Air Waves
by Laura Nachman
Philadelphia Metro

October 13, 2005


Check out, and you’ll see the countdown is on - there are only two months and sixteen days until Stern’s show leaves Infinity broadcasting and moves to Sirius satellite radio.


Philadelphia is one of Stern’s biggest success stories.  WYSP 94.1-FM was the first city to syndicate his New York City-based show in 1986 and Stern has been one of the top-rated shows here ever since.


Now that Stern is leaving WYSP and according to reports will be replaced by former Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth here and in other East coast Infinity stations, what kinds of opportunities will this present for the other radio stations in town?


In an email, Bob Burke, managing editor of the radio trade publication and web site “The Friday Morning Quarterback,” said “The key word is "opportunity," many stations will have an opportunity to gain more audience and pick up new listeners who choose not to follow Howard to satellite. Either because they won't pay for radio when they can still get it for free, or they just haven't made the commitment to purchase the equipment yet and make the switch from terrestrial radio


WMMR's "Preston and Steve" should benefit just by the nature of the shared audience in the format. But there will also be an opportunity for 'YSP to keep some its listeners with one of Stern's often rumored replacements in David Lee Roth or Kidd Chris who is already in-house showcasing his talents on 'YSP in afternoon drive.


It'll be interesting to see if 'YSP's plan is too incorporate "more music," against MMR's mostly personality talk-driven format that does include some music, or will they stick with a personality-driven talk show which Infinity seems to support in many of its markets.


The two sport stations (WIP and WPEN) are also bound to see some increases in audience. 


You can also expect many morning show marketing efforts to be increased as we get closer to Stern's contract expiration.”


In the spring Arbitron ratings, for the demographic of male listeners 25-54 years old, Stern had more than twice the ratings of his nearest competitor, KYW 1060-AM, followed by WMMR 93.3-FM (Preston and Steve), WIP 610-AM (Angelo Cataldi), WMGK 102.9-FM (John DeBella), WRNB 107.9-FM (Tom Joyner), and WBEB 101.1-FM (Chris and Tiffany).


A major question is if Stern’s fans will follow him to pay-radio. 


According to a Sirius spokesperson, since the company announced that Stern was going to satellite radio, subscriptions increased from 662,289 to 2.2 million.  Many more are expected to join after Stern leaves Infinity Broadcasting at the end of the year.


WMGK afternoon personality Andre Gardner, who has the unique position of having worked with Stern as “The guy who hit the button for Howard” in the late 90’s and against him, said, “There is a cautious sigh of relief that Howard is leaving, but if anybody can bring people to satellite radio, Howard can.”