How big are Howard Stern's ratings?

The former radio god is, no doubt, a big fish in the very small satellite radio pond. How many listeners does he really have?

Steve Guttenberg
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
Steve Guttenberg
2 min read
Steve Guttenberg

Stern loves to count the 20 million Sirius XM subscribers as listeners, and his rabid fan base believes him!

Come on, that's a huge stretch, even for the former "King of all Media." Intentionally equating potential audience with actual listeners is classic Stern BS. The former King never made another movie or wrote another book. He's the King of Satellite Radio, and he works for a company that NEVER posted a profit during his reign (it continues to post losses every quarter). Sirius XM stock has been lingering around thirty-three cents a share for the past month or so.

I'm just waiting for Stern to advise his buddy, Sirius XM CEO Mel Karmazin, to boost profitability by eliminating all of the other channels. Stern is the big draw, so why waste resources with all those other channels? I wonder how fast the 20 million number would plummet.

Before the Sirius XM merger "Daily News" writer David Hinckley reported that "Arbitron has released its first-ever ratings for XM and Sirius, covering April-June 2007, and they show that in an average week, 1,225,000 listeners at some point heard Stern." That's the TOTAL for the week, so at any given moment, Stern has maybe a few hundred thousand listeners. Anyway you look at it, that's a sorry ratings number for the former terrestrial radio god.

Arbitron also said that one other satellite channel--XM's "Top 20 on 20" - topped a million during that April-June 2007 ratings period. Since Sirius XM doesn't release its internal ratings, we don't have any way to verify Stern's claims, or other satellite radio shows' numbers.

On today's show Stern admitted that, yes, he has fewer listeners than he did when he was on terrestrial radio, but wouldn't go so far as to say lots of terrestrial radio personalities have far more listeners than he does now.

The current terrestrial radio talk show mega star is Rush Limbaugh; he boasts a weekly rating of 14.75 million listeners.

Stern rules his smaller satellite radio universe and collects a big, fat paycheck for doing so. Good for him, but I'm so tired of his endless self-promotion, and putting down others, like today's dissing of Conan O'Brien's move to the "Tonight Show."

Face it, Stern's creative peak was decades ago. He used to be a very funny guy; now he's just a very rich man.