Fans expecting to hear Howard Stern Thursday morning were greeted by a statement from Tom Chiusano, general manager for Stern's originating station, WXRK(FM), announcing that the shock jock had been pulled from Infinity Broadcasting Corp.'s airwaves due to their fear of the Federal Communications Commission and Congress.
In Stern's place, listeners were treated to an hour-and-a-half with station PD Rob Cross and DJ Danni on a fun-without-the-filth broadcast, complete with cuts from Britany Spears, to give listeners a taste of a Stern-free radio world. Stern came back on at about 7:30 to reveal the joke and take calls about it.
The Stern stunt came a day after Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) called him indecent and asked Viacom President Mel Karmazin to explain why he not yanked Stern off the air for a Feb. 24 broadcast that included references to anal sex and a called using the N-word and racial slurs. Clear Channel radio pulled Stern from six stations following that broadcast and announced a zero tolerance policy for indecency. Karmazin and Infinity have pledged to get tough, too, but Karmazin has drawn the line at volunteering that his programming is indecent.
Stern has been fighting back. The station Web site includes a call to listeners to contact their legislators and the President and Vice President to complain about the indecency crackdown. The administration has already come out in support of legislation that would toughen indecency fines and otherwise discourage broadcasters from airing edgy material.