DOCTOR TAKES WAR OF WORDS WITH RADIO HOST TO COURT (August 14, 1987)

Attorneys for acerbic radio talk show host Neil Rogers will face off in court this morning with a Fort Lauderdale doctor who wants a temporary or permanent injunction to stop Rogers from broadcasting the doctor’s name or telephone number.

Cardiologist Bart T. Heffernan, who is seeking the injunction, said his office telephone lines were jammed Thursday. An estimated 150 callers — at Rogers’ urging — cussed, complained or just hung up after calling the office, the doctor said.

Rogers has attacked Heffernan on the air for criticizing his radio show and for attempting to organize a boycott by Rogers’ advertisers. Heffernan has taken out an advertisement in The Voice, a Catholic newspaper. The Committee to Promote First Amendment Rights and Obligations, of which Heffernan is a leading member, has objected to Rogers’ off-color humor and alleged ridiculing of Pope John Paul II, who will visit Miami in September.

Rogers’ listeners have responded to Heffernan’s campaign by calling the doctor’s office. Heffernan said the jammed lines are endangering patients who may need emergency treatment.

“It’s getting ugly,” said Heffernan. “I’m afraid we’re just courting disaster.”

“He knows who he’s dealing with,” countered Glen Hill, Rogers’ producer and on-the-air sidekick at WINZ-AM in Miami. “He expects us to roll over and play dead, and it’s not going to happen.”

Attorney Bart T. Heffernan Jr., the doctor’s son, will appear in Broward Circuit Court today to argue in favor of the injunction before Judge Linda L. Vitale.

The lawyer, an FM radio listener who says he “didn’t even know this Rogers existed before this came up,” said a court order against Rogers is necessary to ensure the safety of his father’s patients.

“Fortunately, no one has experienced any serious health problems yet,” he said. “But I want to nip it in the bud. I don’t want to wait until someone dies until I get an injunction.”

The doctor’s campaign has been successful, the father and son said. They have received many calls of support to their offices. Hill said the doctor’s supporters have called the station’s advertisers.

Hill and Rogers say they won’t take the doctor’s onslaught lying down. The Heffernan campaign has been a topic of conversation on the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. show since Monday.

“We’re just fighting fire with fire, as they say,” Hill said.

But Hill left open an escape door for both sides.

“If he wants to go back to being a doctor and leave us alone, we would be glad to drop this entire thing,” he said.

Byline: JAMES F. McCARTY Copyright (c) 1987 The Miami Herald

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