I Love My XM Satellite Radio

Warning – this is a comics-free posting.
 
The best gadgets are the ones that are a bit hard to explain at first, but which end up being indespensible. DVDs are an obvious example. Videos were good, but DVDs are far, far better in every way. TiVo is another example. Ask anyone who has a TiVo how they like it, and be prepared for a long speech about how it transformed their lives. (I’m one such guy, by the way, and let me tell you, PVRs are incredible inventions) I’m ready to add satellite radio to the list.
 
I picked up my XM satellite radio about three weeks ago after thinking about buying one for awhile. When the price of a unit dropped to around 50 bucks, I knew it was time to jump. Before I bought the XM, I hated radio. Every station seems to play the same songs all the time. With popular bands, only a small subset of songs would get played. With less popular bands, you might hear only a tiny handful of songs. I was plain sick of hearing the same things all the time. I have a 50 mile round trip, and had gotten really tired of talk radio. I needed more choice, more variety, more different stuff.
 
I certainly hit the jackpot with my XM radio. I’m a big fan of college radio songs from the late ’70s through the ’90s, and XM is the perfect place for stuff like that. There are three stations, oddly called Lucy, Fred and Ethel that play different subgenres of that musical style. Three! Good luck finding even one on your local radio stations. And it’s never the same stuff, either. I’ve heard at least five different songs by Love and Rockets, a song literally from every Talking Heads album, obscure bands like Rockpile and Romeo Void (did you know that Romeo Void have songs other than "Never Say Never" and "A Girl In Trouble Is a Temporary Thing"? I didn’t, either, until I heard it on XM. Right now I’m listening to a great song from the first solo album by Bob Mould, "See A Little Light." Great song, never played.
 
It’s not just alt rock stuff that gets played like this. I like Radiohead, the Killers and Coldplay, and it actually gets a little frustrating that every time I hear them it’s a different song. There are several classic rock stations that unearth great obscurities. It’s not rare to stumble over a Rolling Stones song on a radio station, but how often do you hear "Dandelion" from "Their Satanic Majesty’s Request"?
 
There are something like 100 different music stations. Heck, there are four Christian stations if that’s your thing. And a devoted bluegrass station. And an opera station.
 
But the killer app for me is the online music section. It’s perfect for listening at work – I found it to be perfect when I’m working on a spec all day. Look at this screenshot of one random moment on XM. There’s the Rolling Stones and Annie Lennox, but also Zappa and the Thrill Kill Kult and other wacky stuff.
 
And to top it off, they have baseball broadcasts.
 
What’s bad? It’s kind of awkward in the car, with several different wires over my gear box. And the car antenna sometimes loses the signal, in a tunnel or whatever. But overall this is a great device.
 
Oh, and if you’re curious why I didn’t pick a Sirius radio, I’m not excited to hear uncensored Howard Stern – he’s just not my thing. And XM has baseball, which is just more fun to have in the car than the NFL, which Sirius has (since football is mostly on on Sundays, I watch it on TV). Aside from that, the channels are mostly a wash.
 
Please excuse me, I have to go listen to "Ballad of the Green Berets" on the One-Hit Wonders channel. C’mon, how can that not be indespensible?
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One Response to “I Love My XM Satellite Radio”

  1. Unknown Says:

    Down with XM, Sirius rules! You missed Howard Stern\’s live farters/queefers yesterday, lol.

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