Thursday, January 04, 2001

Howard Stern invades local airwaves

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Nine months later, WAQZ-FM (97.3) managers finally have answered my question:

        Yes, Infinity's alternative rock station will bring shock jock Howard Stern's national radio show to Tristate airwaves. It happened today at 6 a.m.

        When WYLX-FM changed to “the new Z” on April 1, and took aim at Clear Channel's top-rated WEBN-FM (102.7), I asked if the station would be picking up Mr. Stern's show, also owned by CBS' Infinity Broadcasting Corp.

        Chuck Finney, the operations director for Infinity's WAQZ-FM, WGRR-FM and WKRQ-FM who sidestepped the question in April, admits there were corporate pressures in the decision to bring the Stern show to Cincinnati, where it had never aired.

        “Howard just signed a new contract (with Infinity) and part of that was the decision to roll it (the show) out in different markets,” Mr. Finney says.

        Mr. Stern, who returned to Dallas airwaves this week, signed a five-year contract with Infinity last month. Infinity is the nation's second-largest radio company behind Clear Channel, which operates its radio division from Randy Michaels' office in Covington.

        Until now, no Cincinnati station had dared to air Mr. Stern's raunchy radio show or syndicated weekend TV show. His fans could only catch a videotape of Mr. Stern's radio show at 11 p.m. Sunday-Friday on the E! cable channel.

        Mr. Stern's 6-10 a.m. show replaces Adam Campbell, who will move to a different shift.

        In the past, Mr. Stern has launched his show in new markets by coming to that city and “burying” a rival station. Will he come here to bury WEBN-FM, which was named a “legendary station” by the National Association of Broadcasters in September?

        “My guess is when he gets to No. 1 in Cincinnati, he will come here,” Mr. Finney says.

        Natural facts: Paul Schaefer's alternative medicine features move to WLWT (Channel 5) today after a year on WCPO-TV (Channel 9).

        “This represents a major growth for us in our second year. Channel 5 is doubling the amount of time for us each week,” says the former weekend anchor who quit Channel 9 in March to work full-time on the features reported by Dr. Christine Horner, the Edgewood plastic surgeon with whom he lives in Northern Kentucky.

        Mr. Schaefer, who had worked 14 years for Channel 9, says he was frustrated by the lack of support for his “Natural Healthwatch” segments. So he pitched them to Channels 5 and 12.

        “I don't want to bad-mouth the folks at Channel 9, but Channel 5 really saw the potential of this. They seem to be much more supportive to make this (syndication) happen with Hearst stations,” he says.

        The final Channel 9 segment aired New Year's Eve. “Natural Healthcheck 5” will debut at noon today on Channel 5, with a second report at 6 p.m. Saturday.

        The first story will be a two-part report on Cincinnati Cyclones player Stefan Ustorf, who uses glucosamine, a natural treatment for muscle and joint pain. (Enquirer sports columnist Tim Sullivan wrote about Mr. Ustorf's wife's battle with breast cancer last week.)

        Mr. Schaefer's Veda Media also has been hired as a consultant for the Wisdom Television cable and satellite channel based in Bluefield, W. Va. He is producing alternative medicine features for Wisdom, which reaches about 4.5 million homes, he says.


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