John Melendez, who became known as “Stuttering John” during his lengthy stint as a sidekick to radio and television host Howard Stern, has sued SiriusXM for using his name, likeness and voice without permission on channels dedicated to Howard Stern. Melendez left Stern’s radio show after more than 15 years in 2004. He then became the announcer for NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.” He has accused Sirius of exploiting his celebrity to attract more listeners and advertising.
Melendez claims Sirius responded to his recent cease-and-desist letter by minimizing his contributions to Stern’s show and threatening to take his current podcast off of its Pandora streaming service.
Melendez, who has had a speech impediment since childhood and got his Stuttering John nickname from Stern, became known for asking crazy questions in celebrity interviews. He has estimated that more than 13,000 hours of “The Howard Stern Show” feature his voice, name and identity.
I would be extremely surprised if SiriusXM and its predecessors did not have contracts with Melendez that considered these specific issue, including whether the satellite radio company could use Melendez’ (among the multitude of other characters on the Stern show) name and likeness in reruns of the broadcasts. Assuming that it did, Melendez may have a long road ahead of him.