NEW YORK - Howard Stern announced Wednesday that his syndicated morning show would appear in nine new markets, including four where his show was axed by the nation's largest radio chain for alleged indecency.
Stern said his program would air on stations in Houston; San Diego; Tampa, Fla.; Pittsburgh; Orlando, Fla.; Austin, Texas; West Palm Beach, Fla.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Fresno, Calif., all owned by Infinity Broadcasting.
Clear Channel Communications suspended Stern in February and dropped the country's best-known shock jock from its stations in Rochester, Orlando, San Diego, Pittsburgh and two other markets after complaints by federal regulators.
In early June, Clear Channel agreed to a record $1.75 million settlement with the Federal Communications Commission to resolve indecency complaints against Stern and other radio personalities.
Stern's nationally syndicated show features graphic sexual discussion and humor. With Wednesday's announcement, the show appears on 45 stations - most of them owned by Viacom Inc.'s Infinity Broadcasting unit - and draws millions of die-hard listeners.
Stern made the announcement at a news conference aired live on his radio show. He railed against the increased scrutiny he has received in recent months from the FCC.
"I'm not taking it sitting down," Stern said Wednesday.
He said entering the new markets - in approximately two weeks - was a message to the FCC, which has tightened its enforcement of indecency standards. Stern and the FCC have battled for years, with Infinity paying $1.7 million in 1995 to settle various violations by the DJ.
Stern said the FCC's enforcement "has a chilling effect on all broadcasters."
"The FCC is on a witch hunt," he said.
Federal law bars radio stations and over-the-air television channels from airing references to sexual and excretory functions between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when children may be tuning in. The rules do not apply to cable and satellite channels or satellite radio.
Clear Channel, in dumping Stern, said it feared any continued association with the DJ and his raunchy show might led to losing their station licenses.
Joel Hollander, president and chief operating officer of Infinity, expressed his support for Stern.
"Howard has dominated the radio landscape for more than 20 years," Hollander said. Stern's listeners are "one of the most loyal audiences in radio who will no doubt embrace his return."