Stern Climbs Back on Throne

The "King of All Media" is expanding his empire.

Radio shock jock Howard Stern announced yesterday that his morning radio show will launch in nine additional cities July 19, including four where he was dumped unceremoniously this winter for airing indecent material, The Post's John Maynard reports.

In February, Clear Channel Communications, feeling the heat from an increasingly vigilant Federal Communications Commission, dropped Stern in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Louisville, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Rochester after the host graphically discussed a pornographic video during his show.

Now Infinity Broadcasting, which syndicates the show, will add Stern to competing stations in Orlando, Pittsburgh, Rochester and San Diego, as well as Houston, Tampa, Austin, West Palm Beach and Fresno. This brings the number of stations that carry Stern to 45, including 27 Infinity stations.

Stern, who has been on a four-month rant against Clear Channel, the FCC and the Bush White House for what he deems unfair treatment, showed no signs of appeasement during yesterday's show. "In the face of all of this FCC crap, in the face of being thrown off stations, in the face of being threatened that I'm supposedly not allowed back on in other markets . . . I am going back on," Stern barked.

Disappointing Dinner Date

Fifteen thousand bucks can buy you a lot of things, but dinner with Tony Bennett ain't one of 'em -- a sad fact Gary Pusateri learned Saturday.

Pusateri, who lives near American University, shelled out 15 G's at a charity event for what was billed as "a dinner with Tony Bennett," the Baltimore Sun reported. The 52-year-old retired computer analyst and musician did eat dinner at Da Mimmo in Baltimore, which is the same restaurant Bennett dined at that night. But he wasn't seated anywhere near the crooner. He wasn't even on the same floor. (He was able to shake the singer's hand before entering the restaurant. A plus?) Restaurant owner Mary Ann Cricchio chalked up the situation to a misunderstanding, telling the Sun that the item was meant to say "dinner where Tony Bennett will be dining." Ohhhh.

Pusateri told us yesterday: "No one actually came over to me and explained why I was not sitting with him and I didn't ask. I suppose that's atypical, but that's just me. I figured the money was going to a good cause and a lot of other people paid $2,500 a plate for dinner and I just paid a little a bit more."

Baby One More Time

Britney Spears is finally dishing details of her betrothal -- revealed late last week -- to Kevin Federline, her backup-dancer beau of three months: "I'm excited. Elated. Happy. I wake up in the morning, look at the ring and think, 'Very cool,' " Spears bubbles to People mag about her five-carat rock. The interview doesn't reveal who actually paid for the ring, though Spears does fess up that she asked Federline to marry her first. He said no. A few minutes later he asked her. "I'd known for a while that she's the one," Federline said.

And what does Mommy Spears think? After all, Federline has a 2-year-old daughter and a baby on the way with his ex, actress Shar Jackson. "They have good karma," Lynne Spears says.

Jackson told "Access Hollywood" that "after I meet her and everything's cool, we can be one big happy family."

Brit cooed: "I kissed a bunch of frogs and finally found my prince. I feel like I've found my happily ever after."

Noted . . .

Tycoon, TV star, now glossy guru: Donald Trump is launching a national magazine in September. Trump World will have an initial printing of 200,000 copies at $5.95 each, publisher Michael Jacobson said yesterday, and will center on young entrepreneurs competing for a dream job as a top executive in a business empire -- Trump's. The first issue will have an exclusive interview -- with Trump.

. . . and Quoted

"Because I'm deathly afraid to."

-- The fabulously wealthy Chris Heinz, John Kerry's stepson and one of People mag's "50 Hottest Bachelors," telling the New York Daily News why he hasn't "hooked up" with anyone since the presidential campaign started.

-- Compiled by Anne Schroeder

from staff and wire reports

The Reliable Source will return next week.

"In the face of all of this FCC crap . . . I am going back on," said shock jock Howard Stern.