But that doesn’t mean that things are without drama.
There’s two challenges in building communities: making it grow & keeping it cool once it’s large.
To be honest I don’t really know specifically how I was able to grow Any of the communities I was tasked to oversee, be it LAist or Buzznet or the Howard group — I just followed my gut, and tried to be creative, while allowing the members to express themselves freely without being huge jerks.
I also paid attention to what seemed to work with us and what didn’t work with our so-called competitors.
Which brings us to the drama I encountered on the Stern page last week (which remnants still waft). Howard announced that he’s coming out with a new book. Later a staffer told him that Wendy Williams called him “Hollywood” because he has so many famous friends like Jimmy Kimmel. David Letterman, and Billy Joel. Howard took offense because god bless him, he can dish it out but he can’t always take it. He’s human.
So he went on a 30+ minute rant about her, calling her every name in the book including the dreaded c-word.
The community took that word and started using it left and right. But when Howard does it… it’s different. In part because he’s doing it on the radio. Cussing someone out on FB is old hat.
Also calling a black woman the c-word is like two strikes to me.
So I announced the new rule that we wouldn’t be using that word any more and 20-30 people got super uptight and started using the word against me. Which is fine. Everyone has a mountain they wanna die on. Mt Cword is an odd one, but you do you. And I banned them with a click.
But then this guy gets on and starts saying it like two days later.
So I decide to debate him so people can see what I am talking about. Here it is.
Me: Is there something you want to say to me?
Him: How much time do you have? Why do you feel to censor comments in a fan group that loves the Howard Stern Show? Howard went to Sirius in part of censorship and FCC…. When someone says something you don’t like you remove their post, suspend them, or ban them all together. That’s about the least Howardish course of action an Admin could take.
Me: How long have you been in this group?
Him: I would say at least 2 years now…
Me: So you have seen this group grow from 0 to 16k members. Would you say it’s the best Howard group on FB?
Him: I wouldn’t say the best, no. I do find some neat posts here and there but I personally find your censorship as an admin to be over the top and very anti-Howard. I bet if you leave this up even though I doubt you do that others would agree.
Me: What would you say the best is?
Him: I think your intentions in starting a group that discourages people from talking shit about Howard on every other post was cool but you’ve let that get away from you.
Me: I’ll ask again, if this isn’t the best Stern group on FB, what is?
Him: The official page, HSS Universe, Howard Stern Fans……. Is this when you remove and take down my comments, Ms. Turk?
He is referring to the Executive Producer of the show Marci Tuck, who some have inferred has watered down the Stern Show and advised Howard not to have strippers and porn stars on any more, etc. While an interesting theory, something tells me that Howard Stern does only what he wants. His show is the most successful in radio history. If he wanted to have strippers on every day, he would. I think he’s just 60+ and bored with what he did when he was 40.
Me: Howard Stern Show Universe has had 5 posts this month. Very little discussion and nothing original. What makes that page, to you, better than this one?
Him: Lack of censorship from the admin.
Me: How would you know? They don’t even have audio of Howard’s rant.
When Howard got home last week after his rant, it was quietly removed from the archived show on the Sirius App and missing from subsequent replays throughout the week and weekend. But thanks to some Russian YouTube site, it was preserved and posted online, including on our FB group. I let it stand because I don’t like when things are deleted and also, it was interesting. And one thing Howard always complained about other broadcasters who would bristle when a phony phonecaller or a drunk or angry person got on the air was “why would you cut off the one interesting thing that happened on your show all week?” I took that statement to heart.
Him: You ban words from a freaking Howard Stern group.
Me: Yep. Now lets go to what you think is another group better than this one, Howard Stern Fans — today that group celebrates a milestone. A year ago today that group had its last post. Are you serious in saying that a group that hasn’t had a post in a year is better than this one? OH, I’m sorry, they haven’t had a post in TWO years. I’m starting to think that even though you’ve never said the words I’ve banned in here, you just wanted attention from me today and a cool story to tell your friend about being banned for being an idiot.
Him: I think I’ve hurt your feelings, Marci.
Me: I think you complimented me by not being able to show me a Stern group on FB better than this one.
There was silence.
Me: Is there anything else Robin?
Him: That’ll do Marci… Censor away!! The people that have called you out on your power trips before got booted so i’ll be in excellent company.
Me: Once again… your point is that even though this is the best Stern group on FB (in part because of the decisions I have made), I should change that because you want the freedom to say things in this group that you’ve never said… even though you are free to say those things in other groups that are less successful — and in some cases totally dead? Do I have that correct?
Him: Not at all… Do your thing, Tony Turk. I love the show , hate censorship, and I don’t think this is the best unofficial Stern Show fan page on facebook. I enjoy a lot of the posts people share in this group but you aren’t going to make or break my day by booting me or not.
Me: Why would I boot you? You have provided the perfect example of why this group has done well. You can’t name a better group. The groups you name are dead or dying. You seem outraged that you cant type in HOWS THE SLOT or the c-word. So I should doubt myself because you want to call me names? I’ll get right on that bud.
i have been so lucky to have been able to work at some of the coolest online ventures around. from LAist to the LA Times to the Oscars. but it all started here on this very blog, the busblog.
one thing i learned at LAist was – it helps if you love the content as much as you love the audience.
when you love something you do it with rose colored glasses. so you might miss some of the issues. but thats ok because when you notice that certain things are bad, you will rush to fix it. not out of any weird power trip but because you want everyone else to enjoy the thing you’re making with them.
so the first thing is love. love it, love them. otherwise it’s just work and you can tell if something is being run by someone who loves it compared to someone who is just doing it for the money and health benefits.
the next thing is be open to change, be open to creativity, be open to possibilities, be open to things that are scary, be open like youve never been open before.
if America wasn’t open to expansion we would never have had the Louisiana Purchase and we would have never made it to the Golden State. And now California is as mighty as most foreign countries. it pays to be open. it pays to figure out ways to grow. will there be growing pains? of course. don’t freak out. as the hitchhikers guide wisely advises: dont panic.
at every group blog ive seen or worked with there were more than a few superstar writers who some thought were irreplaceable. we are all irreplaceable. the yankees have won championships without Babe Ruth. the Lakers have won without Magic. life goes on without tony pierce and all the rest. and thats ok. what is freaky is how quickly life can go on without this star or that one. it’s been over 35 years since SNL lost John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd and Bill Murray and that show still trends every Sunday.
the show will go on. so dont fear change. if you wanna be punk rock, embrace it. and if you wanna be new wave: be the change.
no one asked for this group. i started it last year, wellllllll into the last stages of his career. he only has a show 3x a week, 2x a month. there were already at least 100 howard stern groups, and yet suddenly ours is on pace to being the most popular one on Facebook. how?
because i have set rules. i enforce the rules. it’s just me plus some superfans who let me know via flagging or instant message when people are being rude. and i allow the group to metaporphisize into whatever it’s gonna be. and i will call bullshit on certain trends. and i am not afraid to boot people or protect others.
but i really think the secret sauce is i love howard’s show and history, and i know it, and ive been around the block in regards to social, so i can see trouble before it happens.
what i love about this chart on the tippy top is, anyone can have good numbers in your first 6-7 months cuz youre new and cute. but if you suck people will bail out and stop telling their friends. whats interesting about this group is it started hot, and has continued to be hot for the last 6-7 months too. even though howard has had hella vacation, even though more stern groups have sprouted. even though ive been obsessed with a secret project. the growth is growing at a pace of 61%.
every week we are getting between 250-350 new members. and theyre staying. lots of posts.
i had one guy say, how many admins do you have? i said me. he said, im in this group but i admin another one about a cable TV show and we have 4 admins. how do you do it? i say, i let them be. he said, no way would that work with us? i asked why? he said the founder of the group wants everything approved. that takes time. and the quality is better.
i said how do you know if the quality is better if its always been one way. maybe when people are free they write better or they say things that omg that One guy doesnt like or the other 3 admins. thats a lot of ways to get vetoed. here i only have a few ways to get vetoed: poop, disparaging howard robin or beth, politics and a few others. most people are cool with that and it allows space for people to be free.
freedom is everything for growth. give a tree a lot of space, a lot of sunshine, and tons of water and that baby will grooooooooooooow.
as you may know, i run the worlds best howard stern facebook group.
one of the things that im constantly debtating about is deleting posts that whine that howard isnt the same howard as he was when he was throwing baloney on the asses of strippers or yelling at the FCC or having women sit on a giant vibrating… well… device.
the same could be said about this blog or me or you or anything. shit changes. get over it.
i am so blessed that i was invited to be part of the college of creative studies when i was a lad because creativity has been top of my mind for a long time. and especially the dynamic of how creativity changes as we age.
in music it seems like most artists have a spurt of creativity when they’re young and it dissipates as they get older. listen to Bruce Springsteen’s first three records compared to his last three and a lot of the experimentation is long gone and Bruce is far from the only example of this happening. indeed there seems to be only a few exceptions to this rule
tom waits, bob dylan, and neil young.
in rap it seems like only kanye continues to push his own boundaries in dramatic ways but i could be wrong i dont know a lot of hip hop. but lets bring it back to the busblog.
i know i dont experiment here as i used to. i dont for a million reasons including the fact that i just dont care any more. in the day when blogging was poppin and i would get millions of readers and 40-50 comments on every post i felt like the only way i could compete with alllll the other blogs in the world was to do Anything i could to stay relevant and interesting and vibrant.
now i am one of the last blogs that does this almost every day.
so who cares if i do something interesting or “new”, who’s gonna read it?
and in a way i dont want that many people reading it (murphys law, catch 22) because i dont want to be misunderstood and have that affect my livelihood. its all very complicated.
now back to howard. im sure at 65 years old theres part of him that wouldnt mind throwing a slice of luncheon meat at someone from time to time, but i think he’s gotten that out of his system. and if he does it now people will complain and say he has run out of ideas. you can never win.
but you can.
you win by doing. you win by going to work every day (or in his case 3x a week) and putting out a show and relating to people and connecting to people and doing the damn thing. dancing with the one you brung ya.
last night i was reading about HBO and how now that they are owned by AT&T have all this extra money and they wanna compete with Netflix. and i thought maybe i should try to work with someone to bring Howard a Charlie Rose type interview show thats just a big round table and Howard and a guest. Letterman did a short version of this for Netflix, but America knows Dave as a great interviewer, not everyone knows that Howard is even better.
and i thought, someone has probably tried to get howard to do it but for whatever reason thats not his thing. what is his thing? painting? he loves to paint. so maybe get howard to interview great artists for a month. then the next month SNL alumns. then musicians. it could be a whole thing that compliments his work on radio.
so the question is, do i know a producer who could help me with this?
it started simply. i was in 3-4 Howard Stern groups and I noticed that they were hateful and mean and stupid and they all seemed to despise Howard – and especially his wife.
they’d complain that the show wasn’t funny anymore, that things were so much better in the old days, that the Sirius app didn’t work a lot (valid). They’d complain about the guest, the bits, the musical acts, the Wrap Up Show, Howard 101, and each other.
and when politics entered the discussion it was all out war.
No fuck-marry-kill (because it’s only interesting when it’s a famous person being asked)
No disparaging of each other
No comments that ask women “how’s the slot?”
with over 10,000 members, not everyone liked the rules, but I told them that there are plenty of places (including other Howard groups) that allowed you to do those things, but in my opinion nothing good comes from those things.
turned out i was right.
when someone signs up to be in the group they are asked a few questions, namely
Do you understand this is a Howard group of Howard fans, so no negative posts about Howard, Robin, or the Show, ok?
Likewise, do you understand that there are no politics allowed in here? There are endless amounts of other groups for that.
And finally no berating other members about their questions, insights or pieces of vinyl, right?
The vast majority of the new members are a-ok with this and say so. This also prepares them for the rules and the tone of the group. If people complain or seem wishy washy when answering those questions: they are out.
Existing members who break the rules are dealt with publicly, swiftly, and politely. Usually they will be Muted for a week on their first offense (they can’t comment or post). And banned on the second offense. If the first offense is nuts, they’re gone immediately.
So far I have either had to deny access to the group or ban 152 people.
If someone messages me with a valid excuse, I’ll bring them back to the fold but most people understand what they did and go on with their lives.
What has helped is there are about 4-5 super fans of the group who message me any time something is going wrong. Also, anyone can flag a comment or a post so if someone goes nuts it’s immediately brought to my attention and I can snuff it out.
The most active posts get between 5,000 to 8,000 eyeballs. Which is pretty great for Facebook which notoriously makes it hard for fans of something to see the thing that they signed up for.
My guess is the people who join this group really truly love Howard and check out the group every day or several times a week. They seem to have also not signed up for a lot of other groups that attract their attention. I also think that because they have to really go out of their way to get into the group (it’s not as easy as clicking a Like button), they’re invested in it.
And once they are in, and they see that all the jokers and asswipes get booted immediately (and this appears to be the only Howard group that does that) the discussions are better.
Anyway, it is the thing I am most proud of from 2018.
ive listened to howard stern almost every day for the last 20 years.
not sure what it’s done for me other than:
make me a better interviewer
make me less afraid of people of all walks
inspired me to seek out the unique beauty of conquerors, kings, and lesbians
reminded me that the more in tune you are with your true self, the more the audience will respond positively
it’s ok to yell the customer, your boss, your coworkers, your parents
(but if you do you could likely be fired, shunned, ridiculed, and make your mommy sad)
no matter how much money you make, no matter how popular you are, no matter how powerful you are, no matter how beautiful your wife is, and no matter how skinny you are, if that voice in your head tells you that you suck you are going to think that you suck and it will be very hard for you to enjoy your life – or anything. thus the goal of this short time on earth is to seek inner peace and ignore the trappings as they are a distraction.
feed your animals, your children and yourself on a schedule.
and you know i love howard but im not sure his shrink is working.
howard has one of the greatest jobs in the world, he gets to talk to people. on the radio. for millions of dollars a year. tens of millions.
but howard hates his job so much that he only goes in three times a week and then has to take a week off.
it’s sort of a dream job in that sense but he swears he’s tortured. he swears he hates going outside. he swears he hates traveling during his vacations. he just wants to sit around and paint or play chess or watch tv.
im not sure that shrink is working because im pretty sure thats not what we as humans are supposed to enjoy the most.
especially humans who have met hundreds of humans over a lifetime and gotten them to talk about the most fascinating parts of their lives.
i bring up shrinks because i have had writers block on something for the last few months that i cannot unblock. i told beautiful zulieka about it and she advised that i should just write it and if it comes out bad, fine, just rewrite it but it will be easier the second time.
but what if what i want to write is a proposal to change everything. what if what i am writing is my essay for why i should go to mars and die there. what if what i am afraid of is the same thing howard is avoiding which is if we put it all out there then we are lost then we are not us. we will have no control. we will be forever changed.
when howard holds back from his audience he may not be thrilled with the results but at least he knows he affected something. that weird sad element of control has been enabled and he can see it.
likewise when i dont do something i can see the lack of growth and i know i did it. i know. i know.
its a small, dumb, foolish game. and all i have to do is say to myself, no i wont uber tonight, i will drive straight home after work and i will write the thing that will only take two hours to write and i will send it to nasa and that will be that and then they will read it and say duh of course why didnt we think of that and i can go on my merry way and my life will be forever changed.
but best of all, i will have helped others. which, howard, i think is the point of us being on this planet.
and we should stop being selfish with our crazy magic.
once upon a time there was a man named howard stern
who, unquestionably, was the most interesting and successful radio performer in the history of the medium.
he was number one in the usa for decades on terrestrial radio
and then he moved over to satellite radio when less than 1 million people subscribed
and now close to 30 million people pay for the radio service
his station is the most listened-to channel on the network
but he is unhappy, and he has been unhappy for most of his life.
his movie Private Parts, which he starred in, humorously showed his struggle to the top: bosses who didn’t understand him, rivals, the government – but since then he has had a divorce, a sidekick who attempted suicide, another who got and then beat cancer,
and an awkward stint as a judge on an nbc talent show.
he’s been with his basically perfect model/wife for over 10 years, his show regularly breaks news with it’s one-of-a-kind censor-and-commercial free one-hour plus celebrity interviews, one of his long-time guests Donald Trump is the front runner for the Republican nomination for president
but howard stern is unhappy.
this is a man who works, on average 7 days a week.
often he will work a week or two, take a week off
note: his work weeks are three days.
and he is unhappy.
most reports say he gets paid $100 million a year, a number he automatically denies, but no other number has surfaced.
and he is unhappy.
A-list celebrities like Jennifer Anniston invite him to parties, the most talented late night host (Jimmy Kimmel) considers him an idol and one of Howard’s closest friends, and his unmatched ability to make stars of The Unlikely continues to roll on.
but he is still unsatisfied, so i say he should just quit.
i love him, i want the best for him,
but he’s done it all, said it all, and maybe said too much because we know how unhappy he is.
howard says he hates traveling, so he should just sit around his compound in florida, and stare at the wall.
he should have sex with his pretty wife, paint, and eat at Nobu.
if he gets sick of it in a couple of years it would be one of the most celebrated comebacks ever.
but for now he should say nothing until the final show
and then on that show have billy joel play as he tells robin how great it all was
and then he should reach into a bucket and give bababooey $5 million for putting up with his nonsense
for all of those years
and then Artie should roll a red carpet in through the studio
and then Jackie should walk down the carpet while tossing rose petals
and then one after another, lesbians of all shapes and sizes
should walk down the carpet, in various states of undress,
and when they reach the end of the carpet, should start making out.
as Sour Shoes sings a medley of appropriate songs.