. . . Wednesday October 6, 2004

Howard Gets Sirius

This morning, Howard Stern announced that he will be leaving old school radio and heading to satellite radio at the end of his contract. A few takes.

- This is good news for the folks in the satellite radio business and its bad for old school radio. It also marks something of an end to a serious threat to either by internet radio. Internet radio couldn’t manage to get mobile fast enough. And with radio, you need to be mobile. In many ways, taking net radio with you (in a tivo-like device) seems like it presents less barriers than switching to satellite. But alas, no one big is making it easy for people. Imagine the Stern show available as a pay per download that you could listen to whenever you were driving. He could get up a lot later and we could fast forward to the parts with the chicks.

- Stern will make some major cash. I’m sure the deal is all about shares in the company. He’s already up (along with the Sirius stock price) and he’s still more than a year away from making the move.

- An irony. Satellite radio is about to get a year and half of constant, free advertising on old school radio.

- Will people switch? That’s a tough one. Here’s why. For millions of listeners (and I’m not naming names), Howard is a guilty pleasure. A lot of husbands will not want to explain to a lot of wives that they are subscribing to a new service so they can listen to Howard. They’ve got more than a year to come up with a better excuse.

- I hate the FCC and its limitations. But, I also hate the really ridiculous parts of Howard’s show. I think the best parts of the Stern show are the interviews he does with big name guests. So I wonder, will the lack of restraint push Howard off the deep end? And will the big guests come for a visit if the audience on Regis and Kathy Lee is suddenly a whole lot bigger than Stern’s smaller but more satisfied listening audience?

- Is it just me, or does a show about naked women (and Stern is already promising more nudity) make more sense with the visuals. Howard is already the top show on E!. So here’s my question. Why not offer a pay per view television version of the show available by subscription?

Anyway, this is a big day in radio history. It also marks a sad chapter in story of freedom of speech in this country.

Concentration is important!