Howard Stern has been getting enormous publicity for his jump from terrestrial radio to Sirius satellite radio. Of course, that would not surprise the self-professed “King of All Media” and his minions.
But Stern, the frizzy haired, pock-marked shock jock, isn’t exactly recreating the wheel in his transition from K-Rock in New York (now 92.3 Free FM) to pay radio. Though he would have you believe he is the originator, the revolutionary, and the innovator.
The truth is there have been many who made the transition before him – particularly XM radio duo Opie and Anthony. Gregg Hughes (Opie) and Anthony Cumia have been doing fresher, more entertaining and more topical shows than Stern for years. Stern’s idea of a good show on K-Rock? Whine about the FCC, have a stripper take off her clothes, make fun of a celebrity in the news, and cry about his parent company, Infinity Broadcasting. Lather, rinse, repeat.
On XM, Opie and Anthony have kept the female nudity to a minimum. One can not decide whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. One can’t deny that the two are funnier and more talented than Stern ever was. If Stern innovated this genre of talk radio, Opie and Anthony took it to the next level. Their discussions are reminiscent of friends sitting at a bar and talking over a few beers. They occasionally have females participate in lewd acts, but the air of camaraderie and humor is extremely prevalent. Stern, on the other hand, has been prone to talking down to his listeners.
Yet Howard still gets immense amounts of press after anything he says.
Stern and his merry band of freaks and sycophants started on Sirius on Jan. 9, 2006. Opie and Anthony? Oct. 4, 2004.
You might remember O&A from a notoriously unfortunate incident from a few years back. They are the twosome who initiated the radio contest that resulted in a couple having sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. That incident got Opie and Anthony show canceled from WNEW (102.7) After their contract expired in June 2004, the Long Island natives and their sidekick, comedian Jim Norton, signed on with XM.
So obviously Stern is not the first so-called shock jock to infiltrate satellite airwaves. But why is he getting much more publicity?
Well that’s easy. Stern has an incredible following of diehard fans all over America. Opie and Anthony have a more modest collection of what they call “pests.”
But O&A have had a huge start in satellite. XM has more than six million subscribers, Sirius has about three million. XM’s technology is far superior: the company is already working on its third generation portable radio, whereas Sirius has yet to put out its first on-the-go unit.
The reason for this is the unbelievable cash Sirius is giving Stern: a ridiculous contract for five years and $500 million.
But the amount of money Stern gets does not have to correlate evenly to the entertainment of his show. He might have owned America’s commercial airwaves for the better part of 20 years. But satellite radio? He and Sirius will have a hard time overtaking O&A and XM.