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  • Writer's pictureJeff Matthews

Weekend Edition: The Best Advertisement For Satellite Radio

Driving from West Palm Beach airport to my mother’s home in Stuart, Florida is about an hour’s drive, all in. Normally, the time goes by quickly because the rental car is a Hertz, and, since Ford owns Hertz, the car has satellite radio.

Today the car was a Kia, and it did not have satellite radio. So our daughters and I wrestled with old-style, terrestrial radio, and hated every minute of it.

Contrary to the assertions of the old-style radio CEO I met with at a conference earlier this week (described in “Much Ado About Nothing?”), old-style radio has limited choice, lousy audio quality, and way way too many commercials.

We re-discovered the sad state of affairs of Generic Mainstream Corporate Radio Mediocrity after trying unsuccessfully to locate a station that was actually playing “music” as opposed to commercials or station jingles. Finally, I hit the “scan” button and let the stupid radio simply run through the entire FM band, one station at a time.

At the lower end were a couple of gospel stations, then a mix of Hispanic, Classic Rock, Hip-Hop, Oldies and “Z-100” stations (about 13 in all). And the few that were accidentally playing “music” at the time the scanner sampled them, were all playing the same “music” their equivalent formats play up North. Generic Mainstream Corporate Radio Mediocrity struck again.

One of our daughters slipped on her iPod.

Finally, however, after about thirty minutes, I struck gold: the scanner picked up a station playing “music”–in this case, “Light My Fire.” And it was the extended “Light My Fire.” Bliss.

Bliss, until we drove out of the range of that station and “Light My Fire” faded into “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” followed by extended commercials, disk-jockey chatter about the weather (there is not much variation in the weather in Florida), and extended commercials.

Did I mention the commercials?

The entire trip was a sixty-minute advertisement for satellite radio.

I have, in the past, had a hard time justifying the valuations of the two satellite radio choices–Sirius and XM. I am now convinced that, over the very long run, those valuations may prove reasonable; probably for XM rather than Sirius, which has a handicapped business model owning to its inferior technology and low OEM market share with the auto makers.

Nevertheless, at this stage, I have an open mind. Informed opinions are welcome.

Jeff Matthews I Am Not Making This Up

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