It'z News to Me

The news of the day...and my own peculiar take on it...

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Stern Gets Sirius...

...he's moving to satellite radio...

I've argued with Jeff Jarvis over the whole Howard Stern issue. We both agreed that Howard should move to satellite but for different reasons, and the move has been telegraphed well in advance so it's hardly a surprise.

It's a great coup for Sirius over XM and will no doubt lead to a huge increase in Sirius' listenership. Satellite radio has been the wave of the future, but I don't think it will kill broadcast radio any more than FM killed AM or than cable TV killed broadcast. Broadcast and AM lost influence because there were other choices. It will further segment the market, but it's not going to be the death knell that many are predicting.

Witness this: Rush Limbaugh reaches 20 million listeners on AM radio every day despite the fact that FM has been around for seemingly ever. This year it was newsworthy enough to make headlines that a cable news channel (Fox News) beat a broadcast network, and cable has been around for almost 30 years. Subscription-only formats will simply never draw the numbers that a free medium provides until the free medium goes away.

There won't be any more headline-making confrontations with the FCC which is pretty much Stern's major shtick, and many listeners who either won't or can't make an investment in a subscription-only satellite radio will simply find other sources for the daily entertainment.

I predict that this move will actually diminish Stern. The reason Stern is popular is that his audience is listening for that "shock moment" that crosses the boundary of what is acceptable on the public airwaves. On satellite, there is no boundary so the shock value will be gone.