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Analysis: Howard Stern moving to SIRIUS Satellite Radio

(Full disclosure: SIRIUS Satellite Radio is a Mercury client)

For a long time I’ve been saying that entertainment, not music, is the key to subscriber growth for Satellite Radio.

For a long time I’ve been saying that hiring the “low-hanging fruit”, the marginally known Radio talk types (that means you, Opie & Anthony), is a poor excuse for the kind of strategy required to make a big difference on the subscriber front.

For a long time I’ve been saying that Howard Stern is at the top of a very short list of nationally known personalities that have a high-passion, built in constituency.

Today, Howard Stern and SIRIUS Satellite Radio announced Howard will be moving off commercial radio and over to SIRIUS at the end of his current contract in a year-and-a-half.

SIRIUS is hiring the goose and hoping he lays golden eggs.

I have absolutely no doubt he will.

This is a sad day for terrestrial Radio. Howard’s announcement means not only that Radio will be losing one of its notorious shining stars, it also represents a signal to up-and-coming and established talent: The grass is greener – and the creative freedom greater – in Satellite Radio. At a time when Radio has a tough enough time generating positive buzz – let alone positive momentum – this is a harsh body blow.

This is a happy day for right-wing religious fundamentalists who have long portrayed Howard Stern as Public Enemy #1 and have worked tirelessly to rid Stern’s millions of fans of his presence.

This is the happiest day of all for SIRIUS. According to their site and their news release, they’ll need to add one million subscribers to make this deal pay for itself.

Something tells me “one million” will be conservative.

Congratulations Howard! And thanks to the right wing extremists who are making the public airwaves safe from the kind of programming millions of listeners say they want to hear.

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