For fans of Howard Stern, it was their worst nightmare come true. Listeners tuning into Stern’s New York station Thursday were greeted instead by a statement from the station’s management that said the show was being taken off the air and replaced with “quality programming,” Reuters reports.
The announcement read on WXRK claimed that Viacom, Stern’s parent company, could no longer withstand the governmental pressure that has been building in regards to decency standards, and that the station was canceling the show.
The notice sent many Stern fans into a frenzy, as listeners from around the country phoned to voice their displeasure. In the meantime, Stern’s usual show was replaced by two deejays playing music and promising a show with “all the fun without the filth,” according to Reuters.
But the decision to cancel Stern’s controversial show on April 1 was no coincidence. Within an hour the shock jock had retaken the air, announcing, “We are back for anybody who was stupid enough to fall for that,” he said, revealing the station’s sophisticated practical joke.
Stern’s sidekick Robin Quivers said, “Check your calendar, people.”
Regardless, an announcement to yank Stern’s show from the air is not so far-fetched. Media giant Clear Channel Communications removed the vulgar host’s program from six of its stations around the country in late February.
In recent months the Federal Communications Commission has agreed to more stringent rules for on-air banter and tougher fines for entertainers who cross the line.
Meanwhile, Stern has lashed out against the FCC’s reinforced policies, blaming President Bush and conservative policies, says Reuters.