Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Heart Satellite Radio

No really, I do. SiriusXM rules the universe, as far as I'm concerned. Why do I think this way? Let me paint a picture for you......

It's late at night - really late. I've been driving all day and into the night on my way to a gig in Nevada. I'm in the middle of nowhere, probably somewhere between Klamath Falls, OR and Alturas, CA. I've listened to every CD in my car twice by now, and I'm seriously craving some stimulation for my tired brain to keep me focused on the road. But there's nothing on the radio except distant static and occasional echoes of signals from stations in the Bay Area. I scan the dial on my radio every few minutes, and nothing changes until I draw closer to Alturas. Then a scratchy AM signal comes around, slowly strengthening until I can clearly make out...... "Crazy", by the late great Patsy Cline. And I shut off the radio and scream in horror, for that very same song was playing the last time I drove through Alturas, about a month before. And the time before that, a few weeks earlier still. And the time before that.......

What's scary about that story is that it's absolutely true. I don't mean to bag on Alturas, it's a fine little town of aging Victorian storefronts, the seat of Modoc County, CA, and nerve center for an area roughly the size of Connecticut. Nowadays they have a classic-rock FM station in the area to add to the AM station, but I could care less. I'd been craving getting Sirius or XM satellite-radio in my vehicles for years, but it took moving to Nevada to make it a reality.

When we bought our Ford Explorer in Reno, I nudged Joy into buying it because of two things - a stout aftermarket towing rig, and an XM unit hardwired into the dash by its previous owner. After a few false starts, I got the right equipment to get the unit operational, then called up XM to establish service. One of the smartest decisions I've ever made - outside of marrying Joy, of course. The sheer variety of services available is amazing. Damn near every type of current, retro, and classic music to listen to. ESPN Radio. Every last game in Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, and college football and basketball to boot. The BBC's World Service. Book Radio, four or five comedy channels - love it, love it, love it!

And the funny thing is that I've come across people who've stated that satellite-radio is already obsolete. Really? How so? Well, why can't you just get everything via the Internet now? That'd be great - if I drove through areas that had free wireless Internet access so I could get all those streaming broadcasts. Where are those areas - oh that's right, they don't exist. Until something better comes along, the only way to get live radio signals of that quality to listeners all across the country is - wait for it - via satellite.

Not that I have a mean-on against terrestrial radio. Living along the Canadian border as I do, I like Canadian radio stations, like Victoria's 100.3fm, "The Q". And Victoria recently got their own outpost of the Canadian version of the popular Internet- and terrestrial-radio franchise JackFM, different from the American version due to 'Canadian Content' laws that require all Canadian music stations to play music of Canadian origin fifty percent of the time.

But I do adore my SiriusXM unit, so named now because the once-rival services merged to save their mutual interest. The bonus of that for me is that now I can listen to Howard Stern, NFL games (pending the end of the lockout), even Playboy and Spice Radio, though I really doubt I'll listen too much to those stations while I'm driving - I have no interest in driving off the road while listening to some dirty story......

I do encourage you, my loyal readers (if such loyal readers do exist) to check out SiriusXM. It's absolutely worth the investment. And for those of you who think I'm kissing their ass a bit too much - why the hell not? Maybe someone at SiriusXM will read this, and offer to buy adspace from me. Or maybe offer me free service for my kind words - which in truth are quite sincere, since I can say without hesitation that SiriusXM has saved not only my sanity, but probably my marriage as well, because sometimes Joy wants to listen to what she wants to listen to. Our tastes are that different and divergent, and thankfully SiriusXM has us both covered.