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Big Money on the Airwaves: Howard Stern

Big Money on the Airwaves: Howard SternWho is Howard Stern?

Born on January 12, 1954 Howard Stern is an American radio personality, author, actor, television host, who is best known for his highly-rated and long-running radio show, The Howard Stern Show. Howard Stern, as a result of his daring acts and outspoken nature, is regarded as a pioneer of talk radio. Stern’s controversial radio show was aired on several stations throughout the course of the shock jock’s career; however, perhaps his most significant job offer came in 2006, when he signed a multi-million dollar contract with Sirius Satellite Radio.

Howard Stern’s Contract with Sirius:

On October 6, 2004, Howard Stern announced the signing of a five-year contract with Sirius Satellite Radio—a broadcasting medium that is free of FCC regulations. This characteristic, made the Howard Stern show, for the first time in Radio History, completely uncensored.

Stern’s decision to leave broadcast or terrestrial radio, stemmed from the aftermath of the controversy surrounding the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show in February that precipitated a tighter control over content instituted by station owners and managers. Stern felt this crackdown was killing his show’s creativity and forcing him to find an alternative, less restricted medium.

Stern hosted his final broadcast on terrestrial airwaves on December 16, 2005; throughout his 20 year career at various stations, the Howard Stern Show was syndicated in 60 markets across the United States, as well as Canada. At the show’s peak, Stern was pontificating to audiences of 20 million listeners.

When Stern switched to Sirius, he was met with an annual budget of $100 million used to satisfy all staff, production and programming costs. Stern produced two channels on Sirius in his first year with the station and on January 9, 2006—the day of Stern’s first broadcast—Stern and his agent received a whopping 34.3 million shares of stock from Sirius worth roughly $220 million dollars. An additional stock incentive was awarded to Stern later that year, with Stern receiving 22 million shares worth an approximate $83 million. Although Stern was raking in the dough, he and his agent filed a lawsuit against Sirius in March of 2011 for failing to pay stock bonuses during the last four years while the company exceeded subscriber growth targets.