Dateline: July 26, 1997

Quello's Last Stern Comments!

As 83 year old FCC Commissioner and self-appointed Stern-Buster, James Quello, gets ready for retirement, he takes one last long-winded stab at his own efforts to put in-check the "insufferable smart-ass" known to him as Howard Stern.

"There's no doubt that I was credited or discredited with taking the lead on the $1.75 million Howard Stern fine. It's unusual coming from me because I was a beat-up war veteran.

Howard Stern has this: He has a First Amendment right to be wrong; a First Amendment right to ridicule government officials; a First Amendment right to be an insufferable smart-ass. But he did not have a First Amendment right to violate existing laws and rules on indecency and obscenity.

And you know, [Sen. Alfonse] D'Amato (R-NY) attacked me at the time, saying, "Who is this man dictating [content]?... After D'Amato nailed me in the Congressional Record, I sent him a letter back... and listed nine examples. Not nice bland examples-raunchy examples. Geez, I mean, how could anyone condone this stuff? "Woody Allen's daughter is just at the right height right now so she can wash his genitals". Why should Stern get away with that? Jesus Christ! I mean, I've got a raunchy sense of humor. What the hell are you thinking about? God damn you! You know?

We finally ended up with this fine. The lawyer came in and said "You know, we can beat this". I said, "Yeah, you can beat it, but I'll tell you what it's going to be three or four years in court and nothing's going to be approved out of this place".

So then he said, "We're going to pay it, but I'll tell you what we're going to do. We're going to use this for a very good purpose. We're going to [use] it to train minorities in broadcasting". I said, "You're going to use a fine for violating a rule for a real cushy public relations gesture? I'm sorry, but that isn't the idea". He said they'd think about it, and then he came back and said, "Can we make it in two payments?"

[Mel] Karmazin was at the [Bayliss Diner] last fall. About five minutes before my speech I went up to Karmazin's table, held my nose, and offered my hand. He looked at me and said, "Now what?" I said, "You put that seven-second delay on him and make it work or it's going to be your ass". Now I have to say this: Stern is entertaining, he just can't go that far. " - James Quello

©1997 Radio & Records.

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