- Associated Press - Monday, November 29, 2010

NEW YORK (AP) - Talk-show host Laura Schlessinger won’t stay away from radio very long _ only a weekend, in fact.

Sirius XM Radio Inc. said Monday it has a multiyear deal with Schlessinger to bring her “Dr. Laura” advice program to satellite radio in January. Specific terms were not revealed.

Schlessinger had said in August that she was quitting her syndicated radio program, a week after she apologized for using the N-word on the air 11 times while talking to a black woman, and activists demanded her ouster.

She ends her traditional radio program on Friday, Dec. 31. The following Monday, her “Dr. Laura” show will begin live at 2 p.m. on Sirius XM. It will air for three hours a day on Monday through Friday.

Schlessinger announced on CNN’s “Larry King Live” on Aug. 17 that she was walking away from her radio show when her contract ended. The next day Sirius talk programming chief Jeremy Coleman called her to discuss a switch, she said.

“The first and most important thing that appealed to me was the freedom to speak my mind without advertisers and affiliates being attacked by activist groups that just love to censor anything they don’t agree with,” she said. “That just about made my heart and head explode.”

The liberal watchdog Media Matters for America was a persistent critic. Its leadership didn’t accept her apology and sought to encourage advertisers to drop her show. She was reading the Media Matters website when she decided, “that’s it, I’m done with this,” Schlessinger said.

In the radio incident that prompted her to quit, Schlessinger said to the woman involved, who was married to a white man, that “if you’re that hypersensitive about color and don’t have a sense of humor, don’t marry out of your race.”

Schlessinger said she’ll have some new segments on her show, including interviews with people about situations “that are relevant to the morals, values, principles and ethics that I nag about every day.”

She said she’s sure she’ll say things that will offend someone.

“When I talk about married couples staying together for the sake of the children, somebody’s offended,” she said. “When I talk about mothers staying home with their babies, feminists are offended. When I talk about how wives should have more sex with their husbands, women are offended.”

Schlessinger will be the biggest radio star to jump from traditional to satellite radio since Howard Stern, who had also tired of controversies over things he said and found the opportunity for a big payday.

“She will have far less listeners now, but she will be able to superserve her core (audience) with less compromise,” said Michael Harrison, publisher of the trade publication Talkers.

Talkers estimates her show is currently heard by about 8 million people a day. Sirius XM has 20 million subscribers, but it’s not certain how many of them will be interested in Schlessinger. The service does not release figures estimating listeners for their shows.

Harrison said the move will likely be better for Schlessinger emotionally, since she appears to be more thin-skinned than most personalities in talk radio, although professionally she’d be better off with a combination of satellite and terrestrial radio.

While Stern was able to promise his listeners a more freewheeling show when he moved to satellite radio, Schlessinger’s material isn’t likely to change much, said Ari Rabin-Havt, vice president of Media Matters.

“Her influence and her ability to impact a wide audience has clearly decreased,” he said. While Media Matters hasn’t monitored the content of anything on satellite radio to date, the organization is likely to change that to follow Schlessinger, he said.

Schlessinger predicted she will have more listeners after the move. Her show will also be available online and through apps on many smart phones, Sirius said; shows will be repeated on radio over the weekend.

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