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SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO HIRES TOP AD SALES EXECUTIVES

Stephen Smith Previously Sold Howard Stern to National Advertisers

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Sirius Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin has made his first move in setting up a seasoned sales team to sell advertising on the company's non-music stations. Today he announced the hiring of Sam Benrubi as senior vice president of advertising sales and Stephen Smith as vice president of advertising sales.
Sirius plans to keep its music channels advertising free and sell ads into its talk and sports shows.
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Radio veterans
Like Mr. Karmazin, both men cut their teeth in radio: Mr. Benrubi has led network and local sales teams at Westwood One and Infinity Broadcasting, and Mr. Smith sold national sports radio advertising and marketed Howard Stern's radio show to national advertisers.

Although Sirius's 65 all-music channels remain commercial free, Mr. Karmazin has been public with his desire to build ad revenue on Sirius' 55 non-music properties, which include the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, Mr. Stern's program beginning in January 2006, and Nascar races beginning in 2007.

Howard Stern ads
At the recent McGraw-Hill Media Summit, Mr. Karmazin said that although Sirius will run advertising on Mr. Stern's show, the amount of advertising will be less than that currently airing on his Viacom radio show. Talk stations can run as many as 16 minutes of commercial time an hour.

Matthew Warnecke, vice president and director of network and local radio at Grey Global Group's MediaCom, said buyers are currently using satellite radio to hyper-target specific audiences and that there's plenty of room for Sirius to accept more advertising.

"They're far from maxing out their inventory," he said. "There are so many fewer ads on satellite radio, anyway, that there's room to put some more spots in there and not aggravate listeners. But I'd be careful when I do that."

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