Howard Stern's COVID-altered shows have served as a much-needed morning routine for longtime listeners searching for some sort of normalcy. But the 66-year-old and SiriusXM are both facing a decision about the show's future at the end of the year when Stern's deal expires. The three obvious options are: retirement, staying put, and seeking greener — and potentially podcastier — pastures with Spotify, which has shown a real penchant for large deal-making in recent months.
The New York Post provided an update on the situation today from SiriusXM honcho Jim Meyer, who sounds like a self-appointed Stern whisperer.
“Howard is very happy with what he’s doing. It matters when Howard is happier,” Meyer said. “His show is better, and he’s more relaxed. I’ve been clear: I want Howard Stern to work at SiriusXM for as long as Howard Stern wants to work.” The CEO said he was optimistic about keeping Stern at Sirius, adding: “I know what Howard wants. And we’re trying to figure out a way to make all those things work together. I don’t want to be overly optimistic here, but I want Howard here… We’ll keep working and we’ll get there, I hope. At the end of the day, it will come down to what Howard wants to do.”
These are the exact phrases one would expect from the incumbent media company. And the exact repetitive messaging that Howard is the man in charge here. But you know what? It's pretty easy to believe that the two sides will get where they need to be in order to extend the partnership.
For all Stern's legacy as a disruptor and a wildcard, he has become a lovable creature of habit through the years. Making a change now, under these unprecedented conditions, just seems unlikely. Add this to the idea that Spotify's live-radio recreation abilities are far behind Sirius'. And the hope that, eventually, Americans will be able to listen in their cars while going some place during the next contract.
Stern still has plenty to say, no matter how much he grouses about all the things that must happen for him to say it on the air. I'd expect him to continue to speak into a microphone — in studio or from his basement — for the same team he's currently playing for until he hangs 'em up. Which hopefully is an event way down the road.