Howard Stern says he was pulled off four radio stations this week for using a pair of newly forbidden words: Satellite radio.
Citadel Broadcasting Corp., which aired Stern’s envelope-pushing syndicated show, opted to yank the program Monday because the host was devoting too much time to his impending switch to Sirius Satellite Radio, Stern told his listeners.
Stern’s decision to abandon terrestrial radio is often a topic of conversation on his show. Citadel felt the program had become “an infomercial” for Stern’s next employer and pulled the plug, the shock jock said.
Stern’s show had aired on Citadel stations in Syracuse, N.Y.; Providence, R.I.; Harrisburg, Pa., and Grand Rapids, Mich. Alex Eule, a spokesman for Citadel, said Wednesday the company would have no comment on the dispute.
It was unclear if the decision was permanent or temporary, according to “An Open Letter to Fans in the Citadel Markets” posted on Stern’s Web site.
Stern, whose show still airs in more than 40 markets, was hardly cowed by the rebuke. He devoted extensive time on his highly rated show to making fun of Farid Suleman, chairman of the board and CEO of Citadel Broadcasting.
“Who are you punishing?” Stern asked during one broadcast. “You’re not punishing me, I’m leaving in a year.”
Suleman worked with Stern for several years at Infinity Broadcasting until his departure for Citadel in March 2002. Citadel owns and operates 155 FM and 58 AM radio stations in 24 states across the country, according to its Web site.
Last year, Clear Channel announced it was pulling Stern’s syndicated show off a half-dozen of its stations because of concerns about possible government fines for indecency. Its announcement came after Clear Channel reached a $1.75 million settlement with the Federal Communications Commission over complaints against Stern and other radio personalities.
Meantime, Sirius’ subscriptions rose nearly four-fold in 2004: The number passed the 1 million mark by year’s end, having started out with about 260,000.