If there has been anything as interesting as Howard Stern's plan to defect to Sirius Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:SIRI), it may be the question of who Viacom's (NYSE:VIA) Infinity Broadcasting might bring to his abandoned time slot at the end of the year. Today's answer, that several personalities including David Lee Roth and Adam Carolla are being drafted for the job, doesn't sound nearly exciting enough.

I found a news report from USA Today that said Infinity had approached Jon Stewart, of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, very interesting in a "big-news-that-actually-wasn't" way. Replacing Stern with someone like Stewart would have been a coup. Stewart is smart, funny, and irreverent, and he has a large fan base. He's become famous in recent years for his willingness to ask the tough questions -- cloaked in humor -- that so many journalists seemed to shy away from.

Oh, well, so much for that idea.

As for the replacements, Carolla has some recognition from such programs as The Man Show and Loveline, but he still doesn't seem to match Stern's considerable star power. Meanwhile, the addition of David Lee Roth is a bit mystifying to me. I'm certain that many people would consider him among the ranks of washed-up -- er, I mean former -- rock stars.

Although much has been made of Stern's defection to satellite radio's No. 2 broadcaster, and whether it will help Sirius' chances against its arch-rival XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR), the other, possibly larger side of the story concerns the challenges facing traditional terrestrial radio. Some people thought that I was premature early this year in predicting the death of radio, although scores of folks emailed to relate their own frustrations with traditional radio fare. Regardless, given its current competitive challenges, it's difficult to argue that traditional radio isn't hurting, at the very least.

Just yesterday, Clear Channel (NYSE:CCU) reported that its earnings fell 21% because of weakness in radio, despite attempts to sweeten the deal for listeners. Radio stations face mounting competition for their customer bases from satellite providers like Sirius and XM, streaming Internet radio, and even the mania associated with Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPods. (I'm certain that I'm not alone in eschewing radio on morning commutes or long trips in favor of an iPod loaded with my entire music collection.)

Traditional radio companies continue to search for new and different ways to stop listener defection. However, compared with the seismic rumble that Stern's departure caused, today's announcement by Infinity has a tinny ring. It doesn't strike me as one that will bring much loyalty to the dial.

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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.