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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

COLUMN: Stations Throw Tantrums Over Howard Stern

Howard Stern meets fans in Union Square Park in NYC to give away Sirius Satellite portable radios..
Corey Sipkin/KRT
Howard Stern meets fans in Union Square Park in NYC to give away Sirius Satellite portable radios..

In a tantrum that could rival that of a three-year-old child, some Citadel Communications stations are taking aim at departing radio legend Howard Stern. The radio equivalent of holding their breath until they turn blue has manifested in newly instituted practices of cutting off Stern’s morning radio program at ten o’clock when it routinely runs anywhere from minutes to an hour after it’s proposed end time. Stations in Syracuse, New York and Providence, Rhode Island are among those that, out of spite for the radio lord’s future move from terrestrial to SIRIUS satellite radio, have shortened his shows, thus depriving listeners of their morning fix of lesbians and midgets. Why the sudden change of heart? It’s not that Stern tops the FCC’s most wanted list for indecency violations, or a pathetically belated protest to bring back former show regular Jackie Martling, or even that these stations have it out for maturing celebrities who manage to land model girlfriends half their age. These stations are not protesting content. They’re protesting technology. The last person I can recall raging against the machine this hard had his own methods of protest, too. They involved a shack in the woods, postage, and a pair of aviator glasses. Aside from shutting the show down before it ends, Syracuse station WAQX-FM (95X) is actually editing out on-air references to SIRIUS and satellite radio altogether, creating a dialogue that is more difficult to decipher than Stern wack-packer Elephant Boy. Stern has addressed the issue on the show, even playing the satellite free, swiss-cheese, version for his audience outside of Syracuse and reading the statement of bitter afternoon disk jockey and 95X music director, Ryno. Ryno charges that pulling the show early is a result of the Stern show’s morph to infomercial for satellite radio since Stern has announced his move that is set to take place in 2006. According to the Stern Show the station even goes so far as to condemn Stern to its listeners for abandoning their free venue for the more lucrative satellite job. However, the last time I went to Best Buy they weren’t giving out car stereos, you had to pay for them.

Bashing Stern for abandoning his audience then depriving them of that opportunity to listen before he moves to satellite has to be an intelligent marketing move. I know I’d rather listen to some wacky DJ with a zoo-themed nickname and an equally unoriginal career talk smack about the radio show I tuned in for, than listen to the actual show. God forbid Stern be excited about his up-coming chance to put out his trademark brand of sexually explicit, inclusively degrading humor, without tailoring it so that some cause head in the Bible Belt won’t be offended.

How dare he promote himself over terrestrial radio airwaves when the industry has been up in arms at the FCC’s revoking of both his and the public’s right to free speech. Oh wait -it hasn’t. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Rolling over to government regulation, imposing delays, and dumping out content does not really qualify as supportive behavior.

But who knows, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe progress is wrong. As a demonstration of solidarity with my visionary Citadel Communications brothers, screw CDs and DVDs and plumbing and electricity, damn all Internet users to fiery hell. I’m opting for cassettes, BETA, card catalogues, a bush, a couple of sticks, and a terrestrial radio. I’ll let you know how it goes.