For example, while the two companies have agreed with the Federal Communications Commission to make their radios interoperable, the tech costs are unappealing. Additionally, the automakers, which have become critical partners with the two pay-radio outfits, seem to see advantages to maintaining the duopoly.

But Karmazin is known as a dealmaker, so even merger skeptics stop short of ruling out discussions on some level.

For now, Karmazin seems to be focused on areas he knows best, like advertising. On the earnings call, Karmazin said the company was expanding its sales staff in order to sell more ads on its talk and sports programs.

"Advertising will be a very important revenue contributor in the years ahead," Karmazin said on the call.

And as for shock jock Howard Stern's move to Sirius, the executives said they would love to get the ad-drawing personality on board before his January 2006 agreement, but held out little hope of such a deal. "Assume 2006," Karmazin said.

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