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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Forget Everything Else… You Get Twice The Value…

I was listening to Howard Stern after he just returned from his two week vacation over the July 4th holiday. There were plenty of listeners calling in to complain about his extended time off. One guy called and referred to Howard as ‘The King of all Vacations.’ His loyal listeners have been giving Stern and his crew a hard time about all the vacation built into his massive five year deal with Sirius.

I am a Sirius (SIRI) shareholder and have been a loyal fan of the Howard Stern show for over 10 years. I am obviously very sensitive to customer satisfaction as I would love for the Sirius steamroller to continue to crush the lack of leadership (and subscribers) at XM.

Now, no one could argue that the Howard Stern programming on Sirius has been unbelievable and is probably the best it has ever been in the history of his show. As a fan of the show, and great comedy, I have never been happier with listening to the radio. The sentiment is similar with anyone I speak to who is a fan of Stern.

But, people always find something to complain about. Now the complaints on all the chat boards and the callers to his show are about the fact that Howard takes time off. They complain about his 10 weeks of vacation, which by the way is the same amount of time as when he was nationally syndicated based out of New York. Most fans also complain about the fact that him and his crew (minus Baba Booey) gets to take off Friday’s.

So I started thinking about it. The argument that you have to pay for Stern now and you get less than before could be a valid complaint, though the show is exponentially better, and there are a ton of other great channels on Sirius. But let’s assume as a listener you just want to listen to Howard, are you justified in your somewhat shallow complaint?

Well, I ran the numbers. I put together some estimates on the amount of Howard Stern show (not any other programming) you got on terrestrial radio (aka FreeFM) and how much you get now on Sirius (estimated at about .40 per day).

First you have to start with the baseline numbers. Howard contractually receives 10 weeks off per year, which is the same on Sirius as he had on FreeFM. He also works the same hours in theory in both contacts each day he is on the air (contracted from 6am-10am EST). He has Fridays off on Sirius where he worked on Fridays on KRock and other stations where he was syndicated (WJFK in DC).

Now let’s break down the differences. On his terrestrial radio days he was working, on average, 42 weeks a year, 5 days a week, and 4 ½ hours per day (though here in DC we only got him for 4 hours. On Sirius, to date, the show has been lasting until around 11:15am or so. Just this past week the show went past noon. Based on about 30 shows compared on Sirius vs. KRock the average show difference was around one hour and 22 minutes. Let’s round that to an hour to be conservative.

Additionally the show now has an after show with as much great programming as the actual Stern show. Though let’s not include that in the calculation to be safe. Also, though Stern and Crew have Friday’s off, they have only taken off about 30% of the Friday’s. Howard does admit that in the summer they will be taking off more Fridays. So let’s say they end up taking off ½ of the Friday shows, again being conservative.

With these calculations in place, what you find is the total hours of Howard Stern Show you get on Sirius is actually longer than at KRock by almost 100 hours of programming (which is 24 additional shows per year – more than a month of programming).

But the story does not end there. On Old-fashion radio (KRock, et. al.) there was about 17 minutes of commercials per hour. Though there were weeks where the commercials were about 22 minutes per hour. Again, let’s assume the commercials were on the low end of the band and only took up about 19 minutes per hour of the show. So now the story is even more compelling.

Sirius has about 4 minutes of commercials per hour. So that is a difference of 15 minutes of actual show per hour. That actually adds up per show, let alone per year. The total is over 200 hours per year. That ends up being about 75 additional shows on Sirius versus KRock, or whatever crappy CBS Radio you listen to.

Even better, think of it this way. If you only listen to Howard Stern programming you are only paying fifty cents per full show, or .15 cents per hour of Original Howard Stern show.

That is a great deal to me, plus you get the wrap-up show, Bubba, and Riley Marten for free. Not to mention the 200 other channels available if you are bored.

Disqus for Cold Kiwi