It’s the best of times and the worst of times for Howard Stern.
Just as the morning radio leader in Los Angeles, Gotham, Philadelphia and a growing number of other markets confirmed that he has inked a deal to host 36 weekly interview shows on E! Entertainment Television starting Nov. 27, the Federal Communications Commission appeared poised to renew its indecency crackdown against the shock jock.
An FCC source said yesterday the agency is planning to “come down hard” on Stern and his employer, Infinity Broadcasting, which is attempting to purchase more radio stations.
With Stern’s repeated references to sexual functions and terminology as well as his renowned bathroom habits, the FCC staffer said it would look stupid to grant Infinity’s request for a new broadcast license while its primary star continually ignores the commission’s indecency rules.
With a dozen indecency complaints undergoing serious review at the agency, rumors surfaced yesterday that KLSX-FM, which carries the Stern show in L.A., could face $ 100,000 or more in fines.
FCC officials were unavailable for comment at press time, but KLSX program director Andy Bloom said he had been inundated with press calls about the rumored fines.
“We have heard absolutely nothing from the commission and, if it is true, I would find it appalling that such information would be released to the press before … the station,” he said.
Commission sources could not specify the amount of fines that are expected to be handed down, but the previous maximum had been $ 25,000 per violation. If there are repeated violations, a broadcaster could pay up to the maximum on each count.
Stern, meanwhile, was busy plugging his upcoming cable program, “The Howard Stern Interview,” which will feature the often-controversial host and celebrity guests one-on-one for a half hour. It will air at 10 p.m.
Yesterday the L.A. chapter of the National Organization for Women urged the network to postpone its hiring of Stern.
Tammy Bruce, president of the L.A. wing of NOW, said in a statement that “Through the hiring of Stern, E! is sending the message that misogyny and sexism pays.”
Fran Shea, E! senior VP of programming, said she was disappointed with the leadership of the L.A. chapter because no one with the organization contacted E! with their concerns.
Shea added that she supports many of the issues for which NOW stands. Nonetheless, she defended the Stern hire by saying the program will showcase the talent in a new way on a one-on-one basis.
NOW threatens to boycott E!, its corporate sponsorship and other activities.
Stern’s show will be taped in Los Angeles and New York to accommodate his schedule.