No censorship, no fines, no Federal Communications Commission. It’s no wonder Howard Stern announced that there’s no way he would abandon satellite radio for a return to traditional broadcasting.
“I’m very flattered terrestrial radio can’t let go of me,” Stern said Wednesday on his morning radio show. “But I would throw up if I had to go back. I’m never going back.”
The self-proclaimed “King of All Media” said three companies had made overtures through his agent for a terrestrial deal, but there was no interest from his end. He did not name the companies, although radio industry expert Tom Taylor said it was no surprise that Stern would draw such attention.
“He’s a terrific talent, and star talent is always going to be in demand,” said Taylor, editor of the trade publication Inside Radio.
Stern, five months into a five-year, $500 million contract with Sirius Satellite Radio, said he was thrilled by the show’s evolution since his January arrival. When Stern announced his move in October 2004, Sirius had about 650,000 subscribers. That figure now stands above 4 million.
“I’ve never been happier,” Stern said. “We’re flying high and doing great.”
Stern made his comments during an on-air interview Wednesday with The Associated Press. He insisted on speaking with the AP about the reports that he might consider a simulcasting deal where he split time between Sirius and a traditional outlet.
Stern competitors Greg “Opie” Hughes and Anthony Cumia recently made such an agreement with CBS Radio. Stern worked for CBS before making his move to satellite in January.
Stern said that Opie and Anthony’s return to traditional radio signified their “failure” on satellite, and he reiterated his intent to continue his program exclusively on satellite.
“The story is I wouldn’t do it [terrestrial radio] for any reason,” Stern said. “Not for money. I left because I couldn’t stand the censorship. I couldn’t stand” the Federal Communications Commission.
The FCC and Stern were locked in a long, pitched battle that led to staggering fines for the content of the shock jock’s show.
Opie and Anthony, on their morning show, continued their long-running feud with Stern by questioning his claims. “He’s lying through his teeth,” said Hughes about any offers for Stern to come back on terrestrial radio.
On Tuesday, the New York Post identified one of the potential bidders for Stern as Citadel Broadcasting, whose chief executive, Farid Suleman, worked with Stern for several years at Infinity Broadcasting until his departure for Citadel in March 2002.
Calls to Citadel for comment were not immediately returned.