The raunchy antics of radio "shock jock" Howard Stern have netted him both a fanatical national audience and more than $2 million in federal (fcc) fines. Now, after expanding into film, books, and cable TV, the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" has tackled broadcast TV.
The Howard Stern Radio Show, the host's new CBS venture, airs late (but perhaps not late enough) on Saturdays, and features televised versions of Stern's typically obnoxious radio studio gimmicks—many of which make Jerry Springer look almost civilized.
Early episodes earned TV's MA rating with a lengthy flatulence contest, a lap-dancing stripper (nudity was digitally obscured), a misanthropic "contest" featuring less-than-picture-perfect women competing for free plastic surgery, Stern groping the breasts of a woman who had a sex-change operation, and a takeoff on TV's Dating Game featuring two mentally disabled people.
Critics howled, calling the episodes "a low point in television history" (New York Post) and "the dregs of the dregs" (Washington Post). The first week, viewers tuned in by the millions, giving the show a respectable 5.9 rating. In succeeding weeks, however, ratings sank, and increasing numbers of viewers watched Saturday Night Live reruns on NBC instead.
Donald Wildmon's American Family Association, long a critic of Stern's radio and cable shows, has tried to persuade stations to drop the show. But it has been personal disgust—not outside pressure—that has inspired some station managers to do so.
A station in Lubbock, Texas, dropped it, as did KTVK in Phoenix, ...1
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