Radio AM to FM: March 19, 2004
FCC whipping boy Howard Stern has been in the news as of late due to the ripples emerging from the infamous Janet Jackson Super Bowl breast incident.
Strange how such a nonevent can have a huge effect. The Super Bowl: Exposed lasted only a half second, yet the repercussions are just beginning. In Stern's case, he has been removed from the six Clear Channel stations that carried him (most of his affiliate stations are owned by Viacom, so that is not really a big deal), and his show is being edited by some of the others, all in the name of decency.
Now bear with me for a second: I'm no fan of Stern's show. Not because he's any sort of "shock jock;" I just find him tremendously boring. He tends to make fun of celebrities that I don't care about, and his sex schtick gets tiresome. Yet when he's hot, he's hot, and that's why people will listen to him longer than almost any other personality: they know they'll hear some great radio ... eventually.
More importantly his show, which airs locally from 3 am to about 10 or 11 am on KLSX (97.1 FM), is hardly indecent. Clear Channel can say whatever they want, and do whatever they want. But Stern himself is actually fairly conservative, and his show was never the "shocking" show it had a reputation for being. The Stern fans I know are well-educated and well-spoken ... hardly the dregs of the earth that Stern's detractors would make them out to be.
So where does that leave the popular personality? His advertisers say they are staying with him, but Stern is threatening to leave commercial radio for the satellite waves of subscription services XM or Sirius. The same services, mind you, that Stern accused of hiring only washed-up has-beens only one month ago. Yet I am convinced that Stern moving to either would be a coup for whichever service snags him.
Of course it's probably just posturing, but who knows? In ten years, with consolidation and satellite, will traditional radio even be around?
A post on one of the radio news boards I read mentioned that the National Association of Broadcasters is pushing a locals-only approach to satellite competition. In ads, a spokesman states that satellite services are not needed when you can get everything you need from your local radio station.
Only problem is that the NAB and the FCC did away with local stations years ago ...
March 31st is the expected launch date of the new all-liberal-all-the-time talk format on KBLA (1580 AM). Kind of ironic that it is found on the right side of the dial.
In any event, hosts will include Marc Maron, Sue Ellicott, Mark Riley, Lizz Winstead, Chuck D, Laura Flanders, Al "I used to be funny" Franken, Katherine Lanpher, Randi Rhodes, Marty Kaplan and Janeane Garofalo.
Franken is calling his show The O'Franken Factor, meant to be a jab at Bill O'Reilly, whose O'Reilly Factor airs on cable television's Fox News Channel in addition to a radio version on stations including KABC (790 AM). I'm sure someone thinks the name is clever.
Copyright © 2004 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.
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