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Old 12-06-2004, 10:51 AM   #1
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Default Satellite Radio Gaining Popularity

http://www.wcfcourier.com/articles/2...5f006ebf2f.txt

CHARLES EMERICK, Courier Staff Writer

WATERLOO --- Aaron Ticknor dumped commercial radio more than a year ago.

Tired of his favorite stations using limited playlists, often repeating the same songs, he opted to subscribe to satellite radio, an industry beginning to emerge from the fringes.

"With radio there's a lot of repetition," Ticknor said. "I can only listen to the radio so much. I need some variety when I'm listening, and satellite radio goes a lot deeper. That's what I like more than anything.

"And the new songs I hear on the radio now when I'm working, I heard on satellite radio months ago. It's a lot more updated," he added.

With lineups featuring dozens of commercial-free music channels and a growing number of news, sports and talk/entertainment channels, satellite radio is becoming more mainstream.

Millions of subscribers have signed on with the industry's two main players: XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. is approaching nearly 3 million subscribers, while rival Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. passed the 800,000 subscriber mark earlier this month.

And the two companies combine to add hundreds of thousands of customers each month. Sirius, which had just 261,000 subscribers last year, expects to reach 1 million by the end of the year, according to company spokesperson Ron Rodrigues.

XM and Sirius charge basic monthly subscription fees ranging from $9.99 to $12.95. Each offers more than 100 channels.

While the two competitors offer similar content, each is working to add exclusive programming in an attempt to lure more customers from each other and commercial radio.

Sirius recently signed a deal to air the men's NCAA basketball championship and Final Four games through 2007. The company also provides play-by-play for all National Football League and National Hockey League games.

And on top of the sports broadcasting, Sirius will add popular radio personality Howard Stern to its lineup in January 2006. With some 20 million listeners, Stern could bring millions of additional subscribers to Sirius during their five-year deal.

XM, on the other hand, provides live NASCAR coverage and news 24 hours a day and will broadcast every Major League Baseball game for the next 11 seasons. It also has deals to air college football and basketball games for the Atlantic Coast Conference and the PAC 10 Conference.

Satellite radio continues to gain acceptance as XM and Sirius keep signing exclusive programming deals, said Shayne Laughlin, mobile supervisor at Best Buy in Waterloo.

"It's very popular," Laughlin said. "Last year we had a hard time keeping them in stock. We had to bulk up our stock in order to keep up with the demand this year."

Commercial radio fallout?

There are still questions about how satellite radio might affect local commercial stations.

Jim Coloff, general manager of locally owned Mix 96-KCVM, has little concern at this point. But he isn't surprised people are willing to pay for satellite radio service.

"Satellite radio has grown," Coloff said. "It's still rather small. But I think it certainly is competition to stations that don't focus on the local community.

"One problem corporate radios have, I feel, is that they have lost touch with the community. They no longer focus on community events and schools," he continued. "If all you're looking for is music to listen to, then why not listen to satellite programming?"

Since a change in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the commercial radio industry has consolidated greatly. The change erased language that forbid a single company from owning more than 40 stations.

Now Clear Channel Communications owns more than 1,200 stations. Cumulus Broadcasting Inc., which owns four local stations, is the second largest radio company with nearly 300 stations. The five largest broadcasting companies own more than 14 percent of the country's stations, according to Journalism.org's The State of the News Media 2004.

Critics of radio consolidation argue with so many stations owned by so few companies, listeners have fewer choices and too much repetition, making satellite radio an attractive alternative.

And some financial analysts predict satellite radio will have 40 million subscribers by 2010. Others expect satellite radio to be in half of all new cars within 10 years.

"By any measure," Rodrigues said, "satellite radio will be successful in the coming years, primarily because customers want the unique programming and choice that's available with satellite radio."

Those in the commercial radio industry, however, doubt most consumers are willing to pay for a service similar to what they get out of their car radios for free.

In addition to a monthly fee, someone interested in satellite radio will pay an activation fee and must also purchase a receiver, most of which cost $100 or more. Satellite radios also need to be properly installed --- often at an additional charge --- in order to get the best performance.

"As far as I'm concerned ... I think it's still a novelty item," said Tim Mathews, general manager of The Radio Group, which operates four local stations, including 107.9-KFMW and 105.7-KOKZ.

"Sirius only has about 800,000 subscribers and XM has a couple of million. I really wouldn't call that a threat to anything, not to commercial radio," Mathews added. "And it's not that their product isn't any good, it just hasn't received acceptance."

And consumers have always had alternatives to commercial radio. Popular electronics like CD players should have hurt the radio industry, but the number of broadcast radio stations continues to rise.

Coloff said some who experimented with satellite radio, mainly those who received it as an incentive with an automobile purchased, quickly terminated the service.

"I think some have experienced that satellite radio is not what they thought it was," he said.

But satellite radio is well worth the monthly fee for Ticknor, as he frequently spends time on the road.

"It's a pretty cool thing when you're traveling," he said. "It sounds nice, especially when you have good equipment, and the reception is excellent. You might only lose it for a second when you go under an overpass."

Charles Emerick can be contacted at (319) 291-1418 or charles.emerick@wcfcourier.com.
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Old 06-14-2006, 07:34 AM   #2
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In those last few days of the school year, I used the sirius online player and played many different stations in my classroom. My students loved the music and the variety. At first they asked what radio station it was.. k95 , 96.3 wrov..my response was no..it is sirius satellite radio. They loved it and many said that they going to get a subsription. That's over 130 new subscribers!
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Old 06-14-2006, 02:43 PM   #3
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That's a very old article (from 12-5-04). Sunscription numbers have jumped so much since then.
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Old 06-14-2006, 02:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rydaldude
In those last few days of the school year, I used the sirius online player and played many different stations in my classroom. My students loved the music and the variety. At first they asked what radio station it was.. k95 , 96.3 wrov..my response was no..it is sirius satellite radio. They loved it and many said that they going to get a subsription. That's over 130 new subscribers!
I would love to do the same if the frigging DJs could keep from cussing.
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Old 06-14-2006, 03:29 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by badmotherfarker
I would love to do the same if the frigging DJs could keep from cussing.
Jesus, would you please drop that already!
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Old 06-14-2006, 03:31 PM   #6
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Jesus, would you please drop that already!
Jesus, would you grow up already?
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Old 06-14-2006, 04:32 PM   #7
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Jesus, would you grow up already?
Only if you do first!
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Old 06-14-2006, 07:03 PM   #8
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<badsarcasm>Who wants to get tickets to see Chad and badmotherfarker kill themselves again?</badsarcasm>
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Old 06-14-2006, 07:19 PM   #9
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Look when that was posted. Why dig that up?
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Old 06-14-2006, 07:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usiphi203
Look when that was posted. Why dig that up?
I don't know why we dug it up, but I love how Badmotherfarker and Chad manage to make every thread they post together in a battle...
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Old 06-14-2006, 07:42 PM   #11
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ok, sounds good to me.
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