NEW YORK (BP)–The Disney Company and radio “shock jock” Howard Stern.
CBS, the “Welcome Home” network, and Howard Stern.
Indeed, Disney — focus of a moral issues boycott by Southern Baptists, the Assemblies of God, the American Family Association and other groups — and CBS are helping Stern slash away at the nation’s morality.
In Disney’s case: Disney is the “primary investor” in cable’s E! Entertainment Television and is “overseeing its decision-making,” according to Daily Variety. E!’s highest-rated show: Stern’s late- night telecast, taken from a portion of his syndicated radio talk show which has surpassed Rush Limbaugh in the number of listeners nationally and now is second only to “Dr. Laura” Schlessinger.
In CBS’ case: The network of “Touched by an Angel” plans to unleash Stern against NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” starting this summer.
The April 1 announcement of Stern’s new CBS show prompted Morality in Media’s president, Robert Peters, to declare the network’s embrace of Stern “a slap in the face of the large majority of Americans who are already fed up with the glut of vulgar sex talk, cursing, profanity and incivility on broadcast TV.”
Many parents are not home on Saturday evenings, Peters noted, and “even many younger children are still up watching TV.”
“CBS-TV was beginning to position itself as the ‘family alternative’ to ABC, NBC and Fox. By signing Stern, CBS has broken faith with America’s families and with tens of millions of other Americans also concerned about the erosion of decency standards on TV.
“There is a much larger potential audience for good TV than for shock and depravity, but producing good TV requires talent and a moral vision,” Peters said.
Stern’s radio show has been the target of a two-year national campaign led by the American Family Association’s Michigan chapter to persuade advertisers to drop Stern’s show. A similar campaign is expected to be launched targeting Stern’s advertisers on CBS.
Letters of concern have been written to more than 2,400 advertisers on Stern’s radio program — with just over 2,000, or 84 percent, responding by canceling their ads, according to Bill Johnson, AFA’s Michigan director.
The campaign’s success has prompted Stern to lambast the AFA on more than one occasion. “I will take your money. I will bankrupt you,” he said on one broadcast. “And I will sue not only the organization, I’ll sue the individuals who run the organization. I’ll find out the names of whoever’s printing that crap out of their basements on their computers, and I’ll wreck their lives. I’ll take their homes. And then they won’t be part of the American Family Association, they’ll be part of the American homeless association.”
Thousands of AFA supporters also have sent Stern postcards asking him to restrain his on-air sleaze and letting him know of their prayers for him. Stern is heard weekday mornings in 47 U.S. markets by an estimated 17.5 million listeners.
CBS, of its new relationship with Stern, proclaimed atop a news release on its Internet site, “CBS Owned Television Stations Welcome Stern Into Their Markets.”
Another CBS news release’s headline noted, “Stern: No Plans To Clean Up The Act.”
CBS said the Saturday night show will add to Stern’s “enormously successful radio, publishing, movie, pay-per-view and cable portfolio.”
“We’ll have sex and nudity and lesbians,” Stern, 44, said at his April 1 news conference in New York, in which Jonathan Klein, president of CBS Television Stations Group and general manager of New York’s WCBS-TV echoed Stern’s enthusiasm. Klein’s 14-station CBS subsidiary will help produce the show, covering 30 percent of the nation’s homes in the 12 markets in which it is initially slated.
“Standards (on TV) have gone down to an all-time low,” Stern said, “and I’m here to represent it. It’s a miracle; I prayed to God for this.”
CBS’ Klein told the news conference: “We could not be happier about bringing Howard to late night viewers.”
Klein continued, “Across the country, there is a large demographically desirable audience looking for an alternative on Saturday nights, and we know Howard is just the right person to deliver it.”
Johnson, of the Michigan AFA, noted Stern is “the master at pushing the envelope over the radio. And he will be pushing the envelop on TV like nobody ever has.”
In recent months on radio, Stern has been focusing on sadomasochism, which involves the use of pain in sexual relations, and in one broadcast was heard slapping the buttocks of a woman over his knee, Johnson said.
“American Christians, wake up. You may think that Howard Stern is not a factor because he is not in your city,” Johnson said, countering that Stern, who uses humor to desensitize listeners to evil, is “legitimizing perversion at an alarming rate. He’s going into areas where no one else has ever gone before.
“If he is not met with resistance, what was once the exception little by little will be the norm,” Johnson said, wondering aloud whether many Christians have become so desensitized “they have lost their capacity for righteous indignation.”
The Federal Communications Commission, meanwhile, “has basically been a do-nothing organization in terms of policing,” Johnson said, despite numerous complaints filed against Stern.
In addition to WCBS in New York, CBS-owned TV stations slated to carry Stern’s Saturday-night program are Los Angeles’ KCBS; Chicago’s WBBM; Miami’s WFOR; Philadelphia’s KYW; San Francisco’s KPIX; Boston’s WBZ; Detroit’s WWJ; Minneapolis’ WCCO; Denver’s KCNC; Pittsburgh’s KDKA; and Baltimore’ WJZ. The two CBS-owned stations not slated to carry the program are in Salt Lake City and Green Bay, Wis.
According to CBS’ Internet ballyhooing of Stern on its Internet site, Stern’s previous “foray” into late-night television in 1992 topped “Saturday Night Live” in the New York and Los Angeles markets and scored “impressive ratings” in others; his 1993 autobiography, “Private Parts,” was “the fastest-selling book in Simon & Schuster publishing history,” selling more than 1 million copies; his second book, “Miss America,” also has been a top-ten best-seller and “the fastest-selling book in publishing history;” his pay-per-view special, “Miss Howard Stern New Year’s Eve Pageant,” was the “highest-grossing pay-per-view variety special of all time;” and his 1997 movie “Private Parts,” grossed more than $42 million dollars in domestic box office sales, garnered Stern a “Blockbuster Award” as favorite newcomer, and the soundtrack “set the record for the highest number of sales in its first week of release (even exceeding the ‘Titanic’ soundtrack’s debut week).”
Assessing Stern’s impact, the Michigan AFA’s Internet site (http://www.afa.net/Stern) states: “We firmly believe that pornographic and perverse talk like the Howard Stern programming encourages people of all ages but primarily those who are particularly vulnerable (the young and those who are easily misled) into seeking gratification in inappropriate ways. Excessive self- gratification leads to an increased drive for stimulation. An increased drive for stimulation leads to illicit relationships to achieve stimulation. Illicit relationships lead to broken relationships, divorce, separation and abuse. Broken relationships lead to despair and selfishness. Selfishness leads to a compulsive desire for material things. Compulsive desires lead to self at any cost. Self without consideration of consequences leads to abortion, drugs, theft, murder and a wide variety of other forms of mayhem directed at others and ultimately contributes to the further breakdown and destruction of the American culture.”
According to the AFA Internet site, a young mother from Richmond, Va., in an interview with Johnson on the Michigan AFA’s weekly radio broadcast, reflected on her monitoring of the Stern’s broadcast: “Repeatedly people will call up and say due to the Howard Stern Show they tried lesbian acts … ’cause he glorifies that so much. And so here we’ve got high school and college girls listening to this broadcast and then saying, ‘Maybe this is what I need to try. Maybe because I’m unfulfilled it’s because I need to be a lesbian.’ I mean, I’ve heard that numerous times. Also, he’ll have people call up who are on drugs and the glorification of drugs. He did one week of incest and how wonderful incest was. This impacts our community. It impacts our children. It impacts our future elders of the church. Your whole community suffers from this.”
On his Feb. 18 broadcast this year, according to AFA monitoring, Stern called a 79-year-old grandmother named Connie who had sent an AFA postcard asking him to desist from immorality and saying she is praying for him.
Stern told the woman he had become a Christian because of the concern she and others had shown. “I started to think about my own situation and I realize now, through Jesus Christ, and through so many other influences in my life … that I want to do good for people,” Stern told the woman. “Those cards and prayers and the Lord Jesus Christ knocked me on my butt. … I’m going to use this show for a vessel for the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Stern added, “I’ve got Holy Ghost power and I’m going to tell you something. … (W)e’re going to talk about Jesus, we’re going to talk about the Holy Ghost. … God is holding me in his hand right now and he’s holding me up to the sun so I can get a tan and I’m tanning and basking in the light of the Lord Jesus Christ, my new co-host.”
The woman was excited about Stern changing his ways but became suspicious when he asked her for a donation. “And let me tell you something, this ministry has got to receive blessings and I hope people support it,” Stern said. “Connie, I hope you’ll be sending me a check, I don’t care how small.”
When she said she would pray about it, Stern pressured her. “Why can’t you send a donation? … Are you cheaping out on Jesus? … Can’t you cough up a $10 bill? … I just had a big conversion and now you’re not sending me dime one. … You keep praying, but you better send cash or I’m going back to Satan.”
NEW YORK (BP)–The Disney Company and radio “shock jock” Howard Stern.