CNN: Mel Karmazin out is Howard Stern next?

Sirius XM is looking for a new CEO. Will they have to soon start searching for a new King of All Media shock jock as well?

The departure of Mel Karmazin from Sirius is a bit of a surprise, but not a huge shock. By all accounts, Karmazin was not meshing well with Liberty Media chairman John Malone. Liberty Media (LMCA) helped rescue Sirius XM at the height of the financial panic in 2009 with an investment that some think saved Sirius XM from bankruptcy. But Malone has been seeking approval from the Federal Communications Commission to gain control of Sirius.

Karmazin isn’t the only one who’s unhappy though. Howard Stern, the biggest star for the satellite radio company, has a contract that runs out in 2015. And he’s been voicing displeasure lately about his life at Sirius. Stern said on Monday’s show that he was “miserable” and “would be happier if he quit work.” Stern was also quoted as saying that he might look to leave his contract early.

“I’m miserable,” said Stern. “I just want to tear someone’s head off…I think I’d be happier if I quit work. I think my agent said to me even though I have a five year deal here, that after the third year I could actually leave….I think I want to leave…I have to do this year and then I could get the fuck out of here…I want out.”

Now of course, this may just be a case of Stern using the airwaves to try and push for better terms in a new contract. Stern has used this negotiating ploy many times before and wound up signing a new 5-year deal with Sirius XM in 2010.

“There is an issue with Howard. But there’s always an issue with Howard,” said John Tinker, an analyst with Maxim Group.

A spokesman for Sirius XM declined comment. Still, investors may need to be a little concerned that Stern could be, uhh, serious about leaving Sirius this time around. Karamzin famously hired Stern for Infinity Radio, now owned by CBS (CBS) in the mid-1980s after Stern was fired by NBC. The two have been inseparable since, with Karmazin agreeing to join Sirius XM shortly after Stern did in 2004.

Sirius XM boss Mel Karmazin to be replaced?

Liberty Media Corp Chief Executive Greg Maffei escalated a war of words with Sirius XM Radio Inc boss Mel Karmazin on Thursday, saying Karmazin could be replaced when his contract expires at the end of the year.

Liberty Media is close to taking control of the satellite radio provider, pending approval by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

Speaking at a Goldman Sachs investor conference in New York, Maffei said that Karmazin, who has led Sirius XM since 2004, was “valuable” but not “irreplaceable.”

“I think there are plenty of people who could do a great job running the business,” said Maffei, whose Liberty Media holds a 49.6 percent stake in Sirius XM and has said it plans to raise its stake above 50 percent.

Karmazin’s contract expires at the end of the year. He told investors last week that he is open to contract negotiations but that “my instincts today are that Liberty does not need me at the company.”

CNBC host blames Howard Stern for bankrupting (video)

Howard Stern and his band of gleeful misfits were back live on the air Monday morning after another long and torturous week for fans stuck in humorless traffic. The King of All Media wasted on Monday’s broadcast to respond to mudslinging he received from the mainstream media during his on-air absence.

Reuters reported last week that Sirius XM posted a quarterly net loss of about 1% last quarter, but also reported that the loss of subscribers for the quarter was lower than expected.

Instead of attributing the decrease in subscribers and revenue to the recession and huge drop in auto sales (which is where most satellite radio subscriptions are sold), CNBC’s Dennis Kneale blamed Howard Stern’s high price tag for Sirius XM’s financial woes.

After complimenting Sirius XM executive Mel Karmazin as a “great salesman,” Dennis Kneale went on to say: “…in the end, does it turn out they just overpaid for Howard Stern and they have too much debt? I wonder if John Malone bailed them out temporarily hoping that they kind of go belly-up so they can get a hold of those assets really cheap.”
If there’s anyone who’s used to getting no respect from the mainstream media, it’s Howard Stern. Still, the King of All Media took offense to Kneale’s characterization of him as a drain on Sirius XM’s resources. On Monday morning’s broadcast of The Howard Stern Show, Stern offered an alternate perspective on Sirius XM’s financial situation.

Howard Stern claims that it was the millions of subscribers that he and his team of grown-up juvenile delinquents brought to Sirius that brought XM satellite radio “to its knees” and forced the merger between the two satellite giants. Howard Stern also pointed out that during conference calls with Mel Karmazin, Karmazin always emphasizes that the only program on Sirius XM radio that’s paying for itself is The Howard Stern Show.
Despite the fact that Howard Stern has grown a pretty thick shell after three decades of abuse from the mainstream media, he still threw a minor hissy fit in response to Dennis Kneale’s accusation:

“Why does everyone HATE me?” barked Stern in frustration on Monday morning’s broadcast. Howard Stern and his sidekicks discussed the other significant costs on Sirius XM’s balance sheet. Sirius XM has had to pay major fees for Major League Baseball and other big name talent like Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart. Howard Stern pointed out that these other high cost channels aren’t bringing in anywhere near the level of revenue associated with The Howard Stern Show.