Stern: Should He Stay Or Should He Go?

Howard Stern's eventual move to Sirius Satellite Radio has been the hottest topic of discussion for the last week, with the question being asked most - will Infinity let Howard serve out the last fifteen months of his contract? Or will they pull the plug? FMQB readers weigh in with their thoughts. Want to be heard? E-mail us by clicking here.


It has to be a difficult decision for the executives at Infinity. Stern represents so much in terms of ratings and revenue to their stations that it would be financially difficult at best and devastating at worst to take him off the air. On the other hand, he should never be allowed to continue to trash terrestrial radio in general while using Infinity’s air against them as a four-hour infomercial for Sirius. Finally, if Stern were off the air for a significant time prior to his launch on Sirius, the impact would be at least somewhat blunted. Out of sight, out of mind…and he would not have the promotion machine to count down the days to moving to the new delivery platform. I’m glad I don’t have to make the decision.

Tracy Johnson, OM/PD, KFMB/San Diego

Yes, let him serve it out! Mostly because of all the money he brings in. Why turn down $100 million in revenue?

Michael Lee, PD, WTFX/Louisville

If I were with Infinity, I would be searching hard for another show (replacing him is impossible, he's irreplaceable, so just get the best you can and go with it) pay out his contract and hope to still be able to pay the light bill after the first year without him.  Now you'll have to focus on the rest of your station instead of just letting mornings carry you.   Best of luck Howard, this move has most likely saved satellite radio and provided more jobs in our field at the same time.  A nice double positive.

Hurricane Shane, PD, WANZ/Birmingham-Tuscaloosa

Absolutely! Every second that Howard is on the air is a major win for a station. Howard will bring ratings and revenue right to the bitter end. Any show filled with Howard, he will make it interesting. Think of the sympathy play these stations will have when Howard does leave. I would milk every second he's still on the air.

Joe Bonadonna, PD, KDKB/Phoenix

The first thing I thought about when this was announced was, is Howard going to do a fifteen-month commercial for Sirius? I think that's a valid concern. It's up to Infinity to decide whether they consider it constructive or destructive. I think they should leave him on because you're going to take such a big hit when you lose him. Why hasten it?

Rob Heckman, APD/MD, WIYY/Baltimore

Infinity just flipped a bunch of stations to accommodate Howard and I would use his brand to launch those products. They'll ramp up faster. I would also extort Howard while he works for you. You need to use his image to re-launch, rebuild, and set-up the future of each individual radio station. If Infinity just kicks him out, it's like kicking the audience out too.'s my question for you. What are you going to do to get Howard to help you retain listeners? Maybe Sirius becomes a brand partner? Do you get a replacement show? If so Howard needs to sell that new player. If Howard won't play ball, use his image. Infinity contractually should still own the Howard brand. How about a fall campaign in 2005 where you win Howard’s old stuff? "X" radio station has hijacked Howard’s moving van. Established markets could fill the van with Howard’s crap (electronics/furniture/autographed car) and hell maybe you giveaway his life including the winner getting their own show on that local station. Treat him like a bitch.

Chris Edge, PD, WNOU/Indianapolis

I think the contract should be honored, unless it's obvious to both parties that continuing it is detrimental to the Infinity/Viacom Properties or any other outlet carrying the show. Having done this as long as I have, I know that when a talent's "heart" is no longer in the project, then it's time to let them move on. That's a tougher statement to make when the talent is Howard Stern.

Jack Daniel, WEND/Charlotte

Yes he should stay, because no matter where else he's going, he's still very much an asset... Just think of what the tune-in factor will be until he finally does leave. It’s just too much to pass up.

Garrett Hart, PD, WRQK/Canton

Looking at it from a medium market perspective, maybe they should get him off. That's the way everyone's always done things. If your morning show is leaving, get them off the air. Why help him take listeners away? That's too good of a reason to take him off. On the other hand, they have to start figuring out who they're going to replace him with. Is the answer to figure that out first and let him ride it out for a while until they're ready to make the move with his replacement? I don't know what the answer is. Then there's the financial side of what he brings in to consider as well. It's such a huge question with no simple answer. He's the world's biggest radio star and you have to look at the entire picture and lay out all the different scenarios and possibilities and I don't think there's a quick answer. There are too many variables.

Marilyn Mee, MD, WLZR/Milwaukee

It would have to be under the provision that it doesn't turn into a four-and-a-half or five-hour commercial for satellite radio. The people that love Stern are going to love him even if he's on the air bitching every day about the place he's at. He's not going to be on the air urging people to tune out. That's the difference. As long as he's on the air, he's on the air. But he's also not on my station, and it might be different if I had to hear it every morning.

Don Jantzen, APD, KTBZ/Houston

Hell yes let him stay. As a longtime supporter of the Stern show, he is the face of morning radio. If the FCC weren't trying to force him off the air, Howard wouldn't be in this situation where he had to take his show elsewhere. All I know is that all of the other morning shows aren't as compelling, or intelligent as Howard's show. I for one will be purchasing Sirius because not only are they getting the King Of All Media, they have great programming too. Radio should be worried.
Brian Martinez, APD, KIOO/Visalia

No. He will become a commercial for where he is going.

Alex Tear, PD, WDRQ/Detroit

I don’t  want it to be an infomercial for Sirius for the next 15 months. It's definitely something we're taking into account, but no one knows but Howard whether he's going to pull back on it or keep pounding it.

Tommy Mattern, PD, KPNT/St. Louis

If there are no developments, such as the rumors of Viacom and Sirius partnering with Stern, I'd yank it and try to find a new morning show. It's going to happen eventually anyway. Rebuild now.

Carl Craft, PD, WRAT/Monmouth

Unless they have a great plan for Howard's replacement, yes, they should let Howard stay on.

Tony Banks, PD, WERO/Greenville

Infinity should replace him ASAP.  Every show Howard does from now on is a long-form commercial for non-radio use.  

Lynn Barstow, PD, KMYZ/Tulsa

Absolutely let him stay. Infinity wants to make money; it's that simple.

Terrie Carr, PD, WDHA/New Jersey

They should let him go. He shouldn't be allowed to talk about going to Sirius. It's obvious he's done all he wants to do for terrestrial radio.

Splatz, MD, WKLQ/Grand Rapids

No. All his show is going to become is an infomercial for Sirius. Every time he opens his mouth to talk about Sirius, the stock price for Sirius goes up and the one for Viacom goes down.

Scott Petibone, PD, WKRL/Syracuse

Only if they are a major shareholder in Sirius.

Tim Bronson, PD, WEQX/Manchester-Albany


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