Karmazin Joins Shock-Jock Stern at Sirius Radio

22 November 2004

Mel Karmazin, former president of media giant Viacom and darling of the Wall Street haruspices, is to return to his career roots in the radio industry.

Karmazin announced last week he is to become chief executive at Sirius Satellite Radio, the second media big gun to join the growing company within six weeks.

He is preceded by so-called shock-jock Howard Stern, a stream-of-consciousness broadcaster whose USP is foul-mouthed iconoclasm [WAMN 11-Oct-04] and a massive audiemce of testosterone-hungry young male Americans.

By coincidence [or perhaps not], Karmazin and Stern have worked together before. The latter as presenter at Infinity Broadcasting; the former as its boss who rose from being one of just three station managers to chief executive.

Infinity's fortunes prospered (these days it owns 180 stations in the nation's twenty-two largest markets) and it was eventually purchased by CBS, in turn acquired by Viacom.

Karmazin hailed his Sirius appointment as "a great opportunity to return to radio". He continued: "Viacom is a good company but I am looking forward to working in a small entrepreneurial company. It is very different when you have 100,000 employees."

Sirius' management, said Karmazin, understood "the need for compelling content and had a business model that makes sense". He cited as evidence, the broadcaster's recent signing of Stern plus rap singer Eminem and the National Football League.

Karmazin's goal? To take a larger share of the $22 billion (€16.8bn; £11.83bn) annual US radio advertising market. "I would be perfectly happy with $1bn of that," he said.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff