Howard Stern: Still the King of Media

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It has been almost 22 months since Howard Stern made the leap into orbit, but even now, he still carries a huge influence on what is happening in terrestrial radio. When Stern made the decision to move to satellite, the impact was far more reaching than just a new studio. There was a virtual vacuum left in his wake as radio companies scrambled to find new programming, and reinvented their formats in an effort to become more relevant to consumers. Sterns’ move actually became an opportunity for the “little guys” to make an inroads and win over new listeners.

When King Of All Media made his decision to move to satellite radio, there were hundreds of radio stations that saw an opportunity to make their own mark. Being number 1 was back up for grabs on terrestrial, and a shift in the ratings book balance was about to happen. It would take time to pan out, but in the minds of many radio operations, there was once again a chance. Sterns move actually invited a new vigor amongst many stations that simply had become complacent.

It was announced yesterday that New York City has a new number one terrestrial radio station. For the first time in over 20 years, Z100 FM became the number one station in New York. While the press release did not mention it, the feat would not have been possible if Howard Stern was still on the air at K-ROCK. Stern dominated the airwaves for a period of decades. His number one position was so entrenched, that other radio stations simply tried their best at becoming number two, and second place became the ultimate goal that any other station could hope for. When Stern left, the race was on.

In many ways, Stern is actually responsible for terrestrial radio stations thinking outside the box. He is responsible for radio companies taking risks again with new formats, new talent, and a new vigor. Some terrestrial radio stations even cut a deal with XM Satellite Radio (one of the terrestrial radio “enemies”), to bring Opie and Anthony, who themselves had made the move to satellite, back onto terrestrial airwaves in nineteen markets. The Opie and Anthony Show have posted what can only be termed as mixed results. The XM shock jock duo are available in the New York Market, but have been unable to reach the type of ratings that Stern delivered as exampled by the top New York spot going to Z100.

When Stern moved to satellite, there were those that stated that he would make himself irrelevant. That assessment could not be further from the truth. Millions have come to Sirius since he arrived, and not a quarter has passed since that arrival that Sirius has not garnered a retail advantage over their competitor XM. That is only half of the equation though. Sterns relevance also has been demonstrated in the terrestrial radio world he left behind. What has also been demonstrated over the past 22 months is that terrestrial radio is indeed competing with satellite radio. There has never been a period of time where the number of format changes, host changes, and jockeying for position has been so prevalent. These stations clearly demonstrated that they were indeed eager to get the attention of the audio entertainment consumer.

Whatever your opinion of Stern, there are simply some things that can not be debated. He carries influence and relevance in whatever he does. Perhaps that is why he is called THE KING OF ALL MEDIA.


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