Mike Fleming

Howard Stern put his staff out of its misery today by telling them he has signed a 5-year extension with Sirius XM Satellite Radio. The show, which is a joy to subscribers (like myself) because the lack of FCC supervision and fewer commercials, is at its best when Stern takes aim at his staff. This morning was no exception. When show writer and prank phone caller Sal Governale showed up late for work and missed the 6 AM announcement, Stern brought his staff together and somberly told them he turned down the deal and he’d be done in a week. Only after Governale broke into tears and lamented the future of his three sons did Stern tell him the real news, suggesting that Governale should show up to work on time and put some money aside because this is his last deal. The impact of Stern’s re-up to Sirius XM is seismic. The subscriber base was 600,000 when he followed his longtime boss Mel Karmazin and made the move. Sirius was a distant second to XM then, but shot past its rival. Following a merger, the subscriber base just passed 20 million. It’s unclear how close Stern got to the reported $100 million per year that his first 5-year deal paid him. He already enjoyed 10 weeks vacation per year and said that his new schedule will be “relaxed” even more. Sounds like more “best of” shows in the future and a possible later starting time. But to subscribers, less fresh Stern is better than no more Stern.