Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Radio, radio
So XM and Sirius have announced they're going to merge.

I couldn't help but be struck by a statement from a member of the National Association of Broadcasters. The NAB is planning to fight the proposed combo, and its executive vice-president, Dennis Wharton, had this to say: "In the coming weeks, policymakers will have to weigh whether an industry that makes Howard Stern its poster child should be rewarded with a monopoly platform for offensive programming," he said.

Excuse me? Perhaps Mr. Wharton should look at his own business. It's not as if local radio stations -- the vast majority of which are owned by giant national conglomerates -- have a sterling reputation for programming. Music stations are boring, talk stations air the same programs with different hosts (if they're not picking up a nationally syndicated arch-conservative or arch-liberal, they have their own versions) and news stations all too seldom beat the local bushes.

Yes, I'm biased. I subscribe to XM. But I subscribed for a reason: Local radio stations weren't meeting my needs. So I pay for a service -- and I'm very satisfied.

I don't know what the merger will bring, or if I'll lose some of my favorite channels or personalities. If so, I can reconsider my subscription. And if I do, I'll be listening to a lot more CDs, because I'm never going back to local radio.

Perhaps the NAB -- and local advertisers -- should ponder that.
I got my subscription to Sirius Satellite radio as part of my new car purchase. I have never been so happy to get off of the cliched 'local' radio stations in my life. The options that are available to me are well worth the yearly cost of the package and I will continue to renew my subscription to mainatin that variety.
Wow...someone is driving the "Bitter Bus" at top speed! I am a broadcaster at a music station in Barrie Ontario, not owned by a conglomerate...but by a couple of guys who love radio, rock and roll and I suspect...(gasp!) money. Our station is not "boring"...why make such blanket statements? We are consistently number one (by a huge margin) in our region...I get (so I assume my co-horts also get) fan mail every day! Aside from all of that...our station provides a service to our audience...local news and traffic...local personalites that the listeners relate to...and here in the snowbelt...local weather! When driving is trecherous, when school buses are cancelled...when programs are closed...people turn to us...immediately! We air the news and we share it on our website. While the virtue of XM or Sirius cannot be denied, nor can the advantages of local radio. "Not meeting the needs" of the writer? If your needs are only about what music you are listening to..then maybe. But life is more complicated than that...for example, during the big blackout a few years back local radio saved the day...we fired up generators, made into work and kept the people informed, but more importantly CONNECTED during a trying time. Let the NAB make it's case...there are always two sides.
I too will never return to the montony that is terrestial radio (T-radio). For Dennis Wharton to attack satellite because Howard Stern is a poster child is hypocritical because terrestial radio employed him for over 20 years and still would if he didn't decide to leave. T-Radio is scrambling. Howard Stern is a great asset, but what is scarier to T-radio is that everything is better; comedy, talk shows, variety and music, music, music.
I'm currently a Sirius subscriber. In a friend's car over the weekend, I had the 'pleasure' of listening to the old NY KRock station, now cleverly called "92 FREE FM" (just a bit of a jab at pay-service radios). After listening, I can safely say that I will never willingly return to "terrestrial" radio (with perhaps the exception of member supported/NPR radio). At least where I'm located in this country, the bulk of the stations offered rehash the same top 40 hits regarding whatever genre to which the station caters. That gets old very quickly. Station program directors seem to have their hands bound by their corporate conglomerate owners.
I am a fan of Howard Stern, and I must admit the programing he offers on Sirius trumphs the old show on KRock - and not because of the "obscenities" the opposition so frequently cites, but because freedom of speech is actually present. One can now freely comment on any subject he or she pleases without fear of corporate or political backlash. It seems all too easy for people such as Mr. Wharton to generalize the entire purpose of satelite radio as "offensive programming." Perhaps the masses are just tired of conformity.
The musical variety alone on pay radio is worth the subscription - not counting comedy channels, news to-you-preference (whether it be right or left), comprehensive sports channels, etc.
I can't count how many "new" artists I've discovered - and purchased their albums - sheerly due to my Sirius radio (how's that for perpetuating consumer mentality).
Terrestrial radio and its champions appear to be afraid of consumer awareness to superior programming options. Yes folks, there *is* something better out there.
To smear progress and benefit to society under the guise of a banner fight against "offensive programming" and monopoly is plainly offensive in its own right.

I to was in T-Radio and found that it was becoming less about the music and more about MONEY. I have left radio and made a hobby a job. (1 of the fortunate few.) This creates a 3 hour commute in wonderful Los Angeles. For 40+ years T-radio was the only show in town. I have been with Sirius for 2 years and just signed up for 2 more. Howard is not on my Christmas Card list either but the variety of media cannot be matched by t-radio. Susan in Ontario Canada, I at times miss the behind the mike of T-radio but as times and technology have changed so must Radio. Let's let the politicians do the Politicing and let's all wait and see what the final results are. There still is an FCC and other Government Agencies that have to agree to this merger.
I subscribe to Sirius and would not return to t-radio. What am I paying for? I'm paying for music without DJs interrupting the experience, commercial-free listening, and a wide arrange of content to my taste that is not repetitive top-40 trends. That's it. If t-radio wants to get rid of their DJs, talk shows (which Sirius has but fortunately there is more than enough content to avoid them completely), and commercials I will gladly return to them. Otherwise, I'd request that they do not interfere with my great music experience.

If Satellite goes away, I will switch to a hardwired mp3 player. Sorry t-radio, but I just want to listen to music and you don't provide that with enough consistency to keep me a happy customer.
I will gladly make the blanket statement that -- aside from the local NPR station -- the broadcast radio in our region is pathetic. Not only is the on-air talent annoying and unfunny, but 95% of the music they play is devoid of artistic merit. At least on XM I can hear a variety of music, from world music to unsigned artists to non-mainstream acts that don't have a place on radio in a smaller market such as ours (and many larger ones at that). Add to that numerous talk radio and theme stations and the $12.95 monthly bill is well worth it.
I'll bet that the NAB opposes the merger. We have 2 Sirius subscriptions, listen through our Dish Network package, and listen over the internet also. FM radio? We never listen to that anymore. Too many commercials, too little variety in programming. Most of our friends have gone over to satelite radio too. Unless someone can come up with a better "free" radio model that will make people want to listen to it, satelite will just keep gaining market share, with or without a merger.
I finally broke down about 6 months ago and got XM. I've been very happy with it and FINALLY am being exposed to new music again!

I unfortunately live in a market (Columbus Ohio) that is saturated with short playlists, and nationally owned radio stations that don't let their DJ's actually "jockey" discs. There are a few decent radio stations out there (WRLT in Nashville) and a few others in other markets that actually are eclectic and fun to listen to. Unfortunately I have to vote with my dollars in my market and pay for something that used to be fun (and free) when I was growing up. Local college radio here isn't even interesting like in some markets.

I just returned from a ski vacation in Colorado and took my XM on the road. The other 4 folks with me loved it and bemoaned the fact that they had to go back to the limited programming of their local markets.

XM (and Sirius too) are doing nothing more than fulfilling a need, a vacancy left by the local stations that used to provide interesting and diverse programming, but no longer do (in most markets). All consumers are doing is voting with their dollars against limited playlists and homogeneous music.

When terrestrial radio starts to provide quality and diverse stuff, well ... Satellite radio might have trouble.
Tell then... XM
I considered satellite radio something I would try someday, but I thought it was a luxury. I had gotten sick and tired of hearing the same music over and over, then 10 minutes of commerical junk in between. Everyone saying they were on the "cutting edge" of music only to play a lesser known track from a year old CD. Then there is the fact that "T-Radio" seems to do nothing except cater to whatever garbage is popular (regardless of the lack of talent).
Luckily this last Christmas my girlfriend hooked me up with Sirius - unless forced, I will never turn on or tune in to local radio again.
Just to piggy back on everyone else . . . I'm a Sirius subscriber and would never go back. I listen to Stern, but like someone else said, I'm much happier with the amount of new music I've heard and then bought because of the great playlists on all the music channels. My job involves a ton of driving, and I wouldn't be able to do it without the freedom Sirius allows. In fact, since moving to Cincinnati, I've yet to even hear a local radio station. There's been no reason to.
From a legal perspective, how in the world would programming content play into an anti-trust ruling? If someone wanted to take a true look at monopolies in the broadcasting industry, maybe they should take a look at cable television first. Last time I checked consumers only had one choice of cable provider per region.

Admittedly I am a Sirius subscriber, and echo the sentiments of the other posters. The local channels are laughable at best and are interrupted entirely too often for commercials. My subscription is perhaps the best purchase I made in the last two years and I welcome the proposed merger because it potentially means expanded programming for subscribers of both systems.
I never thought I would pay for radio, but the stations in the Philly area are horrible. You have a choice of either, talk, more talk, then even more talk, oh and now we have Whoopi. Gee thanks alot for the variety. I got my XM subscription for Christmas this year and its worth the 12.95 a month. I will never go back to TRadio. If both companies go bust, I will buy an Ipod and download my music.
My husband and I got XM Radio last summer. We'll never go back! Our area has the same problems as those of other posters - lack of new music, constant replay of the same set of songs, and overall boredom. With XM, I can listen to what I want to and my husband can listen to what he wants to, which is amazing since neither of us listen to the same types of music! Our area only has one Christian radio station, for example, but my husband can listen to at least 3 on XM. While I occasionally miss my local weather, I've got the Internet for that these days ;)
Radio should be free to all, and you shouldn't have to pay to hear great music. Here's a fantastic radio station, streaming online for FREE:


Great playlists, great DJs.
Having grown up listening to the WNEW-102.7 in New York, I became a big fan of good old-fashion rock and roll. From Scott Muni to playing B-sides to in depth interviews, I was devastated when N-E-W went to Alternative rock in the 90s to (ugh) light-FM recently.

A few years back I signed up for XM simply because of baseball. But after hearing the wide variety of music, commercial free, there is no need to listen to T-radio ever again. I have it in my car, my house and my office.
Well clearly the NAB figures that if the two biggest competitors to free radio can't merge, *and are both losing money,* then maybe both will go out of business. Clearly both can't survive together so one has to go but the NAB figures it might take both down if they can't merge. That they try to couch this in moral and ethical terms is pretty shameful but people will be swayed by this argument.

Radio is a free service. I never get why people complain about something that is free.
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