How Howard Stern Saved Satellite Radio

A big celebration for Howard Stern and satellite radio will take place on Friday.

howard stern portraitSirius XM Radio is hosting Howard Stern’s Birthday Bash that afternoon and evening from New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom. The celebrity-studded event will naturally be broadcast on its satellite stations, but, in an unusual move, it will also stream the event for free — worldwide — through its siriusxm.com website.

This is a pretty big fete. Jimmy Kimmel will be hosting the affair, and among the performers who have revealed that they will be part of the show are Jon Bon Jovi, John Fogerty, and Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler. Comedians Louis C.K., David Letterman, and Sarah Silverman will also be in attendance.

In other words, even if you find Stern’s polarizing humor, interviews, and antics to be a bit crude, there may be enough celebrities whom you do like on tap to make it worth your while to tune in.

Stern Really Did Save Satellite Radio

Sirius XM is thriving and profitable with nearly 25.6 million subscribers. That probably wouldn’t have been the case without Stern.

Satellite radio was a fledgling business occupied by two warring and profitless players when Stern signed a big deal to move his popular terrestrial radio show to the new platform. He went with the smaller Sirius over the larger XM, and the company rewarded the morning show icon with a $500 million deal for an initial five-year contract that kicked in at the start of 2006. The partnership was extended for another five years weeks before the first contract expired.

Stern’s arrival changed the game for satellite radio. A morning show legend who at his peak attracted as many as 20 million listeners had left terrestrial radio for this premium platform at a time when few cars had satellite receivers and even fewer drivers wanted to pay for it.

Stern didn’t just make satellite radio viable to the point where a majority of the new cars hitting showrooms now come equipped with factory-installed Sirius or XM receivers. Stern’s decision to go with Sirius was enough to let the smaller player take executive control in its eventual merger with XM. Financially speaking, it was a merger of equals, but in reality it was Sirius’ top brass calling the shots at the new entity.

Sirius XM may have struggled in its first few quarters as a combined company, but after narrowly avoiding bankruptcy it became a consistently profitable and growing media giant. The lure of Stern made a lot of that possible.

Stream the World

It may seem odd that the Stern celebration is being streamed for free on Sirius XM’s website. Stern has been on premium radio for eight years. It may seem even stranger that the birthday performances will be available worldwide. Sirius XM’s coverage is limited to North America given the licenses and satellite placements.

Then again, the event could also be just what Sirius XM needs. The problem with Stern leaving traditional broadcast radio is that younger terrestrial radio listeners have no idea what they’ve been missing. Older fans that didn’t make the leap to satellite have moved on.

This party will give Sirius XM a way to introduce or reintroduce Stern to non-subscribers. Even though there are now less than two years left on Stern’s contract — and all indications point to the America’s Got Talent judge not renewing after 2015 — it may as well use its star while it still has him around.

There’s also the global potential. Sirius XM’s fleet of satellites can’t beam outside of North America, but there’s little stopping the media giant from brokering the deals to stream overseas. There would be a lot of licensing rights that would need to be secured, but Friday night’s bash could be a springboard for an international push.

Stern is the satellite radio gift that just keeps on giving for Sirius XM Radio.

Howard Stern’s wife Beth on ‘She’s Got the Look’

Mrs. Howard Stern, has joined the judges panel for the Season 3 of the TV Land original reality competition She’s Got the Look. Ostrosky will be in Los Angeles taping the series over the next month, leaving Howard Stern to lament her absence daily on his satellite radio broadcast of The Howard Stern Show.

She’s Got the Look is America’s Next Top Model for women over 35. Hosted by Kim Alexis, She’s Got the Look offers the winner a modeling contract with Wilhelmena International, Inc and a spread in Self magazine. Judges for previous seasons have included model Beverly Johnson, stylist Robert Verdi, and Wilhelmena President Sean Patterson. Beth Ostrosky Stern joined She’s Got the Look as a guest judge during season two.

Will Howard Stern go back to terrestrial radio?

One of Howard Stern’s favorite topics to discuss on the air is Howard Stern. Hardly an hour goes by that he isn’t talking about his personal life or his radio career. As a member of the media, it’s my favorite part of his show. But it also had me wondering what he’ll do once his contract with Sirius XM (SIRI) expires at the end of next year.

Debates will rage and if Stern stays true to form, he will leave it a mystery until the end. But his decision will be critical: Hanging in the balance is the future of the satellite radio business. Remember, Stern helped breathe life into satellite radio and helped Sirius defeat XM, which it then bought. If Stern leaves satellite radio, will it wither and die?

While satellite radio’s future may be dependent on Stern staying, you can be sure Sirius won’t be able to pay him the king’s ransom, $500 million over five years, that it paid the self-proclaimed “king of all media” to leave his New York radio home at K-Rock (WXRK-FM) and the stations that paid to carry his show around the U.S. While it’s not likely he’d leave satellite to go back to so-called free radio, I believe he will have to syndicate some part of his show to free radio to create more revenue for himself and for Sirius.

Here’s how it would work: Stern would do his usual show, typically five hours, and that could be diced down to three hours for distribution among stations around the U.S. Cursing and offensive chunks that would lead to fines would be edited out. Stations would get the disc jockey, publicity and listeners they crave. Sirius would get needed income and Stern would get the increased exposure he desires.

“Howard is not enhancing growth of satellite subscriptions anymore,” says Fred Moran, media and internet analyst at Benchmark Company, in an interview. “His being partially available on terrestrial radio would not likely cause any significant turnover in subscriptions or churn in customer subscriptions.”

In fact, it could serve to promote Sirius and add subscribers — something Sirius needs. With 18.4 million subscribers, Sirius lost about 186,000 listeners in its most recent quarter. Sirius could require free-radio stations carrying Stern’s edited show to runs advertisements offering the unedited version on Sirius.

Such a move would not be unprecedented. Opie and Anthony, who host their own talk radio program, did their show live for three hours on FM radio and then continued, uncensored, on XM. Moran argues Stern has brought the bulk of the audience he’s going to bring to Sirius already. Stern would surely jump at the chance to again rule FM and AM airwaves as long as he doesn’t have to give up the freedom he enjoys to speak without a censor button. Plus, it would feed his insatiable ego.

The million-dollar question is, what’s next for Stern? “It’s a topic I think about all the time,” Stern said this week on his Sirius show. “I don’t really know. I don’t.”

In a recent New York Daily News story, David Hinckley wrote that Stern has the ability to get folks to pay to hear him on the internet or through a paid podcast. Kurt Hanson, editor of the Radio And Internet Newsletter, told Hinckley that a Stern internet show could work and could potentially draw a big audience.

But asking an online audience to pay for more Howard is greedy and would anger his fans. They’re already paying to hear him on Sirius and can pay to see a video feed of his show, known as Howard TV, with extra video bits that radio listeners don’t get. Sure, some would be willing to pay for that online, but not enough to give a serious boost to Sirius’s profits. Those who can afford to pay up for Stern are the desperate radio stations seeing their audience defect to online radio or Apple (AAPL) iPods. Stern could plug that leak.

Michael Harrison, editor of the trade magazine Talkers, told Hinckley that Stern’s talent will still be in demand. “He has nothing to prove,” Harrison said. “He has total freedom. The only question is what he does with it.” Tom Taylor, editor of the trade sheet Radio-Info.com, told Hinckley, “Howard likes cliffhangers.”

Stern said this week, “It’s a cliffhanger for me too. I can’t wait to find out what I’m going to do. My life is a cliffhanger.”

I’ve interviewed Howard Stern twice since he left free radio while I worked at Bloomberg News. I was not able to get Stern on the phone this time to discuss his career, although I made calls and sent e-mails to his agent. That said, I’ll take him at his word that he doesn’t know what he’s going to do. The fun part for Stern’s audience will be tuning in to discover his next move. While he, his agent, and surely his audience, debate what’s next and best for Stern, I believe a syndicated PG-version of his show on free radio is the best way for him to grow his audience and for Sirius to increase its revenue and subscribers.

Stay tuned.

Email from disappointed fan to us

F the SFN. It’s a horrid site, that barely works, with a bunch of no life having guys all sucking at the tit of an old man that clearly lives in a bubble now. Howard has completely made the transformation into Hampton’s Howie.

Stern used to be my favorite show, but now it truly is awful. I’m just glad I wasn’t dumb enough to pay for satellite radio and instead downloaded the episodes for free without commercials and put them on my iPod with no limitation as to where I can listen. No need for extra equipment. MP3 player plus my car, and home theater system which both have aux input jacks, or just headphones. All free and way better than paying and listening to Howie talk about the fucking Bachelor, American Idol, or Beth on an over-priced piece of shit “radio” that would break after six months.

SFN sucks, Mutt is a leech and a nobody, Joey Boots is a fat jobless fake-fag for cash. All of these nobodies need to be on suicide watch when old daddy money banks retires in two years.

Sirius XM SkyDock Brings Full Satellite Radio to iPhone

Jalopy-bound Sirius XM devotees don’t have to spring for a full sat-radio upgrade to listen to Howard Stern in their hoopties anymore. Today Sirius XM intro’ed the XM SkyDock, a device that turns your iPhone or iPod touch into a car satellite radio, letting subscribers kick finicky streaming apps to the curb
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The dock itself has Sirius XM’s own radio receiver chip on the inside, so it provides full access to their entire lineup. It does need to connect to the car’s cigarette power adapter to run, but it will also charge your iPhone at the same time. Radio gets to your stereo system via an aux output or built-in FM transmitter. And you, naturally, need to set up a sat-radio antenna to catch the signal.

The companion iPhone app, which requires OS version 3.0, is free in the iTunes store and works in both portrait and landscape modes. From the app, you get full access to all Sirius XM channels and a couple other goodies. First, if you hear a song you like, you can tag it, then review your tagged items, and jump to the iTunes store to buy them with a single click. There’s also a built-in local weather widget, which is nice, since you can’t exit the Sirius XM app to check the weather elsewhere without interrupting playback.

But how is this better than the existing streaming app you can already get, you ask? Two reasons: it gives you access to the whole sat-radio catalog; and it’s a real consistent radio signal, not a Web stream. Sirius XM reps aren’t commenting about whether or not SkyDocks for other devices will be available in the future, but I guess we’ll see how this one goes to get started.

The SkyDock ($120) and its accompanying app (free) will both be available this fall.

George Takei talks Hollywood, homosexuality and Howard Stern

“Star Trek” fans and LGBTs alike all descended upon Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute last Thursday for a once in a lifetime meeting with a sci-fi legend George “Mr. Sulu” Takei.

The Franklin Institute is currently playing host to Star Trek: The Exhibition, a multi-room display of costumes, props, set pieces and bits of one-of-a-kind memorabilia from all the Trek federation. Takei was the featured guest at “An Evening with George Takei.” And it provided a chance for trekkies to gather to see their favorite star answer questions, take pictures and sign autographs.

“I love having any opportunity to meet with fans,” the 72 year-old actor said.”Whatever community turns out at these events, I am always touched by the outpouring of heartfelt affection and honor. I have had a long career and it is all thanks to you.”

The crowd, both gay and straight, was quick to ask the icon how he felt about J.J. Abrahams reboot of the Trek franchise.

“The situation now in California has created three different and unequal classes.””I loved it! Absolutely fantastic, imaginative, and so true to the spirit of the original,” he said.

The rest of the session meandered comfortably from discussion of Klingons and phasers, to domestic partnerships and gay rights. Takei’s lengthy career goes far beyond the helm of the Enterprise. The openly gay actor has performed numerous projects. They include a recent run on prime time hit “Heroes,” and a regular gig as an announcer and guest on Howard Stern’s satellite radio show.

“In Hollywood, if you’re not reinventing yourself you’re going to be retired,” Takei said in response to a question. “You have to take risks and put yourself out on a limb. To quote Star Trek -to boldly go where no one has gone before. I did “Howard Stern Show” for that reason. My partner, Brad [Altman,] is a fan, and he encouraged me to do it, and it has been a fantastic and hilarious experience. My experience on “Heroes” was basically the same, an incredible production and cast.”

Takei married his longtime partner last year. And he has worked extensively as an activist with the Human Rights Campaign, Japanese American National Museum, California Civil Liberties Public Education Program and the Frontrunners and other organizations. Takei has also been a visible player in the battle against Proposition 8.

“While Brad and my marriage stands, we are concerned about equality,” he said. “The situation now in California has created three different and unequal classes. Straight people who can marry or divorce at whim, gay people like myself who are married now and locked in, and gay people whose future marriages will not be honored. It is very unjust. “

When Howard finds out David Lee Roth is replacing him

Gary came in and interrupted saying that their mystery guest had showed up and wanted to come right into the studio. Howard wanted to do a set up and get his glasses on first. Artie wanted to guess who the big guest was. He thinks that it’s Bill Maher. Howard was thinking it was Richard Simmons or Pat Cooper. Gary told him that he shouldn’t be nervous and went out to bring the person in. It turned out to be David Lee Roth. Howard said this is good because he’s rumored to be replacing him when he leaves. Howard said he knew that something was happening today. Howard asked Dave how he was doing and talked about how he will be replacing him. David told Howard that he can’t ”replace” Howard Stern, he’ll just be taking over that spot. Dave told Howard that this is his first and last stop on the show before Christmas. Howard said that if Dave fails it’ll be great because it will drive even more people to satellite radio. Dave said that’s the good part about being friends with Howard, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Dave told Howard that his show won’t be the same type of show that Howard has been doing. He’s seen other talk shows around the country and most of them are scripted while Howard Stern is just being Howard Stern. He talked about his days touring around the country with Van Halen and Infinity is giving him freedom to do whatever he wants to do on his radio show. Howard said he heard that Dave will be making $4 million a year when he starts there. Dave said he doesn’t even need to do a show like that because he can make a lot more than that touring. He’s doing it because it’s been a dream of his to have a radio show like that for years.

Howard asked Dave how Infinity has been able to keep him hidden for so long. Dave told Howard that his father passed away a while a go and he ended up getting involved in the Emergency Medical Technician field for a couple of years. He’s still going out on calls at least once a week in New York City. He said he’s only been recognized 2 or 3 times out of all of the calls he’s been on. He works in the ‘hoods where he doesn’t get recognized all that well.

Howard told Dave about how he created this network of radio stations over years and years of hard work. He begged the company to syndicate his show to Philadelphia and they put up a fight for so long. Dave said that Howard has proven that the local deejay is a thing of the past. Howard told Dave that a local guy can be a force to be reckoned with though and a lot of guys are going to be gunning for him. Dave doesn’t seem to mind that and he’s looking forward to it. Howard asked Dave if it’s true that he was over at Jack FM practicing his show. Dave has a way of avoiding a question and won’t answer it directly so he ended up talking about Howard’s board and how he had it created for himself like a guitar player would have a guitar built for himself.

Dave said that he’s wanted to do this since he was a kid so he’s really looking forward to doing the show. He told Howard that he still sits down once a week and listens to records, one song at a time, just like he did when he was 10 years old. Howard told him that he may have to open up his private life to make for a good radio show and Dave is ready to do that. Howard said Dave has never really opened up before because no one knows what’s going on with his love live. He claims he’s heard that Dave is gay before but Dave thought he was just saying that himself, not hearing it from anyone. Dave said that he has banged many hot chicks that had 2 legs in their pants and people should know that already. Dave said that his show is not a comedy show. He’s not going to have a whole crew working with him but he will be taking over in markets like New York, Boston, Cleveland, West Palm Beach, Pittsburgh and Dallas. Gary said that Adam Carolla will be taking over in markets like L.A., San Diego and Portland among others and Jimmy Kimmel will be a consultant for his show.

Dave said that he’s actually shooting for the Rush Limbaugh audience, not even really for Howard’s audience. He’s thinking that he could end up in the same markets as Adam Carolla because they’ll have two different types of shows. Gary told Howard that they have this guy Rover who will be taking over in a few markets like Chicago, Detroit and Memphis. The whole Stern affiliate market is going to be split up with a bunch of these guys. Penn Gillette will also have a 1 hour show in some of the markets. Dave said he doesn’t care who follows him and isn’t even thinking about a Penn Gillette following him. Gary said that they have some tape of what David Lee Roth was doing over at Jack FM but it was actually comedian Billy Mira doing an impression of him.

Howard took a phone call from a guy who told Dave he was already going to change stations to Z-100 when he heard him on the show. Robin asked Howard if he would be a guest on Dave’s show. Howard said he would absolutely do that and Dave thought that would be great. Howard asked Dave what he thinks is going to happen with satellite radio. He had some round about answer about how it all depends on what the companies let their personalities do. Howard said that he needs the freedom to do what he wants on satellite radio and he just doesn’t have the freedom to do it on terrestrial radio anymore. Dave said he supports him on the freedom thing and appreciates the fact that he’s making that move. Howard told Dave that putting together that network of affiliates across the country was one of the greatest things he’s ever done in his life. He wished Dave luck with his show and offered to get up and walk out right now if Dave was ready to take over for him. Dave asked him what he’s been waiting for if that’s the case. Howard said he’s got a contract that he has to honor and he can’t just walk away. He asked Dave if he wanted to take over the show for the rest of the morning but Dave wasn’t interested.

Howard had Tom Chiusano come in to meet his new employee. He also asked Dave if he’s going to keep the studio the same way it is now. Dave said that he wants to lighten it up and have some windows in there. Tom came in and told Howard that they’re going to have Dave working in that studio and they will open it up so he has windows in there. Tom told Howard that he’s excited about the future and he can’t wait to work with him. Howard felt that Dave was being a bit odd with him this morning but Gary and Tom didn’t think that was the case, he was just letting Howard know that he was going to be his own man. Howard doesn’t understand how Tom can just give Dave his own studio to start off with since he had to work so hard to get one himself. Dave said he can do what Howard does so that’s why they’re giving him his own studio. They haven’t set up his whole staff yet so there were a lot of unanswered questions.

Howard took a phone call from a guy who said that he was hoping that Sammy Hagar would take over for Howard. Howard asked Dave if Sammy will take over for him if his show fails. Dave said ”absolutely.” The caller said that Imus has already been talking about how Infinity will have to come to him once David Lee and Adam Carolla’s shows fail. The guys goofed on Imus and pointed out that he’s got some really low ratings and couldn’t fill in for Howard or for Dave. Dave changed subjects and asked Robin about her upcoming TV show and if she was staying with Howard. She said she will be doing the radio show and the TV show at the same time. That’s coming up next fall for those who didn’t know.

Howard asked Artie for his thoughts on David taking over for them. Artie said he had no idea that Dave would be in that realm of taking over so he was a bit surprised. Dave said he thinks that it’s like a lateral move for him from rock star to radio show host. Howard took a call from Ralph who said that they all love Dave but just because he has been a great guest on the show doesn’t mean that he’ll make for a great host. Howard told Ralph that it’s all about Dave keeping people listening to his show. That’s what Ralph said that Howard is great at and that’s why so many people have been listening to his show for so long.

Howard said that maybe he is a little bitter about the industry not backing him up against the FCC and the religious right. He said they could have done it and fought them but the industry didn’t do it, they just caved in. Ralph led the guys into a political discussion about the President and how he isn’t doing this country any good with the FCC. The guys were debating a little bit but Howard told Dave he’ll have all the time in the world to do that stuff on his own show once that starts. He doesn’t know how Dave will do on his show but he predicts that he will do great when he moves to satellite himself. Howard said he’ll be happy once people start to make that move to satellite. He’s wishing everyone luck in their markets but Gary said that he doesn’t wish the guys luck down in Washington DC because the program director down there has been cutting off the show early to get their afternoon guys on instead.

Dave asked Howard about what happens when Howard says certain words on the air and if there’s a list of the stuff they can say and can’t say on the air. Howard told Dave he’s in for a big wake up call and explained to him how there’s a new guy in charge at the FCC and how he’s going to have to really watch himself once he starts his show. He also told Dave that the government is looking to fine individuals for their indecency complains and that law is in the works now. Howard said that they will have to bow down to the FCC and their ridiculous rules, there’s no question about it. He pointed out that Clear Channel’s profits dropped 21 percent recently and he’s so happy about that. Ralph said that all of the terrestrial radio companies are going to be losing money once people move to satellite. Ralph also told Dave that he’s got to watch himself because the FCC and the religious right will have to find another lightning rod to go after and make an example out of. He’s got to watch himself now.

Howard found out that all of these affiliates are going to be going to an all talk format. Tom told Howard that their new Free FM logo is referring to their talk format because every one is free to speak. That got everyone laughing because the jocks won’t be free to speak because the company has to keep everyone restrained so they don’t get fined by the FCC. Ralph told Tom that people get what they pay for… Tom told Ralph to stop because he was basically doing an ad for satellite. Howard said that if he wants him on his radio show, he thinks that the suits at the company won’t allow it and that will be the first time Dave will have to bow down to the company’s rules.

Howard gave Dave a plug for his show which will be starting up on January 3rd, 2006. Howard starts on satellite on January 9th. Gary had a whole list of what will be happening in each market and there are a lot of shows replacing Howard in all of those markets. Tom was looking kind of shaken up according to Howard and Dave. Tom told Howard that they’ve been together so long that it’s going to be quite a change. It’s like he’s losing his family. Howard thanked Dave for coming in and went to break.

via mark

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.