NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
Shock jock Howard Stern made his latest pitch to drum up support for his switch to satellite radio by giving away hundreds of free Sirius Satellite Radio boomboxes Thursday.
Thousands of fans chanting "Howard! Howard!" under the direction of midriff-baring cheerleaders turned out to get the free goods in Manhattan's Union Square and hear Stern make his case for listeners to pay for radio.
"This will be dominant form of media because there is no government regulation," said Stern. "It's the death of the FCC. They have ruined commercial broadcasting -- down with the FCC!"
Stern gave away 500 boombox units and thousands of certificates for free radios from a mobile stage adorned with American flags while Ozzy Osborne's 'Crazy Train' and Rage Against the Machine blared from giant side speakers.
"I want them to experience radio the way it should be," said Stern. "20 years ago I got into radio and it sucked. I went and I made a different kind of radio and now the FCC is dismantling it. It isn't right. It's gonna stop. Satellite radio is the future."
Stern's listeners were ecstatic about the free radios and joined in the anti-FCC banter.
One middle aged man with a shaggy grey beard in the front row held a near-life size doll of Stern, bloody, with its head cut off. The shirt on the doll read "Howard -- An FCC beheading."
'I'm going out (to get the radio) as soon as I get my certificate," said long-time Stern listener Dan Retta. When asked if he'd continue listening to Stern if the radios weren't free, Retta replied "Oh, Definitely. I'd pay for Howard any day of the week."
|Fan with Stern effigy
That's just the mentality Sirius executives are banking on.
After repeated crossings with the Federal Communications Commission, Stern said in October he would leave Viacom's (Research) Infinity Broadcasting to host a show on Sirius (up $0.34 to $7.24, Research) beginning in 2006. The deal netted Stern a five-year, $500 million contract.
The radios Stern was handing out reportedly sell for $99 but listeners will have to fork over another $12.95 a month for the subscription.