Have you ever left an airshift, either by choice or “involuntarily”…i.e., by getting fired? I’ve been there. Often, your final show comes before you want or expect it to…you’re let go and never get a chance to say “good-bye.”
Personalities typically resent losing the chance to say good-bye. But station managers want to avoid the good bye, because: (a) They don’t want to call attention to the fact that a personality is leaving; (b) They don’t want to risk having a personality say something negative or inappropriate; or (c) Departing personalities can be self-absorbed and not especially entertaining.
Items (b) and (c) definitely have come into play with Howard Stern’s show. Since announcing more than a year ago that he’s departing Infinity to join Sirius, Stern’s content has increasingly focused on nostalgia, his exciting plans for Sirius and his frustration with Infinity (and FCC-regulated radio in general). This obsession is reaching a crescendo now that Stern is counting down the days in his last month on terrestrial radio.
I know this because (I admit it!) I’m a Stern fan. I listen to him every morning and watched Private Parts a dozen times. But I don’t think Infinity or Stern has benefited from his extended good-bye…
For Infinity, the negatives are obvious. Aside from the scorn Howard heaps upon management daily, his show is often an extended infomercial for Sirius, his upcoming show and the channels he is programming which are already on the air!
So, Infinity made a huge mistake keeping Stern until his contract expires! Understandably, they wanted to keep the considerable revenue he generates for as long as possible. But ultimately, it’s costing them much more. The affiliates that dropped Stern early made the right choice. They may have taken an immediate ratings and revenue hit, but they avoided the infomercial and got a chance to establish their new morning shows before having to compete with their old one.
For Stern, this “longest good-bye” is a mixed bag. For sure, he benefits from using his current platform to promote his future one…something virtually unheard of in broadcast history! The downside is that his show just isn’t as entertaining or compelling as it can be. Listeners “on the fence” about spending $12.95 a month for Sirius may decide it’s just not worth it.
Meanwhile, Stern’s decades of brilliant radio is ending with a “thud.” It isn’t Stern’s fault…he has always talked about what’s going on in his life, and it has paid off for him (and his listeners) spectacularly. Unfortunately, what’s going on now is his bitter end at Infinity and that’s not a lot of fun.