The New CEO at Sirius XM and Why It Matters

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Sirius XM ( SIRI) stands at a crossroads full of uncertainty, but overloaded with opportunity. In the next few months, it can move -- in lockstep with Howard Stern -- to take over the world or it can refuse to stop and look around and let life pass it by.

I spoke to TheStreet's navigator of the Stocks Under $10 world, David Peltier, about SIRI on Thursday. David summed up logical sentiment on company and stock:

There's a news vacuum at Sirius XM, with Mel Karmazin on the way out and little visibility about the company's future. I'd wait for a 5% to 7% decline before buying the stock. It would look attractive below $2.60.

Bingo, as usual from David.

There's no question about it -- near-term I missed on SIRI. That goes hand-in-hand with a short-term miss on Pandora ( P). But here's just another example of the importance of separating company from stock and, even more, short term from long term.

Although my cost basis on P was $10.19, I did not lose money on the stock when I liquidated my position just prior to joining TheStreet as a full-time employee ( TheStreet's corporate policy prohibits full-time employees from owning individual stocks), thanks to aggressive covered call writing.

Over the past six to 12 months, you could have generated considerable profits trading both SIRI and P on the long and/or short side. That takes a nimble trader. Outside of using options to hedge, that's not my bag. I prefer to consider names like SIRI and P within the context of long-term, dare I say, "buy-and-hold" -- grab more shares on the dips, implosions and noise investing.

That method, if well-timed, worked wonders on both stocks this year -- SIRI over longer time periods and P on quick, volatile, news- and rumor-driven gyrations.

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However, from the buy-as-an-investment perspective, I still like P long-term (one to three years out) and agree with Peltier that SIRI is a murky play.

With Liberty Media Corporation ( LMCA) effectively calling the shots, SIRI and LMCA suits have a decision to make. It comes down to a core -- and very philosophical -- fundamental belief about the future of media, particularly radio. How do you view the world?

To this point, Mel Karmazin's more traditional view of radio has worked incredibly well. I'll take my crow with sea salt, a dash of red pepper and a sprig of cilantro: You cannot find a more successful example of the subscription model than Sirius/XM.

But that doesn't mean Mel's worldview wins and you stand still.

Flush with cash, halt these symbolic gestures of returning cash to shareholders. Maybe buy back a few shares -- hey, everybody else is doing it (!) -- but think of Sirius XM as a growth company with massive opportunity. Invest your cash accordingly.

Hire a CEO for the future.

If you're going to go with an "old" traditional radio guy -- fine, just make sure it's one that is present and accounted for vis-a-vis new media.

Throwing out some names: One of the founders of Premiere Radio, the network that syndicates/has syndicated Limbaugh, Jim Rome and other big-name talent, Kraig Kitchen; an old radio boss of mine, new media consultant and former radio VP/GM Jim Meltzer; or another guy I used to work for -- one of CBS ( CBS) Radio Dallas-Ft.Worth's top dogs and former ESPN Radio executive Bruce Gilbert.

I enter these names in the mix -- and Liberty would be smart to do its due diligence on each -- not merely because I know them (the latter two are personal friends), but because each would be damn good for the job. Other like names I am unaware of undoubtedly exist on the open market.

They respect the history and tradition of radio, but, unlike Karmazin, do not want to preserve it in a mausoleum.

If SIRI doesn't go that route, it needs to do what struggling old blue chip tech companies need to do: Hire a tech-oriented visionary who has never listened to terrestrial or satellite radio in his or her life.

The future of radio is online. On the Web. IP delivery. Multi-platform in every way. Satellite radio needs to cease being labeled as such. Use that model where it works -- with your core, as a selling point for coverage, etc. But embrace new ways of doing things to expand your audience and competently compete through the decade and beyond.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.
Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.