Monday, November 27, 2006

Satellite Radio

I am a technology junky. I admit it. I bought my first DVD player two months after they came out in the US (and spent about a year hoping I didn't buy a $600 CD player). I build computers for fun and I try to follow the new technologies coming out in that arena. However, for all of that, I also hate paying subscription fees. I canceled my cable because I thought paying for TV that I didn't really watch was a waste (my "rabbit ears" work just fine), I used a free dial-up account for internet because broadband was too expensive, I love the Tivo concept but can't bring myself to pay the subscription price. So it was quite a surprise to quite a few people when they found out that I do subscribe to satellite radio.

My road to satellite radio started out like any new technology, I saw an article about it and thought, "this is really cool!", followed by "if only it wasn't so expensive!". That's the way things stayed for a few years. Every now and then I'd check up on it to see how it was doing but it always ended in "if only it wasn't so expensive!". Then some things changed.

The first change was my growing frustration with regular radio. I have about a half hour commute each way (give or take 10 minutes, depending on traffic) and, in the entire Phoenix metro area, I only found one station that I liked. It seems that 80s music isn't as popular as I had hoped (I also found a classical music station but it suffered from poor reception so I didn't listen to it very often). As time went on, however, the stations mix included less and less of the 80s music in their lineup as well as longer and longer commercial breaks. I was not happy spending half my commute listening to ads and the other half with music that was less and less of what I wanted to hear. It was frustrating.

The other change came when I shared my frustration with a coworker who suggested, rather enthusiastically, that I try satellite radio. He was a long time subscriber and he couldn't say enough about how cool it was. He touted the specialized channels and the commercial free music. That got me really, really interested. I found out that both of the major satellite radio providers, Sirius and XM, have free trial periods so I tried them both out. I spent a couple of evenings listening to internet broadcasts from both and decided that I liked Sirius better, that commercial free music was awesome, and that having a station that only played 80s music was really cool. I was hooked.

Then my lovely wife stepped in and decided it would make a great Christmas present. So she hooked me up with a car reciever and a subscription to Sirius. Since then I have been a very happy listener. I get content that I would never get on regular radio, including an all 80s station, 3 classical music stations (with good reception), a kids music station, news stations from cnn, fox news, npr, etc., and even a station dedicated to the classic radio shows of yesteryear. I've found that, whatever my mood, there's almost always something on the radio to complement it. For example, from now until Christmas there are three stations playing different types of Christmas music 24/7 (classic stuff, pop, and country). There's always something on and, when it's music, there are no commercials (unless you count the 30 second or so ads for other Sirius stations that come up occasionally).

So yes, I do pay for satellite radio. However, for my money I get many stations that I actually like, commercial free music, and the same lineup no matter where I am in the US. For me, it's worth the money.

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