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Washington's Loss: XM Empties Out

"It was very important for XM to continue, after the merger, to be headquartered in Washington, D.C. We've even said we won't have less employment here in the District than we already have."-- Sirius XM Radio chief executive Mel Karmazin, June 2007.

Well, probably no one really believed that even when he said it. Federal regulators approved the merger of the nation's two satellite radio companies this summer knowing full well that New York-based Sirius, which was essentially taking over D.C.-based XM, would dismantle XM and search for a path to profitability mainly by cutting costs--XM's costs.

Nobody has announced anything yet, but about 80 Washington-based XM employees, including many of the on-air voices and program directors of the service's most popular music channels, have learned this week that today is their last day of employment. They found out in the worst possible way: One worker routinely signed on to the company's payroll system and saw that his final day of employment was listed as October 15. Word spread like a virus through the building and by the time everyone had checked the system, it was clear that Sirius boss Mel Karmazin was ready with his bloodletting.

There's no word yet on the future of XM's headquarters building at New York and Florida avenues NE in NoMa, but it's hard to imagine that Sirius will hold on to an emptied-out building for long. Karmazin's plan, according to several radio industry news outlets, is to merge XM and Sirius programming into one stream on or around Nov. 5--directly in opposition to Karmazin's repeated and vehement promises to keep the two voices separate and distinct for some time to come.

Gone from XM as of this morning are some of the most popular voices and programs offered by the satellite service, including many of the producers and deejays on XM's highly creative Decades channels, which, unlike anything on Sirius, recreate the sounds of radio stations from the 1940s, 50s, 60s and so on. Also gone, almost all of the staffers on XM's black music channels, including Soul Street chief Bobby Bennett, a Washington legend from his WOL days (perhaps best known in more recent years as the voice of Cavalier men's shops and countless ads for R&B concerts. My profile of Bennett from 1997 is on the jump.)

But a scan of XM's music channels this morning finds most programs proceeding as usual, with deejays making no mention of any changes.

The big move came less than 24 hours after Karmazin made the rounds of media analysts, pushing the idea that Sirius is nearing profitability and is already "one of the top 25 media companies today," even if its stock has collapsed and is trading at 48 cents a share.

Although XM had more subscribers than Sirius and listeners often contended that the Washington-based service offers a better signal and more creative programming--here's my 2006 comparison of the two services, concluding that each is superior in certain areas of programming--Sirius got the upper hand in the years-long negotiations and lobbying that led to government approval of the merger this summer.

For the District, the potential loss of XM would be a rough blow to the emerging cluster of big employers in the NoMa neighborhood. It was XM's decision to build its base in a converted factory that led to the city's push for redevelopment of what had long been a dead zone. After XM and Federal Express moved to the area around Eckington Place, the feds decided to build the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms headquarters across the street, and Metro went ahead with plans to add a station there. The result has been an explosion of construction, but the softening of the real estate market and the collapse of the credit flow has led to an extended pause in progress, and any possible closing of XM's headquarters would only add to the sense that the boom is over, or at least on a long hiatus, in that part of the District.

More as it happens....

The Washington Post
March 25, 1997
R&B From A To Z; Deejay Bobby Bennett, The Soul of WPFW

By Marc Fisher, Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturdays at 4 p.m., the last of the great WOL Soul Brothers sears the ears of a sullen city with a thunderclap and a voice-of-God announcement: "Now, it's the sound of soul, with Bobby Bennett, the Mighty Burner."

Bennett is back with a public radio R&B show that puts on no public radio airs and puts the blandness of commercial radio to shame.

Bennett's weekend explosions on WPFW (89.3 FM) combine the intensity and excitement of classic Top 40 radio with the free-form artistry of the underground broadcasters of a generation ago.

Sitting at the control console of the station's Adams-Morgan studio, Bennett slips Eddie Holman's "Hey There Lonely Girl" into one CD player only 87 seconds before "Baby Love" by the Supremes will finish its airing on other machine.

But then a caller to the station requests "Please Mr. Postman."

"We'll try to get that on for you," Bennett says noncommittally.

He hangs up, hunts around in his stacks of discs, pops out the Holman number and drops in "Postman" with 13 seconds to spare.

"Now, that guy is extremely happy," Bennett says off-air. "He's like, 'Wow, immediate response.' " Bennett smiles with satisfaction: "Playing what you feel. That's what it's all about."

The veteran jock leans into the mike: "Hey, call somebody you know/ Tell them to turn on the show." And a few minutes later: "Stick and stay, don't go away, 'cause I got the stuff."

They're simple deejay slogans, inanities perhaps, but in the right voice, with the right inflection, they compel listening and -- mysteriously -- create community.

"I can play what I want and say what I want," says Bennett, who took on the volunteer gig six months ago after pleas from WPFW program director Lou Hankins. "It's such a relief, especially coming out of formatted radio, where you have to read the liner cards they hand you."

Growing up in Pittsburgh in the early '60s, Bennett had a friend whose father was a deejay. "My grandmother and my mom said, 'That's not a job, that's a hobby,' " he recalls, "but I noticed he had a new car every year."

Bennett got himself over to broadcasting school and in 1967 parlayed that into a spot on Pittsburgh's WAMO, a black hits station. One year later he moved to WOL, the AM Top 40 outlet that was Washington's boss station in those days.

From then until 1980, Bennett was one of the deejays who made WOL, which was then white-owned, the voice of black Washington. The station's jocks -- known by street names such as Nighthawk, Midnight Mover and the Saint Train -- were stars, adults who won respect from the young in a time of generational strife.

After the decline of Top 40, Bennett bounced around the local radio scene, doing a sports talk show on WTOP in the early '80s, then serving as program director at WHUR from 1987 to 1992. He's also worked for record companies and has written "The Ultimate Soul Trivia Book," due out in September.

But Bennett's unmistakable voice never left the airwaves. For more than 20 years, he has been omnipresent on black stations around the nation.

"To-night! One show only! To-gether on one stage!" The concert might be the Chi-Lites or the Marvelettes, but whatever the act, the tight, intense, bracingly loud voice on the ad pierces the radio sameness.

Bennett is the voice of shouting spots advertising Cavalier men's shops and numerous nightclubs and black music concerts in Washington and other cities.

"Everybody else is cool and quiet in those concert spots," Bennett says. "I hit you like a ton of bricks. When I say Tina Turner's coming to town, you know she's going to be there."

The ads are so compelling that Bennett has even been asked to perform them in concert. But they are still ads, and what Bennett loves most is weaving pop music and chatter into radio that makes people sit up and listen hard.

On the WPFW show, Bennett plays standards of the genre -- his theme is Aretha Franklin's "Respect" and his gym bag full of CDs teems with Four Tops and a cappella collections -- but he also spins tunes no commercial oldies station would dare play. Here's Margie Josephs's "Stop in the Name of Love." Here's a Laverne Baker number from 40 years ago.

"I play songs that don't test well," he says, "songs you can't even identify from the 10-second hook they play in the research tests" that commercial stations use to determine their playlists. "You hold them with the familiar music and then you smoke 'em with the surprises."

Bennett is not ashamed to play florid disco anthems of the '70s -- McFadden & Whitehead's "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now," but also Donna Summer and even the Trampps. He hasn't dared the Bee Gees yet, but he's not saying he won't.

"There's been an incredible resurgence of the '70s on TV and movie soundtracks, everywhere but on radio," says Bennett's old friend and on-air sidekick, "Uncle Jay" Johnson. "We interview a lot of those artists on the show and every one of them is still on the road, booked solid here and abroad."

"Yeah," says Bennett, "look at the commercials. I heard 'Jungle Boogie' on an Amoco commercial yesterday. That ain't Johnson hair care products. This is Amoco, man."

The Mighty Burner and Uncle Jay mix in just enough lore about the greats and also-rans of the R&B scene from the '50s to the '80s to make the show fascinating; they've also enlisted the aid of Dick Hawkins, a weekly guest lecturer on the fine detail of the '60s soul scene.

And there are frequent interviews with such artists as Abdul "Duke" Fakir, an original member of the Four Tops. On Saturday, Bennett is scheduled to talk to Cuba Gooding, singer with the Main Ingredient and father of the Oscar-winning actor. "Commercial radio is not giving these artists their props," Bennett says.

Just before Bennett went on the air with Fakir the other day, the deejay said, "Hey Duke, want to take a few calls on the radio?"

Fakir, accustomed to the 90-second guest slots of commercial radio and TV, said, "You can do that?"

"Hey Duke," Bennett replied with pride, "this is my show."

By Marc Fisher |  October 15, 2008; 8:41 AM ET
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

I'm an XM subscriber and I fully support the merger. Sure, some folks will be let go, but let's face it, DC is not a media town and NYC is. With the merger the choice of channels have increased for me, and hopefully the merged compnay will become a profitable and on-going concern. Satellite radio is the only thing I listen to in the car.

Posted by: Steve in Jersey | October 15, 2008 9:51 AM

Enough of the NoMa sh*t, it's a marketing gimmick not a neighborhood.

Posted by: Stick | October 15, 2008 9:54 AM

Oh Lord, "NoMa" is back? Good Lord, didn't we make it clear that that name is stupid?

Posted by: AK | October 15, 2008 10:08 AM

I followed the merger closely and at the time, based on what Mel K had been telling everyone, I supported it. Now my beloved XM is being gutted, and I'm seriously considering dropping the service when my yearly sub runs out in December. I hate the thought of losing something that up until recently, has made my life so much better. But as Mel K also pointed out, satellite radio has lots of competition, and perhaps I'll have to switch to one of the many other options instead. Please don't kill my XM!

Posted by: CallMeSkeptical | October 15, 2008 10:23 AM

I am listening to Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio as I type. This show is the best thing on XM and if that goes away there is really no reason for me to keep subscribing. I also listen to the so called new age channel 77 but the programming on that is crappy and repetitive. (What the hell is Sarah Brightman doing on that channel?) Maybe Sirius can improve that. But the Bob Dylan show is a deal breaker if they cancel it or he walks away.

Posted by: MH | October 15, 2008 10:28 AM

call it 'swampoodle', like it used to be, marc!

Posted by: IMGoph | October 15, 2008 10:40 AM

I have been a subscriber to xm and dropped the service waiting to see what was going to happen with the merger. I agree with those who have said the channels for xm had some wonderful play lists. My problem with ALL satellite radio is that the signal is too compressed. Whether its in our cars or our homes, most consumers willing to pay extra for sat. radio appreciate the SOUND! Often times xm was a thin signal with limited quality. (Some channels had more bandwith than others.) Now that the services have merged, the focus should not only be on some cost savings/consolidation and hopefully the preservation of creative channels. But, how about some better sound? That would bring me back. Otherwise, I can listen to lousy digital signals off the internet.

Posted by: ardano | October 15, 2008 10:45 AM

Say it ain't so Mel!

Posted by: wisner | October 15, 2008 10:47 AM

NoMa sure was great with the Sox. Oh, wait...

Posted by: Bases | October 15, 2008 10:52 AM

I never even heard of NoMa.

Posted by: Sierra Sun | October 15, 2008 11:15 AM

XM also provides the feeds for my DIrecTV. I will need to check the TV when I get home tonight.

Posted by: SoMD | October 15, 2008 11:40 AM

So, is Bob Edwards going to crawl back to NPR with hat in hand????

Posted by: Oh, well. | October 15, 2008 1:15 PM

Although I hate the fact that people are getting laid off, I'm glad some the dj's are not going to be on the air. I listen to XM music channels so I DON'T have to listen to people talking about nothing between the songs. If I wanted to hear all that junk, I would listen to any Clear Channel station.

Posted by: Alexandria | October 15, 2008 1:16 PM

Not surprising. The entertainment industry is largely based in New York City, not northeast Washington. It's far easier to get big time stars to appear on your show if you are just a Manhattan cab ride away.

Posted by: Cleveland Brown | October 15, 2008 1:30 PM

good bye choice. typical american market forces in action.

Posted by: mediahater | October 15, 2008 1:55 PM

WTF - first the skins lose now no bobby bennett on the way home from work - worst week ever

Posted by: sumplmg | October 15, 2008 1:57 PM

What the heck does NoMa stand for??

Posted by: BJ | October 15, 2008 2:05 PM

NoMa XM that's what.

Posted by: G | October 15, 2008 2:43 PM

I love it when people fall back on Washington, DC as "not a big media town."

The news media is normally considered professional media and DC is still, AFAIK, the #2 news town in the US after NYC.

So DC is connected enough in media to have made XM work and basically XM lasted here for 8 years.

Posted by: DCer | October 15, 2008 2:50 PM

Rumor is that the Sirius is going to be bankrupt by February of 2009...

Posted by: Eli Manning | October 15, 2008 2:59 PM

I mix listening to some XM with listening to WTOP and local sports. While I understand that there needs to be reduction in costs, why am I so upset that Sirius XM Radio chief executive Mel Karma lied about keeping the DC staffing and (perhaps) the separation of the two stations? Because it's another lie. The agreement to allow satellite radio was based on their agreeing to not merge; then when they decided that neither should fail or fall under the market place (because, in part, they overpaid for talent and under estimated the public's interest in pay radio as more than niche market), they came back and said "The only thing that can save us from ourselves is our being allowed to merge; please disregard any comments said to the contrary." Now it's another set of apparent lies.

If I thought that I could have an alternative whereby I could punch in the internet address of a land-based radio station (i.e., listen to WTOP or WMAL on-line with a desk or car radio), I would jump on that.

Posted by: XM listener......for now | October 15, 2008 3:21 PM

Agree with ardano's comment. The signal quality of satellite radio is terrible. If you're used to CDs or your Ipod/MP3 player, then you'll be sorely disappointed. I had an XM subscription and was very happy with the channels and the music selections, but ultimately dropped the service because of the awful sound quality. Far too much compression of the signal.

Posted by: Ex-XM | October 15, 2008 3:35 PM

Bobby Bennett is the only reason I listen to XM; without him it's useless.

Posted by: jen matis | October 15, 2008 3:59 PM

Please make ReachMD channel 157 available on Sirius also. It is the only Medical channel for Physicians.

Posted by: Dr. J | October 15, 2008 4:24 PM

No employee should have to be informed of his or her impending job loss via an online payroll system. But then again, radio is a notorious business for last minute firings.

Let's not jump to conclusions about on air staff until XM/Sirius make their final decisions. They don't need two huge production facilities, so it makes sense to keep the HQ in a major media capitol. However, in this day and age, it is quite easy for some on-air staff to broadcast from any facility that has the right equipment.

As for the person who complained about the compression, perhaps that person is a candidate for digital radio. Good luck finding content. Perhaps he or she needs to stick with the iPod.

I mostly enjoy hearing the BBC and CBC music stations on Sirius. They have exposed me to far more new music than I would hear on any local broadcast station.

Posted by: I've got both | October 15, 2008 4:42 PM

I've missed the last month or so of XM programming because my Roady2 is having antenna issues. I can't tell if a wire's broken in the antenna cord or if the socket where the antenna plugs into the unit has gone wonky.

But with this news, should I even bother to get it fixed?

Posted by: Greenbelt Gal | October 15, 2008 4:44 PM

Ooh, my Roady XT has been having problems too, and I also thought it was the antenna. It must be the satellite. Sometimes I can change channels just fine, but most of the time this past month, it just says "loading" and I can't change channels. Is this merger-related?

Posted by: Carusocm | October 15, 2008 5:01 PM

Per the reception:

I moved out to the Midwest - plenty of blue sky, very few airplanes and antennas.

And my reception is great - admittedly better than it was in DC. I did notice a hiccup last month in my Roady (can't remember which one it is at the moment), but a refresh using the web site cleared it right up. I think sometimes you have to do that.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | October 15, 2008 5:33 PM

This is indeed a very sad day for all of us who absolutely LOVE the XM music stations, especially "Soul Street" with Bobby Bennett and crew. As a native New Yorker, accustomed to listening to outstanding radio programming, who became a Phoenix AZ resident over six years ago, I quickly became completely disenchanted with the local soul music station. I heard of "Soul Street" thus subscribed to XM and have been an avid listener ever since. In my opinion, Bobby, Leigh Hamilton with her wonderful "Penthouse" format every night and Dr. Nick with the BEST Doo Wop show EVER to grace the airwaves, gave us the best of Old School soul music NEVER to matched or surpassed. They, as well as all of the other DJs and PDs will be sorely missed!!!! I for one, will be discontinuing ALL THREE of my XM subscriptions.

Posted by: Victoria Freeman | October 15, 2008 6:10 PM

I have 4 xm radios, but I guess my subscriptions will be cancelled upon expiration. I knew when that merger was approved this would happen it was just a matter of time.

Posted by: Betty Matthews | October 15, 2008 7:43 PM

Tragic day to see Ken Smith, Matt The Cat, Bobby Bennett and Pat Clarke get cut from XM. They provide a unique knowledge and personality conventional radio is missing. I've heard the Sirius 50s from the blah blah Rock and Roll Museum and Cousin Brucie on the Sirius 60's. That's a whole other league. Those who make these rash decisions ought to realize what they're doing.....offending their own subscribers. Yes, I don't mind paying for radio the way it ought to be.... Seems like with the merger it's back to the typical FM format and management.... Scary thought just in time for the trick or treat season. Please, please, if it ain't broke....DON'T FIX IT!!

Posted by: Dave K. | October 15, 2008 8:22 PM

I listen to only about six of the channels... ones which have no corresponding counterpart on Sirius. If they go away, then I simply have no motive to pay for satellite radio.

Posted by: Jake Anelwood | October 15, 2008 8:34 PM

Typical big business mergers. The consumer gets screwed again. How can they think we want to listen to Howard Stern or Martha Stewart instead of Bobby Bennett, Dr. Nick and Leigh Hamilton. If they keep Soul Street I might keep my XM. Otherwise I'm gone. I'm sure Mel made his millions and could care less.

Posted by: Mike Pierce | October 15, 2008 8:37 PM

Mel is seriously being stupid. With few exceptions the XM music channels have always been highly respected. I *love* the decades channels. They should not touch those channels. Another thing I hate about Sirius is too many artist specific channels. Radio is there to explore music, not to emulate an iPod.

It is getting easier and easier to get radio streams off the Internet (if the RIAA doesn't screw that up). Producing radio goes much deeper than just playing some music. Sirius needs to realize that or the people that are passionate about satrad will stop with the word of mouth advertising. Keep the passion and people will continue to tell their friends.

Posted by: Jeff | October 15, 2008 8:48 PM

Since XM owns the building in DC and Sirius leases it's space in NYC...and costs are cheaper in's very possible that the whole operation could be moved to DC.

Posted by: Tom | October 15, 2008 9:48 PM

: Since XM owns the building in DC and Sirius leases it's space in NYC...and costs are cheaper in's very possible that the whole operation could be moved to DC.

Actually, not very possible at all.

Posted by: New York Avenue | October 15, 2008 11:14 PM

I have both services, and there are a number of the XM music channels that I prefer to Sirius and they should keep them. Maybe they will, we really don't know anything yet.

Posted by: Flabber Gas | October 16, 2008 12:02 AM

In response to "Tom", above...No Chance...Mel is a true New Yorker! He wouldn't be caught dead outside the Big Apple on a bet! He was personally worth over 450 million back before he sold Infinity Broadcasting to CBS for another fortune...and then put himself in as chairman to run it into the ground for them at an enormous salary to boot! Besides the fact that he can easily afford the Manhattan rent...Where the hell else do you think he could find a good kosher dill except in NEW YAWK?

Posted by: RoVeR | October 16, 2008 12:40 AM

I used to be a frequent visitor to the XM offices for business purposes, and felt the atmosphere and staff morale was the best I'd ever seen. Then the merger came, the uncertainty arose, and it started declining. This latest move puts it at defcon 5. Now that Mel K has destroyed any hope for the XMers he can set about the task of being a glorified accountant that considers employees to be nothing more than numbers on a spreadsheet. Sour grapes to Sirius and Mel K for taking something that wasnt broke and ruining it.

Posted by: LaxDad615 | October 16, 2008 8:00 AM

I've been having reception problems with XM here in Wyoming as well. I figured they were doing something with the systems.

I'm really ticked about this but sadly it's not much of a surprise. I too visited the XM building last year and got a tour. XM was true heaven for radio and music geeks. It was run by real radio people who love everthing radio CAN be, but almost never is. It was too good to last.

Since gitting my XM radio 3 years ago I have discovered more amazing music, new and old, than in the past 10 years. It's a terrible loss to indie music.

Screw you Sirius! I'm done.

Posted by: WyoDan | October 16, 2008 9:10 AM

>XM was true heaven for radio and music geeks. It was run by real radio >people who love everything radio CAN be, but almost never is. It was too >good to last.

Some of them *weren't* radio people, they were *music* people, and that's what contributed to XM's splendor. Sirius has always been FM-like. XM began to wilt in early 2005 when it brought in a couple of young *radio* managers. Now with the merger and the XM bloodbath staining Eckington Place only *radio* people are in control.

Not good.

Posted by: Been There Heard That | October 16, 2008 10:32 AM

There will always be personnel losses in mergers where jobs are duplicated, and radio is no exception. If XM is no more, their payroll computer will go away, too. My hope for the future of the employees and the programs is that the computer indication that Oct 15 will be the last day on the payroll simply means that on Oct 16 they will log into the Sirius payroll, and that the hosts and their respective gigs will continue under the new banner. I guess we'll see.

Posted by: Mad Hatter | October 16, 2008 11:23 AM

That's a naive outlook. It's been confirmed elsewhere that some 50+ XM programming staff will be gone, if not yesterday, on November 5. That doesn't include those in other divisions released prior to this week's slaughter.

Posted by: Reality | October 16, 2008 11:56 AM

I listen to both XM and SIRIUS and have no plans to cancel either. Lay-offs are a merger business reality. Sad but true. It took too long to approve and then the economy took a dump. Hopefully many of the best channels from both services will survive as a merged channel list. I can say that the sound quality of the SIRIUS is much better than the XM but I enjoy the unique programming of both services.

Posted by: listen to both | October 16, 2008 11:58 AM

Have listened to the Burner since his days at WAMO - when he and Porky Chedwick were required listening for both black and white kids in the 'burgh. And even worked at a competing station with his cousin Conrad Williams. Bobby has become as much a part of Washington as Ben's half smokes.

Of course Karmazin lied when he applied for the merger. But the radio business right now is a slaughterhouse. XM may be going for 48 cents a share, but Citadel yesterday was at 26 cents.

I expect Bobby will land on his feet, since he's well known and well loved in his adopted home town, but I also expect many more sad days in the radio biz as the recession deepens. Radio is a tough business, and it's getting even tougher.

Posted by: Radiohead | October 16, 2008 2:04 PM

No one has mentioned Hi-Standards and Jonathan Schwartz. There is nothing like it
on Sirius and if it is not retained on the
merged programming, I won't have Sirius radio in my new car.

Posted by: David Goldman | October 16, 2008 2:31 PM

"Been There Heard That" said it - XM programming was conceived by people who love music and radio (in that order) - Sirius was always run by radio "professional" people, and now by one of radio's Golden Boys. Radio - you remember radio, that medium that used to entertain you and occasionally sell to you, but now sells to you (you too, NPR) and occasionally entertains you. One constant about truly interesting radio formats - they don't last.
Hope something WiMax-like makes a distribution model unconstrained by bandwidth a reality, some day.
P.S. Based on the PD's being fired, the interesting stuff on XM is what's going away. The tested, consultanted programming disease spreads to yet another medium.

Posted by: Havem Both | October 16, 2008 3:48 PM

There is nothing on Sirius that compares to Soul Street!! The DJs on Soul Street loved what they were playing and provided great background knowledge about the artists. Leigh Hamilton will be truly missed.

Posted by: Rhonda | October 16, 2008 4:13 PM

The only reason I have continued with XM as Bobby Bennett. If he and his Soul Street associates are gone, so am I

Posted by: Truman | October 16, 2008 4:37 PM

Hey guys...XM doesn't just employ DJs! There are hundreds of other people still working at the Eck, and we ain't going anywhere.

Posted by: Syd | October 16, 2008 5:02 PM

I only listen to a few channels on XM. If they go, so do I. I'm not the least bit interested in Howard Stern or his ilk. I pay for 2 XM receivers and I'll drop them in a minute if the channels I regularly listen to go. There's still a lot available on regular radio, and even more on internet radio. So, go ahead make your adjustments XM/Sirius, I'll still have the last say so.

Posted by: Mike Smalley | October 16, 2008 7:46 PM

Hey Syd, good for you (though I think your time will come, too, if you're truly an XM employee).

DogXM can keep a million back-enders in DC but customers care about one thing: what comes out of that radio. This is gonna sound harsh but they couldn't care less about you and your hundreds of invisible co-workers.

Posted by: Fed ExM | October 16, 2008 10:18 PM

We started with XM when they opened the doors. We helped to co-host the Motown show they had, and we brought on the Motown stars in the early days of XM. Bennett is a good friend of ours, and we will miss him and the other DJ's seriously.

Billy Wilson
Motown Alumni Association

Posted by: Motown Alumni Association | October 17, 2008 12:35 AM

Some of the deejays are getting a bit older and, like it or not, are going to find it difficult to get work.

I hope they look into Linux systems, setup their own website, and run their own shows if they don't find something quick. Linux makes that easy and cheap. With a bit of web advertising, they might do alright, if they don't have the bloat and expense of proprietary webcasting software. Linux is easy to learn too.

I'll be the first to tell you, I'm a classical music fan, but whenever I poke around the XM channels, I always wind up dwelling on other channels, sometimes for hours - those folks are extremely talented and, as the article says, they go far beyond the flat stale commercial broadcasts. I hope they'll wind up on another channel somewhere, though I'll have a much harder time finding them. If not, a good webcast for a few hours a day might be fun and profitable for them, and satisfying for all of us.

Maybe the ex-XM'ers could get together and setup a "" site? That way, even us classical music lovers could find them easily and enjoy their refreshing change of pace and style. PLEASE???

Posted by: jd | October 17, 2008 2:30 PM

I don't have a subscription to either one. however, it might just interest you to know that maybe their last day as an "XM" employee was 10/15 and their first day as a "Sirius" employee was 10/16. I've been through a merger and as scary as that sounds, that's what happens. It looks like you're getting the boot, but you're not, really.

Now, I don't know, and confess I don't know, I just thought another view of the situation would be good.

Posted by: Howard | October 17, 2008 11:13 PM


There is no fire-to-rehire going on. The severance offers are decent.

The resulting product won't be.

Posted by: Walt | October 18, 2008 10:15 AM

My take on all of this is posted in a column I wrote on and it's a sin what the front office is doing at XM. If Phlash Phelps and Terry Young had been let go at the 60's channel, the number of people who would have dropped XM would probably bankrupt the company. As is, the dismissal of Ken Smith and Matt the Cat on the 50's channel and Country Dan Dixon on XM 10 America is causing a loud out-cry. Dan himself is getting a ton of e-mails from heart-broken listeners and truckers across America who alone can cause "sirius" damage to the bottom line. Perhaps that's the ONLY way to get their attention.

Posted by: Art Vuolo in Michigan | October 18, 2008 11:30 AM

It is a travesty that Bobby Bennett, Leigh Hamilton and Dr. Nick are being let go. Their individual shows were enlightenig and entertaining. The loss of Bobby's and Dr. Nick's Wednesday show, Dr. Nicks Doo Wop extravaganza and Leigh's nightly slow tunes is extremely disconcerting. I listened to them via DirecTV, feel sorry for folks who expend for a contract. I would dump it ASAP!

Posted by: Garland Gilmore | October 18, 2008 1:13 PM

They released pat Clark from the 60's Channel and kept that ignorant loser Terry "Motormouth" Young? How pathetic! Phlash Phelps is certainly well worth keeping - the pick of the litter - but Young is an irritant. I find another channel (usually 93-Caricia) when he is on the air. Whatever else is done, Terry Young needs to go!

Posted by: Dan Morisseau | October 18, 2008 6:06 PM

For those of you who are planning on canceling XM - which I did last week - be advised it may take some arguing with them over the phone to get the subscription canceled, so start early - I allowed a week, and it wasn't long enough via email. They finally agreed to refund the renewal - two days AFTER it had happened, but as yet it hasn't shown up in the bank, although they did send me a confirmation email... finally. I'd say allow at least TWO weeks, and notify your bank or credit card provider that any charge from XM is no longer authorized, just in case. In my case, I'd already pretty much decided to cancel anyway due to a lack of time spent listening (and was only interested in Escape (78) in any event). YMMV

Posted by: Tom S. | October 19, 2008 8:36 PM

We've made quite an investment in XM radios solely because of the Soul Street crew. There will be no additional checks mailed to them. The music and lack of atmosphere is no longer worth subscribing to. Listening to "BB", Dr Nick and Leigh warmed my heart on many a day. Since their departure, it's just not the same. So long Soul Street, I'm really gonna miss ya!!!!

Posted by: DBWingate | October 22, 2008 8:27 PM

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