What would Sirius XM be without Howard Stern?


Sirius XM satellite radio will report its Q3 results sometime next month and CEO Mel Karmazin had previously indicated that he hopes to be able to announce in that Wall Street conference call whether or not the company has renewed its contract with Howard Stern. But in a new interview with Bloomberg, all Karmazin could say is that there is no deal yet.

“You don’t try to replace Howard,” Karmazin told Bloomberg. But the CEO did offer some insights on how the company would try to retain Stern fans as subscribers if he leaves the air at the end of December.

Karmazin has commented previously that Playboy Radio is one of the most listened to channels on the satellite radio service, although virtually no one ever admits that they subscribe for that purpose. In addition, he pointed to Raw dog Comedy as a channel that might help retain Stern listeners.

There’s also the financial side. Stern’s five-year contract has cost Sirius XM over $600 million. That deal was cut before Karmazin was brought onboard as CEO of Sirius, which later merged with XM. The CEO – who was also Stern’s employer at Infinity/CBS Radio – has made it clear that the company won’t renew at the rate of $100 million per year (the base before the bonus that Stern got for hitting subscription targets).

With programming costs reduced by $100 million per year, Karmazin told Bloomberg the satellite radio service might expand its offerings in some other areas. He mentioned opera.

RBR-TVBR observation: Now that would be a surprise for listeners! Come January 1, 2011 just switch the Howard 100 channel to all-opera, all the time.