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Stern stunt stirs talk of early Viacom exit

Shock jock to appear on Letterman later in evening

NEW YORK — Radio bad boy Howard Stern is planning a rally in Gotham’s Union Square today, where he’ll rail against corporate radio and hand out “electronic turkeys,” expected to be Sirius satellite radios, to fans.

Shock jock is scheduled to appear later in the evening on CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman,” where he may discuss his plans to ankle his contract at Viacom’s Infinity Broadcasting earlier than planned.

Stern signed a five-year, $500 million deal to join the satcaster at the beginning of 2006, but has claimed on his show that he’s being “threatened” and “jerked around” by his bosses at Viacom, and may start at Sirius sooner than expected.

On his show Wednesday morning, Stern told listeners he would be giving away “something” new if they turn in something old. He added he doesn’t have 10 million to give out, so it will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

He said he’s considering taking the old “ones” so he can smash them on the street.

A Sirius spokesman said Stern is not under contract yet, so they don’t know exactly what will transpire, but they helped obtain a permit for the gathering and cleared it with the New York Police Dept.

Sirius radios retail for $99, but they require activation and a $12.95-per-month subscription.

Since satellite radio is not regulated by the Federal Communications Commission, Stern would have more freedom to say and do what he pleases. Stern said his broadcast is censored at both the corporate and local levels, leaving the end product like Swiss cheese.

A spokesman for Stern could not be reached for comment.

Sirius lost $169.4 million in the third quarter, but said it was on track to sign up 1 million subscribers by year’s end. Competitor XM Satellite Radio has 2.1 million subscribers.

But the signing of Stern and his apparent willingness to tubthump the service before his contract begins could boost subscribers faster than originally projected.

Sirius CEO Joe Clayton told analysts last month that he would consider buying out the remainder of Stern’s Viacom contract.

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