SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Ira Zimmerman is back on line in his battle with the followers of radio shock-jock Howard Stern, only days after he sued the Prodigy Service Co. for kicking him off its electronic bulletin boards.
"I guess I can declare victory," Zimmerman said.
A Prodigy spokesman confirmed Friday that the company decided to restore Zimmerman's bulletin board privileges, after reviewing the latest entries in the yearlong verbal mudslinging match between Zimmerman and Stern's groupies.
"Let's put it this way," said Prodigy's Brian Ek, "there is humor going on there that may be a little difficult for some to see."
Zimmerman, 53, had filed a small-claims lawsuit against Prodigy on Tuesday to recoup his costs of switching to another bulletin board service, and to compel the company to explain why it banned him from the board.
An outspoken advocate for stutterers' dignity and a leading member of the National Stuttering Project, Zimmerman has been wrangling with Stern and his followers for several years. He claims the New York radio personality, whose morning show is broadcast in Los Angeles, demeans stutterers by mocking the show's field reporter called "Stuttering John."
In the last year, Zimmerman took his campaign onto Prodigy, which has numerous "topic" boards for people to discuss issues of common interest. Zimmerman weighed in on the Howard Stern topic board, where he began trading barbs and insults with the shock-jock's devotees.
Prodigy, which screens messages sent by subscribers, warned Zimmerman several times that he was annoying other members and would be banned if his "personal attacks" continued. It finally had enough on Sept. 9 when it suspended him indefinitely because "you continue to badger and bicker with other members, preventing them from enjoying the board."
But after Zimmerman filed his suit, Prodigy General Manager Michael Greenbaum reviewed the Stern exchanges and called Zimmerman to notify him that his privileges were restored.
"Michael found that the discussion on that board is a little different from some of our others, given that it is the Howard Stern board," Ek said.
Ek also said that after it became known that Zimmerman was suspended, other members posted regrets at seeing him gone. One Orange County member even posted a eulogy.
"A board like that. . . ." Ek said, "I can tell you, it's not like our gardening board."