If Howard Stern follows through with his threats to leave or retire when his current Sirius XM contract expires, his departure would be a crippling blow to the company. Even if he decides to sign on for a few more years, the extremely popular host just turned 60 and has often said he won’t be like Don Imus or Larry King, clutching a microphone until he is dragged away from it. So, whether it’s 2015 or a few years later, Sirius XM has a huge problem on its hands.
When Stern joined the then Sirius Satellite Radio in January 2006, the struggling company had 600,000 subscribers. Now, having merged with rival XM, the combined Sirius XM, in its fourth-quarter financials, claimed 25.56 million subscribers.
And though the company does not release ratings for any individual channel, a large amount of its paying customers listen to Stern primarily, if not exclusively. In fact, back when Stern was making news about leaving rather than take a pay cut from his rumored $100 million a year salary, Forbes reported that 60% of Sirius’ audience listened exclusively to the controversial talker.