Stern reaches out to new Internet audience

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Ten months after leaving the commercial airwaves for subscription-based Sirius Satellite Radio, shock jock Howard Stern is out to attract a broad new online audience with his first-ever free Internet broadcast.

Stern's four-hour-plus program will be made available live online at no charge for two days, Oct. 25 and 26, to promote an Internet radio service Sirius is launching this week. A formal announcement was planned for Monday morning.

The new service offers more than 75 channels of CD-quality programming over the Internet -- without the need to buy a Sirius satellite receiver -- for a monthly subscription fee of $12.95, the company said in a press release.

The service can be accessed by logging on to the Sirius Web site, www.sirius.com.

The two-day free trial of "The Howard Stern Show" marks the first time he has been available to a non-paying audience since he left terrestrial FM radio in December 2005.

After next week's promotion, fans will once again have to pay to hear the self-proclaimed "king of all media," either by subscribing to Sirius or its Internet service.

Stern's show and other Sirius programming had been available on the Internet before, but only to existing customers who had purchased a satellite receiver in addition to the $12.95 monthly radio subscription.

Under the new stand-alone Internet package, users anywhere in the world can subscribe and listen to Stern online without first having to buy satellite hardware, which is sold only in North America, a company spokesman said.

Sirius rival XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. offers its own stand-alone Internet service for $7.99 a month.

Stern, a pioneer of ribald radio comedy bits like "Lesbian Dial-a-Date" and "Stripper Jeopardy," stunned the broadcast industry in October 2004 when he announced he was leaving commercial radio for satellite.

After fulfilling the last 14 months on his contract at CBS Corp., Stern debuted in January 2006 on Sirius under a five-year deal valued at $500 million and immediately became the marquee talent of the No. 2 satellite radio provider.

He also recently ventured into the realm of video-on-demand television with an all-Stern channel available through several major cable operators.

Sirius ended the third quarter with 5.12 million subscribers, an audience that pales in comparison to the 12 million listeners who regularly tuned into Stern at the peak of his CBS career. XM posted nearly 7.2 million subscribers for the third quarter.
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