Howard Stern’s new deal and the pathetic state of Internet Radio

Howard Stern Howard Stern didn’t go to Internet Radio — or loser podcasts! (image via Bob Norton)

Howard Stern made big news in the radio world last week when he finally signed a new deal with SiriusXM in the waning moments of his previous contract. The noteworthy aspect of the deal was not the money, which was reported to be like $80 million over 5 years or something. It was the pathetic role internet radio played in the negotiations.

Guys, it’s 2015 and internet radio is a joke. You would think we’d have a robust platform that could attract top notch talent. Instead we have a fractured landscape of rinky-dink poor quality apps with terrible quality content.

Of course, Stern acted coy in his negotiations, leaving many to believe there was a potential internet suitor waiting in the wings. Was it all just a bluff? Well, Bloomberg news, in an article called, Howard Stern Quit SiriusXM? Not for a ‘Loser’ Podcast, said:

Over the past year, Stern has claimed to have at least one tempting offer, though he declined to name the suitor. In the meantime, his fans provided plenty of ideas on what he should do next. Clearly, he should join Apple, some insisted, or Google or Pandora or Spotify. Along the way, Stern suggested he’s open to almost any scenario – except podcasting.

“If you want to be in radio, forget a podcast,” Stern told his audience earlier this year. “Podcasts are for losers.”

I’d say that’s a tell right there. Podcasts are for losers? That pretty much tips your hand that you’d like to stay away from internet radio.

Look, Podcasting is like ham radio. Do we judge all broadcast radio based on the antics of the ham radio band? Neither should we dismiss the potential of internet radio based on the underbelly of the podcast beast.

Podcasting shows the potentially huge market for informative and sometimes esoteric radio content. Hungry ears scour various platforms for personalities who consistently deliver quality content.

Right now, the best content on internet radio comes from terrestrial radio. But even then, too many stations provide half-baked and half-hearted versions of their best content for internet streams. In some cases, you can only listen to bits and pieces of your favorite shows.

Take for example, the Dennis and Callahan show from WEEI in Boston. From here in West Texas, I can listen via the Tunein Radio app on my phone.

Great, right? But here’s the problem: I can listen to the whole show live or I can listen to clips from today’s show later on. But there’s only a choice of three or four clips from the show, usually about 40 minutes each.

Why can’t I listen to the whole radio show any time I want?

It’s 2016. You’d think the lines between terrestrial radio and internet radio would have crashed down and all that’s left is to choose a show to listen to from either a device in your hand or a device in your car.

With the universe of possible radio programs to listen to for free, you’d think a premium service with limited content would go belly up.

But here in this 2016 the premium satellite service is going strong and the internet radio world is in war with itself.

How does satellite radio stay so strong? The strong personality that draws a huge crowd: Howard Stern.

Personality is what drives radio.

Howard Stern is keeping SiriusXM alive just like Rush Limbaugh is keeping the entire AM radio band alive.

Perhaps internet radio needs a strong personality to launch from one platform and destroy the others.

So anyways, congratulations to my fellow Boston University alum on his new contract. He says podcasting is for losers? Okay, I’m a loser. You guys think I should start a podcast?

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