Jon Zellner leaves Sirius XM to join Clear Channel - Orbitcast

Jon Zellner leaves Sirius XM to join Clear Channel

| 32 Comments
Jon ZellnerJon Zellner, currently senior vice president of music programming at Sirius XM Radio Inc. will be jumping ship to rival Clear Channel Communications Inc. on July 20th, according to Clear Channel.

He will be replaced by Steve Blatter, according to Sirius XM. Blatter will also continue to be responsible for the Sirius XM Talent and Industry Relations Department, as well as the Virus Channel featuring The Opie & Anthony Show.
Jon Zellner, 43, will take up the same role at Clear Channel and will work with PDs across major and mid-sized markets - all the while reporting to Executive Vice President of Operations, Mark Kopelman.

"Radio has been my passion for as long as I can remember and a position like this at the leading radio company in the world is something I've worked toward since my start in broadcasting over 20 years ago," said Zellner in a statement.

"I'm humbled by the opportunity and want to thank Mark, Tom Owens, John Hogan and all of Clear Channel Radio for making this happen. I can't wait to get started."

Zellner, who joined XM back in 2005 as the SVP of Music Programming, oversaw programming for more than 75 channels at Sirius XM.

Blatter, who will replace Zellner, has had a 6 year tenure at the company. Blatter has been instrumental in the development of the company's music platform including the creation of channels such as Eminem's Shade 45, Elvis Radio, The Grateful Dead Channel, Siriusly Sinatra among others.

"Steve Blatter's broad experience in programming is a great asset as we add to and deepen our music programming line-up," said Scott Greenstein, President and Chief Content Officer, Sirius XM Radio said in a statement. "His dedication to outstanding programming strengthens Sirius XM's initiative to deliver superior music channels."

[Wall Street Journal]
Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

32 Comments

Good riddence(Spelling?) Zellner . We won't miss you .

So he's jumping from a sinking ship to a burning ship?

Blatter is the guy you can thank for the dj's and the single artist channels. He has an extensive history with country music. I am personally sick of his fm mimicking. He has been with this company for sometime, I think this company needs someone entirely new, with a completely different view than Blatters or Zellner for that matter.

Blatter will be no better from what I understand. The wheels are coming off this ride.

Congrats Jon.......I wish you well!

those single artist channels suck so bad!!!!!!! people who want to listen to a single artist already have the CDs. I am planning to let my sub. laps in 6 months, maybe they will end up improving programing and change my mind?

I wish Mr. Zellner well in his new role. I profoundly disagree with his philosophy on the decades formats, but overall I am happy with my service. Let us at least give Mr. Blatter a chance.

Zellner's move will improve music programming at both companies...

good luck, bro

Thanks for the heads up. Don't know anythig about Blatter but from the above posts and last few paragraphs looks like he is just another Sirius dweeb who is suckling on Mel's short list of people who don't know a damn thing about programming worth a shit (Re: XM's old but superior programming)

From what I read on this post Zellner is in his 40's so he probably wasn't even a teenager during the "Underground FM radio" period that moved FM radio away from Perry Como & dentist office music. No wonder SiriusXM's programming is in such sorry shape and disarray. Guys like him don't know shit from shinola. All he's ever known is corporate bullshit that passes for real radio.

"Instrumental in developement of Shade 45,Elvis Radio,Grateful Dead,Seriously Sinatra..." Yep looks like the top heavy sub-par gurus of Sirius continues.

Blatter's broad experience in programming,great asset,add & deepen...ad neauseum...

WTF!!! The programmer at WXRC-FM (95.7 - "The Ride") in Charlotte,NC would run rings arourd this dude.

Greenstein: "Blatter's dedication to outstanding programming strengthens SiriusXM's initiative to deliver "SUPERIOR" music channels"

WHAT THE FUCK??? Try listening to "Rawdog","Area","Soul Town" for more than 5 minutes and then tell me about SiriusXM's initiative to deliver "SUPERIOR" music channels. Let alone the rest of running down what once was something to be proud of and reccommend to your friends and others.

Mr.Greenstein, I wish you were in front of me so you could look me in the eye and say that with a straight face.

Zellner going back to Clear Channel huh? Says a lot about where he is comfortable & his mindset. I've posted all along that these guys are hopelessly entrenched in commercial terra radio. It's in their blood/DNA and they won't/can't get away from it.

One down, two to go.

I loaded/unloaded airplanes for 20 years in the Air Force Mr. Karmazin so I will be more than happy to remove yours and Greenstein's stuff out of your offices and so you can quit fucking up my SatRad and maybe save what's left before its too late.

CORRECTION!!!

Zellner is only 43(the "pup") so he he was born in 1966-67. Hell, he was only 1-2 YEARS old when Underground FM became semi-available and less than 10 when the corporate suits(Mel was one of them) basically took over the rock FM format and fucked it up just like he & like minded jerks have done to SatRad.

Background in Country Music huh??

Guess that explains his great job with "Willie's Place" which USED to be one of the top XM channels

I take it this is the Einstein behind having Marshall Tucker's "Can't You See" on a "Classic Country" channel and firing some of the best Dj's they had and replacing them with some old dude and his female sidekick during noon EDT & yakking for 30 minutes and play what, maybe 3-4 songs???

Yep, he's a REAL pro and knows his classic country music. I've gone 15 minutes or longer and not heard Patsy Cline,Hank,Sr.,Loretta Lynn,Johnny Cash,etc. Any of the true classic country artists.

Just like you never hear Lewis Black,Bobcat Goldthwait, Richard Pryor(maybe him just a little)and a bunch OF TRUE professional commedians anymore on the so-called comedy channels.

Maybe it truly is hopeless.

Lets see that makes Bubba, Howard Stern and Jon Zellner the latest smart ones to upgrade back to FM and drop siriusxm as it fails deeper and deeper. Listener numbers matter and with FM/HD, staradio never had a chance.

from the old Sirius Backstage Forum, 2004:

"They are promoting this guy? They need to fire him. Everything he is responsible for makes Sirius' programming that much worse. I can't see this helping Sirius at all. He's a consultant. They need to freakin get rid of them. Now there is a very slim chance that I will return to Sirius, and that's really sad, because I have been a fan of Sirius since 96 when it was still called CD Radio." : Joshua Clinard

"I'm surprised that there hasn't been more comment about this. For all the members here who are clamoring for wider playlists, and more diverse channels, this promotion is Sirius' response. They are telling us with this decision, that Sirius will be more and more like FM without commercials."

"I'm sure that Mr. Blatter is a good enough guy, and I have no doubt he's working hard to make Sirius the best it can be in his view. But he's taking it in the wrong direction, in my view, and the views of many SBS members. This is the guy who used to work for Walter Sabo, the man who many of us have felt led Sirius to tighter, smaller playlists."

"I agree with Joshua, I'd rather see him fired than promoted. Hopefully I'm wrong, and the next few months will show me that Steve Blatter can reverse the direction that the music channels have been heading and make the service better. I'll be happy to eat crow if that happens, but I'm not holding my breath." : Roadrunner

Zellner will do well at CC because he programs music like FM. Too bad the reports on his replacement promise more of the same. The changes since the merger have been incredibly disappointing. I yearn for the pre-merger XM programming. They did music right. Still, Sirius XM is better than FM, but unfortunately, not by much. Perhaps a change is on the way...fingers are crossed.

I guess Sirius really did take over XM Radio.

Sigh.

Aegrotatio | June 27, 2009 12:58 AM:

"I guess Sirius really did take over XM Radio."

You JUST figured that out now, man? You're quite a sharp one.

Zellner was nice enough answer listener e-mails, but he oversaw the FMization of Sirius XM. Small playlists and song repetition is what Zellner will be remembered for.

He's perfect for Clear Channel.

Zellner can't use his age as an excuse for ignorance of the progressive age of FM rock. I know many folks who are aware of that time and have worked to advance neo-progressive rock today. Now SXM has Blatter cancer. When will it be over?

Does he have to wait until July 20th, can't he leave now.

I think the obvious choice here is to give Howie another half a billion dollars and make him the program director. After all he invented radio, and music for that matter. Tell 'em Fred.

I agree wholeheartedly with everyone's comments here.

Zellner put the FM in Sirius FM.

He never had the vision nor talent that the founders of XM had. As bad as FM radio was, he did everything he could to copy that format to Sirius.

Thanks to Zellner playlists were cut in half.

Jingles and promotions after every song in addition to senseless DJ chatter. The DJ has become more important than the music.

And if it was his idea to create a morning zoo (MashUp) on a popular music channel....well....good riddance!

I agree wholeheartedly with everyone's comments here.

Zellner put the FM in Sirius FM.

He never had the vision nor talent that the founders of XM had. As bad as FM radio was, he did everything he could to copy that format to Sirius.

Thanks to Zellner playlists were cut in half.

Jingles and promotions after every song in addition to senseless DJ chatter. The DJ has become more important than the music.

And if it was his idea to create a morning zoo (MashUp) on a popular music channel....well....good riddance!

All the negative remarks about Zellner are warranted.

He is the man that put "FM" in Sirius FM.

Whereas the original founders of XM Radio had vision, this is what Zellner lacked most. He took a dying format called FM radio and did everything he could to replicate it on satellite radio.

Music playslists were cut in half. Jingles, promotions and DJ chatter littered the music channels. Nowadays the DJs and Morning Zoos are more important than just playing music.

Anyone who remembers what an innovation XM radio was and how good satellite radio was years ago can undoubtably see how Sirius has bastardized the entire concept.

Zellner will go down in history as someone who lacked enough insight to give satellite radio its true potential.

Good riddance!

Sorry for the duplicate post. Orbitcast is having a lot of hiccups this morning, apparently.

You are not going to be any happier with Zellner gone. Steve Blatter is the guy responsible for the dj's on every channel. Here is a qoute from steve when comparing xm to sirius, this is from the michigan daily, Nov 22nd, 2006.

"A lot of their channels are more like jukeboxes," Blatter said. "(Sirius has) a lot of celebrity involvement whether it be them producing channels here, or hosting shows on a regular basis."

He is over doing it in most cases, I dont mind when a dj comments on an artist, upcoming tour or a brief, interesting fact about a song, but having a morning show on music exclusive channels is too much. Many of the dj's dont know when to stop talking, especially the rap and country channels. I leave you with this last qoute.

"(Sirius has) compelling, engaging personalities that present this music to you which makes it a lot more interesting to learn about new songs, and creates that emotional connection you have when somebody is speaking to you, versus playing it in the background," Blatter said.

I think the reason many of us still subscribe to Sirius radio despite the dumbing down of the service is because (1) have an interest in something other than music (talk or sports) or (2) because we aren't paying the full price for the service. I can handle most of the flaws as long as I am not paying the list price for the programming. Just try to cancel and see what I mean.

That being said (and I speak for many I am certain), I just don't understand why Sirius FM wants to do everything it can to replicate FM radio. FM is not dying because of satellite radio. FM is dying because people have found better ways to listen to their music via iPods that offer custom music programming, with much better bitrate quality and NO DJ CHATTER.

So, essentially, outside of their talk and sports programming, Sirius is not setting itself up to compete with FM or iPODS. The quality of their music is pretty atrocious because of the low bitrate. Sounds good in a car or small portable device/boombox, that is, until you turn up the volume and it suddenly becomes distorted. Next, they promote DJ chatter, jingles and constant promotions that interrupt the music. Finally, to really add insult to injury, they put a really amateur talk show (Morning Mashup) on one of their most popular music channels.

Doesn't this sound like FM radio to you? Where are those of us who enjoy music benefiting other than the fact there is a vast variety of music choices? Truth is, we aren't.

Sirius has been certainly wondering why subscriber numbers are down. I don't completely blame car sales. I blame the fact that they don't offer anything really better than what FM radio or an iPod can provide for free. Why should people pay for radio that sounds like crap and replicates FM?

I am so sick of all you people ragging on DJ "chatter". If you hate someone talking, you have IPODs, mp3s, cds, etc. Personally, I wish the DJs could put people who listen and pay for the service on the air more and be more interactive with us the paying customers. The DJs do a good job talking about the high payed celebs on the service, but how about just letting down and throwing a coast to coast party that we the paying customers could be part of. Requests, interactivity, etc. That's just my two cents.

Most of the dj's talking are pre recorded, except for the morning shows. I said earlier, I dont mind some talk as long as it is related to the music the channel plays, as far as talk shows on the music channels, I agree with NJRONBO, the music channels are supposed to be music only, they have enough talk channels as it is, when I tune in to a music channel, I want music, not some broadcasting novice with nothing to say. Another thing, they play bumbers for the station every two or three songs, once in a while is okay, but they are overdoing the self promotions, fuck, it says the station name on my radio! Have you ever listened to lithium? Get past the fact that most of the artists they play are neither grunge or alternative, the bumbers they play are horrible, they try to be funny but they are awful. Everytime one comes on, I want to throw my radio out the window. I dont know how much of this amateur radio I can stand.

I think that means that more one artist channels are coming, pretty soon all the line up will be just one artist channels, this people doesn't understand what we want.
We need smart people on Sirius XM, not more ignorant people.

If Sirius FM had good business sense (and if he'd ever want the job again), they'd get Lee Abrams back into that position. SatRad as a whole just hasn't been the same without him.

On top of all the excellent points mentioned above....Now these kooks are "passing on" a bullshit royalty surcharge on top of all the other recent price increases!! My Sirius bill has risen 40% since the merger!! For less content!! I'm out..this is the last straw!!

In response to Jim about "DJ chatter" and dj involvement......maybe you should've gotten an XM subscription instead because I remember being able to call squizz and talk to grant random or bodhi for a solid 5-10 minutes, request what I want to hear and actually hear it...not hear "I don't even think they have that on sirius's playlist" It's bullshit and then they have the nerve to up my monthy fee? WTF?!