Posted by Abe Sauer on December 9, 2009 01:16 PM
Less than five years after declaring his move to satellite radio a "Revolution," Howard Stern just said, "I don't think I'm going to be re-signing." My how things change. The radio personality whose brand was the epitome of lacking humility looks to be ready for some humble pie.
It is difficult to express just how disastrous Stern's move to SIRIUS satellite radio was to the Stern brand. Before the move, Stern was a regular fixture in the national consciousness, debating important matters, riling government communications officials and generally considered a hero by millions in his listening audience.
And then, at the height of his powers, Stern took his brand onto pay-service satellite radio and he's hardly been heard from since. It is easy now to see that the "censorship" Stern pounded his head against, and which the move to satellite was meant to remove, was actually an integral part of the Howard Stern brand. That is to say, part of what made Howard Stern Howard Stern was his constant battle with censors.
SIRIUS, now XM-SIRIUS, invested heavily in the Howard Stern brand, confident in the promise that his legions of fans would pay to hear the King of All Media on satellite radio. It didn't happen. While Stern was a more successful draw than other satellite radio personalities, he ostensibly was not worth the millions he received in payment. What's more, the ferocious marketing of Stern may have ended up hurting the rest of SIRIUS' lineup, as the promotion of many specialty brands were sacrificed to focus attention on Stern.
Of course Stern's announcement a year from his contract renewal is all about negotiations. He'll push, manipulate. XM-SIRIUS will retaliate. High-minded idealism about programming will be front and center, but in reality the posturing is all about money, which, unfortunately, now defines the Howard Stern brand.