The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday dismissed a complaint against WGR-AM 550 radio and morning host Tom Bauerle over the use of crude language, but the decision caused a split within the FCC.
Buffalo resident Michael Palko filed the complaint last summer after hearing Bauerle and sidekick Chris Parker talking trash on their sports morning show.
Palko was upset over Bauerle's repeated use of a street vulgarity for a male body part. He also complained about the station's monthlong promotion after the Sabres' loss in the Stanley Cup finals over a disputed goal. The promotion included selling urinal splash guards with National Hockey League emblems on them.
In dismissing the complaint, the FCC stated: "The discussion does not describe sexual or excretory activities or organs in a patently offensive manner."
The decision was not unanimous. FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani, one of the three who sit on the panel, issued a long letter of dissent, saying WGR should have been punished.
"Mr. Palko's allegations should not be dismissed," she said in a statement issued Wednesday. Tristani said the show was "not an adult-only program" and noted that children do listen to sports radio shows in the morning.
"This was a shameless monthlong campaign to discredit individuals and teams of individuals by covering them with human waste," she said.
"I am at a loss to explain the failure to even seek further review," Tristani stated. "This decision adds weight to the public's conclusion that the FCC's indecency enforcement program is ineffective. Our children deserve better."
Greg Ried, general manager of WGR, which is owned by Entercom Communications Corp. of Philadelphia, was pleased with the decision but said he was not surprised.
"I never expected them not to rule in our favor," Ried said. "WGR is certainly a lot tamer than at least three other stations in this market.
"We're tamer than 97 Rock (WGRF-FM, 96.9), the Edge (WEDG-FM, 103.3 FM) and Howard Stern (on WBUF-FM, 92.9)."
Palko believes taking WGR to task was not wasted. "I'm glad I brought this to the public's attention," he said. "If Entercom wants to put a bad product on the air with poor ratings, that's their business. But if they want to put on what is, in my opinion, obscene programming, then it becomes the public's business."