In Turnaround, Howard Stern Expanding Broadcasts

Rhett Pardon
NEW YORK — Just when you thought his show was on shaky ground, the broadcast industry was stunned by the announcement Wednesday that Howard Stern’s syndicated show would appear in nine additional markets, including four where his show was cancelled by Clear Channel Communications for alleged indecency.

Stern announced his program would air on stations in Houston (KIKK-AM); San Diego (KPLN-FM); Tampa, Fla. (WQYK-AM); Pittsburgh (WBZZ-FM); Orlando, Fla. (WOCL-FM); Austin, Texas (KQBT-FM); West Palm Beach, Fla. (WPBZ-FM); Rochester, N.Y. (WZNE-FM); and Fresno, Calif., (KRNC-FM) — all owned by Viacom Inc.'s Infinity Broadcasting unit.

It will debut on the stations beginning on Monday, July 19, bringing the total number of stations that carry the Stern show to 45.

The program is rated No. 1 for males aged 25 to 54 in the New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington and Boston markets, according to Infinity.

"I can't wait to get back into the markets where we were taken off," Stern said. "I've missed my fans and judging from the countless emails and calls I've received, they've missed the show. Now we have the opportunity to be together again. It will be great."

San Antonio, Texas-based Clear Channel Communications suspended Stern in February and dropped the country's best-known shock jock from its stations in Rochester, N.Y.; Orlando, Fla.; San Diego; Pittsburgh; and two other markets after complaints by the Federal Communications Commission.

In early June, Clear Channel agreed to a record $1.75 million settlement with the FCC to resolve indecency complaints against Stern and other radio personalities.

Stern made the announcement at a news conference aired live on his radio show. He railed against the increased scrutiny he has received in recent months from the FCC.

"I'm not taking it sitting down," Stern said Wednesday. The FCC's enforcement "has a chilling effect on all broadcasters. The FCC is on a witch hunt."

Stern said entering the new markets was a message to the FCC, which has tightened its enforcement of indecency standards. Stern and the FCC have battled for years, with New York-based Infinity paying $1.7 million in 1995 to settle various violations by the shock jock.

Federal law bars radio stations and over-the-air television channels from airing references to sexual and excretory functions between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when children may be tuning in. The rules do not apply to cable and satellite channels or satellite radio.

The president and chief operating officer of Infinity expressed support for Stern.

"Howard has dominated the radio landscape for more than 20 years," Joel Hollander said. "The millions of listeners who tune into the Howard Stern Show on a daily basis is unmatched in the industry. He delivers one of the most loyal audiences in radio who will no doubt embrace his return."

In addition to his radio program, Stern also starred in "Private Parts" based on his best-selling autobiography, and authored one the fastest selling books in publishing history, “Miss America.” His E! Entertainment Television show recently celebrated their 10th anniversary on the air and remains one of the network’s highest-rated series.