Sirius XM is looking for a new CEO. Will they have to soon start searching for a new King of All Media shock jock as well?
The departure of Mel Karmazin from Sirius is a bit of a surprise, but not a huge shock. By all accounts, Karmazin was not meshing well with Liberty Media chairman John Malone. Liberty Media (LMCA) helped rescue Sirius XM at the height of the financial panic in 2009 with an investment that some think saved Sirius XM from bankruptcy. But Malone has been seeking approval from the Federal Communications Commission to gain control of Sirius.
Karmazin isn’t the only one who’s unhappy though. Howard Stern, the biggest star for the satellite radio company, has a contract that runs out in 2015. And he’s been voicing displeasure lately about his life at Sirius. Stern said on Monday’s show that he was “miserable” and “would be happier if he quit work.” Stern was also quoted as saying that he might look to leave his contract early.
“I’m miserable,” said Stern. “I just want to tear someone’s head off…I think I’d be happier if I quit work. I think my agent said to me even though I have a five year deal here, that after the third year I could actually leave….I think I want to leave…I have to do this year and then I could get the fuck out of here…I want out.”
Now of course, this may just be a case of Stern using the airwaves to try and push for better terms in a new contract. Stern has used this negotiating ploy many times before and wound up signing a new 5-year deal with Sirius XM in 2010.
“There is an issue with Howard. But there’s always an issue with Howard,” said John Tinker, an analyst with Maxim Group.
A spokesman for Sirius XM declined comment. Still, investors may need to be a little concerned that Stern could be, uhh, serious about leaving Sirius this time around. Karamzin famously hired Stern for Infinity Radio, now owned by CBS (CBS) in the mid-1980s after Stern was fired by NBC. The two have been inseparable since, with Karmazin agreeing to join Sirius XM shortly after Stern did in 2004.