Saw an article this morning about Sirius and XM adding subscribers. Sirius has 5m subscribers, and Mel Karmazin credits stern for adding 1m custoners to Sirius. While this might be a winning proposition for getting some subscribers, it pales compared to the 12m listeners Stern had when he was free. The Washington Post talked a little about this recently.
Most radio is successful because it's free (i.e. ad-sponsored). If it wasn't, people wouldn't listen. The more people you have listening, the more advertisers will pay. When you charge for the content up front, the balance doesn't work out as well because you have no hope in getting the size of audience. Think of YouTube. Would we pay to watch stupid videos on YouTube? No. But we will go there in droves because it's free.
But actually what these articles made me think of is about his free speech battles. Given all the conflict that Stern has had with the FCC, his audience up in arms over the FCCs fines, etc.. few care that much what he says on the radio to pay $132/yr to listen to him. I guess that's what the price of free speech is in Stern's case, and most of us just don't think he's worth that.