Former CBS Radio President Rob Barnett Stops By

April 20, 2010

Filling Howard’s Void

Rob Barnett, the former ‘president of programming’ at CBS Radio and current head of, stopped by to reminisce about Howard’s departure from terrestrial radio.

Rob said he had one thought when he first heard the news: “It’s not good for me. It’s not good for anyone. This is the end.”

Rob said he and other CBS executives met to brainstorm possible replacements just 3 days after Howard announced he was leaving for Sirius. After offering shows to “78 other” people, including Jon Stewart and ‘South Park’ creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Rob and the other CBS execs settled on the FREE-FM format, which consolidated 11 different stations in 11 different markets and gave them each a ‘test’ morning host.

Rob said David Lee Roth failed because he refused to listen to the producers assigned to help him, adding that Adam Carolla succeeded for the same reason: “We begged management to leave him alone for six months.”

Did He Suspend Howard?

Gary noted that he’d been approached by CBS after Howard announced he was leaving, but turned the offer down: “I never asked how much money it was.”

Tim Sabean, who was part of CBS’ team at the time, came in to tell Gary: “They were willing to offer Artie five [million], you could have gotten two and a half.”

Jason followed Tim in to ask Rob if he’d been party to CBS’ decision to suspend Howard for one day in 2005: “Either you were president or…I just hear a lot of middle manager BS.”

Rob said Jason was wrong, asking Tim: “Did I suspend Howard Stern?”

Tim’s answer was vague: “You had to be in that world of whatevers. It was–I just shudder at this whole conversation because it was such a bizarro time. Uh, I think that Rob had great ideas that were unique ideas to the–the application but they weren’t practical ideas because, obviously, they didn’t work.”

Tim concluded: “The company was being managed from the top down rather than letting it brew from the bottom up.”