Will The Howard Stern Show soon be up and running in some of the six markets where it was yanked by Clear Channel earlier this year?Inside Radio reports that ad buyers are being told by stations in several of those markets that Stern will be back -- sooner, rather than later. Leading the rumor mill in San Diego is Infinity Classic Hits KPLN. What's described as "casual conversations" have taken place at "The Planet," FMQB has learned, but an inside source says adding Stern is not imminent.
In addition to legal wrangling with Clear Channel and displacing existing morning shows, there could be other complicating issues for Infinity in some of the six markets. On the surface, making Modern Rockers WOCL/Orlando and WZNE/Rochester Stern affiliates sounds like a natural. But how would Stern on "The Zone" impact morning man Brother Wease on Infinity sister WCMF? Absent a format change, there's no obvious Infinity-owned home for Stern in Pittsburgh. And the company doesn't own any stations in Louisville or Miami, though it does operate in nearby West Palm Beach. Of course, Stern agent Don Buchwald could cut deals with non-Infinity owned stations.
As for Viacom's stance on their embattled jock, a topic that has been hotly debated on the show since the departure of Mel Karmazin, new Viacom Co-President Les Moonves recently reaffirmed his support for Stern. Moonves told USA Today he doesn't think Stern does anything indecent and declared, "I'm going to back him." Acknowledging the "important bond" between Stern and Karmazin, Moonves said: "Howard is very important to Viacom, and I genuinely hope that when his contract is up [in 18 months], he will stay with us for a very, very long time. We'll see what the future brings."
As for Karmazin, he told USA Today Stern should honor his Infinity contract and "continue to do the great kind of radio he's been doing. When his contract is up, he should stay with Viacom — and be paid a lot more money." But he also noted that Stern might be "forced to find a different platform" if FCC pressure becomes too much to bare. "It would be a shame if he was not on free over-the-air radio," Karmazin said. "Why deprive these people of their entertainment as they drive to work each day?"