So why do we call them shock jocks anyway?
The phrase "shock jock" is often used to describe two species of radio host: There's the comedic shock jock in the Howard Stern mode, often found on an FM hard-rock station, and the political shock jock in the vein of Rush Limbaugh, typically found on the AM dial. Rush and Howard, as their fans call them, are the twin pillars of shock jock-dom. The political shock jock still has great power in this country; the comedic shock jock is more often than not a punch line.
Nick Kroll's The Douche on Parks and Recreation, the radio workplace sitcom The Jamz on Netflix, and comedian James Adomian's hilarious portrayal of Tom Leykis on Comedy Bang Bang are only a few examples of how modern comedians mock the shock jock. It rarely comes off as a loving tribute; instead, it feels like satire of a dying form. They're lampooning a mutated morning-zoo model that will, perhaps unfairly, always be tied to Stern, the self-proclaimed "King of All Media."
The Queens-born media icon was the product of a specific era: heated conversations about PC culture ruled the airwaves, Federal Communications Commission fines were doled out like small slaps on the wrist, audiences craved provocative stunts, and if you said the word "podcast" you'd sound like a character out of a science-fiction novel. It was a time when a radio host could write a New York Times best-selling autobiography then turn it into a $41 million grossing movie of the same name. (It's called Private Parts, and it's pretty good.)