Howard Stern. He’s 61 years of age and still the most influential radio broadcaster on the planet.
Stern has just signed a new deal with Sirius XM worth close to 90million a year.
When Howard moved to Sirius more than 10 years ago their subscriber base was 600,000, now they have over 29 million paid-up users.
So what is it about the approach to his craft that has made him so successful?
Let’s start with the fact that despite his incredible track record of success, he still believes he can get better at work he does.
“I still feel like I have a lot to learn. I still look back and say, “I fucked that up.” You’ve got to care. It would be very easy not to care, but it was never for me to get into radio for the money – it’s because I really cared about it, the medium. I thought I could be my funniest, my best on the radio, not anywhere else.”
Not surprisingly, his work ethic is second to none.
“It’s hard to respect people who don’t put in the hours. I respect show prep.”
He leaves nothing in the studio. There’s no time for goofing off or counting down the minutes till home time.
“When that show is on, I feel like I’m calculating everything. It’s maddening. After the show, I come back to my office and my head is on fire. I am completely drained.”
He takes control and is always thinking about what is entertaining for his audience.
“The biggest criticism of my interviews is that I cut people off. I think my biggest asset is that I cut people off. It sounds like a contradiction, but the fact is you can’t allow people to drone on. You are the orchestra leader. You are the one who is saying, “My audience wants something new. I gotta keep it fresh.” My analysis is that a good interviewer not only asks the right questions but has sort of an inherent sense of what’s interesting to this mass audience.”
He knew at a very early age exactly how he would stand out from the pack.
“When I was starting out, I came to the revelation that if I was going to go anywhere in radio, I can’t be playing records. I said, “I can’t rely on the Beatles or the Rolling Stones to get me ratings. Every asshole can play those. But if what I have to say was important, no one can replicate that.”
His audience feel like they have a genuine relationship with him because he is completely open with them.
“If you want to go to the next level, you gotta open up a whole bunch more. That’s the secret for anybody who’s considering a career in radio.”
So there you have it. Clearly there are no magic bullets in this industry. It comes down to working hard on your craft, appreciating what you have whilst also having that slightly unsettling feeling that regardless of what you have achieved you can always improve.