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Shock Jock

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Woman: This show is trash! I don't want my children hearing your filth!
Martin Serious: Shut up, you shrew! You take it from me and drown your children in the bathtub right now! On the phone!
Announcer: The most valuable man in broadcasting. The genius who takes no prisoners is back for another episode of the shock jock show that has changed everything! Including moral standards and what is considered funny.
The intro to The Martin Serious Show in Grand Theft Auto IV: Episodes from Liberty City

Let's face it, if you ran out into the street and shouted, at the top of your voice...'d probably get a lot of attention. And in radio, a lot of attention means a lot of listeners. And a lot of revenue.

The Shock Jock is just that; he's out to shock people by behaving in the most offensive manner possible. In some ways, these people are professional, live-action trolls; by saying what they do, they attract attention and thus get good ratings. They also continually test how far Refuge in Audacity can be taken.

Compare Dumbass DJ and Large Ham Radio. A Pompous Political Pundit can potentially be a variation of this, and certain types of Bad Influencer may use similar controversy-courting tactics.

Over time, the Shock Jock must escalate his offensiveness, pushing the envelope because of Shock Fatigue. After a while, people get used to them and it's not shocking anymore.

For the moment, Real Life examples are allowed, as long as the edits are kept civil.


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    Comic Books 
  • Livewire of The DCU was a shock jock before she got her actual Shock and Awe powers. She still sometimes shows traces of her former career. Gail Simone, who wrote her comic book origin, mentioned that she was a Take That!, particularly to Ann Coulter.
  • The Powerpuff Girls #61: "Radio No!" has a radio shock jock that everyone in town (except Blossom) loves listening to. The girls' enemy Him hypnotizes the jock into making the people of Townsville become chaotic and then to destroy the girls.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Jack (Jeff Bridges) is this at the beginning of The Fisher King. His comments prompt a gunman to open fire in a restaurant, kicking off the plot and driving him out of the business and into a self-hating, self-destructive downward spiral.
  • Adrian Cronauer of Good Morning, Vietnam is one, at least by the somewhat uptight standards of the US Army's leadership as of the mid-sixties setting; compared to real-life shock jocks it's pretty tame stuff, but to Sergeant-Major Dickinson it's bordering on treason.
  • Barry from Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers. It's rumored that he was originally going to be played by Howard Stern.
  • Jack from Magic in the Water is a lot milder than most examples, being a character in a PG-rated movie, but he does insult almost every caller, even the ones who agree with him.
  • Grant Mazzy of Pontypool keeps trying to be a shock jock, much to the dismay of producer Sydney Briar. Apparently he was too offensive at his last job, leading to him being fired and ending up in a much smaller station.
  • Eric Bogosian in Talk Radio. Play and film. The play is a satire on the trend and on Howard Stern in specific, while the film adds elements from Alan Berg's life story.

  • Ken Nott in Dead Air is a rare literary example. His libertarian and left wing radio rants culminate in a physical assault on a Holocaust denier.

    Live Action TV 
  • Joe Pickett: Outdoorsman Buck Lothar hosts a radio show where he badmouths Joe's involvement in the Miller's Weasel scandal that led to environmentalism triumphing over economic concerns. Buck later admits this was mainly a gimmick to draw in more listeners and sell more merchandise, and while Joe has mixed feelings about this, he and Buck become Fire-Forged Friends while working a manhunt together, with Buck offering to retract his previous insults on his next show.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit had a character who would quite literally do anything for ratings, up to and including glorifying a rapist.
    • One episode features a shock jock who gets wrapped up in an investigation when a teenage boy (who, naturally, turns out to be the son of one of the activists trying to get him off the air) takes a Panty Shot of an actress while she's asleep in her trailer to win a contest.
    • Law & Order: Criminal Intent has a Howard Stern expy who is deliberately Driven to Suicide by the obsessive ex-wife of one of his listeners.
  • The firm on Ally McBeal sued a Stern-esque jock. Ally was disgusted, not with the man, but the way the firm handled his case, so by way of apology she went on his show and put on a giggling bimbo act.
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk is on the Air," radio host Max Hudson and his two sidekicks, a jokester named J.J. and a dwarf named Little Willie, count. Max uses his show and a dog trained to interpret a new catchphrase as a command to indirectly murder his wife Jeanette. Since he was on the air when her death occurred he has a near-perfect alibi.
  • Diagnosis: Murder episode "FMurder" features a loud mouthed radio DJ who meets an untimely end.
  • Midnight Caller: Kingston Rivers, who gets into a feud with Jack in "Trash Radio."

  • Eminem started his career doing "shock rap" based around saying "the illest shit [he] could think of". It wasn't long before he was even savaging his own reputation for doing this in his music, grouching about how he has to cuss in his raps to sell records, and putting long strings of absurd homophobia in songs after a disclaimer acknowledging he doesn't believe it and is just saying it to make you mad.
    I only cuss to make your mom upset!

  • Adventures in Odyssey featured Shock Jock Cryin' Brian Dern as a recurring character. In one episode, he starts to lure Edwin Blackguard into following his shock jock ways. Among others, Edwin insults the volunteer fire department by saying they're named "Bubba". Despite this, they put out his theater when it catches on fire later in the episode.

    Video Games 
  • Martin Serious in the Grand Theft Auto IV expansion packs is a parody of Howard Stern, right down to his co-hosts being modeled after Stern's.
  • The Borderlands 2 DLC Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate's Booty has a mission called "Freedom of Speech", wherein a Moral Guardian robot directs the player to kill a shock jock to end his profanity. Amusingly, his name is DJ Tanner.

    Web Comic 
  • Sinfest: It's widely believed that this is what has become of the comic in recent years. It started as a rather straight forward comic with mid-to-late Newgrounds humor, before largely becoming a hardcore feminist comic, before becoming a hardcore alt-right conservative comic that outright contradicts several of the feminist core arcs it had written prior. It was this drastic shift that caused people to believe that it's creator was deliberately invoking this trope to keep eyes on the comic, as there is No Such Thing as Bad Publicity.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • A No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Howard Stern appeared in a Animaniacs short where the Warners visited his radio show.
  • The Simpsons: To improve his image, Mr. Burns goes on a shock jock's radio show and admits that as a child he enjoyed Having a Gay Old Time.
    • Also on the The Simpsons: Birch Barlow is a conservative radio personality of Springfield, and clearly a satire of Rush Limbaugh. (See below.)
  • Brian and Stewie as "Dingo and the Baby" on Family Guy. They're later replaced by "Dark Chocolate and the Rod" (Cleveland and Quagmire).
  • Extreme Ghostbusters had a guy who was a hybrid between Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage, whose broadcasts got into peoples' dreams and caused the injuries they sustained in those dreams to manifest in real life as bruises. It turns out that a dream-being called Morpheus was using him to manifest in the real world. He succeeded, but when he became real, the 'Busters easily zapped and trapped him.
  • Superman: The Animated Series has Leslie Willis, a radio host who gained notoriety by slandering Superman. Her job title was quite prophetic, as a freak accident during a thunderstorm turns her into the Electricity-Themed supervillainess Livewire.

    Real Life 
  • Howard Stern is the Trope Maker. His big break stemmed from a show that he hosted with fellow Shock Jock Don Imus, before being fired from said show and setting up his own show. After over twenty years of hosting one of the biggest (and most fined) radio shows in American history, Stern moved his show from terrestrial radio to Sirius Satellite Radio in 2005, which gave him full reign to say whatever he wanted; but ironically, this freedom to do so has mellowed him out considerably.
    • Subverted as Howard Stern has long rejected the Shock Jock label, claiming that his intention is never to shock people, it's to make people laugh.
  • Opie & Anthony fit the mold, though they have not assumed the label. Most famously, they were fired from WNEW in New York after they convinced people to have sex in St. Patrick's Cathedral, a move that was responsible for a great deal of Network Decay at that station.
  • Don Imus was considered the first radio shock jock. As mentioned above, he had worked with Howard Stern until they got their own shows after Howard was fired. Don was fired in 2007 for his "nappy-headed hoes" comment about the (mostly black) Rutgers women's basketball team, but was later re-hired with other big names.
  • "Miss Jones" was a failed R & B singer-turned-Hip Hop Radio station DJ (New York's Hot 97 WQHT) who thought it would bee hilarious to play a nasty, ethnic-slur-filled spoof of "We Are The World" called "USA For Indonesia" which mocked the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake/Tsunami. When her co-host, Minya Oh (a.k.a "Miss Info", herself of Korean descent) raised objections, Jones and the other co-host, Todd Lynn, simply mocked her and accused her of "feeling superior because she's Asian" (Lynn even made a comment about 'shooting Asians').note  A huge outcry followed. Todd Lynn and Producer Rick Del Gado (who penned the crappy song) were quickly fired while Jones was suspended for a time (to the chagrin of listeners who felt she should have been fired as well).note 
  • Rush Limbaugh was on the borderline, even though he was a political talk show host. A first time listener may have mistaken him for this, and he was known for making controversial comments.
  • British radio listeners from Oop North will recall the great James Stannage with affection and pleasure. Between the introduction of local commercial radio in 1974 and today he has told it like it is on quite a few stations, been fined and sacked by the regulators several times and displayed the requisite degree of no patience for idiots all that time. He has nearly forty years of loyal fans behind him. All you need to know is that in the fortnight following the death of Princess Diana, his radio station (Manchester Key 103) capitulated straight away, took him off air and sent him on compulsory holiday for fear of the things he might say. Classic Stannage here'.
  • His Key 103 stablemate Steve Penk had to tone it down for the morning breakfast show. But Penk, who styled himself as a British version of Howard Stern and who brought many features of Stern's broadcast style to British audiences, pushed the envelope too. Hearing on the traffic report that a major motorway was blocked because of a woman threatening suicide from the parapet of a bridge, he cheerfully played Van Halen's Jump. note  When a song full of innuendo and low jokes was number one in Ireland, he played it to death hoping to get it charting in Britain. note  Penk took his talents to local radio in London and worked for Capitol Radio for some years.
  • Bubba the Love Sponge, infamous among TNA wrestling fans during his stint with the company. His onscreen persona was not well liked, backstage he was a bully who would have been snapped in half if not for his friendship Hogan and his comments in the wake of the 2011 Haitian earthquake led to him getting no sympathy from anyone but Hogan when Awesome Kong pummeled the crap out of him (for real) off screen. Both Bubba and Kong were booted from the company in the aftermath. He would later have a falling out with Hogan too.
  • Kyle Sandilands and Jackie "O" Henderson are very much considered this in Australia. Kyle made headlines after stating that Australian model Megan Gale was a "phony" and that he "never liked her", put a 14-year-old girl who had been raped on a lie-detector test on the air and then asked "Right ... is that the only experience you've had?", and asserted that smoking was not as harmful to people as many institutions would lead people to believe and that the statistics presented by these institutions are falsified. And yet, they've been nominated for 36 Australian Commercial Radio Awards, and won 9.
  • George Galloway is very vocal for his anti-western stance, and his support for people like Saddam, Ahmadinejad...
  • Steve Dahl has also been considered the first shock jock. He is known for his anti-disco campaigns after being fired when his stations switched to the disco format - which lead to Disco Demolition Night (an event that he seems to view as somewhere between Never Live It Down and Old Shame) wherein he blew up old disco records during a baseball game, causing the game to be cancelled, and which then led to many disco stations to switch their format. However, being labeled a shock jock appears to be a Berserk Button for Dahl, along with pointing out the apparent bigotry that fueled Disco Demolition Night, which he blames on a 1996 VH1 documentary about the 1970s.
  • Alan Berg. A former lawyer and mens' clothing store owner, he started hosting a talk show on Denver radio and quickly became one of the most controversial figures in the city. His basic style was Trolling: taking an outrageously provocative stand on an issue, then verbally sparring with callers who disagreed with him. His fans got that it was all basically performance art, but he made some genuine enemies as well. Some members of the loose-knit white supremacist group The Order stalked him and murdered him in 1984. The film version of Talk Radio mentioned above used Berg's story as a template for Eric Bogosian's Barry Champlain character.
  • Much like Rush Limbaugh listed above, Glenn Beck is a cross between standard political commentator and shock jock; with Beck having spent much of his early radio career as one on stations using the "Morning Zoo" format.
  • Alex Jones likewise combines political commentary with this delivery style, expressing right-wing views more extreme—and conspiratorial—than those of Beck or even Limbaugh.