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January 09, 2006

Paying For It

This morning the history of the world changed forever...or at least Howard Stern broadcast his first show on Sirius, an event I've been anticipating ever since it was announced. Yes, that's right, I may seem normal on the outside, but inside I'm a Howard Stern fan.

The significance of this for me is that it inspired me to buy a satellite radio for my car. Now that I have the radio, and I'm paying $12.95 a month for it, I basically never listen to "terrestrial" radio (as old-fashioned radio is being called). On the list of things I can listen to in my car I have Sirius, my iPod, my CDs and tapes...and radio is at the bottom of the list. On Sirius I don't just get Howard; I get all kinds of stations (warning: Firefox-coma-inducing PDF link), including channel 43 (rap music at more than 20 bpm), channel 20 (music for white suburban kids), and channel 13 (nuthin' but Elvis). One of the channels is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's French station, which means I can listen to traffic reports from Montreal (my parents, meanwhile, have decided that the NPR station KPLU, which is based in Tacoma, has the best selection of jazz they can find streaming over the Internet, so they get traffic reports from Seattle).

One reason I find my switch to paid, commercial-free radio interesting (actually Howard is going to have a few commercials, but nothing like the amount he had when he was on free radio) is that Microsoft has now been talking about moving towards advertising-supported software -- the opposite direction from my personal radio odyssey.

It could be, of course, that I'm just blessed with too little time and too much cash, so my willingness to pay for no commercials is unusual. At the same time, I really am becoming annoyed at commercials on websites. For one thing, they always seem to be the slowest thing to load on a page. And now sites are doing those annoying ads where you see the ad and have to click again to get to the real page...dagnabbit I have blog entries to write, I can't spend my time hunting down hard-to-find "Close" buttons on popover ads. Google ads are OK because they are fairly unobtrusive and fast -- that's why Google is printing money with them (I think the most astonishing fact I have heard about Google recently is the fact they their P/E ratio is only around 100 -- in other words it's actually somewhat reasonable given their growth).

When Howard Stern announced his move to satellite, Sirius had about 600,000 subscribers and estimated they needed one million more to make his $500 million deal worth it; they are now at 3.3 million and had so many new signups yesterday that they got 9 hours behind on activations. I know we could achieve a world in which almost everything is free if you just sit through a couple of ads (here's an exciting article about how there'll soon be even more crap shown before movies); I just don't particularly want to live in such a world.

Posted by AdamBa at January 9, 2006 09:13 PM

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Hey, how's the installation? And how's the reception over the regular FM? I'm scared that I'll spend an hour installing the thing then the reception will be crummy because of FM interference.

Posted by: Mattydread at January 11, 2006 02:31 PM

I had mine installed by Car Toys and they hooked it right up to my stereo (via the unused CD Changer input) so I'm not receiving on FM. I listen to my iPod via an FM signal and it sounds fine.

The signal on Sirius is pretty good. My wife has an OEM install of XM in her car and it sounds great. Mine sounds fine for a talk show like Howard and most music, but for some very bass-y music it sounds a bit compressed. Someone at Car Toys told me it was because XM has ground retransmitters and Sirius doesn't. I don't know if that is true, it could be because her car has a better antenna.

I like Sirius's lineup better than XM's however.

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at January 11, 2006 04:14 PM