A Stern warning to any American Olympians: if you shout “baba booey” at a camera at any point during the fortnight-long event, chances are it’s not going to make NBC’s air.
Virtually anyone with a radio or television is familiar with the term “baba booey”: It’s a term coined for the producer of Howard Stern’s radio show (created over said producer’s mispronunciation of a cartoon character). And anyone unfamiliar with Stern’s show has likely heard the phrase being bandied about by particular fans of Stern’s show crank calling cable news networks, or even at press conferences.
Once in awhile, though, such shoutouts transcend the traditional media.
Such was the case on Friday night in London, as the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics had culminated. As the athletes representing the United States took to the stage, one of them saw a live camera and, after giving a thumbs-up salute and a smile, punctuated it with: “Howard Stern! Baba Booey!”
Twitter instantly blew up with “baba booey” tweets when it happened at 22:49 GMT:
A few tweeters, perhaps unaware of who Stern is, had thought they heard the man say, “How you doing, Baba Booey”?
So who is this mysterious Olympian? Some are claiming that it’s the handiwork of Jake Herbert, a silver medalist wrestler, according to his Twitter bio, which also reads: “All in for 2012 Olympic Gold, but I’d do modeling or broadcasting.” Hmmm, wonder who would be his inspiration for broadcasting?
Anyway, it appears that Herbert previously appeared on Stern’s show and vowed to utter the phrase 69 times at the London Olympics. In fact, days before the Olympics began, a couple of his Twitter followers were egging him on to “drop a baba booey” right after he wins a gold medal.
Of course, based on Herbert’s shoutout on Friday night before the games officially began, his fans didn’t have to wait that long.
Unfortunately, American viewers with access to the BBC One channel were able to watch the opening ceremonies unfettered. By the time they ran on NBC on Friday night for the American audience (i.e. the 99% who doesn’t have access to BBC One), the presentation was not only peppered with commentary by the likes of Bob Costas and Ryan Seacrest, but there were, as you would expect, many commercial breaks. NBC and the IOC went to great lengths to shut down any illegal Internet streams of the opening ceremonies on Friday afternoon – they had to protect advertisers involved with NBC’s tape-delayed presentation of the ceremonies who wanted to get their money’s worth. And according to former NBC employee Darren Rovell, NBC’s restrictive tactics appear to have paid off.
And in addition to the criticism NBC received from many for not having a live stream available for the opening ceremonies on Friday afternoon, the Peacock network was also taking some heat for a questionable decision to go to a commercial break right before the American Olympians were announced. Some are even going as far as calling it “un-American.”
With all due respect, there probably couldn’t have been a more “un-American” thing NBC has done on Friday, than to censor Herbert, an American athlete, and his “baba booey” moment, as evidenced by this series of tweets:
Now, I understand that NBC has to run a tight ship and has to make their presentation of the opening ceremonies as clean as possible. But consider the irony that a flatulence gag by Rowan Atkinson’s “Mr. Bean” character from the opening ceremonies was broadcast to NBC viewers on tape delay - but the “baba booey” shoutout wasn’t.
Apparently, according to NBC’s censors, fart humor overrides references to Howard Stern – NBC employee, mind you.
Makes you wonder what all of NBC’s reasons for going to great lengths to ensure maximum viewership of their presentation of the opening ceremonies really are.
UPDATE: Upon reading and retweeting our report, Herbert has but one message to his fans: “Only 68 more to go. 15 days left to get them in.”