"Howard Stern, stop your whining and shut up. It hurts to say it, but after days of listening to you rail about how bad you have it, it's time for you to stop. It's not fun, it's not funny. It's not entertaining, and that's what you do best," wrote New York Daily News columnist Richard Huff today (3/16).
In his column, Huff lashed out at Stern over the recent tone of his show -- which has delved into politics instead of edgy sexual innuendo -- imploring him to "get back to being funny. Otherwise, you're just Chris Matthews blabbering about politics." Huff pointed out that last week's interviews with Cat Schwartz and Sandra Taylor, along with yesterday's Rachel Hunter interview, prove that Stern can still go on with his brand of humor without raising the FCC's ire.
Stern -- who again uttered statements like, "We may lose the show as early as this week," and, "We are very dangerously close to having the show off the air" -- didn't find the article too amusing and spent a portion of his show berating Huff for not understanding the true nature of what has been happening with the indecency debate. "Iím relying on people in the business to have a better understanding of this issue than the general public," said Stern. "I thought by talking about this for two weeks and making my case known, guys like Richard Huff would rise up and say all of our rights are being challenged, but he totally missed the frigginí point."
"The conversation I had with Cat Schwartz last week, which was provocative and fun for you," continued Stern, talking directly to Huff as if he were listening, "I now have to sit here and wait and in a couple of months a bunch of guys in the government are going to tell me that I stepped over the line or not."
He went on to cite an example of how his show has changed, explaining that a promotion, Wheel of Gas, had to be cancelled. The contest, which already had a sponsor, featured two women that were going to compete. Each would spin the wheel and the number that came up was going to be the number of farts the contestant would have to endure in their face from a couple "professional" farters Stern had lined up. But after a conversation with Infinity lawyers, WXRK/New York GM Tom Chiusano cancelled the idea over concerns that there could be a problem with farting in a womanís face.
"This is what we are down to now," said Stern. "We have a bunch of lawyers, our general manager, and me as well, trying to figure out what the government will allow us to do. If I put the Wheel of Gas on, now I have to wait months to find out if I did something wrong, and how much it is going to cost the station and me. Iím coming to the point where I canít work here anymore. I canít even do the simplest thing without tons of debate. Iím not blaming Tom. Iím not blaming the station. Iím blaming the government."
"What Richard Huff doesnít understand is we canít do a radio program that is cutting edge, that is locker room humor, that talks the way people talk in real life -- which is the basis of this show -- if the government keeps second guessing everything we do," Stern said, returning to the newspaper columnist. "This is a spontaneous show. Itís not scripted."
Stern also heated up his stance on a showdown in court with Clear Channel. Yesterday he revealed that Clear Channel is not paying him, saying, "I just find it abhorrent that they canít honor their contracts." He has now taken to asking why Clear Channel didn't fire Elliot Segal for a $247,500 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture over material from the Elliot in the Morning show. "I didnít receive any Notice of Apparent Liability," said Stern in his defense. "Evidently, they are vested in keeping this guy on the air. They still want to have it both ways. Why do they keep him on the air? He just got a Notice of Apparent Liability. In their court case they are going to have with me, theyíre going to have to explain all this. Itís a drama like I have never seen."
"Thereís no doubt that Bubba The Love Sponge was a Howard Stern clone, and the fact that he is off the air is ok with me," said Stern, keeping up the heat. "The problem is why he was taken off the air. Clear Channel are hypocritical if they took Bubba The Love Sponge off, why are they not taking Elliot in the Morning off, who just got fined? Why are they taking me off? I didnít get fined. They are hypocrites. The worst thing that they are doing is that they owe me money in a contract and now theyíre just not paying their bill. They are deadbeats."
(In a statement last week, Clear Channel said that the proposed Elliot fine stems from a show that aired nearly one year ago, before the company adopted a zero-tolerance indecency policy, and how it took corrective measures after the incident was first to it.)
"I have successfully sued other companies over this issue," Stern said. "I will not let Clear Channel get away with this. One thing about [Viacom President/COO] Mel [Karmazin], he fired Opie & Anthony, but he paid them. He paid them because that was the deal. And he had just signed a new deal with them. They did something on the air that he could not live with, but he honored the contract."