Skip to comments.Shock jock sparks reformat,firing of morning DJs at WBZZ
Posted on 07/01/2004 2:07:43 PM PDT by Glenn
GREEN TREE - Howard Stern defiantly returned to Pittsburgh's airwaves Wednesday, vowing to carry on a cultural battle with political conservatives.
Stern was named the new morning-show host for WBZZ-FM (93.7) in Green Tree, replacing the popular "Dave, Bubba, Shelley" show, which had aired for 15 years on the Pittsburgh area's longest-tenured Top-40 station.
While Stern's stint with WBZZ formally begins July 19, the station immediately switched formats Wednesday, becoming a rock station, dubbed "93.7/K-Rock." The station will feature an aggressive attitude targeting Stern's core audience, largely adult males.
To pave the way for Stern and the new format, all nine WBZZ disc jockeys were fired, though some might be rehired to work for sister stations in Pittsburgh, such as WZPT-FM ("Star 100.7") said Michael Young, senior vice president for parent company, Infinity Pittsburgh.
The decision to hire Stern was almost a no-brainer, Young said.
"When you look at Howard, in our opinion, he's the premier morning-drive personality in this country," Young said. "He has a proven track record in Pittsburgh, and when he was taken off the air in Pittsburgh, it left a huge void."
Stern's high-rated show hasn't been heard in Pittsburgh since Feb. 25, when modern-rock station WXDX-FM (105.9) dropped the racy program in the wake of an FCC crackdown on obscenity.
In a New York press conference aired Wednesday morning on WBZZ, Stern said along with Pittsburgh, he is returning to the airwaves in four other cities where he simultaneously had been banished: San Diego; Orlando and West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Rochester, N.Y. His syndicated show also has been picked up in four new markets: Houston and Austin, Texas; Tampa, Fla.; and Fresno, Calif.
"This will teach the FCC a lesson," Stern said. "We won't give up. We will fight back."
Though rumored for a few weeks, the Stern-to-WBZZ announcement was a bombshell for Pittsburgh radio listeners.
Ellwood City resident Shari Mulig said she has listened to the WBZZ morning team for 15 years, but now she will seek a new station.
"I can't believe they're being replaced by Howard Stern," Mulig said. "I mean, they did some crazy things, but they're not as repulsive as Howard Stern."
Fired WBZZ jocks Marc "Bubba" Snider and Shelley Duffy gave emotional, on-air farewells to listeners Wednesday morning, minutes before WBZZ switched over to the Stern press conference.
Stern's return to Pittsburgh sets up an intriguing showdown with his former Pittsburgh employer, WXDX, which a day earlier had announced its top jock, Alan Cox, would become the station's permanent replacement for Stern.
Cox and Stern will battle for a similar demographic - the 18-to-34-year-old male audience coveted by advertisers. That audience must choose an allegiance between the 50-year-old, nationally famous Stern, based in New York, or the 31-year-old Cox, a Chicago native who lives in Pittsburgh's Mount Washington section. Cox's nervy, sometimes confrontational style draws comparisons to Stern's, although Cox insists that his biggest influence is David Letterman.
Amid the Wednesday press conference aired nationally, Stern arrogantly predicted he will be the highest-rated morning man in Pittsburgh.
"The day I start in Pittsburgh, I'll be No. 1 again," Stern said. "I'm going to kick their asses in Pittsburgh."
But WXDX's vice president of programming, Baden native Gene Romano, confidently countered, "Alan is an extraordinary talent. 'The X' will be stronger than ever."
The jockeying for listeners continued up and down the Pittsburgh radio dial Wednesday morning, as one of WBZZ's sister stations, WZPT, began airing commercials welcoming former listeners of WBZZ presumably turned off by Stern and the station's new format.
The format switch will force Pittsburgh's highest-rated FM station, WDVE-FM (102.5), to brace for direct competition for the first time in a decade. But now Pittsburgh's lone Top-40 station, WKST-FM (96.1), will enjoy a relatively free ride.
Though he's a proven ratings winner, Stern wears a target on his back these days, as the FCC monitors his every broadcast, ready to levy million-dollar fines against any on-air statements deemed obscene. The FCC crackdown resulted from an enormous public outcry, fueled by conservative groups, after pop singer Janet Jackson bared a breast during the Super Bowl halftime show.
Stern said Wednesday that not one fine has been issued against Jackson, the NFL or CBS-TV for airing the Feb. 1 halftime show.
"The person who is the victim in this is me," Stern said.
Stern berated Clear Channel Entertainment, the Texas-based company that in February kicked Stern off six of its stations, including Pittsburgh's WXDX.
"Clear Channel is in bed with George Bush," Stern said.
Stern claimed Clear Channel used the Super Bowl debacle as an excuse to fire him, when really the company canned him for his anti-Bush opinions expressed on the air.
Predicting that his return to two Florida stations will deliver a victory for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in that decisive state, Stern said, "Bush is threatening this country in so many ways, it's frightening."
Then the "shock jock" who routinely interviews porn stars and pesters celebrity guests with embarrassing sex questions added, "I am in a war. A cultural war."
Scott Tady can be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org.
©Beaver County Times/Allegheny Times 2004
Howard Stern is not really anti-America, especially when compared to Michael Moore. He just has a vendetta with the FCC and the Bush administration for the fines levied on his network for his show's alleged obscenity.
...actually they the same....multiplying by fission or "Budding".
Actually, he was bodysnatched and started sounding like it, along with Robyn, around the time Limbaugh went into rehab. Then, almost like he was possessed, he started shoehorning in jabs against Rush that sounded really forced. Then, he devolved into the talking point turd he is now.
If you ask me disagreement day (today) on Michael Medveds show is top notch entertainment. Nothing funnier than listening to liberals rant untill they realize they're ranting and hang up.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH BUMP!!!
FREE HOWARD STERN!
Stern is in a death spiral to oblivion. Another massive ego in final flame out.
Howard Stern coming back to Austin airwaves
Local hip-hop station KQBT-FM will carry controversial show beginning July 19
That may be, but I wonder how long it'll take Howie to get in trouble with the FCC again. Maybe this is just a not well thought out move for publicity by the station management, though they'll get the high ratings for his program.
I tried to listen to Howard Stern before all this stuff started...I couldn't. It is childish, stupid, repetitive nonsense that only the immature individuals that he panders too will listen too.
Make your show political please Howard.....make people mad....at you for being a nasty dirty smelly and hairy guy saying things that have no meaning and blasting the FCC for actually enforcing the rules on you. HAHA!!!
Welcome to FR! Glad you found it.
Howard thinks he's going to make an impact on the election, but I'll be surprised if his fans will break away from their Hungry Man TV dinners and 64 oz bottles of Old English malt liquor long enough to vote.
Howard Stern is a friggin' idiot who only knows how to appeal to the worst in all of us. He may be funny but he isn't right.
I thought his original, syndicated TV show had some good skits. And a lot of bombs too.
Previously, he was just another piece o' sh*t.
I used to enjoy listening to Stern when he was in Detroit in the late 70s. The show was nothing like the pre-pubescent freak show that it is nowadays.
Ironically, he was out in an abrupt format change, the station he was working at switching over to country. It was amazing hearing him playing straight DJ to country songs - he sounded sedated and lobotomized. Didn't last long before he left the area.
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