Next Tuesday I’m scheduled to have an XM satellite radio installed in my 4-Runner. If you haven’t seen the TV commercials or billboards, it’s a new subscription radio service that offers 100 plus channels of digital music and information for about 10 bucks a month. The line-up of news channels is pretty amazing: USA Today, Fox News, CNN Headline News, Weather Channel, CNBC, BBC, C-Span. I don’t know anyone that has the service yet and that sort of surprises me.
The parallels to cable TV are obvious. I remember when cable was first introduced and people asked, “Why would you pay for TV when you can get it for free?!” The answer seems equally obvious these days. HBO alone gives me Band of Brothers, The Soproanos, Six Feet Under, Sex and the City, Oz, The Wire, Dennis Miller and on and on. I have no idea if satellite radio will catch on. Or what impact –if any– it might have on traditional radio.
For me it’s about choices. The Web has spoiled me in this regard. I don’t want to listen to what “most of the people” want to listen to. I want to listen to what I want to (know many good reggae stations?). And I’ll pay to do so. On a recent 15 hour drive from Florida to Missouri, I found a few radio stations I liked but I quickly drove out of range and back into “radio wasteland.” I never really thought Internet radio was much of a challenge to traditional radio. I’m not so sure about this.