CBS Radio - Howard Stern and Free FM

Howard Stern and Free FM

For more details on this topic, see The Howard Stern Show and Free FM.

From 1995 to 2005, Infinity/CBS Radio was the home of controversial and top-rated talk show host Howard Stern, who left due to increasing FCC and station censorship. In January 2006, rock star David Lee Roth, Rover's Morning Glory, and talk show host Adam Carolla replaced Stern in most major radio markets, and CBS Radio launched its new "Free FM" hot talk format in many of these markets. Roth's show was cancelled four months later and CBS Radio announced that Opie and Anthony of XM Radio would replace Roth on the stations that carried him, despite the irony that the two were fired after the sex act controversy inside of St. Patrick's Cathedral, New York. Adam Carolla's show was also later canceled.

On February 28, 2006, CBS Radio announced it had filed a lawsuit against Stern, his agent Don Buchwald, and Sirius, arguing that Stern promoted Sirius "to enrich himself unfairly." It also claimed that Stern "repeatedly and willfully" breached his contract with CBS, "misappropriated millions of dollars worth " for his own benefit and "fraudulently concealed" his performance-related interests in Sirius stock. The suit, filed in New York State Court, sought compensatory and punitive damages. Stern anticipated the suit, and earlier that day, prior to CBS' announcement, held a press conference, discussing how CBS added to the media attention, even booking him for appearances on Late Show with David Letterman and 60 Minutes. "I made them millions of dollars," Stern argued. "If I was hurting them, why did they keep me on the air for fourteen months? How can you have it both ways?" When a settlement was announced on May 26, 2006, Sirius gained exclusive rights to Stern's back catalogue of radio broadcasts at WXRK from November 1995 to December 2005, totalling almost 23,000 hours. The rights, costing Sirius approximately $2 million, equates to approximately $87 per-hour of tape.

As of 2009, the Free FM branding has been discontinued in all markets, and no former Free FM station continues to have a hot talk format.

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