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Insider trading in Stern, Sirius radio deal?

Journalist says SEC subpoenas him about jock's satellite move
/ Source: Reuters

A self-described celebrity journalist who is a frequent guest on raunchy radio host Howard Stern’s shows said Saturday that U.S. securities regulators have subpoenaed him in a probe of possible insider trading in Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. stock.

Chaunce Hayden told Reuters the Securities and Exchange Commission has ordered him to appear Wednesday in New York to give information about trading in shares of Sirius, Stern’s future radio home.

Hayden said he had made an on-air prediction that Stern would leave broadcast radio for satellite radio and then coincidentally had been in the studio when the shock jock, a frequent target of federal radio regulators over decency issues, announced in October he would move to Sirius in 2006.

An SEC attorney in a phone call said he “wanted to know why I was up in the studio the day Howard made the announcement and if I heard anything that day, if there was anything spoken about, and he said he had a bunch of other questions as well,” Hayden said.

He said he himself has never owned stock except in a 401-K retirement fund. Sirius stock rose more than 15 percent on the first day of trading after Stern’s announcement.

Hayden said that the first few times the SEC attorney called he hung up. “I thought it must be a prank from one of the Howard Stern guys so I kept hanging up the phone. Then when I got the subpoena I realized it was not a prank, it’s for real.”

Hayden said that when he himself had interviewed for a job at Sirius, he had asked if the satellite radio system was going to hire Stern rivals Opie and Anthony and the interviewer had told him, “We’re holding out for Howard Stern.”

“With that information plus the hearsay and speculation,” Hayden said, he made his cable TV prediction.

“Then several weeks later Howard made the announcement live on the air that he was doing it and it just so happens, and it was just a coincidence, I was the only journalist in the studio that day he made the announcement.”

An SEC spokesman had no comment.

Spokesmen for Stern and Sirius could not immediately be reached for comment.

The New York Post reported that a Sirius spokesman said neither the company nor any employee had received a subpoena in the matter.

On Oct. 6, Stern said he would leave his program, syndicated by Viacom Inc.’s  Infinity Broadcasting unit, when his contract expires in January 2006. He said his five-year deal with Sirius is worth $500 million.

The fledgling satellite radio market pits Sirius — which has just above 1 million subscribers — against larger XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc., with 3.2 million.

The Federal Communications Commission fines broadcast radio but not satellite radio for content it finds indecent.