Industry Views

SABO SEZ: Howard Stern Deserves a Big Thank You

By Walter Sabo
Consultant, Sabo Media Implementers
A.K.A. Walter Sterling
Radio Host, “Sterling On Sunday”
Talk Media Network

imNO ONE has done more to elevate the status and improve the working conditions of on-air talent as much as Howard Stern.

Howard turned 70 this month and he has been on the air for 50 years – half of the time of the existence of radio. During his brilliant career, he has elevated the capabilities of radio to a scientific, pristine art. His success is neither an accident nor luck. It’s not even God-given talent. It’s all work. Nobody has ever worked harder on their radio show than Howard and, as a result, no radio star has ever earned as much money or deserved as much acclaim.

Several important notes:

— For Howard, radio always comes first. When he made the movie Private Parts the production fit around his radio show.

— “America’s Got Talent” ended taping at the pre-agreed times to accommodate Howard’s radio show.

— I made the first call to his agent to recruit Howard to SiriusXM Satellite Radio. He was already making a lot of money… his motivation for moving was to give his radio show the support and freedom necessary to see just how great he could make it.

— He loves radio.

Whatever you’ve heard Howard earns, it’s probably close. That’s good for everybody on the air in the world. He earns more than any TV star. He earns more than 99.9% of all movie stars. I think it’s pretty much Taylor SwiftPaul McCartney and Howard. A radio star is actually in that conversation!

When he started in the 1980s, he was suspended for saying douche bag. Now you can say douche bag. Thank him for winning that fight.

Thank him for proving that radio stars do better with real writers and producers. Radio stars can create four hours a day of magic with little help. (TV Sitcoms produce 22 minutes a week, for 22 weeks a year with 11 writers.) Thank him for moving millions of dollars of products a week with his live reads, enhancing the value of your live reads.

Thank him for being harassed by the federal government. Thank him for not blinking. Thank him for raising the profile and stature of American radio. Thank him for being funny.

I just don’t think he’s been thanked enough…

Walter Sabo was a founding architect of SiriusXM Satellite Radio and began the recruitment of Howard Stern. He has consulted RKO General, PARADE magazine, Hearst BroadcastingPress Broadcasting, and other premium brands. He launched the first company to engage online video influencers, Hitviews. As an executive, he was EVP of NBC FM RADIO giving Dr. Ruth Westheimer her first media job and fostering the creation of adult contemporary. As VP ABC Radio Networks, Sabo hired Ringo Starr to be a DJ for a 24-hour special.

Industry Views

Radio’s Valuable Asset

TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison says one of the most valuable assets possessed by the radio industry, at this juncture, is the actual word radio itself regardless of which platform carries its content. At this morning’s TALKERS editorial board meeting, Harrison stated, “The rush to abandon the word radio in favor of audio is short-sighted, foolish and a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. This trend is indicative of a major blind spot regarding the basics of media theory and the delicate three-way relationship between form, content and institutional branding.”  Harrison continued, “The rush to convert the ‘magical’ business and products of radio to the utilitarian term audio is akin to the motion picture industry theoretically abandoning the words filmmovie or cinema in favor of video… or the journalism industry trading in the word news for information or data… or the automobile industry ditching the word car for vehicle.”  Harrison concludes, “Looking back, maybe the captains of the railroad industry should have stayed in the train business after all and focused on modernizing and improving it as opposed to getting hung up on transportation and winding up with nothing.”