Citadel Communications is taking a pre-emptive strike on life without Howard Stern as he heads out the terrestrial radio door for Sirius Satellite Radio. In a move to prepare for his eventual departure, effective Monday, November 29, Citadel's five outlets for The Howard Stern Show started cutting off his show at 10 a.m., whether it is over or not.
WQXA/Harrisburg, WAQX/Syracuse, WBBL-AM/Grand Rapids, WWKX/ Providence and WKKB/Providence (Newport-New Bedford) are the stations whose listeners will be affected by the move. The company has also started removing any mention of The Stern Show from its Web sites.
"Do what you want," Stern said in reaction to the move during his program this morning. "This is directed to hurt me, but it doesn't. It hurts my audience. It doesn't hurt me." Later in the show, Stern thought of some measure of revenge against Citadel, proposing a promotion to giveaway $20,000, with listeners needing to tune in at 10:05 a.m. each day to be able to participate in the contest.
Citadel COO Judy Ellis has been one of the more outspoken people about Stern's departure. Earlier this year she threatened to invoice Stern and Sirius for every mention of the satcaster during The Stern Show. A call to Ellis for comment on the Stern 10 a.m. cutoff has not been returned.
Citadel will not allow its individual station personnel to comment on Stern, though WAQX Music Director/middayer Ryno posted a statement on the 95X Web site, stating: "After years of support and paying a ridiculous sum of money, we decided to push back. Starting Monday, November 29th, we, as a company, made the decision to be into our regular scheduled music programming by 10 a.m. We feel we have to start somewhere. We had to take a stance and show Howard and his staff that we don't appreciate him abandoning us, we don't appreciate him talking about satellite radio and we don't appreciate him taking our money to do a show and then end up talking about moving to a direct competitor for 4-5 hours. It's sad, it sucks, but Howard, not us, has decided to leave this way."
Stern read the entire statement on air this morning, stopping to ridicule Ryno at points, while making what have become familiar statements about why he is making the move to Sirius.