David Lee Roth Replacing Howard Stern On Morning Radio

Former Van Halen frontman takes over popular radio program on January 3.

He’s fronted one of the biggest rock bands and he’s saved the lives of New York residents as a paramedic with the city’s ambulance service. What’s next for “Diamond” David Lee Roth? Come January 3, he’ll be taking his game to the morning airwaves as one of several celebrity talents recruited to replace satellite-bound shock jock Howard Stern.

Roth was a much-hyped mystery guest on Stern’s nationwide radio show on Tuesday (October 25), where the rocker revealed his will be the voice greeting Stern regulars the morning of January 3 — at least in several of the markets comprising the self-proclaimed King of All Media’s syndicated, 27-station kingdom, an empire Stern has spent decades building.

Roth — whose announcement ends months of rumors over just who’d be filling Stern’s immense kicks — will take over in New York, Boston, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Dallas and West Palm Beach, Florida. “You’ve built quite an empire here, and I’d like to think that they’ve saved it for the best guy,” Roth told Stern. “It will be a very interesting adventure.”

Stern, who joked that he should look into fronting Van Halen, surmised that Roth’s move was a step down from his rock star stature. Stern also said he’s “done what [he] needed to do here,” and that he needed “freedom to speak about what I want, and I have to be free to do my type of comedy. I’m happy for you and I do wish you the best” (see ” ‘Howard Stern Show’ To Air — Uncensored — On Satellite Radio In 2006 “ ).

“Putting together this morning radio network was the greatest pride of my life,” Stern continued. “When they said I couldn’t do it, I said ‘You’re all insane.’ How do you not challenge the future? How do you not challenge this industry? I can’t imagine why you would want to do it.”

Roth, who said working in radio has been a lifelong aspiration, told Stern he was approached for the job in February. He’s been living in New York’s Lower East Side neighborhood for more than two years. “I’ll be performing for more people in one morning than the Rolling Stones will in an entire summer,” Roth exclaimed.

Infinity Broadcasting (which, like MTV, is owned by Viacom) had approached several big names to replace Stern, including Jon Stewart, Geraldo Rivera, Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Bonaduce. Along with news of Roth’s appointment comes word that comedian and “Loveline” co-host Adam Carolla will take over for Stern in several West Coast markets, including Los Angeles, Seattle and Phoenix. Jimmy Kimmel, who co-hosted Comedy Central’s “The Man Show” with Carolla, will serve as a creative consultant to Carolla’s program and Infinity Broadcasting. DJ Rover, who helms the morning show for Cleveland’s 92.3 Xtreme Radio has been tapped to replace Stern in Chicago, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Memphis.

Magician Penn Gillette will host an hour-long program scheduled to air immediately following Roth and Carolla.

In at least three markets, Stern will be supplanted by the DJ-free Jack-FM radio format, while at least one other will broadcast CNN Morning News. It was also revealed that several stations that currently carry Stern would be switching formats, shifting from music to talk. New York’s WXRK, which has served as the base of operations for Stern’s empire for years, will adopt a new Free FM format, trading in its rock rotation for talk. Infinity stations in Los Angeles (KLSX-FM), Chicago (WCKG-FM), Dallas (KLLI-FM), Washington, D.C. (WJFK-FM), Detroit (WKRK-FM) and Baltimore (WHFS-FM) have all been re-branded Free FM, effective Tuesday.

Roth promises he won’t be a Stern carbon copy and said he’ll be bringing something completely unique to the table; he promises music in addition to talk, some of which will be political in nature, he said. Much like Stern, Roth revealed that his personal life will never be off-limits.

“You’ve done an extraordinary job and I hope I can honor it,” Roth told Stern, adding that he’s not worried about facing the same FCC pressures the shock jock coped with (see “Howard Stern Broadcast Costs Clear Channel Nearly $500,000″ ). “I’m beyond ready.”

Roth also commented on Stern’s future at Sirius Satellite Radio, saying, “It requires someone of your stature to make [the medium successful].”