What I would do if I was advising Howard Stern (or how Howard could make $20 million a year and answer to no one).

As we all know Howard Stern has been under the gun, and the chances of his show remaining on the air in its current format are slim to none. The FCC fines are getting bigger and bigger, and at some point Viacom will have to give in and either drop Stern or risk losing their license.

Now, everyone has talked about Stern moving to digital radio, and that is great way to get around the FCC issues. However, not many people own these radios yet, and although Stern would increase sales it would take years.

If I was advising Stern I would tell him to just move the show online (or move it online and to satellite radio). People will have no problem downloading 20-30 meg files of his show and listening to them on their iPods or on their computer.

Sound crazy?

Well, it might, but right now I have the last two weeks of the Stern showcommercial freeon my laptop hard drive. I listen to the Stern show on my schedule, sometimes on planes and sometimes late at night. I catch up recent shows when I’m on Jetblue and I’m listening to his first show on WXRK from November 18th, 1985 right (back in the days when Stern would spin some record during the show). I was 15 years old when he moved to WXRK and we used to listen to him in the morning on the way to high school.

It turns out there are thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of people online trading tapes of Stern today. It is a bit of pain in the neck to get to these files, but once you do it is pretty easy to download previous shows. Heck, some people post a month’s worth of shows at a time (500-600 megs, might take 12 hours).

Portable, uncensored and replayable Stern is an amazing advancement. Stern, I believe, would be able to get more than a million subscribers to his show online at the rate of $20-30 a year.

$20 million a year is a lot more then he makes now I’m sure, and a lot less hassle. He would own his shows, own the relationship with the consumers and he would be able to tape his show whenever he wanted from where ever he wanted. Oh yeah, this is without advertising.

I know, you’re going to tell me about huge bandwidth bills and piracy. Well, if he made his own P2P network (like the BBC is doing, or Download.com does) then he would have minimal bandwidth issues.

Also, Stern would open up to a national and global audience. Right now he doesn’t get to every corner of the US, and he is only heard overseas by the tape traders on the Internet.

Additionally, I would have Howard cut a deal with Apple or Real to carry the show in their players. One of those twoor bothwould bend over backwards to get the audience Stern could provide. Stern could give those plays a percentage of the take for anyone who subscribes by their services.

This is not dotcom hype, this is the state of the Internet today. What I’m describing is totally doable today. I’m not saying Stern won’t loose a large percentage of his audience, he clearly will. What I’m saying is he will make the same amount of money, and over time he will gain back his audience by going into markets that have never heard him before.

Howard is a revolutionary, a modern day Lenny Bruce. However, unlike Lenny Bruce Howard lives in a time of a disintermediating technologyI wish he would leverage it.

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