Retro-Stern Revisits...

Howard Taken Through A Loop!

Dateline: October, 1993

As a Howard Stern Superfan, I knew right from the start there was going to be trouble with WLUP-AM or the Loop-AM, as it's known in Chicago. One of the first signs was when the other DJs on the Loop started bad-mouthing Howard. Then at the end of August, with just over 10 months of the Stern show under their 3 year belt, the Loop pulled the plug on the show claiming it was becoming too risky to continue airing because of conflicts with the FCC over indecency. This seemed a bit hypocritical and very hard to believe, since they were already involved with the FCC over refusing to pay a $6,000 fine for allegedly broadcasting indecent material on the Steve Dahl and Garry Meier show back in 1987 and '89. In fact, the loop's parent company, Evergreen Broadcasting will actually beat Infinity Broadcasting into court to challenge how the FCC applies it's rules of indecency and whether it's constitutional.

So what could the other possible reason's be for dropping the Stern show. One theory is that the Loop was in the process of changing it's format to all Sports, so there wasn't any room for a show like Howard's on the station. Another theory is economics. The show had a 2.6 million dollar price tag over 3 years and Evergreen may have felt that Howard's ratings were not moving up fast enough for them to recoup their money and make a profit, so they bailed out. Answering to this theory, Howard's "superagent", Don Buchwald, told Radio & Records that "Howard had great reluctance about the show being broadcast on a low-cuming AM station against known broadcasters on the FM band. He felt he needed terrific support to win and that it could not be done overnight. Evergreen made it very clear they understood that." Anyone who knows Howard's show knows that becoming #1 is a building process that usually takes some time to happen. It is true that in Los Angeles, for example, the show became #1 in a short period of time, where as it took over 3 years to reach #1 status in Philly.

Regardless, a $45 million lawsuit was filed in US District Court in New York on the 23rd of September 1993, in which the Stern camp charged that besides the obvious breach of contract, Evergreen's claim for dropping the show has damaged it's continuing marketing efforts and has put a damper on negotiations with potentially new affiliates. The Infinity/Stern claim that Evergreen didn't drop the show because of the recent FCC fines against them was given further credence when the terms of their contract was revealed in the court complaint. It seems that Evergreen had the right to edit 9 select words, (fuck, shit, motherfucker, etcÉ 7 of which Howard wouldn't say anyway) and any other portion of the show or even an entire show as long as they notified Infinity and/or Howard in advance. Howard's comments on the matter have been brief but he did say on the air recently that "You can't break a contract and hide behind the FCC. It's a load of bunk."

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