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It's not just fans of old-school hip-hop and disco who are rallying around Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI ) these days. The satellite radio provider is keeping "Bubba the Love Sponge" -- the loose-lipped yet magnetic talk show host who Howard Stern recruited to join him on Stern's Sirius channel at its inception in 2006 -- for a few more years.
Talent retention is an important part of justifying the value proposition of satellite radio. Sirius XM may never know how many subscribers would bolt if popular personalities were let go, but it's not in a position to find out given the recent slowdown in auto sales reducing the flow of new subscribers.
Terms of the multiyear deal aren't being made public, but it's hard to fathom Bubba , and much less Stern, giving up the uncensored satellite radio life. Both jocks felt the FCC coming after them in 2004, with terrestrial radio heavies like Clear Channel and Viacom (NYSE: VIA ) -- before ultimately handing over its radio division to CBS (NYSE: CBS ) -- begrudgingly playing along.
It opened the door for XM and Sirius to deliver more than just the commercial-free music that made the niche popular in the beginning.
"Just as folks flocked to cable TV to escape sanitized network content, satellite radio operators better be ready for the influx of folks who enjoy broader options," I wrote in February 2004. A few months later, Stern was signed to anchor Sirius.
Satellite radio isn't just about unfiltered content. Sure, the medium has gone on to attract Playboy (NYSE: PLA ) and terrestrial bad boys Opie & Anthony, but XM and Sirius are now home to more family-friendly celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart Living's (NYSE: MSO ) Martha Stewart.
With Sirius XM looking to pass the 20 million subscriber mark at some point next year, it has to be all things to all people. If that means everything from sharing Stewart's oatmeal raisin cookie recipe to Bubba getting graphic about a sexual escapade, beam on.
More news than static on Sirius XM: