Byline: Jim Kirk and Maureen Ryan
CHICAGO _ Shock jock Howard Stern said Wednesday that he will move to satellite radio in 2006, launching what may be the biggest challenge to traditional radio since the arrival of television and freeing himself from government regulators.
Stern, whose salacious show reaches more than 12 million listeners in 46 markets, will move to Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. The fledgling subscriber-based radio system has been scratching for the right mix of content that will entice listeners to shell out $12.95 every month.
He's not coming cheap.
Sirius is paying roughly $500 million over five years to land Stern and all of his sidekicks from Infinity Broadcasting, the nation's second-largest radio station owner.
But some industry observers say it is worth it. The satellite industry is counting on Stern's reach to help push it into the mainstream, much in the same way that pro sports and HBO helped cable TV muscle into broadcast TV's territory.
Wall Street liked the gutsy moved, too. Shares of Sirius' stock leaped 15 …