Sirius XM Hirings, Firings and Negotiations: 2010 Year in Review

(Sirius XM Hirings, Firings and Negotiations article updated with additional subscriber metrics and new stock price information.)

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Sirius XM ( SIRI) has banked its success on its ability to build and retain a lineup of big-name talent from the worlds of media and entertainment. Commercial-free listening means far less without the likes of a Howard Stern or Oprah Winfrey behind it, especially as Internet radio outlets like Pandora.com gain more ground and become more viable competition.

Talent, therefore, is the key, and a costly one. In 2009, the company reported that it spent $370.5 million on programming and content, which includes the costs to acquire, create and produce content.

In 2010, Sirius executives landed several major contracts in efforts to gain and retain subscribers. Howard Stern signed on for 5 more years, only a few weeks before his original 5-year, $500 million deal was set to expire at the end of December. Sirius also extended its agreement with the National Football League for five more years before its 7-year, $220 million agreement was due to expire at the end of the 2010-2011 NFL season.
Loss of marquee talent is cited as one of the primary risks to Sirius' business. "There can be no assurance that this on-air talent will remain with us or that we will be able to retain their respective audiences," the company said in its 2009 annual report. "If we lose the services of one or more of them, or fail to attract qualified replacement personnel, it could harm our business and future prospects."

"As these agreements expire, we may not be able to negotiate renewals of one or more of these agreements," the report continued, "or renew such agreements at costs we believe are attractive."

Sirius stock is up more than 170% over the past year as investors have been bullish on positive news. Shares continue to climb to new 52-week highs and has been steadily gaining since its year-ago low of around 57 cents.

On Nov. 4, shares spiked to a 52-week high of $1.61 after the satellite radio company reported that it swung to a penny-a-share profit in the third quarter and added 334,727 net subscribers.

Subscribers are the most important source of revenue for the company, pulling in billions of dollars each year. In 2008, Sirius reached its then record high 19 million net subscribers. In 2009, the subscriber base decreased to 18.8 million.

In the first three quarters of 2010 the company added 1.1 million net subscribers, bringing the then total number of subscribers to a record 19.9 million.

On Nov. 30, Sirius announced that it had passed the 20 million subscriber mark, and reached the highest number of net subscribers in satellite radio history.

Chief executive officer Mel Karmazin says the company will end 2010 with 20.1 million subscribers.

Click on for a recap of the major personalities and programming that Sirius XM signed in 2010 and years prior, and the details surrounding the contracts the company has with each.

Howard Stern

Show: The Howard Stern Show on Howard 100

On Thursday morning Howard Stern announced that he signed a new 5-year deal with Sirius XM, less than a month before his 5-year, $500 million contract with the company was set to expire.

As his contract neared its expiration date, negotiations between the satellite radio giant and the shock jock began to heat up. Reports speculated that Stern had plans of his own, claiming that Stern hinted at his own online venture or a possible mobile application.

In September Stern told listeners that he was "pretty sure" he was going to leave the satellite radio industry, a few days after Sirius XM chief executive officer Mel Karmazin said he was "very confident" that Stern wasn't going to leave Sirius when the contract expired.


Howard Stern has two channels in his name on Sirius XM -- Howard 100 and Howard 101. The self-proclaimed "King of All Media" can be heard live and uncensored around the clock on The Howard Stern Show on Channel 100.

Robin Quivers co-hosts with Stern, Fred Norris produces and writes and Gary Dell'Abate is the executive producer.

The shock jock and his crew feature a wide variety of guests, such as celebrities, strippers, porn stars and the "Wack Packers," which include characters such as Beetlejuice (Lester Green), "Crackhead Bob," Yucko the Clown (Roger Black) and Eric the Midget (Eric Lynch).

"Stern is important to Sirius in that he provides an edge for the brand even for non-Stern listeners, almost similar to what NFL Sunday Ticket does for DirecTV ( DTV)," Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan said in an Oct. 7 research note. "We actually regard an extended face off as a form of free marketing for both Stern and Sirius." He believes the number of "avid" Stern listeners may be as high as 3 million.

Oprah Winfrey

Show: The Oprah Winfrey Show on Oprah Radio

In 2006, Oprah Winfrey signed a three-year, $55 million contract with XM Radio to establish a new radio channel. The contract also reportedly required Winfrey to be on the air a minimum of 30 minutes a week, 39 weeks a year.

Clearly a new contract has been ironed out, but no details have emerged. It's unlikely, though, that Oprah was willing to, or needed to, lower her $18 million per year price tag.

The channel that was formerly known as Oprah and Friends launched as Oprah Radio in March, 2009.

"With the channel's relaunch and expanded live programming, we expect Oprah Radio will now reach even more people with its message of motivating people to live their best lives," said the president and chief content officer of Sirius XM radio, Scott Greenstein. "On the unique platform of satellite radio, Oprah Radio -- powered by Oprah Winfrey and her unparalleled team of experts -- offers Sirius XM listeners extraordinary inspiration and information daily."

Oprah Radio features daily and weekly shows based on topics such as love, spirituality, family and friendship. It also replays classic episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show, hosted by Oprah Winfrey.

Each day, the programming of the show focuses on a different theme. On Tuesdays the shows is based on health, and incorporates a health and medical segment from Dr. Oz into the show. Fridays are dedicated to "fun and laughter," and episodes featuring topical guests and entertainment are aired.

Barbara Walters

Show: Here's Barbara on the Stars Channel

Barbara Walters' satellite radio show, Here's Barbara, airs on Mondays from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. ET. on Stars.

Walters co-hosts the show with Bill Geddie, the executive producer of The View as well as Walters' prime time specials. On the show they discuss pop culture and political topics and often feature special guests.

In May, Walters announced she was having surgery to replace a faulty heart valve. She was unable to produce the show for a few months but returned to the air in July.

"There has been so much news the past few months," Walters said upon returning. "I can't wait to start hashing things out."

Gregg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia

Show: The Opie & Anthony Show on Virus

Talk radio program The Opie & Anthony Show is hosted by Gregg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia and co-hosted by comedian Jim Norton. The show airs live every weekday morning on Virus, and replays throughout the day.

>>Opie & Anthony Renew Sirius Contract

The duo announced on the air on Oct. 1 that they signed a two-year deal with the satellite radio company. Further details regarding the financial terms of the deal were not released. However, reports indicate that they may be bringing in as much as $3 million per year.

The Sirius Web site describes the program as "intense," "edgy" and "unscensored."

Rosie O'Donnell

Show: Rosie Radio on Sirius XM Stars

In June 2009 Sirius announced an agreement with Rosie O'Donnell to host Rosie Radio, a daily two-hour morning radio show.

"This is an exciting new adventure," Rosie O'Donnell said prior to her show's launch. "Two hours of talk show entertainment, without having to wear makeup. Perfection."

The comedic talk show host airs her show every weekday at 10 a.m. ET on Sirius XM Stars from her own home studio.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger

Show: The Dr. Laura Program on Sirius XM Stars

On Nov. 29, Sirius announced that it signed a multiyear deal with talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger.

Her new satellite radio show will begin on January 3, and will air weekdays from 2 P.M. to 5 P.M. Her traditional radio show, The Dr. Laura Program, which has been broadcast by Sirius XM for five years, ends on Dec. 31.

"Satellite radio is a forum where a diverse group of people get to speak their minds without fear," Schlessinger said. "I can't wait to preach, teach and nag about morals, values, ethics and principles. My brain is buzzing with new ideas for my program's content, direction and expansion, including guest interviews with people who intrigue and inspire me."

In August, after 30 years on terrestrial radio, Dr. Laura Schlessinger announced that she would be ending her radio show. The announcement came after Schlessinger used a racial epithet several times when she talked with an African-American woman who had called to talk about racial insensitivity. Following the Aug. 10 show, several affiliates and sponsors dropped her show.

>>Sirius XM Signs Dr. Laura Schlessinger

During an interview with Larry King on CNN's Larry King Live she explained why she was choosing to end her traditional radio show.

"I'm here to say that my contract is up for my radio show at the end of the year and I have made the decision not to do radio anymore." Dr. Schlessinger said. "The reason is I want to regain my First Amendment rights. I want to be able to say what's on my mind, and in my heart, what I think is helpful and useful without somebody getting angry, some special interest group deciding this is a time to silence a voice of dissent, and attack affiliates and attack sponsors.

This won't be the first time listeners will be able to hear Schlessinger on satellite radio. Her original show was added to the Sirius XM lineup in February 2005 and has aired on the Sirius XM Stars channel for 5 years.

Schlessinger's program is one of the most popular talk shows in radio history. At its peak, the show aired on hundreds of radio stations across the country and reached about 9 million listeners a week. On The Dr. Laura Program, Schlessinger provides listeners with advice guided by her own code of ethics and moral responsibility.

Emeril Lagasse

Show: Cooking with Emeril on Martha Stewart Living Radio

Cooking with Emeril is hosted by the famous chef and restaurateur Emeril Lagasse. The live call-in radio show airs twice a week on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Stewart's exclusive satellite radio channel.

"This is going be great," Lagasse said before the show's launch in November 2009. "I can't wait to talk to people across the country and share the colorful places, chefs and food I experience in my daily life. Food is the universal connector."

On every show Lagasse speaks with callers, answers questions and shares recipes and tips with his listeners. He also gets the chance to interview chefs from around the country to discuss the world of food.

Martha Stewart

Show: Ask Martha on Martha Stewart Living Radio

Martha Stewart hosts her own live weekly call-in radio show called Ask Martha. Listeners call in to talk to Stewart about a variety of topics including cooking, entertaining and gardening.

Stewart said that she looks forward to talking to her listeners. "They always have the most interesting questions," she said. "I enjoy learning about their different endeavors and offering information and guidance that will help them with their projects in the kitchen, in the garden and all around the home."

In 2005 it was reported that Stewart signed onto an exclusive 4-year, $30 million contract with Sirius to produce the Martha Stewart Living radio channel. Her current contract terms have not been disclosed, but again, as with Oprah, it's unlikely her stock has gone down in Sirius' eyes.

Jamie Foxx

Show: The Jamie Foxx Show on The FoxxHole

Foxx is a famous actor, musician and comedian. He won an Academy Award in 2005 for Best Actor for his performance in the movie Ray, and he starred in the hit movie Dreamgirls.

In January 2007, Sirius entered a deal with Jamie Foxx to launch an "urban comedy, entertainment and lifestyle channel" called The Foxxhole. The deal appointed Foxx as an executive producer and on-air host for the channel.

"The Foxxhole will break new ground in comedy, blurring the lines between stand-up, sketch, and music," Foxx said prior to the channel's launch. "Sirius satellite radio gives me the opportunity to create urban entertainment and programming like you have never heard on the radio."

Foxx hosts a weekly show on the channel called The Jamie Foxx Show, which features original comedy bits as well as "special guests from the worlds of music, sports and entertainment."

Dr. Maya Angelou

Show: The Dr. Maya Angelou Show on Oprah Radio

The Dr. Maya Angelou Show is hosted by renowned poet and bestselling author Dr. Maya Angelou. In her show, which airs on Oprah Radio, Dr. Angelou touches upon a wide range of issues such as race, sex, age, and religion, and shares her wisdom and insight with listeners.

Dr. Angelou has written a number of notable books, including her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Gayle King

Show: The Gayle King Show on Oprah Radio

Gayle King is a popular television personality who in the past has held positions as a reporter, news anchor and television talk show host. In 2006 when Oprah Radio was launching, Winfrey saw to it that King would have her own show.

As editor-at-large for O, The Oprah Magazine, King has worked closely with Oprah Winfrey for more than a decade. King is also one of Oprah Winfrey's closest friends, so it did not come as a surprise when Winfrey set aside an on-air times lot for her.

On her radio show, King covers variety of topics on her show, ranging from current and political events to cultural trends.

King is also going to have her own show on Winfrey's OWN network. The OWN network, owned equally by Discovery Communications ( DISCA) and Harpo Productions, is set to launch in Jan. 2011.

National Football League (NFL)

Show/Channels: NFL Radio

Sirius has extended its satellite broadcasting and marketing deal with the National Football League for five more years.

In August 2004, Sirius launched NFL Radio through a 7-year, $220 million contract with the NFL, which was due to expire at the end of the 2010-2011 NFL season. Financial terms of the new contract were not disclosed.

"We are pleased to continue our partnership with Sirius XM," NFL executive vice president of media Steve Bornstein said. "They have been an excellent partner and have become part of NFL fans' daily lives, not only on game day, but also throughout the year.

The Sirius NFL Radio channel covers professional football all day, every day. During the season, The Sunday Drive updates listeners on all the games being played at that time. Sirius XM will also broadcast NFL play-by-play online for its satellite radio subscribers from the start of the 2011 season.

"The NFL has been and will continue to be one of the major tent poles of Sirius XM's lineup," Sirius president and chief content officer Scott Greenstein said. "Sirius and XM will give fans around the country a fully portable and comprehensive way to follow their favorite team and everything happening around the league."

Major League Baseball (MLB)

Show/Channels: MLB Network Radio

MLB Network Radio provides XM subscribers around the clock coverage of major league baseball.

In 2005 the MLB signed a 7-year contract with Sirius that will stay in effect until 2012. In 2015 the MLB will have the option to extend the agreement through 2015.

Even though Sirius merged with XM in March 2009, MLB games are still only available to XM radio subscribers. Sirius and MLB need to settle contract issues to allow baseball games to air on Sirius.

Elton John

Channel: Elton! on Sirius 33 & XM 27

Sirius XM plans to launch the Elton! channel, dedicated to Elton John, on Friday, Oct 15.

The channel will only be available for a week and will celebrate the release of Elton John and Leon Russell's new album, The Union.

>>Sirius XM Announces Elton John Channel

"Elton John is a unique cultural icon with an unmistakable voice who collaborates with Leon Russell as easily as he does with Alice in Chains or Lady Gaga," Sirius XM president and chief content officer Scott Greenstein said. "His influence spans generations and is felt everywhere."

The seven-day tribute will feature an interview with John and Russell in which the artists discuss The Union and music spanning both Russell John's careers.

John has sold more than 250 million records in his career, and in 1994 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His hit single "Candle in the Wind" is the best selling single of all time, selling more than 37 million copies.

The financial terms of the agreement between John and Sirius were not disclosed. John's net worth is around $255.5 million, according to People.com.

Elton! will launch on Friday, Oct. 15 at 3:00 p.m. ET and will run until Oct. 22 at 3:00 a.m. ET on Sirius channel 33 and XM channel 27.

Sirius has been known to air similar artist branded channels in the past, such as The Who Channel, Mandatory Metallica, Rolling Stones Radio and Led Zeppelin Radio.

Pearl Jam

Channel: Pearl Jam Radio on Sirius 17 & XM 39

Sirius XM plans to kick off Pearl Jam Radio channel on Friday, Oct. 22 with a special airing of the band's 10th anniversary concert recorded in Las Vegas in 2000.

"Pearl Jam is unique in the history of the American music scene and has released some of the most influential music of the past two decades," Sirius XM president and chief content officer Scott Greenstein said. "From their love of vinyl to their respect for their fans to their dedication to social causes, the band's continuing legacy is something we're thrilled to celebrate with Pearl Jam Radio."

>>Sirius Launches Pearl Jam Radio

The channel will feature music, unreleased material and interviews from the band, as well as weekly show called All Encompassing Trip. The show will be hosted by Tim Bierman, manager of Pearl Jam's official fan club "Ten Club," and Pearl Jam enthusiast radio talent, Rob Bleetstein.

The financial terms of the contract between the band and the company were not disclosed, however Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder is worth an estimated $80 million.

Pearl Jam Radio will launch on Friday, Oct. 22 at 6:00 p.m. ET on Sirius channel 17 and XM channel 39.

-- Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Theresa McCabe.

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Disclosure: TheStreet's editorial policy prohibits staff editors and reporters from holding positions in any individual stocks.

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