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Clear Channel's Witch Hunt

Nipplegate's watchdogs have more than just eyes. They have ears, too. Radio station operator Clear Channel Communications (NYSE: CCU  ) has been on a moral rampage this week, removing shock jocks Bubba the Love Sponge and Howard Stern from its airwaves.

In Stern's case, he lives on. In the vast majority of markets, Viacom's (NYSE: VIA  ) Infinity Broadcasting is behind the show. Clear Channel simply pulled the plug on the rowdy morning circus in six markets.

If you're looking for a statement from me on whether this was the right move for Clear Channel on a moralistic level, watch how quickly I hand off this hot potato! If I wanted to be divisive, I would have started my own radio talk show.

What interests me is the investing angle. I can think of a few possible winners -- that's right, XM Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: XMSR  ) and Sirius Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI  ) . Think about it. Just as folks flocked to cable TV to escape sanitized network content, satellite radio operators better be ready for the influx of folks who enjoy broader options.

At a time when traditional broadcasters can't afford to lose their core diehard listeners to XM and Sirius, even the most noble of intentions in cleaning up their stations could shoo folks into the captive arms of their subscription-based rivals. That's just not sound radio business.

Will Bubba the Love Sponge and Howard Stern get back their audiences, or is it time for them to hang it up? Are they prepared for retirement? Are you? To get an early start, head over to our Retire Early Home Page discussion board. Only on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz lives in Miami, one of the six markets that went Sternless yesterday. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.

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