It’s recently become painfully obvious to me that I’m in the wrong business.
Actually, the realization truly slapped me in the face when Bob Bertram handed me an article in the Jan. 9 issue of The New York Times. The article discussed Sirius Satellite Radio’s signing of Howard Stern to an exclusive deal, and the ripple effect Stern’s migration could have on the radio industry as a whole. However, it was the contractual terms of Stern’s contract that had Bob and I stupefied more than usual.
It appears that Stern received approximately $225 million in stock from the company for his future services. Oh, and not to be forgotten, he will also receive $500 million for “his salary and production costs,” according to The Times.
Those figures caused me to look down at the peanut butter and jelly sandwich on day-old bread I was eating and made me take stock in my personal choices.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m thankful for where my life is and the friends and loved ones I have in my world. And I truly enjoy my job and the satisfaction I derive from every issue of The Point that hits the streets.
But I’d probably sell it all for $725 million.
Come to think of it, there isn’t a whole lot I wouldn’t do for $725 million. I would certainly go on radio every morning and make potty jokes and discuss women’s dimensions for that kind of dough, and I would probably jump out of an airplane wearing a pair of neon diapers with a firecracker sticking out of each ear for Stern’s treasure. I would get my body waxed by a trained chimp on the 50-yard line of the Super Bowl at halftime for that kind of jack, and I would most likely sit down for six hours and listen to John Denny’s theories on the government training dolphins to take over the world for that kind of loot.
But I digress.
Just take a minute and think about having that kind of money at your disposal. Would your life change forever? Would the days of stressing out over your next electric bill be replaced by the days of hiring all your old bosses to run on a treadmill to power your estate? Would the Christmas presents you buy your family change from books about exotic places to the purchase of exotic islands?
Fun to imagine, isn’t it?
However, there is part of us that just loves to “playa’ hate,” isn’t there? We hear about someone else’s success and line up to bash him or her right off the bat.
I mean, it’s not like he’s curing cancer or teaching our children to read, is it? Athletes and entertainers make entirely too much money, and this is just another example of our screwed up priorities, right?
But I’m not going to knock Howard Stern in this space. Though I’m not one of his legions of fans, many people listen to the guy almost religiously. He obviously has a talent and knows how to both target and reach his audience.
The people at Sirius are in a dog-eat-dog war over satellite radio dollars with XM, which has a sizeable lead, according to figures in The Times article. They felt they needed a splash — a big-time name to draw subscribers away from XM and be the turning point in changing the way we listen to radio forever. It’s a risk, indeed, akin to throwing in all your chips and waiting for the flop in a tense game of Texas Hold’em.
If Stern moves those listeners to Sirius — and The Times article said the company’s subscription base has already jumped from 660,000 to 3.3 million since Stern agreed to do the show in October 2004 — then the money could well be worth the risk.
If not, well, the company could tumble into bankruptcy, leaving Stern’s stock worthless and his future income invisible.
Would I have taken that risk if I were Stern? Are you kidding me? Even if Sirius goes belly-up he’ll find another job somewhere, or just squirrel away to a tropical paradise with the loot he’ll be collecting up to that point. Just close your eyes and say the amount of this deal quietly to yourself — $725 million.
Would you do a radio show for that kind of money? Would you put on a sausage jacket and march into a dog show for that much cash? Are you kidding me?
I would figure out DelDOT’s budget deficiencies while wearing a suit of armor filled with piranhas for that money. I would shave my head, put on weight ... Never mind.