This is my first review of Sirius. I’ve had an account for about five months. Though I spent a good part of my life in radio, and all of it thinking about and/or listening to radio, I didn’t acquire a satellite radio until my daughter bought me one for Christmas 2006. We were busy moving and I didn’t get around to activating the service until about March. I had kind of lost interest in listening to radio, except for NPR and classical stations. Seattle has excellent examples of both (KUOW, KPLU, KING). Yakima has Northwest Public Radio (, which provides some of each.

Sirius offers most every kind of music — entire dedicated 24-hour channels for Top 40, Hip-Hop, Broadway, all the way to a Metropolitan Opera channel. And there’s lots of talk, too. All this for $12 or so a month. Plus your radio, of course, which doesn’t receive AM-FM. Mine is one of their candy-bar-sized receivers, which came with a car installation kit — a bracket that clips to the car’s dashboard air vent and plugs into the former cigarette lighter outlet — and a small lozenge of a satellite antenna that you’re supposed to stick to the car roof and weasel its wire through the window somehow.

Of course, I wasn’t going to deface either of our cars. I hang the bracket on the A/C vent, plug it in and toss the antenna up on the top of the dash. It works fine, and I can remove the radio and take it inside. In the tech field, this set would be called a nifty “workaround” (you’re working around established radio), since it actually broadcasts on an FM frequency to your built-in car radio. That works surprisingly well, as long as you can find a quiet place on the FM dial, which isn’t so easy in a metro area like Seattle, or any point between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. However, I’ve managed. And it’s nice to have more choices when I’m traveling.

I also bought the Sirius BoomBox, $99 extra. It’s a cool-looking and sounding platform for the same Hershey Bar radio. It’s equipped with a removeable antenna on its own base, and a lot of wire. The instructions recommend you install the thing outside your house or apartment and weasel the wire back in, etc. No thanks. Radio is supposed to be portable. Radio — you turn it on and it works, right? With satellite, not exactly.

Listening to satradio is kind of halfway between turning on a radio and turning on a computer. There’s a pause while it finds the satellite — I always have to wander around with the antenna until I get a signal. There’s another pause when you change channels. Then, later, the signal always, always stops — I don’t know, maybe it’s clouds, or trees, or the Van Allen belt — but I always have to get up and move the antenna, maybe once every hour or so, or I’m listening to nothing.

Why have millions of Americans paid to get satellite radio? Howard Stern only gets credit for about three million. I’ll take a crack at it. More. Americans love media, and tech, and new toys. And more. Radio is good. More radio is better. For more, Americans will go for a new dial that’s fairly difficult, and certainly more expensive, to get to. And this is assuming the programming’s going to be better. Is it? Not really. Except, no commercials on the music channels.

This is going to take more words, as well as thought. I’ll get back to it. Bottom line: I like my Sirius, though I only use the classical and jazz channels, the BBC World Service, NPR channels sometimes. Next time, the programming.

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Review: Sirius Satellite Radio


Heinrich Hertz's experiments proved the existence of electromagnetic radiation. Cycles-per-second, the standard measure of radio wave frequency, was named for him. He died in 1894, at 37. Wikipedia: Hertz


What do you do with a problem like Howard? After decades of profits and FCC indecency fines as routine budget items, Howard Stern, king of all pottymouth radio guys, followed his enabler Mel Karmazin to Sirius Satellite Radio, leaving CBS to make up a hundred million in revenue (They sold stations) and fill the void for the half of Howard's loyal audience who didn't choose to buy a new radio and pay fifteen bucks a month for a few more, ranker epithets.
Wikipedia: Stern


CBS might have become the Cigar Broadcasting System. William S. Paley was the scion of the family business. In 1927, his cigar tycoon dad, Samuel, bought the struggling network of early radio stations from a group of poor schlumps who were trying to – would you believe: sell programming to radio stations! Every syndicator since has had to relearn that this doesn't work. Bill and his dad figured out the right business model -- you sell commercials to advertisers, and give the programs to stations. Got it?
Wikipedia: Paley