LOS ANGELES – Michael Savage's talk show left the airwaves Thursday after the conservative host won a legal battle with his longtime employer, although his attorney said discussions with new networks are already under way.
Savage posted a message on his website Thursday evening under the headline "Free at Last!" that said he was free to work with any station or network from now on. He said he "will not be heard on the radio for some time."
His attorney Daniel Horowitz said Savage left Talk Radio Network after obtaining a favorable ruling in arbitration Thursday afternoon.
More than 8 million people listen to Savage's show each week, placing him behind only Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity in ratings, according to the magazine Talkers. The immediate effect that his abrupt departure would have on companies that advertise on his show was unclear.
An email sent to Oregon-based Talk Radio Network was not immediately returned. Savage's bio and name already have been removed from the company's website.
Horowitz says Savage has been fighting the network for two years to get out a contract that was 10 years old and prevented the host from switching employers. Horowitz said the agreement lacked protections afforded to artists and entertainers under California law, and tied Savage to Talk Radio Network indefinitely.
Horowitz said Savage spent more than $900,000 fighting his case but was awarded more than $1 million in arbitration. The agreement also calls for Savage to be able to obtain all archived tapes of his show.
Savage, who broadcasts from San Francisco, was heard on nearly 400 stations and has gained notoriety for offending immigrants and minorities, calling the Muslim holy book, the Quran, a "book of hate" and being banned in 2009 from traveling to England for allegedly fostering extremism or hatred. After that decision, the host appealed to one of the targets of his barbs, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for help.
A State Department spokesman said at the time that countries have a right to determine who is allowed to enter, but declined to comment further on Savage's request.