Howard Stern was still on the air this morning after the FCC failed to hit Infinity with the the Notice of Apparent Liability that Stern's inside source at the Commission was “99% sure” was coming down at the end of last week. “Friday after the show I was sitting around waiting for the axe to fall,” admitted Stern as he signed on this morning. “The FCC hasn’t come out with their fines yet. They’re preparing their case still.”
Stern said his source told him, “[FCC Chairman Michael] Powell is freaking out because he realizes he’s turning me into a martyr and he’s afraid it will affect the Bush campaign. He actually does know how much power we wield with this radio show. So now he’s trying to figure out when to put the fines against me. I know this because I have inside sources at the FCC. I have about three people in there, so I know exactly what is going on. So now they’re in a weird position. If the fines come out, everyone’s going to know how truthful this show is and what we’ve been saying. If they don’t, it just makes me look like I’ve been crying wolf.”
Stern says the fines will be timed so as not to interfere with President Bush’s reelection bid. “Chairman Powell has been really freaked out by how I keep reporting everything that has been going on, including The Fellowship, George Bush, everything,” Stern said. “He’s just a little afraid he’s turning me into a martyr and that this could cost Bush the election. So he’s thinking it through to maybe hold off my fine until right before the election so I’ll look like a crazy man. He’s still preparing his case. He’s got a whole bunch of little things I’ve said on the air that he doesn’t like.”
Assuming Stern does trigger new fines against Infinity, he now sounds less convinced that the company will immediately remove him from the air. “This could drag on for months,” he said. “The company is going to try and fight back.” On Friday (3/5), WXRK/New York GM Tom Chiusano told Stern, "I believe we will find a way through all this. There are a lot of smart people that work here. You’ve got a lot of important friends in important places. We have the best legal team we can have behind us and we have the strongest leader."
Support for Stern is growing. NY Congressman José E. Serrano called to voice his allegiance, Stern said. “He’s the dude that I think heads the committee that gives funds to the FCC,” explained Stern. “They have to come to him in a couple of weeks to ask for funding and he is going to lay it out to them.” Serrano, a Democrat, is a minority member of the Appropriations Committee, which must approve any money drawn from the U.S. Treasury. He's also the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary.
Later in the show, former New York Senator Alfonse D’Amato phoned in his support, saying “the FCC is off their rocker” and “there is such a thing known as free speech. You still have a great program that maybe everyone doesn’t like, but they don’t have to listen if they don’t like you.”
Funny man Artie Lange returned to the show today after a week off to attend the Aspen Comedy Festival, saying that there were plenty of people at the gathering voicing their support for Stern, including Drew Carey and Joe Rogan. Other celebs offering support for Stern recently have included Viggo Mortenson and Starksy & Hutch director Todd Phillips.
Stern also spent time Monday morning picking apart President Bush’s use of 9/11 imagery in television ads, offering his own narration for a fictitious ad that would point out the President was posing for pictures with teachers while people were falling to their deaths at the WTC, almost as if he didn’t care about the horror that was happening in New York City. Stern said he would end the advert with a tagline of “George Bush’s dereliction of duty is remarkable. Vote Kerry.”
Comparing his life to that of President Bush, Stern said, “I’m about to be thrown off the air by a guy’s administration who was driving around drunk and driving into bushes while I was out on the road trying to make a living in radio and trying to get my career jump started. I had to work while this guy was driving around drunk. I wasn’t drinking. I was working. I had a family to support.”
As for the Million Moron March on Washington, Stern isn’t convinced it's a great idea, but has been talking to former-DreamWorks Records promotion executive Ross Zapin about organizing a concert in Washington to support his cause. “It would have to be biggest names in show business,” said Stern, including Eminem, 50 Cent, Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers and KoRn in his dream line-up.
Regarding his status with Clear Channel, which suspended him from six stations on February 26, Stern said: "Here it is two weeks later since they removed me from all their stations.
Nobody knows what is going on. Nobody can get a hold of anybody. It’s weird."
Listeners that tune in tomorrow might find less talk of the indecency firestorm that's dominated the show since February 26. "
I’ve decided not to talk about this anymore," Stern said at one point today. "This is the last show we talk about this. I’m going to go on and do my regular show and what’s going to happen is the fines are going to come out, we’ll disappear and that will make me more powerful than ever. I can’t take it anymore. It’s over."