NEGOTIATING WITH STERN
Karmazin also has to gear up to keep the top talent at Sirius, which must prove that it is different from the many forms of audio entertainment such as iPods and free Internet Radio services like Pandora.
He has until the end of next year to re-sign Howard Stern and until 2011 to renew a deal with Oprah Winfrey. Asked whether Oprah or Stern was the tougher negotiator, the veteran dealmaker quipped that both previously got the best of him.
"I'll tell you who was the worst negotiator: It was always Mel because they got all that money from me," he said. (Click on tinyurl.com/yd7cf75 for his comments on Stern)
For now, Karmazin -- an avid reader, who treasures his Amazon (AMZN.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Kindle eReader -- says Sirius is on a path to cash flow and subscriber growth in 2009, and has recently renewed his contract as CEO of the New York-based company.
He is also mindful that doing well keeps his other perhaps scarier risk at bay: retirement.
Karmazin, who this month marks five years as chief executive of Sirius, explained that when he left Viacom in 2004 he didn't know what he wanted to do, so, he stayed at home and helped his wife with household chores.
"I don't picture myself staying home and folding sheets with my wife," he said. "It's not what I really want to spend my time doing."
"ohhh Melvin! what did you do with the silk sheets?"
"they're in the dryer dear"
"damn you Mel . . those are silk . . don't you screw-up my laundry like you did those convertible bonds"
If he is not working at Sirius, he would prefer to be involved in an entrepreneurial business, more so than a large media company.
"So when my contract is up I'll think of what I want to do -- but I certainly don't want to retire," he said.
(Reporting by Franklin Paul, editing by Tiffany Wu and Tim Dobbyn)