Over Lunch, at the Bar, and Over the Cubicle Wall

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It’s official. Howard is free.
Howard Stern’s last morning with Infinity was a media circus that included a live broadcast on Yahoo and his ride out of Infinity through midtown Manhattan atop of a double-decker bus and waving to the several thousand fans who lined Manhattan’s 56th Street. Stern ended his “victory lap” in Times Square, where he gave a rousing hyperbole-filled speech to another crowd of fans.

The main theme, which he used to punctuate every point, was that he and his audience were “the last of a dying breed.” Today, he told the crowd, “is a day of history, and we are all part of history. We are all the last of a dying breed. Together, we are stars. Thank you all for being in my corner all of these years. ... Because of you I have clout. When you gave me ratings, I was able to go into program directors’ offices and tell them to f-off. Today is fan appreciation day.

Photo: AP
Howard Stern

“Everyone else played by the rules, we didn’t. We weren’t interested. We broke every rule and I’m very proud of that,” Stern told the crowd. “This radio show has been fired, suspended fined millions of dollars, but we stood our ground, we were last of dying brand.”

What is he most looking forward to when he starts his show on Sirius Satillite Radio on Jan. 9?

“I can’t wait to be free to do the broadcast the way I want to do it. We will not back down,” he told the Times Square crowd. Robin Quivers, his longtime sidekick, echoed that sentiment when she said she can’t wait to get to their new home “where we can say whatever we want.”

There was also much denouncing of the government, the FCC, Clear Channel and the religious right.

Another thing he’s looking forward to? No commercials, there’s been “too many commercials” in his Infinity broadcasts. (Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin may want to talk to him about that.)

But Stern is counting on his fans to migrate with him to subscription radio. “The ride’s not over yet. We are going to a whole new universe for five more years. Let the Philadelphia Freedom Bell be rung by a stripper. I’m coming across America!”

Then he and those lucky enough to have passes filed into the Hard Rock Café for a good bye party and concert by Sheryl Crow.

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