Top-ranked shock jock Howard Stern said Wednesday that he will abandon his syndicated morning radio show to join Sirius satellite radio in 15 months, freeing him from government regulators and allowing him to “bring my fans my show my way.”
“I’ve decided what my future is,” Stern told his millions of listeners in announcing his five-year, multimillion-dollar contract, which reportedly is worth $100 million. “It’s not this kind of radio any more.”
Stern, who battled for years with the FCC and conservative critics over his salacious show’s content, will move to the national distributor of commercial-free music and sport programming when his contract with Infinity Broadcasting expires in 15 months. The deal will allow him to reach every market in the country.
“I’m tired of the censorship,” said Stern, whose show was dropped by media conglomerate Clear Channel Communications in April after the Federal Communications Commission proposed a $495,000 fine against it for comments made by Stern.
Clear Channel reached a record $1.75 million settlement with the FCC in June to settle complaints against Stern and other radio personalities.
“The FCC ... has stopped me from doing business,” Stern said during his on-air announcement. “Clear Channel, you (expletives), I will bury you.”
Not subject to FCC regulation
Like cable television, satellite radio is not subject to federal indecency scrutiny because it is available only to paid subscribers.
Stern’s show, full of sexually explicit remarks and off-color humor, corners the radio market among males 18-49 years of age and ranks No. 1 in many of the 46 major markets where his show is broadcast.
“It has been my dream to have the top-rated show in radio since I was five years old,” Stern said in a statement. “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.”
Sirius CEO Joseph P. Clayton called Stern “an entertainment force of unprecedented recognition and popularity in the broadcast world.” Both Clayton and Stern predicted the shock jock will change the face of satellite radio and boost listenership.
“Sirius said to me, ’You’re our Michael Jordan, you’re everything, you’re our cornerstone,”’ Stern said.
Shares of the satellite radio company surged 18 percent on the news.
A call to Infinity for comment was not immediately returned.
Trying to make a viable businessSirius, which has lost $1 billion since 1999, is one of two companies trying to make satellite radio a viable business. Its competition, XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., unveiled its big marketing weapon this week: shock jocks Opie and Anthony, who were yanked off the air for broadcasting two listeners having sex inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Stern’s show will air as part of Sirius’ basic package, rather than as a premium channel, he said.
In July, Clear Channel sued Infinity for more than $3 million, claiming Stern broke their contract by violating federal indecency regulations. The lawsuit came in response to a $10 million suit filed by Stern and Infinity after Clear Channel dropped the shock jock.
Sirius reaches more than 10 million DISH Network satellite TV and Sirius Satellite Radio subscribers nationwide, providing listeners with over 120 channels of commercial-free music, sports, information and entertainment.
Infinity, a subsidiary of Viacom Inc., has about 185 stations in 40 U.S. markets, according to Hoovers.com.
Shares of Sirius rose 60 cents to $3.95 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Viacom shares fell 49 cents to $34.96 on the New York Stock Exchange.