Thursday, November 13, 2008

XM Radio does the switch

It's official: XM Radio and Sirius have merged. Just like when they remote-disabled the FM transmitters in our radios via firmware update, they didn't warn us in advance; our first clue was that all of our stations changed. We were a bit surprised to find our classical dinner-music station had jumped to NFL sports talk. Really, it's not a big change. Most of the stations are the same content with different names (the modern hard rock station is still on XM48, but it's now Octane instead of Squizz). Plus, we've now got the NFL live network, so Laura can listen to Redskins games in the car; NPR; an '80s hair-band station; two stations produced by Little Steven; two more stand-up comedy channels; a station that promises "the music of action sports"; and, of course, two channels of Howard. But we've got to pay extra to hear the former Sirius stations that aren't a direct replacement for an old XM station. It'd be nice if we could do this a station at a time. My ideal would be NFL and NPR, but no Howard.

We also now have five single-artist stations, none of which (thankfully) is Metallica: Elvis, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Springsteen, and the Grateful Dead. I wonder how they pick these. Why is there an Elvis station, but no Beatles station? AC/DC, but no Eagles? I assume they base the decision on a combination of which single artist will attract the most listeners, and which single artist wants the biggest pile of cash for broadcast rights. This is probably why there's Zeppelin but no Metallica.

And, one disappointment with the switch: one of my favorite digital-cable music channels is Pulse, which is also on Sirius. And it's still on Sirius, exclusively. Personally, I'd be fine to trade the Grateful Dead for cool ambient electronica....

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