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Is The New Sirius XM The Beginning Of Satellite's End?

I woke up one morning this week to find that five of the eight preset stations on my XM radio were gone--silence where distinctive music programs had been.

Throughout the many months in which the nation's two satellite radio companies fought for federal permission to complete the merger that they had once promised would never happen, Sirius chief executive Mel Karmazin said XM and Sirius would retain separate brands and programming for 15 years. Now, less than four months after winning government approval to merge, Sirius and XM have essentially blended their programming into one set of channels.

The new lineup that popped up without advance notice on the nation's 19 million subscribers' radios this week is heavily weighted toward Sirius programming, but includes some of XM's best shows and channels. XM listeners are now hearing more than 15 Sirius channels that have replaced XM programming; conversely, only a handful of XM channels have been added to Sirius's menu.

This consolidation was inevitable and in many ways makes sense: Nobody would argue that the merged company should produce two different channels pumping out, say, lite rock love songs, or heavy metal. But while both Sirius and XM listeners will still get 69 channels of commercial-free music, the merged lineup does represent a real shift away from satellite radio's original promise.

Sirius XM president and chief content officer Scott Greenstein tells me there's still "more breadth in satellite radio than in any other place, and there are still extraordinarily narrow niches of music that just isn't on FM." He's surely right about that: Satellite still has channels devoted to bluegrass, jazz, the blues, American standards, folk, as well as channels that uniquely super-specialize in one artist, such as Bruce Springsteen, the Grateful Dead and AC/DC.

But the merged channel lineups also mean the elimination of a bunch of niches that spoke to the idea, espoused by former XM programming chief Lee Abrams, that satellite would be the one place in the popular culture where even esoteric genres of music could be heard--and where those mini-audiences would be aggregated into a large enough total audience that those minority passions could be served indefinitely.

Despite the precarious financial situation facing Sirius XM, 19 million subscribers are nothing to sneeze at; indeed, satellite radio has turned out to be the fastest-adopted new technology in entertainment history, faster even than the DVD. And it got there by letting the thousand flowers of radio formats bloom.

This week, however, Sirius XM jettisoned many music channels that don't promise to lure a mass audience. Dozens of XM deejays and producers have vanished and insiders say XM's Northeast Washington headquarters feels ever emptier. Sirius XM executives won't divulge any details about staff cuts, but they say the D.C. facility remains an essential part of their operation, with live programs, performances and production still going on in Washington as well as at Sirius's New York City studios.

The cuts are evident to any listener. On my presets alone, five formats disappeared this week: Beyond Jazz (fusion and acid jazz), Fine Tuning (free-form eclectic), Vox (choral works and other vocal classical music, programmed by Washington radio veteran Robert Aubrey Davis), Cinemagic (movie soundtracks), and Chrome (70s and 80s dance tunes). (Sirius says the movie channel is "on hiatus" and will return next year. And Greenstein says the concept of a single channel offering an eclectic mix of non-mainstream, cross-genre music is not dead; something like XM's Fine Tuning and Sirius's Sirius Disorder is likely to evolve in a future channel shuffle.)

Elsewhere, XM went from four different flavors of Latin music to just one, killed off its European pop channel, scratched its channel featuring long-form concerts and interviews with rock and pop artists, and remodeled the mood-based alternative rock formats that were the loving creation of XM programming guru Abrams (channels called Lucy, Fred and Ethel--but not Ricky). Greenstein says those alt rock formats are continuing under more accessible channel names. "I couldn't walk down a street and say 'Fred' and have you know what that channel is," he says. "'First Wave' says something." He says the playlists for the new versions of the alt rock stations are virtually identical to what listeners had previously enjoyed.

Listener reaction to the changes has been sometimes welcoming and grateful, and sometimes loud and angry, with a fair number of threatened cancellations on the various Internet sounding boards for satradio subscribers. Greenstein says XM listeners are reporting that they're particularly thankful to receive Sirius's all-Springsteen and all-Dead channels, and Sirius subscribers are glad to get XM's shows hosted by Bob Dylan and Tom Petty.

Critics seem skeptical of the new lineups and the concept behind them. Although Sirius listeners aren't adjusting to nearly as much change as XM subscribers, they too are making their losses known, crying out for the return of distinctive channels such as Sirius Shuffle, which played random tunes from many other channels of wildly different musical formats.

Greenstein says the merger of the music channels is neither a cost-cutting move nor a change in programming philosophy, but rather a logical desire to reduce duplication. (XM and Sirius each still have a few distinctive channels, which are available for extra fees on the other system. Sirius, for example, offers Howard Stern, the NFL and Playboy Radio. The XM-specific channels include the NHL, the NBA and Bob Edwards. XM's exclusive coverage of all baseball games is not yet available to Sirius customers, but "We continue to be hopeful that at some point, we will be able to add MLB to our Best of XM package," says spokesman Patrick Reilly.)

But there was always a difference in tone and approach between Sirius and XM and now, Sirius's culture is by and large the governing one.

"I like to gear everything to mainstream America," Greenstein tells me, and while XM's Abrams was hardly a radical, he often spoke of satellite radio as the antidote both to FM's lack of musical choice and to its dumbed-down, predictable personality. Abrams specifically set out to offer channels for Everyman, but also channels for the music snobs he personally couldn't stand.

With the merger, that latter approach appears to be out of fashion. Where there was once choral music--admittedly a high-end taste even among classical buffs--there is now only opera. Where there were once separate channels for Spanish oldies, Mexican pop, Latin hits and jazzy salsa, there is now but one basic Latin pop offering. Will a less varied menu of music be sufficient to get Americans to shell out $13 a month for radio? Not clear. Sirius XM is in serious trouble financially; its stock has lost 91 percent of its value this year and the company has $1 billion in debt that it must refinance this year.

Satradio still offers plenty of programming not heard elsewhere. And now some of the medium's top talents are heard on both Sirius and XM--Les Davis's magnificently learned evening shows on Real Jazz; Cousin Brucie, Terry Young and Phlash Phelps spinning 60s hits; Martin Goldsmith (and fellow WETA veteran Robert Aubrey Davis) on the sole remaining station featuring orchestral works; Jonathan Schwartz chronicling the age of Sinatra and the American standards; B.K. Kirkland's old school R&B on The Groove; and Dylan's consistently inventive Theme Time Radio Hour.

But if a service with more than 150 channels offers 20 flavors of rock, yet can't find room for so many of the culture's other forms of music, it may have lost its claim to the many niches that make up American eclecticism.

By Marc Fisher |  November 14, 2008; 8:05 AM ET
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I must be the only XM sbscriber who likes the new lineup. Admittedly, I'm a 80's rock kind of guy who mainly listened to XM for the commercial free aspect. DC101, 94.7, and other OTA channels, remain fairly unlistenable because of all the commercials.

I still miss WGMS, especially with Christmas coming on. I liked the classical Christmas music.

On XM, channels 8, 26 (the adult contemporary, barely tolerable angst rock, with lounge singers, and once in a while a good rocker), 46 (the classic rock) and 49 (rock from the mid/late 70s through 80s) are essentially the same.

The additions I like are BBC 1 on 29, and NPR Now on 134. Especially BBC 1. That's the radio station I've been looking for for awhile now.

May give two other additions, 41 (hair bands) and 44 (80s new wave) a listen.

Posted by: wiredog | November 14, 2008 8:37 AM

Bring back Sirius Disorder and Backspin!!!!!

Posted by: mvm_ffx | November 14, 2008 8:39 AM

I miss my Sirius Disorder. The Sirius website says that "If you like Disorder, you'll like The Loft." No, I don't. I miss the idea that I could be listening to Rufus Wainwright one minute, then the Temptations, then the MC5, then Leonard Cohen, then Maria Calas, etc all without changing the channel. Althought Vin Scelsa and David Johansen supposedly survived the merger, the Sirius website doesn't say when and where they'll be on. I've been bummed out for two days now....

Posted by: ramgut | November 14, 2008 8:44 AM

As of Wednesday, Sirius went from 4 wonderful, uncensored hip hop channels to 3, 2 of which are now censored. I'll be canceling this week.

Posted by: thenoggin | November 14, 2008 8:57 AM

I run the Dreamtime blog/podcast on Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour, and have received more email/comments on the channel changes than any other subject this season. While some of the comments were from SIRIUS listeners welcoming the show to their radios, most were complaints that SIRIUS XM has "retired" XMX Channel 2, which aired TTRH all day on Wednesdays. Many listeners liked the freedom of being able to listen to the show at any time during the day, picking up bits-and-pieces as time allowed.

Given this "on-demand" age of TiVos, DVRs, and podcasting, I think SIRIUS XM is missing a bet by not having at least one channel devoted to all-day re-runs of their most popular programming, such as TTRH, and Tom Petty's "Buried Treasure."

Posted by: FredBals | November 14, 2008 8:58 AM

Please maintain the commercial free minimal DJ format as much as possible. Terrestrial radio has become unlistenable, due to the constant commercials and terrible juvenile DJing. That's why I went to XM originally.

Posted by: HillMan | November 14, 2008 9:02 AM

I like the new 40's Channel and I found Elvis Radio with the new lineup (no idea if it was there before), but I miss my E!Radio. There's definitely nothing else like it in the lineup, regardless of what the 'we're not here anymore' message claims. I agree that Sirius listeners probably got the better end of the deal; other than one channel being missing, not too much has changed for me.

Posted by: Marissa1 | November 14, 2008 9:03 AM

Count me in as another who will miss the choral repertoire (including sacred) on XM's former Vox. Sirius's Metropolitan Opera channel just doesn't have the same appeal. There's no comparison between an overstuffed soprano warbling in Italian and the sheer beauty of choral arts. Vox was also a respite from the banjo playing, drum rattling sound often heard, sadly, in the pew on Sunday mornings.

Posted by: va62 | November 14, 2008 9:07 AM

Give me back my "Chrome."

Posted by: toolie | November 14, 2008 9:12 AM

It is absolutely incomprehensible to me that the merger resulted in less music choice. Since they were able to get rid of duplicate channels (such as the decade channels), we should have been able to keep the existing genres. How on earth do you nuke both XM's The Rhyme and Sirius's Backspin? And merging all the Latin programming into Caliente? Disappointing to say the least.

Posted by: DCSoxFan | November 14, 2008 9:18 AM

It appears, after flatly saying there would be no merger, after saying that there would be separation of programming, the (now) single satellite radio organization got what it wanted; now that it has what it wanted, there's no real reason to give people what they were told they'd get, or what was "promised", is there.

I suppose, however, that SatRadio will now provide people who don't agree with their programming the option of cancelling their membership and receive a pro-rated return of their subscription fees (even if they cannot get a return on the radio itself)? Yeah...right.

Sorry, but I can't see a long-term future if the future is 20 of 150 stations being variations of one thing (rock and roll). As public broadcasting promised, SatRadio was going to provide what you couldn't get elsewhere (with the benefit of your not losing station signals because of movement or location). SatRadio has reneged on it's promise. It's promise to Congress and the FCC, and it's promise to the people, verbally and in writing.

Posted by: Dungarees | November 14, 2008 9:20 AM

Boo to Sirius XM for cutting Vox. I love classical choral music having grown up singing in various choral groups. I don't think it's snobby or "high end" as Marc put it - it's just timelessly beautiful. Shame on you Sirius XM! (PS - I want my Chrome back too).

Posted by: stodge | November 14, 2008 9:31 AM

Sat radio is a rocket that can't reach permanent orbit. Commercial free/dj free radio certainly has appeal, but how many times a day do you need to hear "More than a Feeling?" Considering the enormous music catalog, the play list is surprisingly narrow on the hits stations. Dylan, Petty and Deep Tracks are not enough to keep me paying. Lately, I'm clicking on Pandora a whole lot more than XM. New competitors, like Pandora, that let one control the playlist while still exposing one to unfamiliar artists, will bring have sat radio model burning up on re-entry.

Posted by: GaryJean | November 14, 2008 9:37 AM

Man I miss the Soul Street Dj's. They spun better stuff then the crap they have now on the same channel. The Cassic Vinyl is crap and not as good as the XM channel it replaces. the blues channel seems to have stayed the same. I like now having Radio Margarativille. For $77 a year I might renew next year. I refuse to pay $12.95
for it. I dont need Howard Stern since he has updated his bits since he left DC. Strippers and porn stars on the radio great idea.

Will be interesting to see if XM/Sirius survives the year! Odds are against it.

Posted by: omarthetentmaker | November 14, 2008 9:48 AM

I miss my Fred. Yeah, the music's pretty much the same, though definitely more mainstream (more "big hits" than "deep tracks"). But the whole "I couldn't walk down a street and say 'Fred' and have you know what that channel is" bit -- ummm, yeah, that was kinda the point. The classic You Just Don't Get It. If I wanted what everyone else wants -- frat-boy DJs cracking bad jokes, insterspersed with commercials and .38 Special -- thanks, but I can get that for free.

Posted by: laura33 | November 14, 2008 9:51 AM

"'I like to gear everything to mainstream America,' Greenstein tells me." That says it all. From the start, XM and Sirius had different philosophies. Sirius sought to bring people in for sports and entertainment with music as a bridge between events and playlists that resembled FM minus the commercials. XM made itself on its music content and the breadth and depth satrad could offer, with sports and entertainment seamingly gravy on the potatoes. The lineup changes effectively gutted the XM approach. Yes, there are still a great number of music options, certainly more than FM, but the playlists have been dumbed-down and watered-down. It's already noticeable in just a couple of days. What Sirius folks don't realize is that there isn't a discernable difference to the mainstream listener between, say, 15 and 30 pop and rock channels, but just on channel can cause a person with specific tastes to join or drop. So does adding a few rock and pop channels to an already populated lineup give you a bigger marginal return than having just one niche channel that may cause a large group of followers to join while maintaining the mainstream crowd? Sirius execs are missing the forest for the trees.

Posted by: bfehrman | November 14, 2008 10:05 AM

10 of my 18 presets were gone.
Particularly missed - The Rhyme (Old School Hip-Hop), Aguila (aforementioned Mexican pop), the World Music stations that disappeared awhile ago, and Soul Street. (Soul Street even played in the ELEVATORS at XM HQ, for God's sake...)

I'll look forward to trying the E-Street & Buffett channels, and the extra comedy channels.

As a whole, Big Daddy Mel could not have FUBAR'ed this change much more. I got no notice (not even an e-mail) about the change, and I heard a DJ on the air saying "we really don't know which e-mails are working, or which 800 numbers are working, so just contact me via my myspace page." That shows that someone is really doing their job behind the scenes.

I am giving it until the end of the calendar year before I decide to cancel my subscription or not.

Posted by: vtavgjoe | November 14, 2008 10:06 AM

For me XM started off bad for me, they dropped the flow from the broadcast shortly after I signed up. I would do chrome for a brief flashback, and a song that was about fun and dancing. All the other stuff parallels regular radio. Fewer commercials, but still the same thing.

Posted by: oknow1 | November 14, 2008 10:07 AM

If the merger was supposed to combine the best of Sirius and XM, why did they keep many of the bland channels and eliminate the interesting ones? I have a pretty eclectic taste in music, so it saddens me that Vox, Beyond Jazz, and the panoply of Latin channels are gone. These cuts insult the intelligence of listeners by eliminating subtle distinctions within verious genres. (It may surprise Sirius execs to learn that not all Latin music is the same.) Most of all, I miss Lucy, Fred, and Ethel. They were personalities - not just music mixes - that I invited into my home regularly. And regardless of what Mr. Greenstein says, the names "First Wave" and "Lithium" are not any more descriptive than "Fred" or "Lucy."

Posted by: bluestreak5 | November 14, 2008 10:12 AM

It appears that only one of my favorite XM channels has remained untouched (America Left). All the others are either changed for the worse (Fred, Ethel, Lucy, XMU, XM Comedy, POTUS) or they are gone entirely (Vox, U-Pop, Fine Tuning, AudioVisions). And can someone explain to me why anybody needs a single artist channel anyway? If I was that fixated on Led Zeppelin, or Bruce Springsteen, or Elvis Presley, wouldn't I already *own* all their damn music?
My subs run out on December 12th and unless a miracle occurs, I'm letting them both expire then. I'm going to miss the XM that was, and try forever to recreate it elsewhere on Pandora and Slacker. Thanks for nothing, Mel Karmazin.

Posted by: CallMeSkeptical | November 14, 2008 10:15 AM

I agree entirely. I am afraid that the "harsher" side of Sirius is invading XM. Below is a note I sent today to the folks at their POTUS channel via this feedback page.

I understand that with the merger there are many programming changes that occur.

I wanted to let you know that I am concerned about the direction of the POTUS channel. This morning at 8:30 EST it was very jarring to hear a harsh shrill "station identificatioN" for POTUS that then sequed into the "big music" of the morning briefing.

I also did not enjoy the segment somewhere between 8:35 and 8:45 wtih Pete Dominick interviewing someone about the auto industry. It sounded too much like the shouting heads on cable news. I am not looking for shouting heads in the morning. What I have always enjoyed about POTUS is the in depth interviews and analysis with political insiders. During the election this would involve interviewing Democratic and Republican spokespersons, but not having them on at the same time for an argument. POTUS to me is like an enhanced NPR. If this devolves too much, I may look to cancel my subscription and just return to listening to my local NPR affiliate.

Posted by: Peter_Zenger | November 14, 2008 10:18 AM

I am really hoping they keep the Fred playlist. I have XM but listened to Sirius in a rental car over the summer. First Wave is a pale imitation of Fred, more of an 80's top 40 station. By contrast, I drove 1000 miles from DC to Florida, listening to Fred the entire way.

Posted by: pmryan | November 14, 2008 10:37 AM

Satellite radio's end began when someone said " I have a great idea, radio where you pay a monthly fee...."

Posted by: kolbkl | November 14, 2008 10:38 AM

Yeah, I'm a Sirius subscriber, and I'm going to miss Sirius Disorder. I haven't checked to see if the Celtic show on Saturdays is somewhere to be heard, but if that's gone, I'm going to be pissed. The Loft is NOT Sirius Disorder; not even close.

So this weekend, I'll be taking the new lineup, and carefully re-assigning my buttons -- the changes aren't major for me, but there are tweaks.

Of course, when I first GOT Sirius, they had "Folktown" -- just folk music. It was great. It was gone within six months after I got the service.

With all the moaning and groaning, though, Sirius (or XM, or SiriusXM) still beats the unholy hell out of terrestrial radio. Where will you hear NEW music if you lose your satrad?

Change happens. We don't have to love it, and we may have to re-assign a few buttons, but we'll be OK.

Posted by: mdean3 | November 14, 2008 10:40 AM

The best thing going today in radio is Ron and Fez on XM 202, noon to 3.

Posted by: sacomment | November 14, 2008 10:40 AM

The music programming has largely lost its soul. XM programmed from the gut, out of a love and passion for good radio (the way it used to be before corporate consolidation and mindless reliance on music research). Sirius is corporate all the way.

Specifically, the XM folks would sit around and brainstorm formats, with programmers and DJs who had a knowledge and appreciation for the music and a dedication for super-serving that channel's particular audience, right down to connecting with its listeners' aggregate personality. I know this because I occasionally read Lee Abrams' blog, and I know the type (having programmed and DJ'd in radio myself, long ago). I also know it because I could hear it in the finished product.

The best example I can give is the 50s on 5. During the day, it was fairly mainstream. In the evenings, however, they had "Matt the Cat" (a 33-year-old former Boston-area DJ) playing a huge variety of music from the era, with fascinating interviews and fun features. Now, we get (two days a week) a past-his-prime "Cousin Brucie" (sorry Cuz, but you are) playing the usual 50s-60s hits we've all heard a thousand times.

I'm outta here.

Posted by: doowop-lawyer | November 14, 2008 10:43 AM

I'm just happy they did not take away The Loft, and Bluesville all of my other stations are gone (XM Cafe, Fred, Lucy, Ethel, XMX). I am going to give the new channels a chance though because I just cannot go back to listening to FM Radio. That said I am dissapointed that the new station's DJ's sound very much like FM DJ's, and please Sirius, stop talking over the song, let it play, that's what we want to hear!

Posted by: tonester_xm | November 14, 2008 10:50 AM


Posted by: sec204 | November 14, 2008 11:04 AM

Dropped Sirius two months back, as part of an overall reduction in luxury spending. The iPod has filled the void, but I indeed miss several channels, i.e. Chill and Spectrum

Posted by: Stejay1 | November 14, 2008 11:16 AM

Do you guys think they don't do research? Apparently, everybody who loves Vox is very vocal... you know what I mean. This is a calculated risk that Sirius/XM is taking to minimize expense. Looking at the balance sheet and the debt that is coming due very soon and the current state of the financial markets, they have a serious problem that has to be dealt with very soon. I've never been a fan of Mel K. He was the one who cancelled the Christmas party for the children of the staff at the CBS TV station in Denver. Bah-Humbug, Mel. But he has to take drastic measures or they go into bankruptcy. What are you going to listen to then?


Posted by: jterhar1 | November 14, 2008 11:23 AM

I miss Kandy Klutch on the 80s. If it weren't for the fact that I can't stand regular radio and its non-stop commercials, I'd dump my subscription. I've been listening to XM for at least 8 years and it's been great. But after the merger, everything sucks. It's only slightly better than commerical radio now. I almost hope this fails and someone decides to bring back the "old" idea of what XM radio was supposed to be -- niche music, no commericals, no "celbrities", just good music you can't find anywhere else. I don't even see the purpose in the sports stations. Get rid of all of it, cut down on the bloated celebrity overhead, and bring back unique music stations. I hate to say it, but I hope XM Sirius fails so we can start from scrtach again.

Posted by: MarylandJ | November 14, 2008 11:26 AM

I'm cancelling. I was more than peeved when I turned on my player yesterday to learn Cinemagic "..will return shortly". Translates into January 2009 - but yep you want my monthly payment SIX months before my annual subscription expires. I'm not playing your product, or your silly games, any longer.

Posted by: frustrated2 | November 14, 2008 11:53 AM

Count me in as another unsubscriber, and furthermore as another unsubscriber on account of the loss of Vox and Fred, and the homogenization of the programming those channels used to carry. I like choral music; I don't like opera. And "First Wave" leans much more "top 40 alternative" than the deep-digging stuff Fred would often come out with.

John @ 11:23- I'm sure we all know they're not pulling our personal favorite channels just to mess with us, but how many existing customers, XM and Sirius alike, are they going to lose with this programming move?

Posted by: MaxineofArc | November 14, 2008 12:26 PM

I too was dismayed to see 2 of my favorite stations CHROME and THE MOVE were gone. I suspected The MOVE was going to be history as it has been off the air for a month but now CHROME too. Sirius also canceled it's Disco dance station STROBE. There is now no station that plays that kind of music except for 1 hr or 2 on Saturdays on 70's on 7. I got XM radio because I felt FM stations all sounded the same. Now we have 21 Rock stations, 8 Pop Mix stations. Sounds like FM too me. Where is the musical diversity????? I then started looking at the other changes. They have reduced 4 latin stations to 1. That's like having 1 station that play Acid Rock, Pop, Country and Soul all mixed together. The Soul Street replacement sounds just like The Groove. More duplications. All the eclectic stations are fading away. Then I looked at the demographics of these station that were dropped. The 3 latin stations dropped: Latin American Community. The MOVE catered to an African American Community, Chrome would have a more urban listener. I thought that was very interesting considering who we just elected for president. Drop the diversity and increase the Rock and Pop stations. Sounds like XM is going commercial. Today I tried to fill my blank preset buttons and still have 3 empty and have not found anything appealing to fill them. I unfortunately will be keeping XM radio as I drive alot and like the talk stations, but as far as the music I guess I will have to plug in my I-Pod to hear diversity.

Posted by: Rod3 | November 14, 2008 1:14 PM

What Sirius has done by butchering XM's superior programming is put a lawn mower motor into a Rolls Royce chassis.
The main reason I subscribed to XM Radio and not Sirius was its dedication to MUSIC, not "clear channel" programming directed by illiterate focus groups. XM VOX 112 was shaped and formed by that genius of radio programming, Robert Aubry Davis. I will miss VOX, and Sirius is substandard radio. This butchering of the rich musical culture of XM (VOX, Soul Street, Beyond Jazz) will have me flee to the cloister of my iPod. What is my parting comment to Mel Karmazin and Scott Greenstein? "Peasants!"

Posted by: Matamoros1492 | November 14, 2008 2:59 PM

Already miss Meg, David Johansen and Larry Kirwin. Loved the 'No Genre" format.
Heard the XMers had Fine Tuning - lost that too.
This has turned into modern FM without the commercials.
Oh well .....

Posted by: SteveG9999 | November 14, 2008 3:51 PM

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


(remove tin-foil beanie first)

Posted by: MikeLicht | November 14, 2008 4:01 PM

Frankly, I thought some of the playlists (Ethel, in particular) were getting a bit stale in the last six months or so. I'm holding out hope that the post-merger stations will be better. Also, as to why people like stations oriented around a specific band -- I like the Zeppelin channel because it plays live performances and other tracks that I don't have, even though I own all the studio albums and some of the solo records. I'm sure it's the same for the Springsteen fans.

Posted by: Janine1 | November 14, 2008 4:46 PM

I can't imagine SiriusXM handling this any worse. I got no notice over snail or email that there would be channel alterations. On top of that, I am now subjected to way more DJ's, something I got XM to avoid in the first place. And getting rid of XM's The Rhyme is borderline criminal. You have 50 classic rock stations, please bring back your only classic hip-hop station. Not all rap is the same, guys. Some of us don't want to hear Lil' Wayne screaming unintelligibly. If anyone from SiriusXM is perusing these posts: PAY BETTER ATTENTION TO YOUR CUSTOMERS. Especially in the middle of a deep recession. There ain't that much discretionary money floating around our coffers.

Posted by: GreenBoy1 | November 14, 2008 6:48 PM

Why on earth would Sirius get more power in the merger when XM had twice the subscribers? It makes no sense to me. XM was vastly better than Sirius. Sorry.

I don't know if I will renew when my subscription lapses now.

Posted by: idontthinkso | November 15, 2008 1:55 AM

I do not think that Sirus or XM care about the hispanic audience.

I have been a Sirius subscriber since inception. I have seen the slow disappearance of spanish channels. From music to news they are slowly disappearing. Now only one music and one news. Don't they realize that hispanics are over 15% of that US population. Not to mention that you can get the signal in Mexico and the Caribbean.

Only one spanish channel...this is what happens in a MONOPOLY. Go figure...another casualty of the failed Bush policies.

Posted by: ajamadeo | November 15, 2008 7:25 PM

Remember you can renew or subscribe for $77 a year!

Posted by: omarthetentmaker | November 17, 2008 7:33 AM

I left my Sirius subscription expire earlier this year. It's not worth the money.

Posted by: SHELLY1234 | November 17, 2008 9:48 AM

I am so angry at the combining the two services that I called and spoke to two Customer care folks (not in this country) to cancel my subscription and get some of my money back. I was promised my account would be credited. So far nothing!
I get 60 Sirius music channels on my DISH service and don't want to have to paying for it twice.
I wrote the FCC warning them about exactly what has happened. They obviously don't give a fig our views.

Posted by: dmcls | November 17, 2008 4:47 PM

A few people have mentioned Meg Griffin and Larry Kirwan. FMQB mentioned today that Meg's show returns on December 1 on The Loft (Sirius 29/XM 50).

Larry's show returns on November 23 on The Spectrum (Sirius 18/XM 45).

Posted by: McHamr | November 18, 2008 12:21 AM

Bring Back XM Radio's X-Country XM12 online petition at:

Posted by: MikeLicht | November 18, 2008 10:24 AM

Apparently I'm one of the 13 people who listened to Fine Tuning. I'm not shocked, but there is something truly amazing about a station that could play Beethoven, the Dixie Dregs, Moby and Tangerine Dream without skipping a beat. I was occasionally floored by the programming, like hearing long forgotten Mother Russia from Renaissance. Now I confess I never understood the endless covers of Pink Floyd which only made we switch it off to hear some actual Pink Floyd, but I took it as part of the price of admission. XM used to be my constant in-house programming, but I'm un-subscribing that receiver. I'm not running away totally because I still have it in my car.

Posted by: gable | November 18, 2008 6:13 PM

Try internet radio. But read first!

Posted by: sallymens | November 18, 2008 8:22 PM

The reality is that Abrams' theory didn't work. The theory that the mass audience could fund all the niche channels was based on more than 19 million subscribers. The company expected at least 50 million. What happens when you throw a party, and no one shows up?

Music taste has become individual, and radio can't serve individual taste. The internet can, but even the internet is starting to suffer from the inability to pay for itself.

I predict that in the next two years, music on the internet will go the same way as music on satellite, for basically the same reason: Cost.

People couldn't understand why FM stations weren't able to do this. They thought the FM folks were just greedy. It's not greed when you can't pay your bills. Music delivery services, no matter the platform, are unable to pay for the private jets and mansions of the music makers and copyright holders.

Posted by: countdown | November 19, 2008 2:33 AM

I have been with my Sirius radio since the dawn of it's creation - I'm on my fourth receiver and have given out dozens in prizes and gifts. Those days are over. My preset favourites haven't beeped at me since the merger. Local radio is not an option, so I'm forced to enjoy the genres of my peers or to download music and burn CDs. In my eyes it's a tradgedy.

Posted by: screamingbanshee | November 21, 2008 9:24 AM

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