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Howard Stern: 'Thank God he's gone'
Shock jock sounds off on Powell's resignation as FCC head.
January 21, 2005: 5:24 PM EST
By Krysten Crawford, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Howard Stern responded to FCC Chairman Michael Powell's resignation by calling it a "great day."

Powell, chairman since 2001 and a longtime foe of Stern, announced Friday that he would resign from the Federal Communications Commission.

Stern, in a brief but fiery rant on his morning radio show, left little doubt that he's thrilled to see Powell go.

"Thank God he's gone," Stern said. "This is a great day in broadcasting."

In unrelated Stern news, Billboard Radio Monitor, an industry trade publication, reported Friday that "The Howard Stern Show" has been pulled off a Lexington, Ky. radio station for reasons that were not immediately clear.

If so, however, that brings to six the number of markets that have yanked Stern in recent weeks. Stern's four-hour program now airs in 40 markets.

Stern's glee over Powell's departure is not surprising. Under Powell, the regulatory agency has stepped up enforcement of rules barring obscenity and indecency on the public airwaves. Stern, while not the only on-air personality to come under attack, has been a primary target of the crackdown.

Both Clear Channel Communications and Viacom, the owners of the country's largest radio stations, have shelled out millions to settle government investigations of Stern broadcasts. The raunchy radio star's daily talk show is produced by Infinity Broadcasting, a Viacom (down $0.72 to $37.54, Research) unit and the second largest radio station owner behind Clear Channel (up $0.29 to $31.97, Research).

Saying he was fed up with stepped-up government scrutiny, Stern announced last fall that he would leave public radio at the end of 2005 and signed a five-year, $500 million deal with Sirius Satellite Radio (up $0.29 to $5.83, Research), one of two leading broadcasters of subscription-based radio. Because satellite radio is a paid service, its programming is not subject to federal oversight.

Stern and Powell have publicly tussled. In late October, Stern made a surprise call to a San Francisco radio station that was airing a live interview with Powell. Stern told Powell, a Republican who was named to the FCC in 1997, that the only reason he got his government job was because of his father, Colin Powell.

Powell denied the nepotism charge. "I think it's a cheap shot to say just because my father is famous, I don't belong in my position," he said on the air.

Stern renewed the accusation Friday, saying that Michael Powell owed his position to political posturing as Democrats and Republicans jockeyed for his father's allegiance at a time when Colin Powell, a popular Army general and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was not officially affiliated with either party.

After declaring himself a Republican, Colin Powell became Secretary of State under President Bush. Powell is retiring from the post.

Stern called Michael Powell's ascension a political payoff. "It was strictly patronage," he claimed Friday.

While Stern cheered Powell's exit, he said he doesn't think it will end his troubles with regulators.

"God help us with what's next," said Stern. "God knows who (President Bush) is going to appoint" as Powell's successor.

As he's done in the past, Stern also said he doesn't think his run-in with the government would have been any different if a Democrat were president.

Indeed, recent legislative efforts in Congress to boost indecency fines from their current limit of $32,500 per violation to as much as $500,000 per violation have been bipartisan.

It's widely believed that calls for the government to clamp down on salacious shows started when Janet Jackson's bare breast was shown during her live Super Bowl halftime performance a year ago. But pressure had been building since U2 lead singer Bono uttered an expletive during the 2003 Golden Globes awards ceremony.

After an investigation, the FCC declined to issue any fines over the episode in a decision that angered many lawmakers.  Top of page

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