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The premiere of "The Howard Stern Radio Show" may have been slightly more tasteless than expected.

But the real crime was how unexpectedly unfunny it was and how interminable some segments were.

Stern's debut at midnight Saturday on WUTV brought back memories of his whipping boy, Chevy Chase. I haven't seen a less amusing opener since Chase premiered a talk show on Fox several years ago.

Its overlong segments even managed to make the sketches on "Saturday Night Live" seem fast-paced and brief by comparison.

Mostly filled with bits from his radio show featuring pathetic acting strippers, bisexuals and transsexuals, Stern's show should have been an embarrassment to the CBS executives who put his program on their owned stations and those stations like Fox affiliate Channel 29 willing to syndicate it.

It seemed like Stern's goals were to go as far as possible in his premiere and to quickly get out as many of the seven dirty words that George Carlin used to say couldn't get on television.

The program bored one to death with footage of a young naked woman lap dancing on Stern while the host and his entourage described her body parts for viewers unable to see them clearly because of careful editing and camouflaging.

All that proved is that bits like that are more amusing on Stern's radio show when you don't see anything and can use your imagination.

It would seem that Stern is seeking the same audience that would rather pay to watch the sexy late-night Showtime Saturday shows that rely on unedited naked shots of women.

The Stern program opened with a segment of about 15 minutes featuring a man -- at least I think it was a man -- who claimed that he was a woman as Stern and sidekick Robin Quivers ridiculed him or her.

The most pathetic bit of all was the first annual Frankenstein Makeover contest, which was a real freak show.

A woman so pathetic that Jerry Springer might even avoid exploiting her was graded by four strange men on a scale of 1 to 10 on whether she was worth the price of having plastic surgery performed by a surgeon on the set.

As disgusting as making fun of the pathetic woman was, at least the bit had the potential for humor. And that was saying something on Saturday night.

Before the show premiered, Stern had said that it was going to consist of some of his best radio bits of the week before. In other words, it was going to be similar to his daily E! show. If this was the best stuff, you wonder what E! is saddled with on a daily basis.

Stern also sought more humor out of two old stories -- the JonBenet Ramsey murder and the O.J. Simpson case.

JonBenet was used in unfunny, tasteless animated bits that turned one's stomach. Simpson was interviewed on the golf course by a Stern reporter, as the host made fun of the infamous one's often ridiculous answers. Simpson looked perfectly happy to talk -- until the questioner asked silly questions with relevance to the murder. At that point, Simpson delivered a lecture on tastelessness.

Undoubtedly, Stern's show will get a mountain of publicity for its tastelessness and the lowering of the bar of television even further.

Channel 29 General Manager Don Moran even felt that the entire show may have been a publicity stunt to get such attention. If so, he was about as amused as I was.

"It was terrible, it was disgusting, it was in poor taste," said Moran. "We're hoping it gets better."

He said he complained to the show's syndicator, Eyemark.

"I was hoping that the show would be more celebrity driven," said Moran. He was told a boring interview with actor Wesley Snipes was deleted from the program.

"I thought they could have shortened up a lot of things to put 'boring Wesley Snipes' on it," said Moran.

My advice to those Western New Yorkers offended by the material is to ignore it.

Stern's program so poorly translates to television that it probably won't do well anywhere but in those major market cities who have made him a huge radio success.

Buffalo isn't one of them. His radio show failed on WWKB years ago, though he gets a decent size audience locally from CILQ-FM, 107.1 in Toronto.

Nationally, the premiere had a healthy 5 rating. However, it was unable to defeat a classic "Saturday Night Live" program featuring the Best of Eddie Murphy.

Moran said the material in the debut may make it difficult for him to sell the 20 units of commercials available in the show. He added that he told one soft drink advertiser to avoid the program.

"I was hoping to take the high road and pick up advertisers who skew young," said Moran, who changed his mind.

But he isn't about to cancel the show after only one program.

"I'm under contract to keep it on," said Moran. "I'm hoping it changes direction."

He added that he received two initial calls of complaint and his program director received threee-mails.

"They didn't complain about the show," said Moran of thee-mails. "They complained about the blocking out of the nudity."

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