The Howard Stern Show: Wikis


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The Howard Stern Show
Genre Talk, comedy, entertainment
Running time 5 hours on satellite
4-5 hours on terrestrial
Country United States
Languages English
Home station Howard 100
Starring Robin Quivers
Artie Lange
Fred Norris
Announcer George Takei on satellite
Paul Turner on terrestrial
Producers Gary Dell'Abate
Opening theme "The Great American Nightmare" by Rob Zombie and Howard Stern (1999–present)

"Tilt A Whirl" by Jimmie Vaughan (1994–1998)

"In a Mellow Tone" by Duke Ellington (1987–1994)

"H.O.W.A.R.D S.T.E.R.N" by The Double-O Zeros (Until 1986 approx.)

"They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" by Napoleon XIV (1982–1984)
Ending theme "Tortured Man" by Howard Stern and Dust Brothers (1999-present)

The Howard Stern Show is an American talk radio show hosted by Howard Stern, broadcasting on his two uncensored channels on satellite radio service Sirius XM since January 2006. The show developed while on terrestrial radio, when Stern became a morning disc jockey at WCCC in Hartford in 1979, two years into his professional radio career. Stern continued to break out as a personality while at WWWW in Detroit in 1980, despite a lack in the Arbitron radio ratings. In early 1981, Stern would have much success in the radio ratings at WWDC in Washington, D.C. after pairing with his on-air news anchor Robin Quivers.

Pursuing his dream to broadcast in New York City, Stern signed a contract with WNBC in mid-1982 working afternoons. Although differences with management restricted him creatively, Stern would host the city's top afternoon show by the spring of 1985. Stern however, was abruptly fired in September 1985 due to "conceptual differences" with management. Returning to the city's airwaves in November 1985 at WXRK, Stern moved to the morning shift in February 1986. In less than a year, his show became the top rated morning and overall radio show in the nation's top market.[1] By the year's end, the show began its history of fines made by the Federal Communications Commission, for what it considered "indecent" material. By 1991, the show was syndicated to Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, where Stern would infamously feud with the cities' top morning personalities, holding "funerals" in celebration once he surpassed them in the ratings.

Following his announcement to Sirius XM in October 2004, Stern held his final terrestrial broadcast on December 16, 2005. During his run of over 20 years at WXRK, the show was heard in over 60 markets across the country[2][3] while attracting a peak audience of approximately 20 million.[4][5][6]



Early development (1979–1980)

Howard Stern developed his on-air personality two years into his professional radio career. He began his first morning shift in July 1979 at WCCC in Hartford, Connecticut, where the rock station looked for a "wild, fun morning guy."[7] It was here when Stern met Fred Norris, a college student working nights who on occasion would stay during Stern's morning shift to provide impressions of celebrities including Howard Cosell.[8] Norris would join Stern as a writer and producer in 1981. It was also at Hartford when Stern began a two-day boycott of Shell Oil Company during the 1979 energy crisis. The station backed Stern, and the two made national news.[9]

Stern left WCCC in February 1980, unable to get a US$25-a-week raise he requested.[9] After declining a position at a station in Columbus, Ohio, he began a new morning shift at WWWW in Detroit, Michigan, beginning on April 21, 1980.[10][11] With a $30,000 salary, he began getting noticed in the industry.[12] He won a Billboard Award for "Best Album-Oriented Rock Disc Jockey", the Drake-Chenault "Top Five Talent Search", and one of his bits was sent across the country.[13] Stern however, left the station after nine months following a sudden change in format to country music.[13] By this time in the quarterly Arbitron radio ratings, Stern trailed his major competing stations WRIF and WLLZ. While both stations attracted audience shares of 4.7% and 4.6% respectively, Stern trailed with just 1.6%.[14] He did have offers for positions at CHUM in Toronto, WXRT in Chicago[13] and WPLJ in New York City, yet they were not taken.

Success in Washington (1981–1982)

Stern began his third morning shift at WWDC, a rock station in Washington, D.C. on March 2, 1981.[11] With a starting salary of $40,000, Stern was determined to "kill his competition", and then move to New York City, his eventual goal.[14][15][16] Realising the importance of news segments for satirical humour, Stern wished for an on-air sidekick.[16] He was then paired with Robin Quivers, a news anchor and consumer reporter from WFBR in Baltimore, Maryland.[17] On hearing Stern interview a prostitute on the air, Quivers "had never heard anything like it", and quickly took the position.[16][18] The show became a success in the quarterly Arbitron ratings. Stern, who inherited a show with a 2.6% share of the morning audience, had 5.2% by the spring and 5.6% by the summer of 1981.[19] By the following year, this grew to 8.0%.[20]

Examples of Stern's "shock jock" personality began in Washington. Following the crash of Air Florida Flight 90 on January 13, 1982, he called Air Florida, asking the price of a one-way ticket from National to the 14th Street Bridge, where the accident occurred. "Is that going to be a permanent stop?" asked Stern on the air.[21] He later revealed however, that the call was in fact fake and contrary to popular belief, was not the cause of his departure from the station.[21] Stern also began airing his issues with station management, revealing the salary of station manager Goff Lebhar. His contract with the station was soon terminated on June 29, 1982, with Quivers leaving on June 17.[11] She returned to Baltimore, working at WCBM, until rejoining Stern on October 18 in New York.[22][23] Stern presented a farewell show two weeks later on competing station WAVA.[11]

Afternoons at WNBC (1982–1985)

Stern began in New York City, the country's largest radio market, at WNBC on August 4, 1982, from 4–8 pm.[24] Management, however, worried about its corporate image and Stern's risqué personality, and told him to lay off sexual and religious discussions.[25] Within his first month at the station, Stern was suspended for several days for a controversial segment known as "Virgin Mary Kong." The skit featured a new video game by God in which a group of men chase the Virgin Mary around a singles bar in Jerusalem.[25]

In February 1983, comedian Jackie Martling was hired to make weekly appearances as a comedy writer. With his "on-the-fly" style, he would provide jokes for show bits such as "Stump the Comedian," "Match Game" and "Mama Looka Boo Boo Day."[11] Martling would assume his role full-time in August 1986 for an initial $1,500 per-week having replaced Al Rosenberg, who would commute from Washington, D.C.[14] On September 4, 1984, Gary Dell'Abate, part of the station's traffic department, began as the show's assistant who later became executive producer.[11][26]

The quarterly Arbitron ratings throughout 1984 showed a rise in Stern's popularity. Having moved shifts to 3–7 pm, he attracted an audience share of 3.8% in the spring, which grew to 4.2% in the summer and 4.6% in the autumn.[27][28] The show was able to attract male listeners aged 18–34, a highly-marketable demographic for advertisers.[28] Stern began to appear on television more often, appearing on Late Night with David Letterman on NBC four times between May and October 1984, launching him into the national spotlight for the first time.[29] By the spring of 1985, Stern had the top afternoon show in the city. With a record 5.7% share of the audience, the highest at the station set by Don Imus in 1981, the station attracted 3.0% for the rest of the day.[30] Stern had taken the station's ranking in afternoons from eleven to first place in three years.[25]

Among the success in the ratings, tension between management and Stern grew further. It was officially announced on September 30, 1985, that the show had been cancelled due to "conceptual differences" between Stern and management.[11] Stern later believed that Thornton Bradshaw, at the time chairman of RCA which then owned WNBC, was driving in his limousine having heard his on-air "Bestiality Dial-a-Date" segment on September 20, and ordered his firing.[25] "Over the course of time, we made a very conscious effort to make Stern aware that certain elements of the program should be changed", said program director John Hayes, whom Stern called "The Incubus." "I don't think it's appropriate to say what those specifics were."[31]

Twenty years at K-Rock (1985–2005)

Mornings, Philadelphia and Washington (1985-1990)

Stern returned to the airwaves in New York City at WXRK, a rock station owned by Mel Karmazin, president of Infinity Broadcasting. He began what became a twenty-year residency at the station from 2–6pm on November 18, 1985.[32] Ratings increased instantaneously, as the station had a 4.6% share of the listening audience after three weeks.[33] He later moved to the 6–10 am shift on February 18, 1986,[34][35] and stayed there until he left the station for Sirius on December 16, 2005.

Stern's dream of hosting a national show came true on August 18, 1986 when the show was simulcast to Philadelphia on WYSP.[32] Though the local media doubted his success in a new radio market,[36] the station's rank in the mornings rose from eleven to three in two months among males over 18.[37] Feuding with the city's top morning personality John DeBella on WMMR, Stern trailed his rival by two tenths of a rating point by October 1988.[38] In celebration of surpassing DeBella and gaining the top spot, Stern held a "funeral" for him on May 10, 1990 in Rittenhouse Square.[39]

Following a separate short-lived syndicated program on Saturday mornings from 1986–1987,[40] Stern added his third market, Washington, D.C., on talk station WJFK-FM on October 3, 1988.[citation needed] His kick-off line was "Welcome to WJFK. Assassination radio!" after which Fred Norris played gunshot sound effects.[41] Returning to Washington airwaves after six years, Stern predicted he would "crush" his former station "DC-101" within six months.[42] In January 1989, Doug "The Greaseman" Tracht, who preceded Stern at "DC-101," lost 2.5% of his strong 25-54 male audience.[43] Ratings however, failed to show any rise for Stern, and observers questioned if it was worth the reported $500,000 he would earn for the Washington simulcast.[44] Tracht continued to lose his audience in late 1989, this time reducing his share of 18-34 year-old listeners from 9.1% to 5% the following March.[45] In the same category and time period however, Stern had grew from 2.2% to 5.9%.

Los Angeles, Cleveland and suicide caller incident (1991-1994)

As the show gained new affiliates, Stern continued to mock the cities' top morning personalities. The addition of KLSX in Los Angeles on July 25, 1991[46] met with controversy among many West Coast listeners, jamming the station's switchboard with negative calls during the first simulcast.[47] Within a year however, Stern became the first to top both the Los Angeles and New York City morning ratings,[48][49] ending the three-year reign that rivals Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps of KLOS previously had. With his record audience share of 9.5% among those aged 12 and over in New York, Stern obtained a 6.4% share in the same demographic in Los Angeles.[50][51] In celebration, Stern held a "funeral" for Thompson and Phelps, reportedly attended an estimated 20,000 in the parking lot of the Los Angeles Palace Theatre on November 25, 1992.[52][53]

Stern held the last of his "funerals" to his rivals following the addition of his sixth affiliate, WNCX in Cleveland, on August 31, 1992.[54] During the "funeral" show on June 10, 1994, for his rivals – John Lanigan of WMJI and the Buzzard Morning Zoo team of Jeff Kinzbach and Ed "Flash" Ferenc of WMMS – William Alford, an engineer from WMMS, cut the wires which temporarily stopped the broadcast.[55][56] In June 1995, Alford was later sentenced to ten days and a $1,000 fine.[57]

Stern made national news on December 7, 1994 by preventing a man from committing suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge that connects New Jersey and Manhattan.[58] Emilio Bonilla, who called in at approximately 8:10 am, was kept on the line for five minutes until Port Authority Police, who found out about Bonilla because their tour commander had been listening to the show, arrived and took the 29-year-old into custody.[59] Bonilla was charged with cocaine possession and reckless endangerment, and was later taken to a hospital. Later on in the show, then U.S. Senator Al D'Amato and Ed Koch, the former Mayor of New York City, called in to congratulate Stern.[60] Stern also held a live press conference and answered questions from news reporters.

Selena and Columbine controversies and Canada (1995-1999)

On April 3, 1995, following the shooting of Tejano singer Selena three days earlier, Stern caused controversy after commenting on her music and the Spanish. While playing a track with added gunfire sound effects over it, Stern said "Spanish people have the worst taste in music. They have no depth. Alvin and the Chipmunks have more soul."[61][62] He called one of her records "awful music that could only be popular with that segment of society."[63] Furious callers from KEGL, the show's Dallas affiliate, jammed the station's switchboards.[64] The League of United Latin American Citizens attempted to get Stern off the air, while listeners called for boycotts against his advertisers and KEGL.[63][65] On April 6, Stern responded in Spanish with: "As you all know, I am a satirist. My comments about Selena's tragic death were not made with the intention of causing even more pain to her family, friends and those who loved her. It infuriates me that this young woman's life was snuffed out in such a senseless way. Her murderer has to be dealt with to the full extent of the law."[63][65] Eloy Cano, Justice of the Peace of Harlingen, Texas went further, issuing an arrest warrant on Stern on charges of "disorderly conduct."[66] The warrant remained even a year later, as one March 1996 article reported that it still "remained in the books."[67]

The show entered Canadian airwaves for the first time, when CHOM in Montreal and CILQ in Toronto were added to the affiliate list on September 2, 1997.[68][69] Stern's opening comments caused issues with some listeners, addressing the French people and their language. "There is something about the language that turns you into a pussy-assed jack off. Anybody who speaks French is a scum bag. It turns you into a coward. Just like in World War II, they would not stick up for us. Screw your culture and we're invading you all."[70] Despite the negative reaction, ratings for the two stations increased by 62% and 47% respectively, though they slipped nearing their first anniversary in carrying the show.[71] Stern was ultimately dropped in Montreal on August 27, 1998[72] following frequent listener complaints to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. The show was then cancelled in Toronto on November 26, 2001 after John Hayes, who was general manager during the show's time at WNBC, became program director of Corus Radio.[73][74]

Stern's comments on April 21, 1999, a day after the Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colorado, drew angry criticism regarding the incident with the following comments: "There were some really good looking girls running out with their hands over their heads...Did [the suspects] try to have sex with any of the good looking girls? They didn't even do that?...At least if you are going to kill yourself and kill all the kids, why wouldn't you have some sex?...If I was going to kill some people, I'd take them out with sex.[75] Hundreds complained to KXPK, the show's Denver affiliate.[76] Stern did not issue an apology, arguing that his quotes were taken out of context. Calling Colorado legislatures "hypocrites" and accused his critics of being overly sensitive, Stern replied with: "I dared to ask if kids had sex. So what? That's how I think."[76] "I had zero intent to make fun of the situation. The point in making that comment was an attempt to try to understand a motive. We didn't know anything about motives [the morning after] and were trying to consider all possibilities."[77]

Jackie Martling leaves and September 11 (2000-2003)

Artie Lange replaced Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling, the show's head writer of 15 years, in October 2001

It was officially announced on March 5, 2001, that Martling had left the show after not being able to negotiate a new contract.[78] Stern then announced a "Win Jackie's Money" contest, where various comedians would audition for Martling's "seat" by sitting in during shows. Those who sat in included Craig Gass, Doug Stanhope, Richard Jeni, Jim Florentine and Ron Zimmerman.[79] On October 26, 2001, comedian and actor Artie Lange replaced Martling, and joined the show full-time.[80]

The show was broadcasting live during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and stayed on the air with most of the show's staff until around 12:15 pm.[81] While in a discussion about a rendezvous with Pamela Anderson, Stern mentioned the World Trade Center was on fire. The live reporting was one of the first for those listening across the country, with listeners calling in and sharing their own experiences. On September 11, 2006, the fifth anniversary of the disaster, the original broadcast was played from the first attack, around 8:58 am on Howard 100 and Howard 101, followed by a special edition of The Wrap-Up Show and the September 11, 2002 broadcast which originally had no commercial breaks.[82] In September 2006, Howard TV aired a 90-minute special featuring the show's staff and their recollections of the day, titled 9.11.01: A Retrospective.[83]

Stuttering John leaves, Sirius contract and final show (2004-2005)

Following his announcement in becoming the new announcer for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, John Melendez left the show on February 27, 2004.[84] Stern accused Leno of stealing his radio show bits such as goofy red carpet interviews and booking Kenneth Keith Kallenbach, a long-time member of The Wack Pack.[85] Stern then announced on March 17 "Win John's Job", a contest where listeners would vote among ten personalities to replace Melendez.[86] The winner, who was awarded $25,000, was Richard Christy, a former electrician and drummer of various death and heavy metal bands including Iced Earth and Death, with 30% of the vote.[87] Sal "The Stockbroker" Governale, the runner-up with 24%, was hired full-time in September.

Michael Powell, then-chairman of the FCC, was quick to order an investigation into the half-time show.

On October 6, 2004, Stern announced that two days before he signed a five-year contract with Sirius Satellite Radio, a subscription-based satellite radio service free from broadcasting regulations imposed by the FCC.[88] A contributing factor in the decision was the aftermath of the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy which began the tightening of censorship and regulation in broadcasting. The deal, worth approximately $100 million a year for all costs, included a bonus stock payment of $83 million for Stern in January 2007 for surpassing subscriber goals set in 2004.[89][90] The deal placed Stern as the second richest celebrity of 2004 at $302 million, ahead of George Lucas and Oprah Winfrey.[91] Promotion of Sirius met with controversy as Stern mentioned the service on air, instructing listeners in purchasing receivers and subscriptions. In one incident, Farid Suleman of Citadel Broadcasting billed Stern $200,000 for the continual advertising mentions.[92] On November 8, 2005, Stern was suspended for one day for excessive promotion of the service.[93]

The final broadcast on terrestrial airwaves was on December 16, 2005 from 6:00 am to around 10:00 am.[94] Outside the studio, 56th Street was blocked off from traffic to allow a stage to be constructed for Stern, his radio show colleagues and Wack Pack members to make their "goodbye" speeches. Stern made his final speech around 9:35 am,[95] thanking the New York City Police Department and dedicating the show to Sgt. Keith Manning, a friend who at the time was serving in Iraq. He finished with a final thanks, with the crowd chanting his name as "Tortured Man" from Private Parts: The Album was played out.[95] When off the air, Stern and his staff went to the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square on an open-top bus where Martha Stewart, who was broadcasting on her own Sirius channel, was on hand to "induct" Stern into the Sirius family. By the time Stern left for Sirius, he was tied with Laura Schlessinger as the fourth most-listened-to radio show in the country.[96]

The Revolution (2006-present)

After midnight on December 31, 2005, where his terrestrial radio contract with Infinity Broadcasting expired, Stern called into the New Year's Eve show on Howard 100, presented by George Flowers and Lisa G of Howard 100 News.[97] Following two live test broadcasts on January 3 and 5, 2006, a heartbeat sound effect could be heard on Howard 100 which got progressively faster. Television interviews of Stern could be faintly heard in the background.[98] Then, at 5:55 am on January 9, the heartbeat broke away to Also sprach Zarathustra with added flatulence sound effects. George Takei then introduced himself as the show's new announcer.[99] It was revealed during the first broadcast that 180,000 Sirius radio receivers were activated the previous day.[100] One of the first bits played was the uncensored versions of the Pat O'Brien sex tape. Stern also read out the list of revelations for the anticipated Revelations Game, where the show's staff told an unknown secret about themselves.

A state-of-the-art studio was constructed at Sirius in 2005 for the show

In May 2006, Stern claimed he had received offers from three major companies to return to terrestrial radio. Although he would never return, Stern did mention that it would be "cool to go back and kick their asses." Although none of the three were released, media organizations released that Stern was "thinking" of his return. To clear up the rumours, the Associated Press were called on-air on May 10. "The story is I wouldn't do terrestrial radio for any reason", said Stern.[101] Rumours once again arose in September 2006 that Stern would be returning, and were once again denied by Stern and Sirius. Sirius representative Patrick Reilly told United Press International that there were never "any discussions of Howard Stern in any way, shape, or form being anything but exclusive to Sirius. Published reports suggesting otherwise are wrong."[102]

Stern announced on June 7, 2006 that the lawsuit settlement with CBS Radio finally gave Sirius the exclusive rights to his entire back catalogue of broadcasts from at WXRK, totalling almost 23,000 hours.[103] It was reported that Sirius agreed to pay CBS $2 million for the rights, equating to around $87 per-hour of tape.[104][105] On December 2, 2009, it was announced that every tape had been digitized on a server taking up multiple terabytes of data. The process took close to five years to complete.[106] This has allowed special programming to be produced and aired while the show is on vacation.

FCC fine history

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has fined Infinity Broadcasting for "indecent" and "offensive" content broadcast on The Howard Stern Show a total of over $5 million since 1990.[107] Until 1986, the show was protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the Commission. Broadcasters had the simple guide of not to say the "seven dirty words" featured in the 1972 monologue by comedian George Carlin.

WYSP warning and first fine (1986–1990)

Regulations on indecency changed when WYSP in Philadelphia became the show's first affiliate on August 18, 1986. According to James McKinney, chief of the Commission's Mass Media Bureau, more listeners complained about the radio show within its first three months on WYSP that those in New York had in three years.[111] One such complaint, supported by taped evidence and transcripts, was from Reverend Donald Wildmon, a United Methodist minister who began a campaign against Stern in November 1986.[112] In the same month, McKinney launched an investigation into the show, giving Infinity 30 days to respond to three complaints, including that of Wildmon's, which alleged that the show was indecent under Philadelphia's community standards.[113] Remarks Stern made about the "Preppie" murder case had irked McKinney himself, sending him "over the edge", he told a reporter.[113]

On April 16, 1987, the Commission rejected a 44-page response made by Karmazin, announcing that Stern had "regularly dwelled on sexual and excretory matters, in a way that was patently offensive."[114] Since the Commission's indecency provisions of Section 1464 was applied, the first in a considerable amount of time, WYSP was only issued a warning.[115][116] The Commission redefined its indecency policy soon after. It applied the broad definition of indecency as "language or material that depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory activities or organs."[114] On April 24, eight days after the new ruling, Stern gathered around 3,000 supporters to a live "FCC Freedom Rally" at Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza in New York.[32]

On November 29, 1990, the Commission issued its first fine against the show, costing Infinity a total of $6,000.[117] The fine followed a complaint supported by transcripts and tape by Anne Stommel, a senior citizen who listened to the "Christmas Party" show on December 16, 1988.[118] The concerned material involved a man playing a piano with his penis to "Jingle Bells" and sexual activities of homosexuals. Women then stripteased, to which Stern noted that "the big black lesbian is out of her mind with lust."[118][119] Each affiliate, WXRK, WYSP and WJFK, were then fined $2,000 each.[120] Infinity vowed to fight the sanction, arguing that the results of a Gallup poll showed that no children under 12 years of age listen to the radio show on an unsupervised basis.[114] Karmazin later recalled in 1992 that he "would have done that show again", having provided the Commission with an "awful lot of information" that argued television shows Oprah and Geraldo discussed the same thing.[121]

Crucified by the FCC was released in 1991. The double-CD album featured various segments that were either censored or edited out

Record KLSX and Infinity fines (1992–1993)

Greater Media, owner of KLSX, the show's Los Angeles affiliate, was fined a record $105,000 by the Commission on October 27, 1992. The fine concerned 12 incidents of "indecent material" on Stern's show from October 30 to December 6, 1991.[122] Similar to that of Infinity, Greater Media had 30 days to respond following a 19-page complaint by Al Wescott, a 45-year-old musician.[123] Karmazin believed the company should not have felt obligated to pay. "I am totally supportive of Stern's comments and by no means do I believe the excerpts are indecent. The FCC once again has mistaken free speech for indecency. If the letter were directed toward Infinity, we'd fight it big time."[124] It was later reported in 1997 that the eventual settlement included two $52,000 payments to the U.S. Treasury in exchange for the dismissal of Wescott's complaint, the preceding fine and a later complaint against KLSX for indecency made in 1994.[125]

Less than two months later on December 18, 1992, Infinity was fined again for indecent broadcasts on WXRK, WYSP and WJFK, for a record $600,000.[126][127] Citing "the apparent pattern of indecent broadcasting exhibited over a substantial period", the Commission imposed the fine for airing the same broadcasts singled out in the KLSX/Greater Media case, yet this time on the three Infinity-owned affiliates.[128] "Stern's rude social commentary and scatological humor are well within traditional First Amendment protection...such comments are hardly likely to harm children, who so frequently engage in similar humour themselves", responded the southern California office of the ACLU.[129]

In August 1993, acting on "additional documented complaints" about the show which "exhibited a pattern of apparent misconduct involving indecent broadcasts in the past", the Commission levied a fine of $500,000 against Infinity.[109][128] The fine concerned comments made on nine separate broadcasts from November 10, 1992, to January 13, 1993.[109] KFBI, the show's Las Vegas affiliate, also faced a penalty of $73,750 for airing the same material.[109] The fine followed Stern describing the alleged bathroom and sexual habits, masturbation, the sexual apparatus of actor Richard Gere, the characteristics of a vagina, and a sarcastic interview with actor Woody Allen.[119]

Fine settlement (1994–1996)

In February 1994, the Commission issued Infinity with a $400,000 fine for Stern's "graphic and detailed comments about his sex life, women's underwear, vibrators, and an incestuous relationship."[119] Three months later in May 1994, Infinity was handed a further $200,000 fine for his discussion of masturbation and oral sex.[130] The "patently offensive" material of sexual activities and organs was cited from two separate broadcasts on December 6, 1993, and January 19, 1994.[131] Stern remained defiant in his opposition to the efforts to regulate his program.

On September 1, 1995, Infinity announced it had come to a settlement with the Commission with a "voluntary contribution" to the U.S. Treasury, thus resolving all previous fines made for indecency.[130][132] Stern, on the first live broadcast following the settlement, accused the Commission of extortion, calling it "the biggest shakedown in history." He was sad and disappointed, adding "The bullies have won. I lost. That means we all lost."[133] Stern however, did praise Infinity. "They fought as long as they could. Honestly, I don't know what I would have done in their shoes. Everything they want to do has to go through the FCC, and they got jerked around plenty."[134]

The Commission issued a $10,000 fine against WVGO, the show's affiliate in Richmond, Virginia, on October 15, 1996.[135] The fine concerned the airing of alleged indecent content on two separate broadcasts, the first on October 23, 1995 where Stern described having sex with his wife. The second, from June 3, 1996, included the detailed discussion of vaginas.[136]

Clear Channel fines (2001–2004)

On February 25, 2004, Clear Channel Communications suspended the show from its six stations following material broadcast the previous day.[137] The show featured an interview with Rick Salomon, star of the Paris Hilton sex tape, that included sexually provocative material and racial slurs. "We drew a line in the sand today with regard to protecting our listeners from indecent content", said John Hogan, president of Clear Channel. "It was vulgar, offensive and insulting, not just to women and African Americans but to anyone with a sense of common decency." The move came only a day after the chain fined a record $755,000 against radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge for graphic discussions about sex and drugs.[138] On July 19, 2004, the show returned to four of the six markets Clear Channel had suspended it from, including five new ones, on Infinity-owned stations.[139][140]

On April 8, 2004, the Commission set a maximum $27,500 fine on each of the six stations for 18 violations on a broadcast on April 9, 2003, totalling $495,000.[141] The investigation was prompted by a listener in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who complained about discussions of sex accompanied by flatulence sound effects. On June 9, 2004, Clear Channel agreed to pay a $1.75 million settlement with the Commission, thus resolving indecency complaints against Stern, several open investigations and pending cases stemming from listener complaints.[138]

On November 23, 2004, Viacom agreed to pay $3.5 million to the Commission, thus settling complaints for indecent programming on its radio and television stations from the past five years.[142] The settlement, the largest such ever reached with federal regulators, included one incident from Stern and two from radio personalities Opie and Anthony.

Show staff

The Wack Pack

The Wack Pack is the name given to a wide assortment of personalities heard throughout the history of the show. As a parody of the Rat Pack or Brat Pack, they are a considerable part of what the radio show became notable for. Members of the pack, known as "Wack Packers", tend to be unusual in some way such as being blatantly racist, mentally disabled, perverted or having a comical voice, appearance or ability. Not every regular guest on the show is considered a member, nor are any of the show's staff members. Some Wack Packers have gained notoriety for personal appearances around the country and occasionally, played small roles in films and television programs.

Regular guests

  • Hosting other radio shows'
    • Jackie Martling, host of Jackie's Joke Hunt program on Howard 101 on Sirius
    • Adam Carolla, the replacement for Stern on terrestrial radio in Los Angeles
    • Kidd Chris, hosted a show on WYSP in Philadelphia but was fired in May 2008
    • Dead Air Dave, former WXRK disc jockey and show censor on WXRK and now on afternoon drive on WWFS in New York
    • Andre Gardner, former show censor at WXRK, now hosts a show on WMGK in Philadelphia
  • Other reasons, and might come back
    • Richard Simmons, may return for a visit as they had been close friends off the air; in 2006 Simmons visited the show after more than 10 years but again left in tears. Stern and Quivers doubted the authenticity of Simmons' outburst.[146]


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  2. ^ Deggans, Eric (December 11, 2005). "Bubba, relaunched". St. Petersburg Times. 
  3. ^ Tucker, Ken (March 3, 2006). "Communication Sharpens Syndie Sword". Billboard Radio Monitor. 
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