The David Lee Roth Show

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The David Lee Roth Show was a short-lived morning radio program in 2006, starring the loquacious rock musician David Lee Roth (of Van Halen fame). It was syndicated nationally, replacing America's longtime most popular radio show, the Howard Stern Show. Notably different from Howard Stern's program, or corporate "morning zoo" and "shock jock" formats which dominated morning radio at the time, Roth's radio program sounded like pirate radio by comparison. Blocks of obscure ethnic music - or largely non-commercial rock music - alternated with personal stories, occasionally uncomfortable debates on intellectual matters, and interviews with people Roth admired (e.g. guitarist Brian May, baseball player Johnny Damon, and his uncle Manny Roth, etc.).

Following its January 2006 debut, a plurality of critics savaged the show, chiding its "amateurishness," while a minority praised Roth's willingness to bring something so obviously "non-corporate" (and ultimately "anti-corporate") to American mainstream radio. Arbitron numbers showed that Roth's radio program initially lost a sizable portion of the Howard Stern audience; however, by the end of his tenure, his show began to find advocates in people disenchanted by ClearChannel-formatted radio.[1] Roth's firing from CBS Radio ended in a lawsuit, which was eventually settled.


The David Lee Roth Show began airing on January 3, 2006. The show was produced by CBS Radio as part of its Free FM format, and was based out of WFNY-FM in New York City. The show replaced Howard Stern's show in a majority of the latter show's east coast markets, following Stern's move from the FM dial to Sirius Satellite Radio at the end of 2005. Host David Lee Roth had been an American pop culture icon since the late 1970s, first as the ostentatious original frontman for Van Halen, and later as a solo artist who helped to launch the careers of guitarists Steve Vai, Jason Becker, and John 5.

The David Lee Roth Show aired in seven markets on CBS-owned-and-operated stations, WFNY-FM in New York City, WBCN-FM in Boston, WNCX-FM in Cleveland, KLLI-FM in Dallas, WYSP-FM in Philadelphia, WRKZ-FM in Pittsburgh and WPBZ-FM in West Palm Beach. There was mass speculation regarding cancellation or format change when Roth took an unexpected one-week vacation in March, after having been doing the show for only two months. Following weeks of mounting tension between Roth and CBS Radio management (which Roth often expressed on-air), and several (corporately ordered) changes in format, CBS abruptly pulled the plug on the show without fanfare on April 21, 2006.

On April 24, 2006 CBS Radio Chairman & CEO Joel Hollander announced that The David Lee Roth Show was being replaced starting on Wednesday April 26 with The Opie and Anthony Show on all of Roth's former affiliates except for Cleveland affiliate WNCX. WNCX opted to produce its own local morning show and air Opie and Anthony in afternoon drive-time.

As a result of the cancellation of his radio show, Roth reportedly retained the same law firm that Howard Stern is using in his lawsuit against CBS Radio, its parent CBS Corporation, and CBS Corp's Chairman Leslie Moonves. Roth has stated publicly that "someone will pay," meaning his reported salary of $4 million and that if he and CBS cannot come to an agreement regarding his salary, a lawsuit will ensue.


"Roth's show is ... skin-crawlingly awful. ... In these days of bland Clear Channel/Infinity corporate radio, it's bracing to hear a guy who has no idea what he's doing. ... Listening to Roth, you feel actual physical pain." - Rob Sheffield in Rolling Stone

"He's a mess, and he's a loudmouth punk." - syndicated radio host Don Imus, whose show aired opposite Roth's on sister station WFAN.

Critics and fans alike generally concluded that Roth was unprepared for a radio show, and close to the demise of the show, Roth himself suggested on the air that he agreed with this assessment. He also stated on-air at least once, in response to a caller's complaint, that he thought the show "sucked", although this was in reference to the new format forced upon him by Free-FM management.

Roth mentioned several times that his show was a work in progress, and that near the end of his run, he felt that he was getting the timing down. He also felt that he was trying to develop something "unique", quite different from the generic "morning zoo" programs that would replace him. He conceded that his show would take time to mature.

Conspiracy theories[edit]

In the April 28 edition of the Boston Herald,[2] reporters Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa wrote that conspiracy theorists say that Roth was never intended to successfully replace Howard Stern. Supposedly, CBS Radio wanted to hire Opie and Anthony all along but could not because...

  • Stern dislikes Opie and Anthony, and would have spent the last six months of his show slagging them off.
  • Stern liked Roth, and approved of his take-over
  • Management at CBS Radio (then called Infinity Broadcasting) believed that whoever replaced Stern was doomed. An insider at CBS Radio was quoted as saying to the Boston Herald reporters that "(he) looked good to Wall Street, and they gave him a real shot. They would have loved for him to succeed, but he wasn’t a radio guy."

Howard Stern's Reaction[edit]

Howard Stern has stated that the original incarnation of Van Halen is his favorite rock and roll band of all-time, and also that he "like[s] David Lee Roth" on a personal level. Regarding the David Lee Roth Show, Stern stated in a 2010 interview with former CBS executive Rob Barnett that he knew that the show would fail when Roth didn't seem to grasp the idea that talking to a radio audience is different from talking to the crowd at a rock concert. "He looked at me with a blank stare," said Stern, "like he wasn't concerned." [3]

Show cast[edit]

  • David Lee Roth – Host
  • John Hutchinson – Board operator (Known as Hutch)
  • Brian Young – Guitarist (Known as B. Young)


  • Robin Bakay – guest co–host
  • Linda Reisman – guest co–host, Dave's EMT instructor
  • Lisa Roth – guest co–host, Dave's sister
  • Valerie Deore – guest co–host, from Dallas' 105.3 Free FM
  • Danni – guest co–host, from 92.3 Free FM's The Booker Show
  • Uncle Manny Roth – studio guest, Dave's uncle
  • Ludlow Stan – recurring studio guest, record reviews
  • Elizabeth Hayt (N.Y. Post Columnist – Love & Hayt) – recurring studio guest
  • Animal – Dave's bodyguard
  • Matt Sencio – Dave's manager
  • Sasha – intern
  • Chop – car salesman


  1. ^
  2. ^ The Boston Herald - Conspiracy in the air: Roth was a fall guy
  3. ^

External links[edit]