How do you replace one of the most popular radio hosts ever? ''He's irreplaceable,'' says Michael Harrison, publisher of trade magazine Talkers. ''It's a suicide mission.'' CBS Radio didn't have much choice: In January, David Lee Roth and Adam Carolla went on the air in 13 cities. The result? Here's a look at some preliminary numbers from their first 90 days.
DAVID LEE ROTH
Roth's often baffling show has faced withering criticism and lost nearly half of Stern's audience in New York City. Even so, CBS Radio's president of programming, Rob Burnett, defends Diamond Dave. ''He takes it from rock & roll to Hollywood to the military,'' he says. ''It's a very unexpected show.''
EARLY VERDICT: Not good. ''I think he's a dead man talking,'' says Harrison.
The comic has years of radio experience, but he's still lost more than half of Stern's audience on L.A.'s KLSX. Carolla's trying to ignore the numbers. ''Everybody told me, don't expect any good ratings,'' he says. ''But a year from now, we'll see.''
EARLY VERDICT: ''The jury is still out,'' says Harrison. ''He's not bad at all. The question is whether he's good enough.''