WBZX Pulls Stern Over Indecency Complaint

Howard Stern was pulled from WBZX(FM) Columbus, Ohio, Friday in the wake of an FCC inquiry into an indecency complaint filed against the shock jock.

"The people who advise our [North American Broadcasting] company about such matters believe the incidents put our station and our license at risk," said program director Hal Phish.

Calling that the "boring legal stuff," Phish said it had been "an enormous personal pleasure" being associated with the Stern show.

Stern is heading to satellite radio in January. Phish said the station was cooperating with the FCC inquiry.

The complaint was filed earlier this month by Stern nemesis and frequent FCC filer Jack Thompson, an attorney who followed the complaint with a letter to Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone (Viacom owns Stern distributor Infinity).

Citing FCC Commissioner Michael Copps' November 2004 suggestion that station licenses should be in play in indecency enforcement, Thompson advised yanking Stern to "maximize the possiblity that Infinity might hold on to its various radio station licenses."

The FCC LOI is a fairly routine fact-finding step in the process, but it has gotten Stern exercised as well--not tough to do on indecency issues--over the possibility of being thrown off the air. This time, he would probably like nothing better as he readies to head to Sirius Satellite Radio.Stern had talked on his show of expecting to the pulled in September, but has since said he might make it until the end of the year.

The offending February broadcast included the combining of porn stars and sausages with the singing of "Amazing Grace," as well as dildo golf.

Earlier Thompson complaints against Stern helped prompt Clear Channel to drop his show and the FCC to fine the company almost half a million dollars.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.