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Lunchtime Briefing: Howard Stern In Your Bentley

Frank Ahrens

Sirius satellite radio announced this morning that, starting with 2007 models, car-buyers who purchase select models of the world's most expensive luxury auto will be able to get Sirius and its biggest star, Howard Stern.

The Bentley is for the Got Bucks among us for whom Rolls Royce says "down-market," who wouldn't be seen in a Mercedes, who look at a BMW and think: "A fine car...for the help."

Your Bentley Continental Flying Spur, a high-performance sedan, goes for about $164,000. The Bentley Arnage, about $225,000.

Personally, I would find it difficult to pay that much for a car that doesn't go from zero to 60 in the beat of a hummingbird's heart and doesn't take a curve like it's on rails. But that's me.

But if the Bentley is for you, well, now you can look forward to driving up to the country club--excuse me, being driven up to the country club--with the King of All Media blaring from the lavish sound system.

Both sat radio companies--Sirius and Washington's XM--have worked hard to get their product factory-installed in autos over the past few years. That's because sat radio is an "experience product," meaning consumers can't fully evaluate whether they'd want to buy it without actually hearing it and flipping through the channels. Kind of like HDTV--you can describe how great the picture is to your buddy, but he won't really understand until he watches a football game in HDTV.

(Meanwhile today, XM added more Porsches to its service.)

It made sense to me when Sirius signed up to put its radios in Fords, and XM did the same with Hondas.

But I'm not quite sure what demographic Sirius is searching for with this Bentley deal. The 54-year-old venture capitalist who's a closeted fan of shock radio? The trust-fund 18-year-old with arrested development? Or maybe I've got this wrong. Maybe Sirius research has found that Bentley drivers are craving Martha Stewart Radio.


-- Here's a New York Times story on Jim Clark, founder of Shutterfly, one of the many online photo printing services.

-- A survey by CareerBuilder brings another reminder to young bloggers and other job aspirants who have self-expressed on the Internet: Be careful what you write--employers check.

By Frank Ahrens  |  October 30, 2006; 11:50 AM ET  | Category:  Frank Ahrens
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

The Bentley goes from 0-60 in 4.7 seconds with a top speed of 198 mph and it indeed hugs curves "like it is on rails."

By the way, Bentley is way cheaper than the Rolls Phantom (close to $400,000). The Bentley is a car for people who want to drive themselves. The Rolls Phantom or even the Maybach is for people who want to be driven to places.

Posted by: Bentley Lover | October 30, 2006 3:39 PM

Frank- You continue to disappoint with me with your mindless rants. Howard Stern has always done well in the 25-54 demographic and he has many educated professionals among his loyal fans.

As a professional writer covering the radio industry we expect something a bit more accurate from you. But instead we get another lame article with you slipping in insults directed at Stern.

Perhaps you should consider retirement or at least be more honest in your Stern bashing.

Posted by: photomaniac | October 30, 2006 4:25 PM

I was thinking something more like the Porsche 911 Turbo: $123,000; 0-to-60: 3.7 seconds. (Wow.)

Posted by: Frank Ahrens | October 30, 2006 4:29 PM

Paying $13 a month to listen to radio is society's way of saying you have more money than brains. Satellite radio was a dream come true for people who drive across large geographical areas; outside of that it's a status symbol.

Paying manufacturers to put them into new cars was a stroke of genius.

Posted by: Northern Virginia | October 30, 2006 5:24 PM

And paying for cable rather than using your Grandmother's rabbit ears to tune in NBC for free is society's way of saying what?

Posted by: 21st Century | October 30, 2006 6:39 PM

If people who are in the position to buy want to listen to Howard Stern, fine with me--but what a revelation about this thin class of people.

Posted by: Brigitte Nacos | October 30, 2006 6:56 PM

I just deleted a comment from a reader who called me a vulgarity -- not because they called me a name, but because it was a vulgarity. And we keep it clean here. Call me anything you want, just keep it clever and PG-13.

What I didn't want to delete was the spirit of the comment, which evoked a pretty funny memory: "As the A-herns Turns."

Years ago, when I covered radio for the Style section, I offended afternoon superstars Don & Mike by suggesting -- at least to their way of thinking -- that old-timey radio drama would be preferable afternoon-drive programming to their show.

So they GAVE me radio drama: A five-part(!) soap called "As the A-herns Turns" (they loved mispronouncing my name) in which Mike O'Meara voiced me as a nasally and manhood-challenged wimp.

It was good radio fun but, believe me, it's jarring to hear your name abused like that on the most popular radio show in town. FOR FIVE DAYS IN A ROW.

Posted by: Frank Ahrens | October 30, 2006 7:33 PM

Satellite radio is the only radio worth listening to. The rest is over-segmented, commercial laden, and mindless drivel. Ten bucks a month (for multi-tuner families) is a bargain to be free of commercials. And any car that costs well into the six figures ought to come with a lifetime subscription.

Posted by: kmac | October 30, 2006 8:42 PM

It is a great move to go with the expensive cars, they don't have to listen to stern what is $13 a month for someone that just spent that much money on a car. There are lots of great music stations and what a sterotype that only younger less wealthy listen to Stern. Long live the KIng of All Media.

Posted by: Adam | October 31, 2006 7:17 AM

Many years ago nobody thought we would pay for TV because it was free. But now everyone I know has cable and would never dream of going back to a handful of channels with bad reception and limited, censored content. The same is now true in radio. I was already sick of regular radio playing the same narrow, commercial song list and enduring tons of commercials. $13 a month is an absolute bargain to hear commercial free music in every style imaginable, uncensored comedy, sports, weather, traffic,and political talk. The reception is awesome no matter where I drive.

I never listen to regular radio anymore. I was already planning to switch to satellite radio a few years ago after friends raved about the music content that blows away terrestrial radio. The addition of an uncensored Howard Stern doing the best radio of his career was just the icing on the cake. Oh yeah, and you can easily record whatever you're listening to for repeat listening later.

If your looking for a great Christmas present for somebody, then just buy them or yourself a Sirius satellite radio!

Posted by: photomaniac | October 31, 2006 9:09 AM

Frank, if you are going from 0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds, please stop listening to the damn radio and keep your mind on the road. Thanks.

Posted by: Patherick | October 31, 2006 10:51 AM

Frank.......Shame on you. You so obviously mention Howard Stern in your article so that you can get more readers and more hits for your blog, and then you again discredit him as you did in your previous article. You're just another jealous media troll who insults the melting pot of Stern loyalists. I have colleagues in all walks of life, who drive expensive cars, live in very large houses and are influential in their communities and professions, who love and listen to Stern. So you don't like're entitled to your opinion. Just report the facts objectively and please stop insulting me and all of the other listeners who don't fit into your image of a "typical Stern fan" I guess the makers of Bentley are a little more tuned in than you.

Posted by: Physician in PA | October 31, 2006 11:03 AM

We've gone from one XM tuner to five in our family over a year a half and have never looked back. Satellite radio is our answer to commercial radio (at least in DC area) that has fallen well below acceptable. Howard Stern is a big reason why we don't do Sirius, not to mention that we prefer supporting XM (which rocks) as it's a DC based company...gotta support the local guys. And for the Stern fans...well, if you enjoy his provocative, yet simplistic drivel, then I leave you to it (yeah, I've heard him...not just hearsay). My only gripe on sat radio is that car companies, other than a handful (VW, Audi) only offer one or the other...I hope this changes.

As for the Bentley comments...well, if people have to buy a certain car to feel good about themselves, then they deserve to be out that much money. Just wish they offered XM for all those poor suckers, so they'd have an option beyond Sirius.

Posted by: Satellitejunkie | October 31, 2006 6:31 PM

Hey Satellite Junkie,

You can have the original satellite system removed and the other put in on any car from what I understand. I don't agree with your comments on Stern but I certainly agree with your love of satellite radio in general. Like cable TV, it's clearly better than the "free" alternative and well worth the small monthly fee.

But why the insult to Bentley owners? I doubt anyone that rich "needs" a Bentley to feel good about themselves. Perhaps they just enjoy really nice things and can afford it. XM just signed a deal with Porsche. Are those Porsche owners also "poor suckers" as you call it or are you just trying to insult people who do business with Sirius?

Grow up. This country is based on the concept of freedom of choice. I don't care if you like Stern or not. I just don't like when people take unfair cheap shots such as the the supposedly professional writer of this blog Frank Ahrens!

Posted by: Photomaniac | November 1, 2006 11:45 AM

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