Howard Stern Signs with SIRIUS

Howard Stern and SIRIUS Announce the Most Important Deal in Radio History (Yahoo Business)

“King of All Media” Howard Stern and SIRIUS announced today an epic agreement whereby Stern will move to SIRIUS beginning January 1, 2006. SIRIUS is the premium satellite radio provider known for delivering the very best in commercial-free music and sports programming to cars and homes across the country. The world-renowned Stern is credited with revolutionizing the talk radio format. He is the No. 1 national radio host among males 18-49 years of age and ranks No. 1 in many of the 46 major markets where his show is broadcast, including New York and Los Angeles. “It has been my dream to have the top-rated show in radio since I was five years old,” said Stern. “SIRIUS — the future of radio — will take this dream to a whole new level as I bring my fans my show my way. It will be the best radio they will ever hear.”

Known for his extremely loyal fan base and for his unequalled ability to migrate fans to other media, Stern has embarked on numerous highly successful ventures over the years while maintaining dominant ratings in his demographic. Stern has written two best-selling books — Private Parts, which was Simon & Schuster’s fastest-selling book ever, and Miss America, the fastest-selling book in publishing history. He later starred in the highly successful motion picture adaptation of Private Parts, orchestrated the fastest-selling soundtrack in motion picture history and starred in the most watched entertainment pay-per-view special of all time. “The Howard Stern Show” is E! Entertainment Television’s most successful show.

“Signing Howard Stern is, without a doubt, the most exciting and transformational event in the history of radio,” said Joseph P. Clayton, CEO of SIRIUS. “He is an entertainment force of unprecedented recognition and popularity in the broadcast world, who is capable of changing the face of satellite radio and generating huge numbers of subscribers for SIRIUS.”

I expect this to do as much for SIRIUS as signing Herschel Walker did for the USFL. I suppose some Stern listeners would be willing to subscribe to this service to be able to continue listening, but it’s hard to see how it has much impact beyond that. It’s conceivable that we’ll one day have a radio equivalent to cable television, where niche channels create unique content that’s widely shared. But there is more than enough programming out there on commercial radio that could be syndicated into a satellite service that it’s unclear to me why anyone would bother.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head 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. DC Loser says:

    Howard’s been talking about the possibility of doing this and other “alternative” broadcasting methods to keep his act alive if and when GWB gets reelected and the FCC finally gets him off the air. He’s also been experimenting with a webcast, but I don’t know where that’s gonna go. My guess is that a significant number of his listeners will follow him over to Sirius. This is certainly a big win for Sirius over XM. As for content in commercial radio, I’ve pretty much given it up except for a very few stations that occasionally play something I like. Otherwise it’s just public radio for me. If my commute is just a bit longer I’d definitely go for satellite radio (this being DC, the longer commute may not be that far away). Or my next car will have a sat radio factory installed.

  2. Attila Girl says:

    Commercial radio is just awful; DJs no longer choose their own material, and everything is focus-grouped to death. I’m as libertarian as the next girl, but the particular corporations that control radio are doing an awful job.

  3. McGehee says:

    Attila, it used to be that when music radio got this way, in most markets sooner or later somebody would go to a looser format — then that station would get popular, the suits would study why it was so successful, and try to imitate it, and everything would get overpackaged again. Until somebody at another station decided to break out and do something original.

    Thing was, in those days there was nowhere else to go. And getting the suits in the office to go along with a looser format is always a hard sell.

    These days people looking for originality have other places to go looking for it, so the pressure from the market to break out and be different just isn’t there anymore.

    As for Stern, his is a tired act. I’m astonished he still has a following — but I guess it’s easy every few years to recycle a shtick when everyone who’s heard it before has grown up and moved on.

  4. Stern’s just struggling to keeping up with the Joneses; previous “censorship martyrs” Opie and Anthony have already started on XM, giving them a 16-month head start over Stern.

  5. denise says:

    I don’t think getting Stern is nearly as big a coup for Sirius as getting all the NFL games, although it is making a bigger PR splash.

    That’s very cool (and would be even if they didn’t have cutie-pie Tommy Brady on their ads).

    I have Sirius, and I love it. Of course, I live in an area of the country where if I drive 70 miles in about any direction I get to choose from no more than 1 or 2 broadcast stations.