Artie Lange was a largely unknown comic who was carving out a career as the token Funny Fat Guy Friend in movies like “Dirty Work” and “The Bachelor” and on the forgettable ABC sitcom “Norm.”

five years is a long time

five years is a long time

Then in 2001, he started working on “The Howard Stern Show” and his life changed. His drug, alcohol, weight and depression issues not only became public, but also became comedy material for anyone that ventured into the radio studio. While it was hysterical radio and humanized him possibly like no other person on the show, it also likely contributed to the downward spiral of his life, culminating with an unsuccessful suicide attempt in January.

He’s surfaced in comedy clubs lately, now out of psychiatric treatment. According to the show, has expressed an interest in coming back for an interview that’s been about two months in the making.

Will it stop there? Pushing Lange back onto the show in a span of a year before he could get mentally healthy would have been a stretch.

But how about now with five years to play with? With a more flexible schedule like Stern said the show will be enjoying? Could that get Lange back on the show? The show has suffered without Artie’s male-friendly humor. It’s been stuck in a rut of Dancing with the Stars updates and chess progress. He’s been missed in somewhat stale interviews with Gilbert Gottfried, Adam Corolla and others that have come through the studio. Well, maybe they haven’t been completely stale, because Stern is one of the best interviewers in entertainment history. But there have been distinct moments where those very familiar with the show could easily pick out moments of the show and say “Too bad Artie wasn’t there, he would have nailed that.” Just imagine what Gary’s Jimmy Kimmel pitch would have been like with Artie there.

At least now, Stern fans have five years to figure it all out.

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