Howard Stern (search) has a message for Clear Channel Radio, which suspended the shock jock over an interview with Paris Hilton's ex-boyfriend: radio executives are just scared.
"They are so afraid of me and what this show represents," Stern said Thursday during his popular radio program, which is still airing in many cities.
Clear Channel (search) suspended Stern from six stations — the only outlets among its 1,200 stations that air the show — after an on-air interview Tuesday with Rick Salomon (search) during which a caller used a racial slur. Salomon is the man involved in the hotel heiress' infamous homemade sex video.
• Raw Data: Clear Channel Statement About Howard Stern (pdf)
John Hogan, president of Clear Channel Radio, apologized to members of the House Energy and Commerce telecommunications subcommittee Thursday, saying that he was ashamed of some of the programming that had aired.
Chaunce Hayden, a celebrity journalist and past guest of the radio program said Clear Channel's actions against Stern are "quite frightening."
"It is 100 percent a freedom of speech issue," he told Fox News on Thursday, acknowledging that the show sometimes does "go too far."
But he said, "that's what the show is. You don't have to watch the show. You can turn the dial...You have a choice...How can government take choice away from us?"
For many critics, Stern is the poster child for indecency. His show has graphic references to sex and regularly includes strippers and pornographic movie stars as on-air guests.
Stern's show is still being carried on stations owned by a rival radio network, Infinity Broadcasting, that distributes it to major markets nationwide. In 1995, Infinity paid the largest cumulative FCC fine to date, $1.7 million, for various violations by Stern's radio show.
The six Clear Channel stations involved are in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Fla., Rochester, N.Y., San Diego, Pittsburgh and Louisville, Ky.
"Clear Channel drew a line in the sand today with regard to protecting our listeners from indecent content, and Howard Stern's show blew right through it," Hogan, said in a news release Wednesday. "It was vulgar, offensive and insulting, not just to women and African-Americans but to anyone with a sense of common decency."
Stern said Thursday morning near the beginning of his show that he wasn't even sure he should talk about it.
"I could blow my stack, but ... ," Stern said, trailing off. "A caller used the N word, and I hung up on him."
Before the Stern incident, Hogan and top officials from television networks were already scheduled to testify at the second congressional hearing this month on broadcast indecency in the wake of the exposure of Janet Jackson's breast during the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 1.
"Janet Jackson is now forgotten and I'm on the front page of every newspaper," said Stern. "I can't imagine the pressure they're putting on this guy."
Clear Channel said Stern's show would not air until officials are assured it will conform to acceptable broadcasting standards.
But Stern supports such as Hayden believe Clear Channel should put it back on the air.
"Obviously there are millions of people everyday that listen to the Howard Stern show," said Hayden. "Doesn't that say something? It's obviously what the people want, so who is to say it shouldn't be on the air?
"They are terrified," he said of Clear Channel. "It's a witch hunt. Everyone is running scared right now. It's about time someone stands up and says, 'Enough...you have to stop it.'"
The Associated Press contributed to this report.