David Lee Roth’s first broadcast on Jan. 3 as CBS Radio’s East Coast successor to Howard Stern was blasted by numerous newspapers, who went so far as to predict his demise before mid-year.
Roth’s new morning show is airing in New York, Boston and Philadelphia, among others.
“Something was missing: humor,” wrote the New York Post’s John Mainelli. “Missing was a sense of adventure, irreverence, topicality and wacky anarchy.” He criticized Roth for riffing at length on such “gloomy” topics as the World Trade Center site, radio censorship and his career as a paramedic.
David Hinckley of the New York Daily News was less biting, though he said that Roth’s bow “didn’t immediately find its rhythm,” adding that he “proved that, if necessary, he can talk for four hours. We never doubted that, of course, and as skills go, it’s not a bad start toward becoming a successful radio host.”
The Boston Herald offered, “The most shocking thing about Roth’s debut was how the former Van Halen frontman chose to neither shock nor awe his new listeners.” Writer Sean McCarthy called the show “slow out of the gate.”
AM New York, a free commuter newspaper, plastered Roth on its cover Jan. 4, with the stinker headline, “No sparkle yet for Diamond Dave: Replacing Stern, Roth fizzles in radio debut.”
Writer Michael Clancy led his piece with, “If Diamond Dave’s first show is any hint, start the death watch for David Lee Roth’s dalliance in morning talk radio.
“The former Van Halen frontman may not even make it to the summer unless he learns his way around a radio microphone, and fast,” Clancy said. “The show’s content and execution was so amateurish that it sounded more like a demo tape than a polished piece of morning drive-time radio.” He also complained that Roth was “surrounded by an annoying cast of chuckling Morning Zoo-type characters.”
All three newspapers criticized the ramblings of Roth’s Uncle Manny, proprietor of legendary nightclub Cafe Wha? in the city’s West Village. The 90-minute gabfest was plagued by the 88-year-old’s frequent stumbling and occasional forgetfulness.
The popular New York Radio Message Board was splattered with a free-for-all of criticism, calling Roth “lame” and deeming the show “amateur hour.”
The New York Post allowed that such harsh criticism one day into the new high-profile gig may need tempering, quoting media buyer Jerry Levy: “It didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated from the buildup, but you’re dealing with a guy who’s never done radio before. Stern is a tough — if not impossible — act to follow. You have to give it a little time to see how it shakes out.”