Howard Stern’s current contract with SiriusXM satellite radio ends in December 2020, and he has not yet stated if he will retire at that point. He will turn 67 in January 2021.
These three facts have led to a lot of speculation, particularly on his channels’ post-broadcast Wrap-Up Show, about what will happen to show staff members if Stern decides to leave. But I have a suggestion. They can stay right where they are.
It’s simplistic, I believe, to think that just because Stern might not be involved, there can no longer be a Howard Stern channel or channels on SiriusXM.
Let me explain.
Stern’s two current channels (100 and 101) are widely believed to be the most listened to channels on SiriusXM, or at least among them. The company has never released listenership figures, so we don’t know for sure. But let’s just assume that.
Some portions of some shows — some of the news segments, for instance — may not age well. But there are mountains of material that Stern owns, going back decades before he was even on SiriusXM — the in-depth interviews, the musical performances, the most passionate rants and funniest comedic bits — that will never grow old. Stern and the SiriusXM powers-that-be obviously recognize this already: They replay that stuff on a daily basis.
If Stern doesn’t re-sign (or dies), that stuff doesn’t go away. It can still be recycled. And people, I’m betting, will still listen. Maybe not in the same numbers as now. But surely enough for SiriusXM to keep a Stern presence on the air.
What’s more, a post-Stern Stern channel could also create new content.
The Wrap-Up Show, first of all — co-hosted by Jon Hein, Gary Dell’Abate and Rahsaan Rogers — could keep going, in some form, with reminiscences, clips, and celebrities in the Stern universe (Sarah Silverman, John Stamos, Jonah Hill etc.) coming on to talk about both their history with the show and their current projects.
Maybe Robin could do a weekly show on health, or Fred could interview musicians once a week. Maybe Shuli could have a weekly Wack Pack show, or Richard and Sal could put together a weekly collection of new bits. Maybe shows by Bubba, Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling or others could be brought back.
Maybe even Stern, though retired, could make some appearances: He seems to be fascinated by the ability of David Letterman and Jerry Seinfeld to stay involved in show business, to a limited degree, on their own terms, after leaving high-profile gigs. Why couldn’t he do the same?
And while I’m offering unsolicited advice to SiriusXM, let me just add … there really should be a third Howard Stern channel. Starting now.
My main complaint with the channels is that during weeks when I do a lot of driving (and therefore do a lot of listening), a lot of the same stuff comes up over and over, and I end up switching to something else. A third channel that would randomly play clips, both classic and rarely re-played, from all stages of Howard History — no intros needed, just the clips — would solve that problem.
Or just start from Day One, and play every clip that exists, in order, until you get to the present. Then start again. And repeat an infinite number of times.
You could call it the Howard Forever Channel.