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Artie Lange:

I Would LOVE to Return to Howard Stern

7/7/2011 7:03 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

Former "Howard Stern" radio star Artie Lange returned to the airwaves last night -- on a sports talk show -- telling fans that returning to his old job on Stern would be "the greatest thing ever."

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Lange disappeared from the Stern show in January 2010 ... after a private medical emergency.

But last night, Lange appeared on a Fox Sports Radio show hosted by his friend and fellow comic Nick DiPaolo and explained he had been spending time at a rehab facility in Florida to get himself sober.

A caller told Lange he couldn't wait for Lange to return to the Stern show ... and Artie replied, "That would be the greatest thing ever."

Lange continued, "Listen, I was on the greatest show of all time for about 9 years ... and I put them in a very awkward situation to say the least, so, what am i gonna do?

"But I love them all and they were great to me. I appreciate it."

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