Howard Stern will be staying at Sirius/XM for another five years in an agreement he announced this morning on his show.
The “will he or won’t he?” buzz has been building in recent weeks. His contract was set to run out at the end of this year.
Stern, known for frank, often outrageous talk segments with celebrities and wild sex-oriented stunts, has been a major draw for many of the Sirius/XM subscribers, which now exceed 20 million.
Five years ago, Stern left terrestrial radio in a huff to go to Sirius, citing his ability to be himself and outside the reach of the Federal Communications Commission, which fined him about $3 million over the years for politically incorrect gags. By moving to a subscription service, Stern lost a lot of listeners. On AM/FM radio, during his peak, he drew 12 million viewers a week on 62 stations nationwide (though never in Atlanta.)
But going to Sirius meant Atlantans could hear him. At the time he signed on in 2006 after announcing the move in 2004, he had helped bring in about 1.2 million new subscribers to the service, giving that company an edge over rival XM. It was a pricey contract, worth about $100 million a year. Both companies kept shedding money, forcing the pair to merge in 2008. This ending bidding wars on programming, which inflated costs. (The companies have a $30 million deal with Martha Stewart and a $55 million deal with Oprah Winfrey.)
Currently, Stern does four shows a week while taking 12 weeks of vacation a year. He said he will have more flexibility in his schedule. He didn’t say how much money he’s making this time around or if it’s a pay cut. He did say this could be his “final five years on radio.” He’d be 61 years old by the time January 1, 2016 rolls around.
His show will also be available on the iPhone and iPad for the first time for subscribers with the Internet service.
Satellite radio is no longer the “hot” product in a world packed with Androids and iPads. And Internet radio is around the corner. But for now, Sirius/XM remains a viable option for many people who find AM/FM radio stultifying and can only listen to their own CDs or iPods for so long. About 60 percent of newly manufactured vehicles come with satellite radio access. People usually get three free months. This story says Sirius XM’s “conversion” rate has been 46 percent, fueling recent subscriber growth.
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog