Dateline: September 3, 1997

Dirt flies As Stern Show Hits Montreal!
By Mike Boone
The Montreal Gazette

The opening skirmish of Montreal's latest morning-radio war made it very clear that of the dueling Howards, Galganov is the moderate.

Too bad nice guys (or, in this case, less-awful guys) finish last a grim truism that is certain to be reinforced in October when ratings are in for the Howard Galganov Show on CIQC and the Howard Stern Show on CHOM. The anglo-rights activist and almost-but-not-quite former Montrealer doesn't stand a chance against the American vulgarian.

Howard Stern hit the city like a full-force gale yesterday. Invading the Montreal radio market from his flagship station in New York City, Stern generated a firestorm of buzz: packed press conference, extensive coverage on the television news, indignation from fire-breathing talk-show host Gilles Proulx (who unblushingly accused Stern of xenophobia and racism) and overheated reaction from Serge Menard (we'd all sleep easier if Stern were the biggest problem confronting the justice minister of Quebec).

Menard called some of Stern's comments "garbage" and said Stern could be prosecuted for hate-mongering.

"If after looking at the details we figure there's an infraction of the Criminal Code, it's obvious there will be prosecutions but I'll let the judicial process follow its course."

True to his reputation for outrageousness, Stern exploded on the airwaves. Working with a seven-second delay in New York (one adjective was bleeped) and a 60-second delay in Montreal, where the CHOM operator is authorized to excise material likely to contravene Canadian broadcast regulations (the debut show aired intact), Stern delivered radio that was childish, stupid, New Yawk-centric, sexist and thoroughly entertaining.

By 3 p.m. yesterday, Stern had been off the air for four hours and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission had received 25 phone calls most of which concerned the radio show's rabid francophobia.

At 6 a.m., CHOM listeners had awakened to a gleefully foul-mouthed American wildman characterizing all French-speaking people as "scumbags," "peckerheads''and "pussy-ass jackoffs."

Down the dial, Galganov who had the misfortune to be launching his own morning show in the face of a promotional whirlwind was reduced to entertaining his listeners by bashing Stern.

Stern had been on for an hour during which time he heralded the international reach of his show (he launched in Toronto yesterday also) by describing Canada as the 51st state and insisting that "all people in Montreal should speak English, and that's that" when Galganov took up the challenge.

Just after CIQC's 7 a.m. newscast, Galganov huffed and puffed and blasted "absolutely reprehensible remarks" by Stern. "Canadians are absolutely tremendous people," Galganov harrumphed. "I think we're going to traffic now."

As CIQC went to highway reports, Stern went to the extremes that have made him the hottest act in U.S. radio. He commented on the death of Princess Diana ("What do you do when people want to take your picture? You have a drunk drive you through a tunnel at 120 miles an hour"), Tom Cruise's condemnation of the media for hounding celebrities ("Does this guy have a penis? He cried like a woman on CNN. It sounded like Mrs. Tom Cruise") and the social climbing of Dodi Al Fayed ("An Egyptian dating the mother of the future king of England? Fuhgedaboudit!")

Then there was Eleanor Mondale, daughter of the former U.S. vice-president, plugging her fave radio rave as "a man who will never be president, but he can visit my oval office any time."

And an orgy of Jerry Lewis-bashing (Stern said he'd "give him $52 million if he doesn't do a telethon next year.")

After a visit from the Spice Girls (Stern said what he really, really wanted was for them to take their tops off), the self-styled "master of all media" took questions from Montreal journalists, two dozen of whom had gathered in the top-floor restaurant of Place Ville Marie.

The Montreal location was linked to Stern's studio for a Q&A that was broadcast as part of the show. Stern used the press conference to attack French culture, language and most passionately French collaboration with the conquering Nazis during World War II. He described the French language as "archaic" and "about as relevant as Yiddish.'' Stern called the notion of an independent Quebec 'ludicrous''.

And then Stern got really nasty. Now that he's on the air in Montreal, Stern said, the French populace ought to "bend over, like you did for Hitler." He predicted English Montrealers would see him as their saviour. "They'll cling to me," Stern predicted, "like Celine Dion's panties cling to her bony, sweaty ass."

In response to skepticism about why a Canadian radio station is importing an American program, Stern replied that "other than hockey players, whores and William Shatner, you haven't produced a lot."

And so it went. Stern has made a fortune (an estimated annual salary $15 million U.S.) by saying whatever pops into his head, facts and feelings be damned.

During interludes of lucidity, Stern said he did not differentiate between the French-speaking populations of France (which he has been "attacking for 15 years") and Quebec. Stern was brought up short when informed that 65 per cent of CHOM's audience is French-speaking ("Nobody told me that Frankly, I love them"), and he admitted the importation of the Howard Stern Show could be construed as a sign of desperation at CHOM.

"Most stations we go on are usually in the toilet," Stern said. "No successful station in its right mind would put us on. We are the nuclear bomb that you drop when all else fails."

Most else has failed at once-proud CHOM. The station's morning show was running a weak third

behind Mix 96 and Q92 in Montreal's English FM radio competition, and management decided that

Stern measures were necessary to boost CHOM's numbers and increase advertising revenue.

Lee Hambleton, general manager of CHOM and CKGM, said he has raised his morning ad rates three times in the month since he announced the FM station would be carrying the Stern show. And Hambleton hopes to jack the price again once autumn ratings are published.

"I went to three newsstands and two coffee shops on my way in at 6:30 this morning and CHOM was on in every location," Hambleton said. "I don't recall hearing our station at any of those places before."

Nor is CHOM often the topic of stinging commentary on French radio. Gilles Proulx, host of CKAC's Journal du Midi, accused CHOM program director Ian MacLean of importing "white trash American radio" and pandering to "imbeciles, rednecks and people who don't read or think."

"If Stern were on the radio in Ireland, he'd have been killed by now," Proulx said, switching to English to add that the new voice in town treats the linguistic majority like "pieces of shit."

MacLean gave as good as he got. The CHOM program director reminded Proulx that CKAC is a private radio station that relies on ratings.

During a conversation at the press conference, MacLean called the debut a "classic Howard Stern Show" in which the host struck responsive chords among Montreal listeners. "The object is not to antagonize but to entertain," MacLean added. "If people are offended, they ought to change the channel."

Give Montrealers credit for tolerance. Andre Arthur, host of his own take-no-prisoners phone-in on CKVL, praised CHOM's new morning man on CKVL. Proulx was (by Proulx standards) temperate, and the CRTC received no formal, written complaints about the new CHOM program.

Front Page
©1997 The K.O.A.M. Newsletter. All Rights Reserved.
©1997 The Montreal Gazette.
Used Under Fair Use Doctrine.