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The Howard Stern - Infinity Broadcasting Divorce Gets Uglier - and Stupider

Opinion

By

Nov 9 2005
Howard Stern was suspended from his Tuesday radio show this week by his employer, Infinity Broadcasting, because the company finally became annoyed to the point where it felt it had to react to Stern’s promotion of his move to SIRIUS Satellite Radio. So, Infinity pulled the old "Come to the Principal's office so you can get suspended" trick.

How juvenile – and both share some blame.

First, by suspending Stern it only created more news stories and commentary including the words “Stern” and “SIRIUS” in them. There is nothing Infinity can do to downplay the loss of Stern from the company. It’s an accepted fact - just as the sun will rise and Michael Jackson will grow even paler.

The classic mistake when trying to shush somebody up about something is trying to shush them up! It inevitably leads to more people hearing about it!

Secondly, what purpose is served by suspending Stern? Does anyone think he went home, stood in a corner and thought seriously about what he did until some epiphany dawned on him that he had been a bad boy?

Does anyone think Stern losing a day’s pay makes any difference to a man who signed a $500 million dollar contract with SIRIUS? (That's assuming he was even suspended without pay which I doubt.)

Infinity threw a corporate tantrum just to show Stern who was still boss.

Now, as far as Stern goes, it’s not as if Infinity has treated him badly over the years. The company stood behind him and gave him a forum to become very rich and very famous. That should still mean something. Howard: when you were still part of the "little people" and not so well-known or financially solvent, Infinity had your back...or don't you remember?

Stern is moving on for professional reasons but, is it absolutely necessary to hurt Infinity in the process? The company is going to take a big hit in revenue and will have to fill a vacuum created by Stern’s departure.

What would be wrong with thanking the company for a good run, helping to promote the new talent coming up, and laying off the commercials for SIRIUS? It’s not as if his listeners don’t know he’s going there.

There is no doubt Stern's core audience will follow him. But, all the talking about it in the world is not going to make someone pay for Satellite Radio if he they don't want to – or can’t afford to. This is an economic decision Stern’s listeners have never been faced with and it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Conversely, why can’t Infinity take the high road and help send Stern off in style? Why does this have to be so full of acrimony? Infinity benefited greatly from his talents and Stern profited from their backing. You guys are at best - even!

Some would have you believe that Stern leaving terrestrial Radio is some sort of FM apocalypse. I got news: this is not the end of the Radio world – it’s just the end of a long-term relationship that has now turned sour.

The big losers here? Stern’s listeners. It’s a disservice to them for him to take up regular show content with promotional messages for SIRIUS and it’s also a disservice to them when Infinity yanks him off the air for a day.

Divorcing a partner is never easy but in the end, it’s always the kids who get hurt the most.

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