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Radio talk: Howard Stern reigns; what more do you need to know?

Sunday, October 29, 2000

By Adrian McCoy, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

If you take the industry at its word, so-called "shock" radio is targeted at older listeners -- for example, young males or the 25 to 54 target demo. But everything on the medium is readily available to anyone with an opposable thumb, teens or younger. And they get an earful.

While the f-word remains on the fast-evaporating list of profanities you can't say on radio, you can say "f," immediately followed by a beep. It doesn't leave much to the imagination, particularly given its prevalence. During a four-hour stretch Tuesday, the "f-beep" could be heard 10 times on two local stations.

Violence plays less of a role in radio than in other mass media. Even so,, news dealing with tragedies are treated with humor by Howard Stern and others, diminishing their reality and consequences.

Morning-drive radio is the place for listeners to get information about various body functions -- complete with sound effects. Self-proclaimed "King of All Media" Stern reigns here. His syndicated show typically features the porn star/stripper du jour and recorded comedy bits tinted a vivid shade of blue. Heard between 7 and 9 a.m., Stern is carried locally on WXDX-FM (105.9).

Here's a sample of what was out there -- all before homeroom:

An upcoming "Porno-ween" contest, in which listeners are invited to play a sort of X-rated version of "Where's Waldo?" The winner who finds the hidden porn star ... well, you guessed it. Stern takes a call from a woman who claims to be bisexual and wants to know if she can be included if her boyfriend wins. This is followed by a tape of the featured porn star having sex.

Reaction to a news about Paul McCartney and girlfriend Heather Mills spawns discussion on whether one would want to have sex with a woman with an artificial leg. Even if it's Pamela Anderson.

Stern interviews Lenny Kravitz, questioning persistently about girlfriends present and past. When he learns that Kravitz has paid huge sums of money for rock star memorabilia, including some of Jimi Hendrix's clothing, Stern offers to sell him his underwear for $5,000. He also offers detailed information about the state of the underwear artifacts.

In the et al. department: Stern jokes about drinking on the weekend "until I forget"; a morning-show character with a stutter is imitated and made sport of.

On the WBZZ-FM (93.7) morning show -- a contemporary hits station aimed at young listeners -- the extreme humor is more of the gross-out variety. Most of the 7 to 9 a.m. stretch is taken up by an expedition to a local cemetery to see an allegedly haunted grave site.

Today's sample of literal bathroom humor on WBZZ includes a discussion on bidets -- what they're for, how to use one. We also learn how often one member of the morning team changes underwear (Howard Stern, take note).

On the WDVE-FM (102.5) morning show, a magazine story on "morning-after etiquette" sparks a discussion on how to behave with someone picked up the night before. Also, there's an "f"-beep-laced comedy bit simulating a Joe Pesci appearance on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."

And after school?

WXDX host Alan Cox takes a call from a guy who wants Cox to advise his 20-year-old buddy against getting involved with a 15-year-old girl. In locker-room language aimed at the peer group, Cox urges the guy to do the right thing and pass on this one. This sparks other calls from listeners, including a guy who said he'd done time for the same thing.

On Mark Madden's WEAE-AM (1250) sports talk show, strippers are mentioned about as often as they're interviewed on Howard Stern. A monologue about things that should be illegal includes "fat strippers."



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