Sirius XM's New Star

The clock may be ticking on Howard Stern, but Sirius XM Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI  ) is making sure that its programming calendar will have at least one new magnetic icon come January.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is making Sirius XM her exclusive radio home come Jan. 3.

Stern and Schlessinger obviously don't appeal to the same audiences, so this won't necessarily be a consolation prize for Stern fans if his five-year deal isn't extended into 2011. However, both celebrities are polarizing figures that ran into resistance and controversy on traditional talk radio. Sirius XM is perfect for Stern. It's going to be perfect for Schlessinger.

Unlike Stern, Schlessinger will air her live show five times a week. The Dr. Laura show will be heard on both Sirius and XM, while Stern's show is exclusive to Sirius.

Offering the same content on both networks has been part of the cost-shaving strategy at Sirius XM since CEO Mel Karmazin began consolidating music channels and inking new deals with terrestrial personalities. Making Sirius and XM more alike will get in the way of pitching "best of" premium packages to subscribers, but it will also help alleviate confusion. It will also give negotiations more clout, since Sirius XM is reaching out to nearly 20 million subscribers through its two platforms.

And counting.

Besides, the three-year freeze on basic subscription rates that Sirius XM agreed to in order to push the media giant's merger through expires next year. If Sirius XM wants to bump rates higher at some point next year, adding more talent across both networks is a sound approach.

Does this mean that Stern may sign a new deal in the coming weeks that will find him featured on both Sirius and XM? As the top draw for XM subscribers to pay up for "best of" access to Stern on Sirius, it doesn't seem likely. However, offering Stern access to 20 million subscribers may be just the ticket to keep away from returning to CBS (NYSE: CBS  ) or breaking out on his own through Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) App Store.

As for Schlessinger, it will be interesting to see how the call-in nature of her show ports over to satellite radio. Sirius XM reaches out largely to working commuters, and not the stay-at-home types who call in to shows on commercial radio. Then again, if Martha Stewart Omnimedia's (NYSE: MSO  ) home-crafts diva can make a splash on satellite radio, there's certainly plenty of room for Dr. Laura to offer advice on satellite radio.

Is landing Dr. Laura a sign that Sirius XM is moving away from Stern or simply a bonus for subscribers? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a subscriber to both Sirius and XM. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. He is also a member of the Rule Breakers analytical team, seeking out the next great growth stock early in its defiance. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (8)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 30, 2010, at 12:14 PM, r3rider wrote:

    I saw a Sirius commercial last night and after they mentioned the variety of channels they also specifically mentioned Howard Stern. I assumed that meant they were certain he was going to sign but who knows.

    Personally I'd rather chew a big chunk of foil than listen to either Stern OR Schlessinger. *shudder* but that's not really the point, is it? :-)

  • Report this Comment On November 30, 2010, at 1:00 PM, r3rider wrote:

    Here's a link for the commercial if anyone cares...

    http://satwaves.com/blog/2010/10/18/new-sirius-xm-commercial...

  • Report this Comment On November 30, 2010, at 2:38 PM, Valuestocksonly wrote:

    By adding Dr. Laura Schlessinger SIRI keeps adding to the content pool which in turn retains and gathers more customers. NFL package just got extended. Love my life-time subscriptions.

  • Report this Comment On November 30, 2010, at 7:46 PM, gibsonexplor wrote:

    Realy Sirius??? What The Hell Are You Thinking

    You Are About To Get Rid Of The Best Disc Jockey In The World For Two Complete Morons

    First Glen Beck, And Now Another Racist Republican Dr. Laura Schlessinger

    Sirius Ask Your Self This

    " Do I And My Investors Want To Go Some where, Or Do We Want To Crumble?"

    Fire Those Republicans And Use That Money To Resign Howard Stern, He Is Your Ticket To Success

  • Report this Comment On November 30, 2010, at 10:11 PM, Dyacobucci wrote:

    Every additional show, or person of interest which signs with Sirius provides a benefit to Sirius and Sirius investors. The more entertainment, the larger the audience.

  • Report this Comment On December 01, 2010, at 10:45 AM, Guise wrote:

    I totally agree with Dyaco. As a stockholder, I don't care whether I personally will listen to a specific channel or not ~ Stern or Dr. Laura, but to be honest, I find both more tolerable than Martha Stewart. ;)

    The more variety, the more subscribers, then the greater the success. Keep up the good work, Siri! The ultimate target should be Rush Limbaugh. I understand that his audience is much larger than all the other personalities combined, and reportedly very loyal.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2010, at 10:30 PM, kmacattack wrote:

    If they signed Lyin Limbaugh, are they gonna pay him in oxycotyn? He had enough in his possession to put Tampa Bay into orbit. If he's poor, he gets locked up for about 10 life terms. But, he had a sore back, so slap his wrist and whack his Pee Pee-if you can find it.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2010, at 10:36 PM, kmacattack wrote:

    Did they REALLY SIGN BECK? Why didn't they just dig up Hitler's ashes and clone them?

    Dr. Laura is a Phony too. her "doctorate" is in something like basket weaving, How can somebody claim to be a credible counselor/psuedo psychologist who didn't have anything to do with her family for years?

    She's ugly too. Good thing she's on the radio, I guess, instead of TV.

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