Mel and Howard By Relmor Demitrius The day Howard Stern signed with Sirius Satellite Radio, the radio landscape was changed forever. I think we can all agree that with this decision in 2005, to some degree at least, radio did indeed change. To what degree and what lasting affect did it have might be debatable. The biggest celebrity on radio and considered the most talented voice on radio, well, wasn’t on traditional radio anymore. There was a new format in town. Commercial free radio that could be heard anywhere in the country. Satellite radio (SATRD) would change how people listened to the radio forever. But how did Howard Stern change radio? To what extent? Is this a lasting change or a minor hiccup in the history of terrestrial radio? Is the norm for radio soon to be satellite delivery? Would more and more talent move from traditional outlets into this latest technology? Five years later we can begin to answer these questions. On the tail end of Howard Sterns first contract with Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI) is a good place to stop and consider just what the affect was of his signing and how the future looks with or without Howard Stern. In this first part of a three part series of articles I will delve into this topic and cover different angles to these questions. I would like to first lay some groundwork on Howard Stern and present some facts that might improve our understanding of Stern, Sirius XM, radio in general and the relationships these three entities share. How did Howard Stern even come to be on Satellite Radio? Why is the number one draw on radio not reachable on the free airways? Even from Stern’s early days he pushed the envelope. He made himself a legend by doing what other’s were not willing or courageous enough to do. The “Shock Jock” term was coined because of Howard Stern. He said things and did things on air that well, quite frankly, were shocking. His questions to women were considered crass, rude, and downright dirty by the moral center of America. Controversy in this situation is sure to follow. When you ask a every female guest if they are a lesbian, your going to attract some attention. No one had dared ask these questions to female guests on normal radio, let alone celebrities. Is this clever? Is he morally justified? Didn’t matter. The cleverness isn’t in the question, it’s the audacity to challenge a certain force that had been censoring and controlling American thoughts for decades, the FCC. The Federal Communications Commission had its hand in television, print, and radio. When the year is 1980 and this is the first type of this brand of radio America is first being exposed too, sure there were bound to be run-ins with this organization. Only one problem. Howard Stern is no ordinary man. He put principles before his career and challenged the authority on these issues constantly, causing his employers I am sure to lose much sleep and cost themselves a lot of fine money for violations. Would the American people turn on him? Would the FCC win again and control another “mouth of freedom”. Interesting question and one we already know the answer too. But do we know why? I think I do. The answer lies within the very man himself. This was no ordinary shock jock, even though he may have been considered the first. Why wasn’t he the last? His relationship with his audience. His genuine personality day in and day out was coming through over the airways. People understood him. They felt his love for his wife and family. His caring nature toward his crew. His undying loyalty to those who made him who he was. When he asked a lesbian if she “did dudes” you knew he wasn’t asking for himself, he was asking for you and me. This deflection of “indecency” in a way is the reason for his success. If we were convinced that Howard Stern wasn’t really some devious little horny weirdo that lived in a basement, our ability to enjoy the moment of the radio entertainment was made easier. Its hard to explain, and it’s a concept that is harder to understand to oneself than I would even be able to communicate to another. I suppose the best way to put it is that Howard Stern was relatable. He was one of us. We aren’t devious or evil, but ya, we had always wondered if Nicole Kidman was a lesbian and if so did she “do dudes too”. I use her only as an example of a celebrity. When in history had anyone ever bothered to interview a porn star? The point is that his humanity even in the absurdity won out. We liked this guy. We liked his crew. They were funny and compassionate and rude at the same time. Stern pulled off crude and classy at the same time. He fought for our causes and freedom of speech. His love for his wife and family made him even more relatable. Him staying with his wife during all his temptations and his fame even made him a hero of sorts. The FCC was going to lose this one. Stern didn’t like that he couldn’t say what was on his mind. He didn’t like the fact that the FCC fined him more than any other radio broadcaster. One of his points was that the national media can lie daily to the American public, but if you say “boob” on the air you’re an evil influence on children. Maybe in a way satellite radio was simply just a perfect alternative for his program. One could argue it was literally a match made in heaven. The more the FCC pushed, the more Howard pushed back. The more his employers were frustrated by Stern’s behavior the more Stern I’m sure sought another avenue for his show. When Joe Clayton (CEO of Sirius Radio at the time) and Leon Black (board member) approached Stern to come to Sirius Satellite Radio, I would think Stern’s only reservation was would this format work? Would my audience hear me? I know I can now say what I want, but would anyone here me? No FCC complaints. No more fines. No more annoying terrestrial radio bosses telling him to “tone it down” or “we lost another advertiser over this or that”. Sirius XM can advertise with whoever wants to associate themselves with his show if they want too, but the best part is they don’t need any one advertiser to pay their bills. Their subscribers pay their bills and they dictate what they want to hear, not the FCC telling them what we want to hear. Howard was offered 500 million reasons to leave terrestrial radio. If not for XM driving up the price, I would bet he would have left for 100 million, just to get away from the FCC and his old terrestrial employers. Now that we understand a little more why Howard Stern worked, who he is, and what he stands for, its easy to understand why he choose to come over to pay radio. He reached more fans through terrestrial radio, but he could call his own shots now, cuss on the air, and have no government involvement on his content. Reaching a few less people was worth it to Howard Stern. He was putting his future in the hands of a new technology. Now we know the why and the how we got to this point in time. Next article will discuss if it worked or not and details about his career with Satellite Radio. The third article will discuss his future, his new contract, and what life would be with or without Howard Stern on Sirius XM Radio. For up to date technical/fundamental analysis of all stocks and trades, visit www.kingofalltrades.com.