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Galaxy Nation Explore the other side of the universe. Discuss AM/FM, XM, DISH, DirecTV, HD Radio, and all mp3 players. Here you can also discuss the ins and outs of tomorrow's radio technology...where music and satellites collide. Who said it's not rocket science?!?

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Old 09-22-2005, 07:23 AM   #1
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Default Sat Radio Article in NY Daily News

Pretty Good story about Sirius and XM......

In search of sound footing

XM and Sirius Satellite assume their stations
in the costly battle for radio listeners


Howard Stern takes his show to Sirius Satellite Radio in January.

The only thing more certain than skyrocketing fuel bills this fall will be a blizzard of snazzy electronic devices delivering entertainment in ways no one imagined even five years ago.
And somewhere in that blizzard sit XM and Sirius Satellite Radio, gambling billions of dollars that millions of Americans will pay $12.95 a month for radio if it delivers something they can't get for free.

Like every major league baseball game. Every pro football game. Country music. Edgy dance music. Popular standards. Uncensored comedy and hip hop. Rock 'n' roll oldies.

Come January, the klieg lights will only intensify as satellite radio will deliver Howard Stern.

So - is it time for consumers to finally tune in?

The key factor in whether to subscribe to satellite, everyone agrees, is how you use radio.

If you listen for long stretches - say you're a truck driver or a house painter - and you can't find a regular station you like, satellite may be your new best friend.

People who are content with Lite-FM, however, or who mostly want local traffic, weather and news in the morning probably don't need it.

"Satellite will never be as widespread as 'regular' radio," admits Jim Collins, vice president of corporate communications for Sirius. "But it has already built tremendous listener loyalty."

At XM, the objects of that loyalty include Opie and Anthony, Bob Edwards from NPR's "Morning Edition" and New York veteran Jonathan Schwartz.

Sirius, which got to market later and has gone for more flash, offers, among others, Stern, Martha Stewart, Richard Simmons, Marky Ramone, Little Steven Van Zandt and Cousin Bruce Morrow.

Because of the attention Stern's impending arrival at Sirius has drawn, it's tempting to suggest the fate of his show will be the fate of satellite radio.

"Everyone's watching [to see] how Stern does for Sirius," says Tom Taylor, editor of the newsletter Inside Radio. "For satellite, it could be transformational."

But Taylor stresses that the satellite business is already bigger than even Howard. Not surprisingly, XM CEO Hugh Panero agrees.

"Stern obviously has helped raise awareness," says Panero. "But we'll have 6 million subscribers by the end of the year, and what's drawn them is something much bigger. It's the whole range of content - music, talk and sports you can't hear on terrestrial radio anymore.

"There's no radio station in New York City where you can hear Sinatra sing 'New York, New York.' On XM you can."

Ultimately, that's the ticket for any entertainment product: content. Once the hard-core radioheads and techies have signed up, XM and Sirius have to convince millions of other people they offer something that terrestrial radio, high-definition radio, Music Choice television, the Internet and their iPods do not.

Both services say they know that.

XM's mission from the beginning, says Panero, has been "channels programmed with real passion, not out of a corporate office."

"One of our most popular channels is 'Sirius Hits,' which plays the most popular songs in high rotation," says Patrick Reilly, senior vice president of corporate communications at Sirius. "But we have other channels, like bluegrass, where listenership isn't as high, but there's an extremely high level of satisfaction. That's the kind of service we can provide."

Four years after XM rolled out the first satellite radio, music channels on both services are uneven. Because it's financially impossible to staff dozens of music channels 24/7 with live-air personalities, many channels at some or all times are jock-less jukeboxes, some with narrow playlists.

That contributes to the frequent comment that listening to music on satellite can feel like a disembodied experience, unconnected to any time or place.

Other satellite channels, however, create classic radio, particularly the channels with wide playlists and live hosts.

Norm N. Nite does a broad oldies show every afternoon on the "Sirius Gold" channel. Van Zandt's "Outlaw Country" and Meg Griffin's "Disorder" on Sirius are splendid. So are Schwartz's "Frank's Place," the folky "The Loft" and the '50s channel on XM.

If the programming is all national, Taylor notes that's not a new concept.

"In a curious way," he says, "XM and Sirius are reinventing the national radio network days of the '30s, '40s and '50s."

Panero also suggests that, if being local is a winning card for terrestrial radio, it's not playing that card much.

"Most terrestrial radio stations have only the most modest amount of 'local' content today," he says. "What's local about 'Jack' [the controversial format that replaced oldies at WCBS-FM], which doesn't even have jocks?"

As for the future, XM and Sirius both have long-term plans to become multidimensional media companies, offering a wide variety of services.

But the radio part must succeed to establish the brand, and some on Wall Street and elsewhere think that's still an open question.

"Electronics today is a series of struggles," says Russ Meyer, chief strategy officer for Landor Associates, a branding consultancy. "It's satellite versus the iPod, satellite versus high-definition radio. That's why it's critical for satellite radio to get a foothold in the next three to five years. If it doesn't, some other technology will render it obsolete."

Neither XM nor Sirius is worried, publicly. Sirius projects 3 million subscribers by year's end, XM projects 6 million. XM expects 20 million by 2010, and while that pales next to the 200-plus million conventional radios out there, it would be a solidly profitable niche.

In the manner of all electronics, satellite radio will get fancier and cheaper every year. Both XM and Sirius think they will stand out, even in the blizzard.

Technology tune-up

To listen to either Sirius or XM, you'll need to start with a satellite radio, the bulk of which are in the $50-$200 range. Most are car radios, but there are also boom boxes, small portable Walkman-type units and plug-and-play models for indoor home use. They can be purchased at electronics stores, many department stores or online at and

You will then need to sign up for a subscription, at $12.95 a month.

If you're buying a home unit, you will probably also need a place to put an antenna that faces the Southern sky. Extension cords for antennas are available.
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Old 09-22-2005, 09:20 AM   #2
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Old 09-22-2005, 10:41 AM   #3
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Either they forgot or didn't do their homework and assumed all sats are in the southern sky....
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