Howard Stern Cheated CBS

Steve Bainbridge has an interesting piece in TCS Daily explaining, “What Howard Stern Did Wrong.”

Essentially, Stern made $220 million in stock options in addition to his huge salary from Sirius by expropriating CBS radio’s air, for why he was under exclusive contract, to trash CBS and promote Sirius. That’s pretty sleazy. Bainbridge explains that it is probably illegal, too.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Christopher says:

    Far be it from me to defend the grossest man on the planet, but why didn’t CBS just stop him from doing what they say he did to them over and over?

  2. James Joyner says:

    How, exactly?

    Presumably, they talked to him about this multiple times to no avail.

    They could have fired him. But that’s exactly what he wanted–to be let out of the CBS contract to go to Sirius early.

    CBS had him under contract and had a right to expect that he would continue to do the show they had signed him to do until the very end.

  3. eNone says:

    You obviously have never listened to Stern or you wouldn’t even have to ask this question. He has made a career of bashing whatever company and management he works for on a fairly continuous basis. He did this from the very beginning at W”NNNNBC” and even before that in DC. Yea, they may not like it but they made plenty of money with him.

    Sour grapes!

  4. Doug says:

    It may be sour grapes, but if Stern signed a contract and violated it, then that’s a problem. More importantly, though, I think the point that Professor Bainbridge makes in the article that James linked to about Stern’s breaches of duties to CBS and apparent theft of CBS property (the tapes of old shows) are far more serious.

  5. ken says:

    Stern’s contract was made public, including the incentive bonus, in a filing made by Sirius well before Stern left.

  6. Jim S. says:

    Stern did nothing wrong. His show has always been about his life and his move and censorship was a central theme. He was given permission to talk about Sirius, but not by name. Management approved the term “eh,eh,eh” for Sirius. The station manager dumped the show when he was going to far. Also, there was an extra 45 second delay added to his show. The contract did not cover the website, so why does it matter if he had Sirius as a advertiser?
    Stern went on a publicity tour to tout his move, and one of the interviews was on CBS 60 minutes. Many of the subscribers that listen to Howard are from outside of Stern’s terrestrial radio markets, adn would not have been swayed by Stern talking about the move before January.
    Instead of attacking Stern CBS should focus on the lack of talent they brought in to replace Stern.

  7. eorr says:

    2 points:

    Firstly Howard has been on record for a while that he approached his bosses at CBS to determine what was the appropriate level of discussion about the upcoming move. Most of Howard’s show is talking about the intimate details of his life and many listeners found it hard enough to accept the level of restrictions CBS did put on Howard. Some other syndicators of his show chose to edit out any mention of Sirius altogether, which was well within their ability. Stern was even suspended for a day for talking about current programming at Sirius.

    Secondly, Howard’s contract with CBS was far from the normal contract for a radio personality. According to Howard his contract stated that he CBS explicitly had given up the right to restrict the subjects he discussed on air. Only things that could potentially result in a fine were subject to editing. His contract most likely altered the normal ‘agent’ role for Howard and he had no responsibility to act in the best interests of CBS.

    The idea that Howard was losing many listeners overall was limited to very few markets. Most notably he lost listeners in DC where he had always been crushed by the news stations. Most markets saw record ratings for Howard during his final year.