Mark's Friggin'... Ultimate Friggin Brush With Greatness - August 14, 2004
It all started on Tuesday, July 20, 2004. I received an e-mail from someone who works with Howard behind the scenes on his web site. (He prefers to remain nameless, I'll call him ''Mr. Z''). It was simple, it just said ''Hi Mark Big fan of your web site. Call me when you have a free moment.'' I had no idea why this guy was contacting me but I made the call a short time later.
I spoke to ''Mr. Z'' who told me that he, Howard and Gary were talking about HowardStern.com and they were coming up with ways to add more things to the site. Somehow my site came up and it was suggested that maybe MarksFriggin.com's daily write-ups could be merged into Howard's web site. WHAT? ME? I seriously thought ''Mr. Z'' was yanking my chain.
''Mr. Z'' told me that he's read my site and likes the way I just tell it like it is without putting in my opinion. But even I admit it's not that well written. Shit, I barely paid attention in English class. I didn't even go to college. I was lucky to graduate high school and I'm convinced my teachers felt sorry for me and gave me passing grades just to get me out of that hell hole.
There was a catch with all of this. Sure my name would be on Howard's very popular web site for millions to view but, at that point, there was no money to pay me with. OUCH! So basically, I'd be giving up a source of income (very small income by the way) because my site would be pointing to Howard's site for the daily highlights. ''Mr. Z'' told me that eventually they may be able to pay me something. If or when that would happen was anyone's guess... but I'd be closer to the Stern Show than ever before.
Is this what I've been trying to achieve for the past 8 years? No, not really. MarksFriggin.com was a labor of love. I love the Howard Stern Show and I wanted people around the world to be able to keep up with what was going on. Howard never really had much on his web site until this year so the fans needed somewhere to find out what was going on with the show. That's why I kept it going as long as I did. I was lucky enough to be in a position where I could listen to the whole show and report on what was happening.
What an honor though. Perhaps they thought they could convince this sucker to do something for free so they wouldn't have to pay someone to do it every day... Whatever, I didn't care. I thought ''This is friggin cool!'' Who knew that this loser with no direction in life would be writing for the King of All Media's web site one day? Certainly not me. I still can't believe it. Somebody pinch me!
On August 6th, 2004 the official announcement appeared on HowardStern.com:
There was even a mention in the radio industry magazine Friday Morning Quarterback (FMQB.com) that I'd be writing for the HowardStern.com web site. Wow! This was big news in my world. Things were looking good.
At this point I was under the impression that all I was going to be doing was writing up the show as I'd been doing since 1996. Then Monday, August 9th rolled around and there were some miscommunications between me and ''Mr. Z.'' I thought I was told that there would be links back to my site to the 8 years of archives while we worked things out getting them moved to the Stern site. The story changed and there would be no links from there to here. Long story short, the archives were going to remain in limbo for an unknown amount of time. They didn't want the archives on their site and they didn't want me to have them live on my site. Okay, that's fine, maybe we could work something out later.
I did my usual write up for Monday's show and e-mailed it to ''Mr. Z'' who would then go through it, add some pictures that Jason Kaplan took and then get approval from Howard himself before they posted it to HowardStern.com. It was updated by about 5:15 PM. That sucks for the people who were used to seeing my updates by 11am or so but that's what happens when it goes through so many people.
While all of this was going on I was swamped with e-mail. People were congratulating me and things were looking pretty good. Then Tuesday rolled around. Early in the afternoon I got an e-mail from ''Mr. Z'' with some notes from Howard included. He wanted to take the daily highlights in a new direction. Uh oh! Trouble! He wanted to jazz up the highlights with tabloid-like headlines. He also wanted some more creative writing and a shorter synopsis of what happened. This was not good so I spoke with ''Mr. Z'' and told him I didn't think that was something I could do. I'm not a creative person in that way. ''Mr. Z'' wondered if I wanted to give it a try for the next day. I told him over and over that it just wasn't my style and that it wasn't something I could do. I wanted to make Howard happy but I just didn't have the ability to do what he wanted. ''Mr. Z'' told me he appreciated my honesty and said that a lot of people wouldn't be so honest about that. He took my concerns to Howard that night.
Tuesday's write up went up very late in the evening with few edits. Okay, I'm still doing my thing because I haven't been told to get lost yet. Wednesday came around and I wrote up the show as usual. Late that night the edited version of what I wrote appeared. It wasn't what I expected. They had taken out my format of listing the times and segment titles and added those tabloid-like headlines and some, uh, more creative writing mixed in with what I originally wrote. Ugh! This wasn't what I expected. My name was still listed as the contributor for the write-up even though it had been heavily edited. That night I sent ''Mr. Z'' the following e-mail:
Subj: Not cool
Date: 8/11/2004 9:10:19 PM Eastern Daylight Time
To: ''Mr. Z''@???.com
I just saw today's highlights and this isn't exactly going the way I expected it to. All I've managed to do so far is piss off a lot of people who enjoyed my write ups just the way they were. All of the mail I've been getting lately is about how pissed off people are that the updates are not there early in the day and now the format has changed.
I think I should have just stuck with what was doing. It's obvious that Howard wants to take it in his own, new direction and I respect that very much but I think I may have to bow out at this point.
I really appreciate being offered the chance to take part in this but after our first phone discussion I was under the impression that I'd be able to just keep doing what I was doing. Now my archives are unavailable and in limbo for who knows how long and my stuff is being edited in a way that makes it seem like someone else's. If that's going to be the case then I think someone else should be writing it.
I will write up Thursday's show for you guys but after that, I think I'm going to go back to being an unknown loser as I was before.
Thanks again for the opportunity but I don't think I'm the right person for the job.
There were a couple more e-mail conversations between me and ''Mr. Z'' after that. I was even more upset the next day when the heavily edited write up didn't get posted to their web site until after 10:30 PM. ''Mr. Z'' was very cool about the whole thing and seemed to agree that it wasn't exactly what we had talked about a few weeks before. He appreciated my dedication to my web site and said that's something they could have used. We agreed to go our own ways after that. I would have written up Friday for them but it was a vacation day and they weren't live. I decided to just go back to MarksFriggin.com and wrote up ''The Best of Stern'' as I always have. It feels good to be home.
So it was four days of fun for me. I never did get to talk to Howard himself about any of this. I'm hoping he's not upset about the whole thing. It seemed like things were going to be okay until that day he came up with the new direction for those write-ups. I just wish I had the talent he was looking for. It could have led to the best job of my life.
UPDATE - August 16, 2004 - For some reason I was curious to see what they were going to do for write ups since I thought we had called things off. Much to my surprise, the guys over at Howard's site had taken my daily write up and edited it again for use on Howard's site. They gave me the writing credit again but this was weird. The next day I sent an e-mail to ''Mr. Z'' and asked what was going on. He didn't even seem to be aware of what was going on but thought it would be a good idea for me to keep sending my archives to them while still keeping my write-ups on my site. So that's where we stand as of Tuesday, August 17th. Things continue to change from day to day. Who knows what's next? Now my write ups will be appearing in their original form on MarksFriggin.com while appearing in a heavily edited version on Howard's site.
UPDATE - August 30, 2004 - Yes, I'm still getting contributor credits on Howard's site even though my write ups are hardly part of their daily reports these days. I only see a few lines of mine being used over there. I'm not complaining though, just giving an update. It's great to have my name attached to Howard's site while still being able to do things my own way here at MarksFriggin.com.
UPDATE - October 27, 2004 - Although I appreciate the fact that I was still being credited for ''contributing'' to Howard's site, even though I wasn't, I've asked to have my name removed from HowardStern.com. On October 25th I got a couple of really nasty e-mails, through Howard's site, about the awful write up that day. I had absolutely nothing to do with the poorly written mess but, since my name was attached to it, it appeared that I did. I don't want to be the one taking the blame for that kind of thing so I've asked to be removed. Here are the two e-mails I got about the HowardStern.com write ups that I had nothing to do with!
holy fuck dude.....this is the most brutallized commentary of the show ive ever seen (oct 25th)....do me a favor, take some time off work, go back to grade school and learn some fuckin grammar...and while your at it since you cant use the spell checker...you should probably learn to spell as well.....damn what really should be done here is that you start your whole english education all over again, because you are retarded ......RETARD!!!!
ps.....do you ever bother to take the fuckin time to proof the shit you put out??
You really need to review what you put on the website. For a while, even your grammar and spelling were getting better, but today, you had quite a few things doubled in the last couple paragraphs. I loved reading your stuff on marksfriggin.com and I'm happy that you finally got on Howard's website. I even e-mailed Howard telling him you should get some credit for your page and next thing I knew you were writing for the HS website.
Anyway, I don't know what kind of time crunch you're under when you have to submit this or however you get it uploaded to the site, but have someone else read it before you post it! Please don't take it wrong, it's just a little constructive criticism. Keep up the good work!
UPDATE - October 29, 2004 - My name was removed from Howard's site. It really is too bad things didn't work out. It's kind of a sad day... but I'm still here doing my thing, my way.
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