Howard Stern is "pretty sure" he'll leave satellite radio, but his unique voice will live on in new media.
Then again, it could be all posturing... like Dr. Laura Schlessinger is posturing by pretending to be retiring at the end of the year, according to Stern.
Stern's five-year, $500 million contract with Sirius XM ends at year's end, and management is under the gun to provide details to its shareholders of whether or not he'll re-up, given that the decision could move the stock.
Opening up about the situation Thursday probably more than he has in the past, at least publicly, Stern said management wants him for the long term but he isn't willing to commit just yet.
Reading between the lines, Stern suggested he could quit Sirius XM entirely and launch some sort of online initiative that requires no satellites -- just a computer, iPad or smartphone. Or he could convince the satcaster to let him do fewer hours live each day on a year-to-year basis.
He also may just want to stick to programming his two channels and maybe add a third, while showing up on-air intermittently -- or whenever he feels like it.
Some analysts have opined that Sirius XM is in no mood to keep spending $100 million a year to keep Stern aboard, so it is angling for some sort of arrangement that costs no more than $80 million annually. But even at that "low" price they'd want him on the air live at regularly scheduled intervals for at least 15 hours a week.
While some speculate that Stern on Thursday was merely beginning the process of negotiating in public, the shock jock also indicated that he has no desire to bash his employer like he did before he ditched terrestrial radio for satellite radio.
"For four months, I'm a company man," he told his listeners.
That's a far cry from the way he left his previous employer, CBS Radio, with a lawsuit and a flurry of insults hurled at CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves. Back then, Stern even showed up on the "Late Show with David Letterman" -- a CBS show -- wearing an "official I hate Leslie Moonves t-shirt."