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What's New On Sat Radio? Confusion.

Mike Musgrove

If you're a satellite radio subscriber and you're not sure what stations you still have access to today, you're evidently not alone.

With the merger between Sirius and XM complete, the satellite company has just today changed around its channel lineup and shed some stations in the result. Sirius XM Radio has been laying off DJs lately and the company just posted a large financial loss.

On the popular morning show Opie & Anthony, which was once seen as XM's answer to Howard Stern, the shock jocks spent a few minutes this morning trying to figure which stations, with names like Ethel, Lucy, Boneyard, Fine Tuning, are still on the air. If anybody had an idea about what programming will be available on Sirius XM going forward, you'd think it would be these guys.

"It's a very exciting and a very sad day for satellite radio," said Greg "Opie" Hughes, who talked about missing a mellow music channel called Audio Visions at the beginning of the discussion. "I guess they got the new channel lineup and people are not happy," he said.

His partner agreed. "Satellite, in its inception, was supposed to be this thing with a lot of niche programming," said Anthony Cumia. "But now it seems like they're just kinda going for what is on regular radio, they're wiping out a lot of those little niche programs and stations that people kinda liked."

"That's what I liked about satellite radio," agreed Hughes.

The discussion followed a conversation on the show about the iPhone, Steve Jobs, and AT&T, with regular guest Jim Norton practically choking with contempt for his iPhone and the "atrocious" service offered by AT&T. (Then again, to be fair for those who have never heard the show, this is a guy who always sounds like he's choking with contempt.)

Satellite radio subscribers are puzzling through what stations are still available or now missing over at XMFan.com.

By Mike Musgrove  |  November 12, 2008; 11:18 AM ET  | Category:  Mike Musgrove
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Great article Mike. I'm happy you're a journalist that actually "gets" the show.

However, I don't think it's fair to say that "Opie & Anthony were XM's answer to Howard Stern." O&A arrived on satellite a full 15 months before Howard did. I know Howard's Sirius deal was announced shortly after O&A took the air, but both companies were suiting both radio shows around that time.

Obviously, O&A's timing worked for them as they were just coming off their no-compete clause from then-Infinity Broadcasting and Howard still had a valid contract with CBS to broadcast on terrestrial. Still, O&A have enough problems with detractors trying to write them off as "Stern clones" or "Howard ripoffs" that this clarification should probably be made.

Posted by: JasonfromBrooklyn | November 12, 2008 12:19 PM

I hope XM Sirius does not do away with all the niche programming. I got XM for this, and not for the big name dj's, etc. I am sure I am not alone and will be dropping my subscription if they do away with too much of the niche broadcasting. if I want to listen to dj's inane batter, I can listen to commercial radio.

Posted by: mdembski1 | November 12, 2008 12:39 PM

I got XM with my car about 5 years ago because of the allure of no commercials and being uncensored.

3 years ago I noticed all the commercials, but renewed anyway for another 2 years since I figured I would keep my car and “hopefully” they will make the programming and commercial issues better

1 year ago I signed up for a 1 year plan which is about to expire. I have, in the year since my last renewal, noticed a major increase in advertisements, lack of niche radio stations that I enjoyed, and to top it off, the prices are getting higher and higher for less and less.

I have decided to NOT renew my XM subscription this time in favor of a IPOD since XM apparently cannot deliver on its promises that were made all those years ago. (That’s right, I would rather spend a years worth of XM fees to go the IPOD route due to crappy programming and be able to make my own playlists of songs I like…)

Considering the major revamp to the industry, I don’t expect it to be “worth” the cost of admission for another 5-10 years…. Ill take a look at it again at that point in time.


Posted by: indep2 | November 12, 2008 3:15 PM

I am very disappointed at the loss of Beyond Jazz and Fine Tuning.

There is an online petition to tell the XM people to bring it back.

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/finetuning

And email them here:
http://www.xmradio.com/help/emailus.xmc

Posted by: gerntrash | November 12, 2008 8:46 PM

I liked that the stations were named Ethel, Fred, and Lucy. Lithium and First Wave just don't do it for me.

Posted by: surlychick | November 13, 2008 7:33 AM

I filed a complaint by phone this morning with XM Sirius Customer Service at 1-800-967-2346. I filed a complaint online with the FCC at http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm and I sent the following email to the FCC commissioners and the Department of Justice:

To: KJMWEB@fcc.gov, Michael.Copps@fcc.gov, Jonathan.Adelstein@fcc.gov, dtaylortateweb@fcc.gov, Robert.McDowell@fcc.gov, antitrust.complaints@usdoj.gov, letters@washpost.com, national@washpost.com

Commisioners Martin, Copps, Adelstein, Tate, McDowell, and Department of Justice,

XM Satellite Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio certified before the merger that customers would not lose choices of channels. That certification was part of the conditions that allowed the merger. They lied. They have eliminated at least two channels: Fine Tuning and Audio Visions. Fine Tuning was the only channel in the entire history of radio whose programming did not adhere to a single genre of music. As a result of the merger, consumer choice has been decreased. The FCC and DOJ should revoke permission for the merger or insist that the combined company adhere to the conditions of the merger and restore the channels that were eliminated by the merger.

David Savage
Vienna, VA

Posted by: foofoofoo | November 13, 2008 10:02 AM

Funny this story came out today. Yesterday I sent a complaint to Sirius informing that their business model just was not going to make it. I've subscribed to both for 12 months. It seems to me news and talk genre is a collection of odds and ends they could purchase cheap from producers, including TV audio from CNN and Fox. They don't have most popular show, Coast to Coast AM! The news section just plain sucks, what can I add. And they charge too much. When they combined to XM Sirius, Sirius created an add-on called "Best of XM" which is Oprah Channel and Hockey, for extra charge of course. But Oprah and Hockey is it? What a joke. Overpriced, poor programming. Internet radio will put them out of business in 2 more years.

Posted by: Nogero | November 13, 2008 10:40 AM

I think they did a good job picking the best out of both services. I subscribe to both, and as to why I pay for radio? For one thing I can escape those mind-numbing, annoying commercials that seem to drag on and on, as Sirius-XM has NO commercials on the music channels; also, I get a dizzying variety of programming choices, many having name-brand, marquee value converstation, talk and news, and specialty music channels, nearly all of which are quite intersting; also, when I travel out of town in my car (which I do very frequently) I can enjoy the same programming in near-CD quality audio. It's radio for people who care about quality and choice. The phrase that sums it up for me: You get what you pay for.

Posted by: rocco411 | November 13, 2008 10:47 AM

First, in response to Mr. Savage's comment that "Fine Tuning was the only channel in the entire history of radio whose programming did not adhere to a single genre of music...", do you mean ever? In the history of the world? Sorry, while that may true (it's not, because a number of internet stations and college stations, among others, do not adhere to a single genre of music), it's such an ambiguous, overwhelming statement that it offsets the rest of the logical points. It similar to saying, "Oh my god, these barbequed ribs using your personal secret marinade recipe is the greatest food ever eaten by anyone in the history of the entire United States and Canda and is to die for... Believe you me."

That said, satellite radio had multiple purposes, including to make a profit. It also obtained it's license with the expressed intent (forgetting for a moment both stations said they would NOT merge) of providing programs that weren't generally available to the listening public, niche programs, genre, formats, etc. Because of those pronouncements, you have people now able to listen to old time radio and honky tonk music at their convenience. However, with the merger, and the reduction of some shows, it appears that satellite radio, pay radio, is going the way of broadcast radio; this is what the majority of people like, the Top 10 (formerly the Top 30, the Top 40, the Top 100, etc.) played over and over. Why, because that's what everyone likes.

I liked the intent of satellite radio; it may be me that believes advertising time has increased, and choices will be reduced, and I may be only one customer, but the merger and the relatively sudden combining of shows/pay for the other guy's package even though we've now merged attitude has left me disenchanted. When my subsription is due to expire (next year), it will. I too will be happy to use my MP3 player; besides, I can be satisfied with over-the-air, broadcast radio for my daily commute, even if I only get traffic on the eights.

Posted by: Dungarees | November 13, 2008 10:55 AM

I think the merger is great. I love First Wave. It's different than Lucy was, but in a good way. I also think that the selection of music stations is expanded from what was on XM before. When I bought my XM radio, I did it just to be able to listen to America Left/Air America. I didn't care for most of the music stations. I was tempted to get Sirius too because I liked their music channel selection much better. Having just XM won out - but now I have the best of both worlds. My only wish is that they'd bring back MSNBC. CNN Headline News is a waste of Air Space. POTUS is boring.

Posted by: SierraSun | November 13, 2008 11:15 AM

So far, I like it. As an XM subscriber, I'm finding that Alt Nation and Lithium aren't much different than Ethel and Lucy. I like having the Jimmy Buffett channel, and I'm still discovering some other new channels.

Posted by: Janine1 | November 13, 2008 12:09 PM

As a longtime XM and Sirius subscriber I am really disappointed by the changes. Many of my favorite XM stations have been replaced with their bland, limited-playlist, corporate counterparts from Sirius (Fred, Ethel, Lucy, XMU, Soul Street, and I think The Verge).

I have 6 XM and Sirius radios and all but one are being canceled today (It is hard to get through to Cust Svc). The last I am keeping solely for the NavTraffic feature.

Sirius has always been the less interesting of the 2 systems musically. Their playlist are more mainstream and not as deep. To the extent that you like that, great. But i bought SatRadio to avoid the mainstream and to be exposed to new music and hear deeper tracks from past days.

No longer.

I suppose it is no surprise that the newly merged entity would back off of it's commitment to diverse programming, but count me among those naive enough to think I'd get the best of both services, not the worst.

This is a sad day for me.

Posted by: raydeeoh | November 13, 2008 12:51 PM

Thanks for the article. As a longtime XM subscriber, I am very unhappy with the changes. I signed up years ago for dj-driven, nitch music options like VOX, the African music channel, and the Joint. Since then, Clear Channel brought us commercials and predictable set lists, we see the dedication of entire channels to AC/DC and Coldplay, which, coincidentally, were launching concert tours, and we see too much money thrown around to big name 'talent,' etc. Having someone like Mel Karmazian -- who virtually invented market-tested set lists -- can only bring more of the same. This is a huge loss for listeners. I have been tuning into internet radio, which I guess is the only option now.

Posted by: dckundera | November 13, 2008 2:04 PM

Opie and Anthony couldn't hold a candle to Howard Stern. XM charged a premium to hear their show and it never increased listenership. Sirius hiring of Howard Stern was a brilliant move because it brought 6million new listeners to satellite. Opie and Anthony could only dream of those type of numbers.

Posted by: madest | November 13, 2008 2:28 PM

When I got a new car last year I switched from Sirius to XM. The only Sirius channel I really missed was Backspin. I thought with the merger I meant get Backspin. . . well back. Now I see that Backspin got dropped. A real shame.

Posted by: capmorgan | November 13, 2008 3:19 PM

XM RU Sirius? Its only been 2 days and already I'm not impressed by this merger. Too many commercials, DJ's talking incessantly, and the song selections are worse than that of the FM radio. I want to pull my hair out. I had XM for 4 years now and loved it, but now I've already cancelled 1 of my radios. They'll be really lucky if I keep the other. The better listen to their fan base or this merger won't help their financial trouble.

Posted by: D_nice | November 13, 2008 3:38 PM

I've had XM for 4 years now & I must say I'm displeased with the merger. The DJ's on the "ALT" station that took over Ethel's spot, and the fools the now run "Sirius XM U" are wildly annoying. In two days I've heard the dj's on "Sirius XM U" say "cool indie music" & "hip indie tunes" more times than I can count. If the annoyance continues, I too will drop satellite radio & just get an adaptor for my ipod in my car. It really is a shame, as I LOVED my XM.

Much Love to the Dean of Music, Tobi.

Posted by: PSUBones | November 13, 2008 8:03 PM

"Opie and Anthony couldn't hold a candle to Howard Stern. XM charged a premium to hear their show and it never increased listenership. Sirius hiring of Howard Stern was a brilliant move because it brought 6million new listeners to satellite. Opie and Anthony could only dream of those type of numbers.

Posted by: madest | November 13, 2008 2:28 PM"

Sigh, there's always one. So if Howard gets credit for those 6 million subs and revolutionizing satellite radio (HOO HOO!), does this also mean he gets credit for the prosperous 25 cent stock price? You know, the one that was $9 when his signing was announced?

Don't be a zombie. O&A are as important to XM's success as Howard was to Sirius'. And O&A did it first, so by Howie standards, they must be ripping them off!

Posted by: JasonfromBrooklyn | November 13, 2008 8:37 PM

I would rather have 100 additional niche music stations, which is what they could have afforded for the money they paid in the Oprah deal. I have no idea what XM was thinking or how they expect subscribers like me to renew.

Posted by: johnc_80 | November 13, 2008 11:50 PM

WORLDWIDE client base in the cell phone sector. Tremendous opportunity to get in the stock now. Check out how big the opportunity is at www.icoft.com/roke.html

Posted by: williamsroke | November 14, 2008 6:24 AM

Have some SatRadio channels really disappeared due to the strange physics of radio broadcasts from outer space?

see http://notionscapital.wordpress.com/2008/11/14/radio-lost-in-space/

(remove tin-foil beanie first)


Posted by: MikeLicht | November 15, 2008 3:01 PM

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