Mel Karmazin

Mel Karmazin

Melvin Alan "Mel" Karmazin (born August 24, 1943)[1] is an American executive. He co-founded and was the president of Infinity Broadcasting and eventually became the president and chief executive officer of CBS. As of 2008, he is the CEO of Sirius XM Radio.


Born in Manhattan, New York, Karmazin was selling radio ads at the age of 17.[2] He graduated from Pace University with a bachelor's degree in business administration[1] and worked his way up from the bottom rungs of the radio ladder in New York City.

Karmazin presided over New York's WNEW-AM (now WBBR) and WNEW (now WNEW-FM) for Metromedia when he was approached to run Infinity Broadcasting in 1981. Soon after he would add fellow New York stations WKTU-FM and WFAN into Infinity's stable. WFAN morning talent Don Imus often referred to Karmazin on the air, never by name, but by the nickname "The Zen Master".[3]

Karmazin ran Infinity for 15 years, then sold the company to Westinghouse, then parent of CBS. For most of his career he has been known as a "Wall Street darling" for his ability to drive up the price of his various companies' stock. "The joke about him was that he was so pushy that advertisers used to buy airtime from Mel just to get him out of their office," according to a Fortune magazine article.[2]

When Infinity merged with CBS Corporation in January 1997, Karmazin would first head CBS Radio as chairman and CEO. By May of the same year he would become Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the CBS Station Group, overseeing the network's radio and television properties. He served as President and Chief Operating Officer of CBS Corporation from April 1998 until January 1999. Viacom, a media conglomerate that includes CBS, UPN, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Paramount Pictures and Showtime, absorbed CBS Corporation as of 2000.

As an executive of an even bigger conglomerate, Karmazin and Viacom chief Sumner Redstone had many differences, leading to Karmazin's resignation in May 2004.[4] Karmazin later said he didn't get along with Redstone and found it difficult to be "No. 2" at a company, but particularly under Redstone. The two executives continued to snipe at each other through the media even a year after Karmazin left Viacom.[2]

Karmazin accepted the top job at Sirius in November 2004. He was a strong supporter of radio disc jockey Howard Stern at Viacom,[4] and Karmazin joined Sirius Radio after Stern did. However, since joining Sirius Radio, the stock of SIRI has not fared well, dropping from approximately $3 to under $2 this year.

In his first year at Sirius, Fortune magazine reported in November 2005, Karmazin reached deals with Ford and BMW to include the company's radios in their new cars and helped launch Sirius's first portable music player (both initiatives were in the wake of Sirius's rival, XM Radio, pioneering those moves). He also recruited Martha Stewart to Sirius, acquired the programming rights to NASCAR, and raised $500,000,000 in debt financing.[2]

Karmazin has been inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame, the National Radio Hall of Fame, a recipient of the National Association of Broadcasters National Radio Award, and the IRTS Gold Medal.

A resident of Greenwich, Connecticut, he has a son Craig, born July 11, 1975, and a daughter Dina, born in 1971, from his marriage to Sharon Karmazin, which ended in divorce in 1994.

Craig Karmazin has followed in his father's footsteps, starting when he interned at Infinity-owned WIP (AM) in Philadelphia in 1997. Today, Craig is the principal owner of the Beaver Dam, Wisconsin-based Good Karma Broadcasting, which owns eleven radio stations in four states, including eight sports radio stations.


  1. ^ a b "Mel Karmazin" Web page at "Notable Names Database" Web site
  2. ^ a b c d [1] "Sirius Fun: Mel Karmazin finds new media is a lot like what he used to love," an article by Devin Leonard in Fortune magazine, November 14, 2005
  3. ^ Fortune Magazine article on Karmazin, retrieved 7/7/07
  4. ^ a b "Mel Karmazin, Champion For Howard Stern Resigns" by Corey Deitz at

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