I’ve yet to hear any portion of Howard Stern’s first week on Sirius — though the day one accounts of Lt. Sulu describing the loss of his virginity make purchasing a subscription quite tempting — nor have I heard David Lee Roth’s attempts at filling Howard’s very big shoes on the former K-Rock NY. The New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan, full of praise for Howard (“a haggard masturbator and morbid misanthrope who must hang out with deformed and desperate men because he can hardly perform with women”) suggests that Diamond Dave is in over his head.
A doctor’s son who worked recently as an emergency medical technician, Mr. Roth is far too square for the morning slot. His stories about his drunken antics of the late 1970’s – or, worse, about the 50’s in crazy Greenwich Village, where his uncle Murray owned the CafÃ© Wha? – ring obsolete. And he won’t reveal much about his life now, refusing to answer even routine questions from fans about his love life. As a result, his sanctimony on subjects from drugs to plastic surgery to celebrity misdeeds, is unearned. If he won’t say anything about himself but bland boasts about his glory days, why should he get to tell us what to do?
Finally, Mr. Roth’s tenor, which is can be poignant and otherworldly on Van Halen songs like “Jamie’s Crying,” is surprisingly grating and banal when he’s speaking. Listeners to regular radio will miss Mr. Stern’s low, unerring, New York-inflected voice – and the depth of weirdness it unfailingly conveys.