Sirius XM Radio Inc. is exploring programming alternatives in case the satellite broadcaster and talk-show host Howard Stern aren’t able to agree on a new contract, Chief Executive Officer Mel Karmazin said.
Stern, whose five-year, $500 million contract expires in December, is continuing to negotiate with the New York-based company and a resolution will come before the end of the year, Karmazin, 67, said in an interview yesterday. Sirius XM stations, such as Raw Dog Comedy and Playboy Radio, would help retain many of Stern’s listeners if he left, he said.
“There’s no deal,” Karmazin said. “The only announcement will be when there is a deal, or there’s not a deal. And I’m hopeful there will be a deal.”
Stern is responsible for adding about 2 million subscribers to Sirius XM since he moved to satellite radio from terrestrial in January 2006, according to Tuna Amobi, an analyst at Standard & Poor’s in New York. Total subscribers may surpass 20 million before the end of the year, Sirius XM said this month.
Karmazin declined to give an estimate of how many subscribers would cancel the service if Stern leaves. Without Stern, Sirius XM would “save $100 million a year” and use the money to fill the programming gap with various types of shows, he said.
“You don’t try to replace Howard,” Karmazin said. “I don’t think there’s a radio personality that’s out there that we would bring in and say to the Howard Stern fans ‘let us introduce you to this new talent.’”
Karmazin said he would use the budget savings to “go and try to get different people who might appeal to different audiences.” Sirius XM, the only satellite radio provider in the U.S., might “expand our classical music, or maybe we would do a little more in the opera area, or maybe we would do something that we’re not doing today.”
Don Buchwald, Stern’s agent, didn’t immediately return telephone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
“Howard has a great deal of options, many options available to him,” said Karmazin, referring to reports that Stern may introduce his own online service.
Sirius XM will receive about 2 percent of its $2.8 billion in revenue this year from advertising, Karmazin said. While ads during Stern’s programs are capped to 6 minutes per hour, Sirius XM’s ad sales department insists they could sell more, he said.
“I want that subscriber to be very happy,” Karmazin said.
Karmazin said he doesn’t see any potential acquisitions for Sirius XM, which had $258.9 million in cash at the end of the second quarter.
“There’s nothing out there that fits our core competencies,” he said.
The company might return cash to shareholders through buybacks or dividends, Karmazin said. Such a move will become increasingly likely as Sirius XM continues to lower its debt and build cash flow, though there’s no target date for such action, he said.
Sirius XM projects adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to reach $575 million for 2010, compared with $463 million last year, Karmazin said at investor conference this month.
Last week, Sirius XM sold $700 million of eight-year senior notes in a boosted offering, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The 7.625 percent notes were unsecured, and used to pay off 11.25 notes, Karmazin said.
This book is pretty intense. Was it hard to write?
It wasn’t hard writing once I made the decision. I think making the decision was a lot harder than actually writing it.
Your mom is still alive.
Yeah, I see her twice a week. I drop by and give her a cupcake for cupcake Wednesday and then I try to bring her home to my house on weekends when I can.
Was she okay with you writing the book?
I talked to her about it. I told her what it was going to be. I’m not blindsiding her, that’s for sure.
Does she realize how tough it was for you growing up?
No, my mother definitely doesn’t think anything went too wrong but I think that happens a lot when you’re in these dysfunctional families, they don’t recognize it. The problem was that she was on medication back then but she was on all sorts of medication and it wasn’t being properly monitored. It was all over the place. I felt my mom had a chemical imbalance and if she could have found another treatment earlier on it would have been a whole different life for her and for me.
When Howard would complain about his parents didn’t you want to scream, ‘You don’t know what a bad childhood is?’
The weird thing is I didn’t know that I had a bad childhood, I really didn’t. I just thought my mom was a little out there. It takes some distance and maturity to realize that things are different.
What’s your favorite Baba Booey shout out?
It just happened the other day. There was a really good Baba Booey mention on ‘The Simpsons.’ My kids are huge Simpsons fans so I just think that’s cool.
Isn’t it weird how famous those words have become?
I say it’s like a battle cry for the show. It’s like a secret handshake. If you yell out Baba Booey it’s not really about me. It’s I’m in the club, you’re in the club. It’s crazy; I thought that joke was over that morning. Sometimes when people say it to me they say it in a really obnoxious way but as a general rule it’s a fun word and when people say it they’re usually pretty happy.
How do you stand being picked on so much?
I joke around that my mother inadvertently prepared me for this job. I was at my shrink’s when we had this revelation. He said, ‘So everyday when you went home you weren’t sure if you were going to get kicked, emotionally, or hugged when you opened the door. You never knew what was on the other side of that door. Does it sound like anything else?’
So you’re recreating your childhood at work.
That’s one way of looking at it or that I’m the perfect guy for the job.
Ever cry in the toilet?
No! The one time I was upset was after my girlfriend broke up with me and Howard was mocking me, it was bothering me and Howard just told me to grow up. We’re all thick skinned here. If you can’t stand the heat you better get out of the kitchen. You won’t last long here if you go to the bathroom to cry.
So seriously Howard hasn’t told you if he’s retiring?
To the best of my knowledge he hasn’t made any decision, if he’s made it he hasn’t told us anything.
What do you think?
I think that he wants to continue to work. He’s made that very evident on the radio and where that is, is I think the question.
What are you going to do if he leaves?
I have thought about my future. I’ve gone out and taken a couple of meetings with different people just to what if but I want to work here. I want him to sign another three or five year deal. But inevitably I think the next deal is the last deal no matter what so I have to get ready anyway.
Why do you think Howard has such a terrible reputation?
I think it all comes from people who don’t listen to the show. Headlines are killers, sometimes people have written really great articles about Howard but with shitty headlines. They don’t know the show but they know he’s the guy who talks dirty, or he’s the guy who the FCC is after so they’ve formulated in their minds that they don’t like him.
He’s definitely my favorite interviewer.
He does such a great job. He really does make people forget they’re on the radio.
Does your wife get jealous of the porn stars and strippers?
I think we’re long past that. No she doesn’t. If she did she would have left a long time ago. I’m not allowed to touch but I think that’s a fair rule. She thinks we’re just a bunch of juvenile idiots and she’s not far off.
Any updates on Artie?
I speak to Artie fairly often. I spoke to him two weeks ago. He seems to be doing well. Every time I speak to him I think he’s a little bit better. He’s just trying to make his way and get it all together. I saw him not long after everything happened in January and the guy I spoke to the other week is a million times better than the guy in January.
Think he’ll come back?
I don’t know the answer to that. It depends when he’s ready what he’s capable of doing.
What’s the more embarrassing moment? The “hello hello” tape or the Mets first pitch?
God they’re so close. They both give me the same feeling of misery and dread. It’s one of those things where if you ask me on two different days the answer will be different. I think the “hello hello” tape is a little bit worse.
I can’t stand Ralph.
That’s why people love him. They love to hate him.
He just irritates me.
You’re not alone. I think he serves a function on the show. I think he’s a villain. He’s not completely without value. When he’s not being a dick to me I really do like him a lot.
How embarrassing was it when your mom called Howard’s mom?
It was mortifying because I was already living in the city on my own. I was a grown man with a job. As embarrassing and mortifying as it was it’s also sort of part of the charm of my mother. That wasn’t my mother acting crazy that was her being protective.
Does it bother you to wear the beekeeper’s mask?
I don’t wear it that much anymore but yeah I don’t like wearing the beekeeper’s mask. I don’t like wearing it because the girls look at me like I have a disease
Steve-O from MTV’s “Jackass” TV show came in to do a wacky stunt for Howard. Steve is one of the featured performers on the insane stunt show “Jackass” and he’s got a new uncensored video called “Don’t Try This At Home.”
Howard watched some of the video and said that Steve-O might just be crazy. At one point Steve O has his hair set on fire with gasoline and burned his face. He also has Roman candles shot at his ass and darts thrown at his ass. Howard said it was great.
Steve O also craps in a car and throws the crap at another car while they’re driving. Steve said his favorite stunt was when he shot up a few shots of vodka through an IV. He said he got pretty wasted when he did that. He said he was actually able to find a registered nurse to give him the IV.
Steve O said that his original goal was to become a stunt man. He went to a clown school and started doing these crazy stunts when he was about 15 years old. He said he can get chicks now that he’s been on “Jackass.”
Stern said Steve staples his nut sack to his leg in the video. Steve told Howard he started out doing it with an office stapler and moved up to the one he uses in the video.
Stern read through some of the other crazy stunts Steve has done in his ”career.” They were all pretty disturbing… and he was going to do one for Howard today. He had 5 goldfish that he was going to swallow and vomit back up into a fish bowl. Stern wasn’t sure if he could watch it though. He told Steve that he didn’t want him to do all 5 at once because he didn’t want him passing out or something. Steve O went ahead and swallowed all 5 fish. Before he came in he guzzled a bunch of water.
He drank more and then tried to make himself puke. Howard was laughing hysterically as Steve O gagged and puked the fish up. He managed to get three out alive before ”orange juice” started coming out. Howard made him stop after the three came out. The fourth fish was dismembered. Steve ran out of water so he finally stopped.
Howard said Steve brought his girlfriend Dee with him and she might be kind of dumb. Gary was asking her some questions out in the green room and she couldn’t answer them. Howard had her come in and spent a few minutes talking to her.
Howard asked her what she does for a living and she just said she ”makes people happy.” Howard asked her a few questions to find out how dopey she really was. She knew that there are 365 days in a year but she didn’t know that one pound of silicone weighs as much as one pound of saline. She was able to spell ”receive” but didn’t know what KKK stood for. She also thought the Eiffel Tower is in Central Park. Dee stripped down real quick for Howard and he said she’s really hot.
Howard was starting to wrap up the interview when Steve pulled out his staple gun and got ready to staple his nut sack to his leg. Howard told him not to do it but Dee got the staple gun and stapled his sack to his leg. Howard sounded really freaked out by the sight of it. Artie Lange said he’d never seen Howard react like that. Steve then pulled the staple out. KC said there was blood on the staple.
Howard spent a couple more minutes with the 2 of them and took some phone calls for them. A couple of people thought it sounded great on the radio and said they can’t wait for it to be on E!. Steve O said they’re shooting “Jackass the Movie” soon and hopes that will help make him some cash.
Howard plugged Steve O’s web site again as he wrapped up the interview. Steve said that you not only get the ”Don’t Try This At Home” video but you get the ‘”Career Ender” film which features even more insane stunts that might just end his career.
Howard came back and said it was time to judge the Worst Penis Injury Contest. He said they narrowed it down to 3 horrible penis injury stories. He said they had thousands of entries. Howard said that it was time to get ready for the tingling in your balls when you hear a horrible story. Howard said they have 3 men coming in to show their penis injuries. Eric, David and John were the contestants.
Howard had the guys all come in and said that he’s sure they all wish they didn’t have any injury. OF course he was right. Howard said men love their penises and they are a source of pleasure. One of the guys said he prefers a vagina to get pleasure. Howard said this was going to be tough to decide. He said that Benjy will be the tie breaker. He’s hoping that they don’t have a tie so he can keep his mic turned off.
Howard went to Eric first. He asked what happened to his penis. Eric is 31. 10 years ago he was out partying for his 21st birthday. He said he did 21 shots and ended up passing out. He said he was out in the cold and ended up waking up in the hospital. He said they had to try to revive him. He said his body temperature was down to 92 degrees. He said they had a tray of shots and he did one after the other. He said he woke up in the hospital strapped down and his parents were standing over him thinking he was dead. He said had a catheter in his penis. They told him the next day they weren’t able to get it out. Eric said he was in the middle of a hallway and all of the doctors were trying to tug it out. They had to do surgery to get it out.
Eric said later that day his scrotum was swollen and a black and blue mess. He said it was really painful. Eric said they inflated a balloon in his penis and it burst his urethra. He said they destroyed it. Eric said they let him out of the hospital the next day and told him he’d be alright. Eric said he was 21 at the time and all of his friends were parading their girls by as he had a piss bag next to him. He said he went to the doctor to get that taken out and the guy pulled it out and then he peed. He said he went home the next day he went to pee and he didn’t hear anything. He looked down and he was pissing out of his scrotum. He didn’t know what the hell was going on. He said they had made an incision in his scrotum to get the catheter out and the urine was coming out of that hole.
Howard asked if he can pee now. Eric said he can now but it’s been 10 years. He said that he still has a problem with his erection. He said that it’s kind of like a bow and arrow. He said it bent his penis in a weird shape. He said when he gets an erection the skin is so tight that it pulls to the right. Howard asked if it’s painful during sex. Eric said it is. He said he has to deal with the pain. Eric said he’s engaged so his wife is the only one who sees ”Frankenstein.”
Howard said that story was rough to get through. Gary asked if they were going to see the penis. Howard said he could wait until the other stories are told.
Howard moved on to David next. David said he has a penis and a nut injury. He was 15 years old when he was playing basketball. One of the guys got a hunting rifle for his 14th birthday. David said he was a boy scout so he knew gun safety and didn’t want anything to do with it. He said he was across the room and the kid drew the gun down at him and he pulled his leg up to flinch and before he asked what he was doing, the gun went off. David said he jumped up and ran downstairs. He said he ran around the kitchen table not knowing what happened. He said it felt like a burst of air hitting him. He said he collapsed in the bathroom upstairs. He said that the kid told him not to bleed on his mother’s carpet as he was laying there bleeding.
David said he told his friends to call his mother. He said he knew he was bleeding down there somewhere but he didn’t know where. His mother came over and she’s a nurse. She called an ambulance and a half hour had gone by at that point. He got to the hospital and they prepped him for surgery. The bullet went through is right leg and went into his right testicular sack and went through his penis into his left testicular sack and into his left leg. He said the bullet is still in his leg. They told him they’d do more damage if they removed it. He said they were going to cut his balls off but his father told them to save them. David said he went to another hospital and spent a couple of weeks there. He said there was no permanent injurers to the testicles other than the fact that he can’t have children. He said that the bullet clipped it in a way that it kind of gave him a vasectomy. He said he has a lot of pain when he orgasms. He has the pain for like 5-10 minutes after.
Howard asked where the kid is that shot him. David said they didn’t talk much after that incident. He said they sued but he wasn’t a wealthy guy. He said he doesn’t even see the money until he’s like Howard’s age either. Robin said that’s horrible. Howard agreed.
Howard said they had one more story to hear from John. John is 56. He said back in 2006 he had a pimple on his butt on Christmas morning. He said the next day he woke up and it was really painful. He got some pills and then a few days later his balls were black and swollen. He said that he was in such pain. He said he went to the hospital and was put into a coma. He said that they had to cut away all of the skin from his scrotum. They removed the skin from the head of his penis to around and up. He said that he was gangrene so they had to remove the skin. He said d he was in the coma for 28 days. He said they left the head of the penis. John said they took the skin down to the muscle all the way down the shaft. He said they went all the way across his abdomen and his left side. He said they had to relocate his rectum to where his balls used to be. He said he had his balls put inside his body but he had to have one removed because of where they put it. It was in the crease of his leg so when he’d drive it would crush his ball. John said that he was told that most people who have this don’t survive.
Howard and Robin sounded like they were in shock. Howard asked if he can shit standing up. John said he can’t. He said his penis is actually scar tissue from the head back. He said he has to put on a pain patch when he showers because it’s so painful. John said they used something called Aquacell on there and they did 28 sheets per bandage and they did dressing changes every 8 hours for 4 months.
John said the surgeon told him that they could actually see the gangrene spreading as they cut the skin away. He said they had to go in and cut more away after the initial surgery. Gary said he’s not sure he wants to see this. Howard said he’s not sure either. John told him that they’ll be fine.
Will Murray asked how he shits. He didn’t understand how it worked. John said it’s basically in the taint area now. Robin helped with that description.
Howard asked the guys if they wanted to show anything. David said that there wasn’t much to see there. Eric said he wanted to see John first. John pulled down his pants and showed them where his testicle was located. It was above his penis. Fred played the ”Psycho” theme as he showed it. Howard asked if the surgeon was high when he put his testicle above his penis. He asked if that was Dr. Picasso or something. Howard said he felt their pain but he thinks that he knows who he’s voting for.
Robin asked what a penis injury really means. Gary said that’s what they discussed in a meeting. Howard said that this guy was done in by a pimple. David said that he didn’t get to enjoy his penis since he had his injury at 14. Eric said that his injury was bad because he was 21 at the time. Howard asked Eric if he saw where John’s testicle was. He said he did.
Howard said that he considers them all to have injured penises in some way. He said they all had injuries but the worst story has to be John. Howard said the other guys have to admit that. Howard said poor John has been through a lot. John is going through it in spades. His ball is like a unicorn. Howard said that the other guys are fucking and John is not. John said he had a good life before this. Robin asked if he pleasures his wife in other ways. John said it’s hard to understand after going through this. He said he can’t do it the right way. Howard said he can’t get any pleasure out of it so there’s no point.
Howard asked John if he can get any pleasure in his life. John said he enjoys life but there is no masturbation or anything. Howard said there’s nothing funny about John’s story. He said that it seems obvious that John is suffering the most. Howard said he has to vote for John.
Robin said she doesn’t think she can do anything but vote for John. Howard asked Eric if he would vote for John. Eric said he would. He said it’s the most fucked up thing he’s ever heard. Gary went with John too. Fred said that he’s surprised that the other guys were still there and not on a bus heading home. Howard said they’re lucky enough to have John in there. John said just coming there was the best. Howard said it’s tough for all three of them.
Howard told the guys that he broke his toe and that’s a horrible story. Howard said that has fucked up his life and it’s just a broken toe. Howard said that’s nothing compared to what these guys went through. Howard said that John would feel good about himself if he showed him his penis.
Howard said John has won $5,000 from the movie Jackass 3D. Gary said they can give the other guys $355.50 each thanks to 7-Eleven. Howard asked John what he’s going to do with the money. John said that he got laid off so that money will help him out. Howard said that’s a shame. John was working in electronics when he got laid off. Howard said he may have a career as a porn star. John said he didn’t think so.
Howard said this was a horrible segment. He said he was sad for all of them. Howard said that John is in a bad way but he seems like a great guy. The other guys were saying that they should have slipped something to John to keep him from showing up today.
Howard took a call from a guy who said that he’s a doctor and this gangrene thing can happen to anyone. He had a name for the gangrene that John had. He said that the only treatment is to remove the skin. He said it’s from the bacteria MRSA. The guy said that this can come from different places and everyone could be colonized and not even know it. Howard thanked him for the call, wrapped up and went to break.