Shock Jock Stern Costs Clear Channel $495,000

12 April 2004

American media conglomerate Clear Channel Communications will shortly see $495,000 (€410,000; £270,000) lopped from its bottom line thanks to the foul mouth of one of its prime radio properties, the so called shock-jock Howard Stern.

Stern, whose verbal effluvium is calculated to appeal to the intellectually pubescent of all ages, in April 2003 mouthed his mind about anal intercourse and other kindred matters while on-air. In the neo-puritan ambience that is US broadcasting these days, his calculated provocation got its inevitable come-uppance.

An outraged Federal Communications Commission leapt first on Clear Channel Radio whose Fort Lauderdale (Florida) station triggered the first listener complaint. The FCC investigation then extended to eighteen other of the broadcaster's stations carrying the Stern show.

Clear Channel, happy enough to air the shock-jock's sludge until it excised nearly half-a-million bucks from its bottom line, suddenly got censorial.

"Mr Stern's show has created a great liability for us and other broadcasters who air it,'' said president/ceo John Hogan. "The Congress and the FCC are even beginning to look at revoking station licenses. That's a risk we're just not willing to take.''

The shock jock, who peddles profanity under the guise of free-thinking, was promptly fired, although his program is still carried by other broadcasters across seventeen stations. Stern's website claims -- and here he displays an unaccustomed satirical touch -- that he is the victim of a "McCarthy-style witch hunt".

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff