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October 2002 Rant

"Ready for XM?"

I can remember when all radio stations were AM except for a couple of FM stations that played only classical music. Now all stations are FM except for a couple of AM stations that are mostly talk radio. Get ready for XM because itís coming soon.

Just like TV used to be free, soon radio will no longer be free. I had to get cable TV when it became available in my area because the reception by antenna was so bad. XM radio reception is excellent. Tune in a station and drive all you want. You wonít lose the station after a couple of hundred or even a couple of thousand miles.

So whatís my complaint? It appears we have to pay for everything up front now. TV used to be free to the viewer; advertisers paid for the programming. Just like we have monthly cable payments we can now have monthly radio payments. Iím sure it will happen. Itís a new way to make money.

Richmond radio is lousy. Weíve got few choices. Morning radio is just awful. I canít stand to listen to people who love to hear themselves chat. Radio stations know it means more profit if they ďpipe inĒ DJís from another area. Instead of paying a bunch of DJís they just pay 3 or 4. Itís tough to find any music during the morning and afternoon rush hours since thatís when the ads run. Those ads are keeping radio free to we listeners, for now.

XM is satellite radio that will cost you a fee to get it in your car plus a monthly fee, just like cable TV. While XM has 100 channels only 35 of them are commercial free. So even if you pay the lowest cost for the hardware of $200 (if you can find it that cheap plus installation) and the $10 a month fee you can still listen to commercials. Then you get to pay $80 to over a $100 for a special antenna and then thereís the $10 - $15 activation fee. Iím sure thereís also a deactivation fee.

On XM you can listen to comedy routines that were broadcast over free radio years ago. In TV lingo those are reruns. You can even get nasty explicit language shows but of course you can block the kids from hearing those stations just like with cable. You can also select the music you really want to hear. At least thatís what the ads say.

XM is cheaper than cable TV. XM is only $10 a month. I can remember when cable TV was only $5 a month. Now it goes up 2 or 3 times a year. If you complain the cable company will say theyíve added new channels to the lineup. I canít stand to watch most of the junk on the channels I now have and I donít need anymore nor do I need the price to continually increase. Iím certain the price of XM will go up just as soon as it catches on. Once XM is standard on the new vehicles weíll be forced to go XM as AM and FM stations die. Or you can shop for 8-tracks at antique shops.

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