While one Howard Stern radio program may seem like quite enough, the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" appears to be getting ready for all Stern, all the time.
Sirius Satellite Radio, which will begin employing Stern in January, said yesterday that it will devote two round-the-clock channels to the shock jock's show and other material he'll develop, confirming comments Stern made on his syndicated program this week.
It's not clear what two Stern radio channels will sound like, although one or both will carry Stern's live morning program, which now has about 6 million listeners via conventional radio. A Sirius spokesman said Stern and Sirius have been discussing programming ideas, but nothing has been determined. One of the channels will launch next month, but it will simply carry promotions touting Stern's imminent arrival.
Stern's switch to pay radio next year is one of the biggest moves in the medium's history. Sirius is staking a reported $100 million a year on Stern as it tries to close the gap with its bigger competitor, XM Satellite Radio, based in Washington. Sirius has about 1.8 million subscribers, compared with XM's 4.4 million.
Stern is so important to Sirius that the satellite company has a countdown clock on its Web site, showing the months, days, hours, minutes and seconds until Stern's debut. It has also signed programming deals with Martha Stewart, singer Jimmy Buffett, former senator Bill Bradley, fitness guru Richard Simmons and the National Football League.
Stern's current employer, Infinity Broadcasting, hasn't announced a replacement for him yet, although company executives have indicated that different hosts are likely to occupy Stern's morning time period in various markets. Stern is heard locally on WJFK-FM (106.7).
Stern, who has been promoting his move to satellite radio on his current show for months, has said he'll be able to broadcast on satellite without fear of sanction from the Federal Communications Commission. Stern has been subject to numerous FCC fines for violations of commission rules prohibiting sexually oriented "indecent" speech on radio and TV. Last fall, Infinity agreed to pay a record $3.5 million to settle several FCC complaints. The company also agreed to suspend any on-air host who runs afoul of the rules.