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Clear Channel wants to kiss and make up with Howard Stern

When Howard Stern left terrestrial radio for satellite radio in 2006 he did his best to blow up his old relationships. Not only did he blast his former employer, CBS, and its boss, Leslie Moonves, regularly on the air, he also got into a legal tussle with radio giant Clear Channel Communications after it stopped carrying his show in the wake of a Federal Communications Commission crackdown on indecency.

Now though, Stern is toying with coming back to FM radio and Clear Channel might be the ones rolling out the welcome mat. BusinessWeek is the latest to weigh in on a story about Stern's next move and quotes Clear Channel radio head John Hogan saying "we would be the most logical company for him to optimize his exposure and financial return." It might be the only choice as well. Although Clear Channel is willing to forgive and forget about its rough past with Stern, CBS is less likely to want him back. Stern was particularly hostile to CBS and its chief executive, Moonves. That continued when he went to satellite radio as well.

HOWARD Stern was one of radio's biggest stars when he bolted for Sirius in 2006. His exit from so-called free radio was a big blow not only to CBS, but the industry overall. Stern was carried on almost 50 radio stations across the country. His show generated almost $100 million in advertising revenue and an additional $50 million in cash flow for CBS.

He was also one of radio's highest-paid personalities. At CBS, Stern's compensation was around $30 million (that included revenue from the show's syndication deals). When he went to Sirius, his paycheck hit the stratosphere. His package called for compensation of $100 million a year. That figure included salaries for his cast and crew but it still allowed him to take home about $50 million a year.

Sirius is run by Stern's old boss, Mel Karmazin. The two have been in business together for more than two decades, so one would think it would take a lot for Stern to jump back to FM radio when his contract is up at the end of this year.

Speaking at an investor conference last month, Karmazin gave a tongue-in-cheek preview of how his talks with Stern will go.

“It will start with Howard feeling that he is working too hard and doing too many shows and not making enough money,” he said, adding that the response will be "we want you to do more, and get less money."

The terrestrial radio industry was already struggling when Stern left at the end of 2005 and the business has only gotten tougher. It is hard to imagine that Clear Channel would spend anything like what Karmazin spent to lure Stern to Sirius. Of course, considering that Sirius stock now trades for under a dollar, it is also unlikely that Karmazin can afford to keep Stern at his present salary much less give him a raise. 

Money may not be the only factor Stern considers when deciding his future. The plus side of Stern moving to satellite was that it freed him of scrutiny from the government. He can swear and have all the porn stars on his show that he wants. 

The flip side is that since going to satellite Stern has fallen off the cultural zeitgeist. He does not get the attention from the mainstream media and the general public that he used to command when he was on FM radio. And that's not something you can put a price tag on.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Howard Stern. Credit: Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (18)

"The flip side is that since going to satellite Stern has fallen off the cultural zeitgeist."

Look at Google Trends on mornings the show is new and live and you'll know that this often-parroted notion is simply rubbish.

Another tip might be the brouhaha in the mainstream media about Howard "toying" with a return to terrestrial radio.

"He does not get the attention from the mainstream media and the general public that he used to command when he was on FM radio."

This article is listed on Google along with 213 others about the same topic. No attention at all.


this article repeats the canard that Stern fell off the cultural zeitgeist.
He is as relevant as ever, and more people listen to him than Leno, Letterman and Conan combined. Who is bigger than Howard Stern? He influences which movies are made, which actors are cast and which politicians win elections (Arnold S., Christine Whitman, Obama).

This article does not mention that Stern programs two channels on Sirius: H100 and H101. He creates a lot of excellent radio content.

"It is hard to imagine that Clear Channel would spend anything like what Karmazin spent to lure Stern to Sirius."

Mel didn't lure Stern to Sirius. Stern had already announced that he was going to Sirius (Oct. 2004) by the time that it was announced that Sirius had hired Mel (maybe Nov. of 2004). It appears that Mel didn't lure Stern to Sirius, rather, Stern lured Mel to Sirius.

You guys have no idea what your talking aboutt, we the fans get direct quotes from howard everyday laughing at articles like this insinuating that hes going back to terestrial radio.

This is Abraham reporting howard 100

If it was crated by man it can be solved by man

Howard said this morning on his show that it wasn't true.

Stern has been completely irrelevant to me for years, since he left terrestrial radio. I wasn't going to subscribe to Sirius just to follow him. And so now that I haven't heard his show in over three years, I also find I don't miss him one bit. I would, however, listen to him if the show were available as a podcast, like the Kevin and Bean show. I don't listen to radio at all anymore except for traffic reports. My iPhone provides me all the music and podcasts that I need.

And when I say "if Howard Stern were available as a podcast," I forgot to clarify I meant free podcast. I'm not subscribing to the one on CrystalOne. I get all the podcasts I need for free via iTunes.

How do you guys think that writing a story,that's been done 100 times already is relevant . You read the story somewhere else and then go write it, like it was your own original thoughts .You should try writing something that hasn't been done already. Oh ,but,I forgot ,thats not what the NAB wanted.....TOOL.

Since leaving the airwaves, the only thing on terrestrial radio is that child-diddling bloated sack of viagra, Rush Limpdick, and the Mormon end-of-times weeping nutcase, Glenn Blechh.
Regular radio is a wasteland.

This whole idea of Howard Stern going back to FM is so bogus. The media created this story after Howard mentioned (on his show) that he has been approached many times by radio executives. He has no intentions to going back to an irrelavant media that is FM radio.

First off Stern is more relevant than anyone out there now and Clear Channel will have to pay him the money they owe him from his first contract when they fired him and did not pay him. Any radio station will be lucky to get him but they will have to pay him more then he makes now. CC will need some serious butt kissing to get Howard just to answer his phone when they call, after all there the geniuses that fired him and screwed him over, good luck with that.
I will follow Howard where ever he goes he is the best. I hope he does not retire my mornings will suck.

this article fails to mention all the perks stern and his crew get, like the fat hog he cut for him and his crew without telling subscribers, like every friday off and multiple weeks at a time off as well as every concivible holiday off with a day or two before and after. Then tries to sell us on his "Best of shows". All I ever hear , When he's on is how early they have to wake up, and the ride in was horrible! Sorry but that isn't going to fly with us blue collar folks who are paying this jerk for a live show and have been getting up early for decades. Heelhook

If you like Sirius XM/Howard Stern, and can stomach re-living the dip to 5 cents/share, then see their “rags to riches” story on DVD. The movie is called “Stock Shock” and it goes over the history, development, and near-death experience of the stock. I did not know the inventor of sirius xm was a woman!–well she is now, at least. DVD is cheaper at http://www.stockshockmovie.com , but the DVD is pretty much everywhere for sale or rent.

Howard's contract is coming up and he has no leverage for negotiating. There's only one satellite radio provider. He needs to be able to present an alternative, but the reality is he's no going back to terrestrial radio.

I think there's a much better chance than people think that Howard will return to traditional broadcast. If done right, the money could be huge. Howard would love to get a salary bigger than Rush. And he could.

The smartest thing for Howard to do is to take a paycut and re-sign. Why? Because he's sitting on a boatload of grants and options that would explode from the resultant rise in stock price. Everything is vested so if he is greedy like everyone says he is, he'll dump and rake in a huge windfall. Over time the stock would recover because Sirius isn't paying him as much and all that would flow down to the bottom line. Everyone wins!

The thing is with his former boss giving Stern and his group of staffers that aren't needed, such wasteful amounts of money didn't do what was expected. I have Sirius in one vehicle and XM in the other, I have his channel blocked on both radios, by choice. Why would I want to listen to this crazy schmuck who is such a boor, with his mid 1960's hair "doo" he is just a large loser. How he got the kind of money he has been paid will be questioned for centuries. If Sirius- XM gets rid of him their bottom line increases automatically by $100.000,000. plus the rest for his crowd of do nothings, the stock will drop a point or two but there is better entertainment in the works for one third of the cost ! Hey "Howie"; grow an inverted appendage and copulate with yourself until you expire; quickly please !


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