Howard Stern may be headed back to terrestrial radio before long -- but not if Mel Karmazin has his way.During a breakfast at the Paley Center for Media on Wednesday, Karmazin, the Sirius XM (SIRI) CEO, was asked about reports that Stern may leave satellite radio in favor of a gig at Clear Channel or elsewhere on the traditional airwaves.

The middle-aged shock jock's deal with Sirius pays him around $100 million a year, a sum the company may not be able to sustain.

"I would certainly like him to stay with us," Karmazin replied. "I'm optimistic we'll be able to continue with Howard. We'll see what happens."

Karmazin implicitly acknowledged, however, that Stern may have most of the leverage on his side in negotiations. "I think it's great to be content today," he said. "In this world of fragmentation, great content prevails. Howard Stern is great content. My sense is Howard would be sought after by anyone. Why wouldn't you?"

Earlier in the discussion, Karmazin drew a laugh with a quip about the $530 million loan that Sirius XM had to accept from Liberty Media last year to stave off bankruptcy. The cash infusion came with a 15% interest rate and required handing over 40% of Sirius equity to Liberty.

"Tony Soprano would've wanted more," said Karmazin. "So I could've done worse."

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