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Satellite Radio Network 89

Posted by michael
from the sale-on-tinfoil-hats dept.
BodyCount07 writes: "CNN has this article on the sea-based launch of a geosynchronous satellite that will provide US citizens with a coast-to-coast radio network. The network will provide news and entertainment channels to its subscribers. More information is available at XM Radio's official site." Well, it's interesting. But broadcast radio is free. Will people pay for radio that still has ads? I suppose if you live in the large country-music-only zone in the U.S., you might be willing to pay for something different...
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Satellite Radio Network

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  • Don't forget about areas of the US where there is only one Country & Western station, but it only really plays Country. Rock fans aren't the only ones that get pissy when they don't have choices. I'm not sure how much I'd be willing to pay, but the reception better be good and constant. That's one of the main reasons I have cable (the other being The Daily Show).
  • It seems quite appropriate that one of the "uninfected" stations mentioned there [washingtoncitypaper.com] is KGNU ;).

    Alex Bischoff
    ---
  • KGSR 107.1 comes in pretty well for 30 miles to the north, south and east of Austin. (Nothing comes in well 30 miles to the west.) KUT 90.5 makes it about 50-70 depending on the conditions, and they rebroadcast on 90.1 KUTX out of San Angelo.

    Other than that, though, you're pretty much hosed. You can, however, skip the Whitesnake tape and just tune in KLBJ 93.7, they'll be sure to play Whitesnake within 30 minutes.

    Don Negro

  • Don't forget about areas of the US where there is only one Country and Western station, but it only really plays Country.

    Or even worse, when the Country and Western station doesn't even play Country, but the sort of warmed-over pop you get from Shania Twain and Faith Hill... I recently discovered a local "Louisiana artists" station that has a lot of local country, blues, swamp pop, and cajun music, and it's pretty good, in between bursts of static.


    If Country Music is dead, it's Nashville that's killed it, not rock and roll.



  • I think the "official" difference between DC101 and WHFS is that WHFS caters to 14-year-olds and DC101 caters to 15-year-olds. 98 Rock Baltimore is the way to go.
  • He can't do that now? He must like to listen to low powered stations or he's on the edge of their broadcast areas. Thirty miles isn't that far. Most stations that I normally pick up have at least a 75-100 mile listening radius..unlike this [wnax.com] 5000 watt station. If you were within 150 miles of it and couldn't pick it up, your radio was broken.

  • to be cutting edge ? LOLOLOL They subscribe the the same service as 90% of the radio stations, they pay the same fees to play songs for a period of time so it makes financial sense to OVERPLAY those songs. The more air time the less they 'payed' for each song. Is soooo much like payola these days I gave up on Radio. MP3's in the car is the way to go...
  • This could be very usefull when we have to
    go thru areas where there is no decent
    country station available. That way if
    we forget to bring a CD we're not stuck
    with no music to listen to.
  • Both XM and Sirius have comitted to overlaying via a network of terrestrial repeaters. Repeater placement/allocation would be determined by satellite footprint calcuations. None of the above will be easy or cheap.
  • Can anyone in the DC area tell me the difference between DC101 and WHFS?

    One of these stations has always played crap, while the other threw away a devoted listenership in order to start playing crap.

    If you're able to, I highly recommend giving WRNR (103.1) a try -- it's run by the same folks who started WHFS (If not Damian, then him and his father? I can't remember exactly). Unfortunately, I can't get it in virginia -- so I, too, am looking forward to satellite radio. Either that, or I'll just by a Nomad Jukebox for the car.

    Unfortunately, they're no longer streaming. Yet another example of RIAA, actors unions, and other assorted people screwing the public for their own personal gain. But that's a rant for another time.... :)

  • A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, WHFS used to have an interesting collection of DJs that played eclectic styles of music. Each DJ played what they wanted, not some robot program director's play list. Lots of good music, much of it from bands you had never heard of, in long sets. The DJs were very low key and didn't commit the capital offense of talking over the music. See this page [geocities.com] for some history.
  • TV when there was no cable (OK I'm dating myself) was very enjoyable and had high standards.

    You seem to have forgotten gems like My Mother The Car [spudtv.com]

  • did HFS used to be like? It would be nice to have a station in D.C. that played good classic rock,

    Back when I lived in the DC area (88-91), the radio stations play lists were:

    WHFS - Alternative, when that actually meant something

    WWDC (DC101) - Classic/Hard rock

    WCXR - Classic, 60's/70 rock with some newer Tom Petty sprinkled in

    WJFK - Classic/Hard rock

    WAVA - Top 40

    107.3 - Top 40

    97.9 (from Baltimore) - Hard rock

    So there wasn't much more diversity, lots of Hard rock, 60s/70s rock when that was popular.

    -jon

  • by austad (22163)
    I'm getting bored of hacking DSS and 802.11. Fresh meat!
  • by Brento (26177) <brento@@@brentozar...com> on Friday May 04, 2001 @04:18AM (#246573) Homepage
    I'm probably a good example of their target demographic. I've got tastes that aren't matched by a lot of radio stations, and I'm a gadget-buyer. (I happen to dig 80's, Frank Sinatra, and blues music. Not together, of course.) Sure, I live in a big city with dozens of stations, but most of them suck, and I usually end up listening to Internet radio at home and MP3's in the car.

    I would KILL to have access to this kind of radio everywhere. Traveling is such a pain, because you spend half your time trying to find a decent radio station. Sometimes your rental car has a CD player, sometimes it has a tape deck, and carrying more equipment like an MP3 player is a pain in the butt. And no, I don't want to unpack my laptop, plug it into the cigarette lighter, and listen to MP3's on the tinny speakers (or monkey with tape adapters.)

    The solution would be XM radios in rental cars. I want to be able to log in on any radio and get my stations. The login process has to be simple - don't make me pound out my e-mail address using phone keypads. And don't make me log in every time, and don't penalize me if I don't log out - I know this makes things hard in the world of rental cars, but deal with it. They don't have this solution available yet, though.

    The next thing they need to address is XM walkmans. If I can't carry it with me on my head like my Sony that has the radio built into the headphones, I'm not going to subscribe. I don't see that as possible with their current setup, and that's definitely a drawback.

    So it seems their target demographic is restricted to people who don't rent cars, and don't use walkmans. (Walkmen?) There are other problems, but these two alone make it a bad deal for me and everybody I know. Why would I pay XM when I get digital music with my TV cable connection, and free digital radio on the internet?
  • Clear Channel is an investor in XM, by the way.
  • Why can't we seem to put up a national cellphone service like in Japan. If we're spending all this time, money, and technology, make it two way... There are still many places near where I live where there's absolutely no coverage. I guess this is just a rant, but it should be established technology, who cares about nationwide radio except the advertisers.
  • Regular radio sucks, and this will suck worse.

    I disagree completely. Currently because of the limited number of stations, each station has to try to cater to an extremely wide range of people. This is what creates the homogenized music.

    Cable television has improved television because it can create specialized stations like Discovery, MTV, SciFi, Comedy Channel, etc., none of which could survive as a broadcast channel. The limiting factor for cable tv is that producing TV shows is very expensive, so they end up playing mostly reruns.

    Satellite radio however delivers content which is much, much cheaper to produce. Music can be broadcast freely, and talk and news shows are extremely cheap.

    With satellite radio, a single company will be able to produce a suite of radio stations which will appeal to a wide range of tastes and interests. If the bandwidth is sufficiently cheap, you can expect a satellite radio provider to give you everything from standard Top 40 music and news stations to All-Zydeco-All-The-Time and Falsetto-Japanese-Pop.

    For a peek into what this will probably look like, check out net-radio offerings like spinner.com.

    -Bruce
  • Which was my point. I grew up listening to HFS in the late 70's and in the 80's. I miss it.
  • Punk, new wave, stuff that was nowhere else. Listen to the sunday brunch at the archives with weezil, 9 to 11 am I think, to hear what they used to play. Then listen to 94.7 to hear what everyone else was playing. The lack of chioce, in a major area like DC, is why I want sat radio.
  • by wiredog (43288) on Friday May 04, 2001 @03:38AM (#246579) Journal
    Will people pay for radio that still has ads?

    Probably not. After all, no one pays for TV that has ads. Wait a minute. I pay for CNN, Weather Channel, and other stuff on cable. You know, this just might work.

    All joking aside, satellite radio is a good idea. Anyone who lives in an area that Clear Channel has moved into is looking forward to actual choices. (Can anyone in the DC area tell me the difference between DC101 and WHFS?) Those who live in rural areas with only one FM "rock" (which is actually top 40) one country and one NPR station will also love this. Frank Ahrens, a reported/commentator for the Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] has written extensively about this.

  • XM might if you can get a walkman sized unit.

    In the UK we have DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) which provides around 40 channels of local and national radio across most of the urban areas of the country - however it's not going to take off until the receivers are portable and sub £100.

  • Is there any technical info on XM? I can't find anything on their webpage ...

  • I am not from the US, but I guess the main target for this service are people who have to drive long distances and want to have decent radio reception and their favorite kind of music everywhere. Mounting a satellite dish on your car is just so inconvinient ;-)
    Here in Europe, this kind of service isn't quite as interesting, but in the US (and Canada, for that matter), it makes sense.
  • I'm not sure that you really are quite in their target demographic. I think that the people they really expect to pay for this service are those who cover a lot of ground in their own vehicles. People like truckers and salesmen. For most of us it's not that big of a deal to go home every night and grab a handful of new CDs to listen to the next day.

    ________________________
  • The reception should be good. They will have two satellites at opposite ends of the country. One satellite will be transmitting the same information as the other but on different carriers about 6 seconds behind. This should help with bridges and such. They are also putting tons of repeaters in major cities that will also be transmitting yet another carrier. And the repeaters use a form of modulation that is less prone to problems caused by multipath (OFDM maybe?).

    So if you are driving around a city, you will have 3 copies of their 2 carriers coming at you from multiple directions. Fading out shouldn't be a problem.
  • The reception should be good. Their two satellites will be located on either side of the USA and will be broadcasting the same two carriers. One of the satellites will broadcasts it's signals about 6 seconds behind the other so you can pick up the other satellite if you lose the primary going under a bridge

    They are also putting in repeaters in most decent sized cities in the country. These repeaters use some kind of modulation that is less prone to problems caused by multipath.(OFDM maybe?) So if you are in a city you will be getting three copies of their two carriers from 3 different sources.
  • DC101 and WHFS are actually owned by the same parent company.
    They are the only source for modern rock music in the Washington, DC area, and they play nothing but Rock Top 40 most of the time.

    They sound the same because they are the same!

  • I see 3 major problems with our current radio network:

    1. Most radio stations play more commercials that actual content.

    2. You can't get radio stations outside of major cities. And if you can there isn't much selection.

    3. There isn't enough variety available.

    I think Satellite radio will help solve all 3 of these problems. Both companies that are going to do this have promised 50 of the 100 channels will be commercial-free. You will be able to get recpetion from anywhere. Also will 100 channels you should have plenty of variety and something for everyone.

    The $10 a month may not be worth it for everyone, but I think it is great for anyone that has to spend more than a couple of minutes a day in their car.

    FoonDog
  • Satellite radio is eagerly awaited by at least one exurb-to-exurb commuter that regularly posts to dc.driving. He commutes between Dahlgren and Fredricksburg -- both are exurbs about 50 miles from DC, but are only about 30 miles apart from each other. He looks forward to not only selection, but being able to listen to a single station during the entire trip.
  • When I was a kid, radio was a magical passport to other places, other people, other lives. Listening to distant stations still gives me that thrill.

    One of the fun things about driving cross-country is that you get to hear local radio. It's too late for most of the FM band - as others have noted, it's now mostly homogenized Musak controlled by small handful of media companies. The AM dial is a lot more fun. Hog feed ads and local housewives calling a cooking show with their pickle recipes and even Bible-thumping preachers add to the sense that you're actually travelling somewhere different, not just sitting on an anonymous Interstate.

    Best of all is driving in Canada. The CBC is great!

    "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." - Einstein

  • So, you can subscribe to XMR [xmradio.com] for $9.95 per month, not including the one-off expense of replacing all your old audio equipment with XM-Ready equipment [xmradio.com]. Or, assuming you already have a computer, you can put the money into a decent Internet connection, and listen to a gazillion radio stations worldwide [dmoz.org] for free.

    I know it's easy to predict the death of one technology when another comes along, and (for example) it's clear that TV hasn't killed radio yet. But considering that a fair number of Americans have Internet access already [doc.gov], if they put the cost of XMR access into improving the bandwidth into their house, they'd be getting radio freedom XMR users could only dream of.

    M


    my plan [gospelcom.net]
  • by Sc00ter (99550) on Friday May 04, 2001 @03:47AM (#246591) Homepage
    I have a GPS in my car that has an okay size antenna and when I go under a bridge or where there's thick woods my signal dies. Be it only for a couple seconds, but still that would be very annoying with radio.


    --

  • The 2 companies involved in sat radio are xm and sirus. Sirus already has severe cash problems and xm is projected to run out of cash sometime later in the year. Their stocks went through the roof during the NASDAQ rally last year with no product! At least the .com's had a product. Sat radio as of yet has no product or revenue stream. If you think that this is a saviour to bland radio, think again. One of the largest investors in XM is Clear Channel. The company most believe is responsible for the bad state of radio today. What we need is streaming ip based radio that is not controlled by corporate vampires to lead a new revolution in the fifth estate.
  • Will people pay for radio that still has ads?

    There's a lot of discussion on ads in Satellite Radio. Here are the statements from XM's and Sirius' web pages. Do with them what you will.

    XM: To ensure that there's something for everyone on XM Radio, we will be providing a number of commercial-free music channels in popular formats. In addition, our limited-advertising channels will carry less than half of the advertising of a traditional AM or FM station.

    Sirius: 50 channels of commercial-free music.

    Travis

  • 12 months?? Sky have been running their digital service for 3.5 years now.
  • It's already homogenized. When the FCC relaxed its restrictions on station ownership, big radio conglomerates like Westwood One snapped up small-market stations in droves.

    That's why radio in so many small towns changed from the audio equivalent of the local paper by local people to USA Today. Nothing but bland lite-whatever, and lowest-common-denominator talk show cesspools. The station owners love it though, because they don't have to worry about their own content any more. Just sell a few ads to Clovis's Barbershop and Ledbetter's Used Cars, and you're done.

    What little local-origination programming there is left in Heartland America is so down-home it makes Hee Haw look like Firing Line. No news except for syndication of the CNN Headline News audio track, with the occasional break for tornado warnings. Farm reports. Preaching. Maybe the token "public radio" classical top 40.

    If that's where I still lived, I'd gladly pay for some decent content. Or lots of CDs.

  • i dunno about you guys (and girls), but i personally cannot stand any more corporate-programmed media. for the same reason i don't watch tv anymore, i also listen to shoutcast and my own mp3's instead of commercial radio.

    so, how do we get that in the car? i'm drooling over the phatnoise car audio system [phatnoise.com].
    _________________________________________ _________
    Do You Yahoo!?

  • by Hellburner (127182) on Friday May 04, 2001 @05:15AM (#246597)
    "...if they put the cost of XMR access into improving the bandwidth into their house, they'd be getting radio freedom XMR users could only dream of."

    True. But I am still having technical difficulties with hooking up my ehternet cable to my Chevy. That suff is surprisingly inelastic. Maybe I can rig the car to receive pigeon packets. Come to think of it, from what I saw on my hood this morning I am already compliant to that standard.
  • Sirius Satellite Radio (www.siriusradio.com) is also working along the same lines as XM. The Sirius setup is a bit more realistic (and cheaper) in my point of view. Instead of 2 satellites and a sh*tload of terrestrial repeaters, Sirius [already] has 3 satellites cycling around the globe so that 2 are visible at all times. Sirius also seems to have a more interesting station lineup that XM, but that's personal preference.

    As for the actual feasability of these services succeding, it'll depend on a lot of things. The current belief that the economy is bad will definately hurt these companies. Even so, they have very deep pockets and should be able to stick around for a while. Both companies already have deals in the works with car manufacturers to make the satellite radio system an option. It's probably a best choice if you live in a low-radio-station density area where the only thing you can hear is country, rap, or rush limbaugh.

    It's also important to note that neither of these systems are cross compatable -- different hardware and such. Should be interesting to keep an eye on though.
    BR
  • Your receiver wouldn't be broadcasting a signal to tell the source to repeat the part of the song that you missed, so 30 seconds after the overpass your 30 second buffer would be empty and you'd still have a "skip".

  • I work for a publishing company that has produces a magazine [roadking.com] targeting truckers. Several staff members were invited to a small demonstration and sales pitch. They wanted two things - one, to get the idea into publications' minds so they would be more likely to make feature stories about XM Radio, and second they want to begin advertising relationships. I'm certain that truckers are not the sole target audience, but it is obvious they made a point to advertise to them. They aren't just looking at the truckers themselves, but the fleets too, perhaps as a potential employee benefit for the fleet drivers. It would sure be nice to have the same radio station when driving cross country, especially if you do it for a living.
  • I would consider paying for a service like this if they acted as a "repeater" for other radio station signals - it would be neat to listen to a radio station on the opposite side of the country, and there's got to be at least one station that I'll like listening to at any given time.
  • Well, granted, I suppose once you're on the interstate, FM dies and you are presented with Country OR Western as your choices, I think I'd rather try the 12 digitally broadcast techno channels...

    You want a radio wasteland? So-called "country radio" is probably even worse than (top-40) "rock" stations.

    We have two country FM country stations in Denver that I can find. Both of them are the same warmed over Shania Twain/Faith Hill/people who sound like Shania Twain and Faith Hill. The titles and the singers' names are different, but they still sound even more repetitive than the 80's station that Nina Blackswill keeps hawking. "Ninety six songs, over and over again! The eighties, and not much else!"

    I'd pay real money to subscribe to a country station that wasn't the same dozen songs every day.


  • Who cares what you or I think, the biggest obstacle this company faces is convincing the automakers in the united states to start installing factory audio head units capable of receiving the "XM" frequencies as well.

    And you thought cell phones were a distraction? How many of you reading this actually listen to one complete song on FM radio? Yes, you station-surf constantly, don't you; We all have two minute hamsterlike attention spans. Is having 100 channels to flip through a really fantastic idea?

    Well, granted, I suppose once you're on the interstate, FM dies and you are presented with Country OR Western as your choices, I think I'd rather try the 12 digitally broadcast techno channels... Hmm.. XM huh?

    Anyone else figured out that it would be potentially possible to distribute entire albums at 44 KHz 16 bit quality this way? :)

  • Ever been through Central Texas?


    I live (t)here. The radio "choices" here are what drove me to buy a hard drive-based MP3 player for my car.

  • Supposedly, they are going to have a combination of commercial & commercial-free channels. Of course, I would guess that this would be somewhat dependant on how much they make from ads & subscriptions - it wouldn't surprise me if they ended up selling commercial time on all of 'em after a period of time.
  • I know it's easy to predict the death of one technology when another comes along, and (for example) it's clear that TV hasn't killed radio yet.

    Not killed, maybe, but radically altered. Before TV, there were these radio shows on radio - they told stories, they were like audio-only TV shows. With the advent of the TV in many households, radio shows started to die (remember the song "Video Killed the Radio Star?"), and be replaced with something else radio did better than TV - music. Anything on the radio these days is basically some form of music - the exceptions are basically NPR, news radio stations, and radio call-in shows.

    Radio is mostly used now as something in the background to listen to. Families used to spend the evenings together in front of their radio listening to stories - now, TV has replaced that use.

    So new technologies may not "kill" an old technology, but they will radically alter them.

  • A-friggin-men to that!

    I recently drove from New Orleans to Albuquerque and back, and it was Clear Channel ALL THE WAY. Clear Channel Communications as snapping up every decent station in the company and currently owns over 1,700 stations.

    According to this article [yahoo.com], there are 269 radio markets in the US and the average market can handle about 15 stations on the FM band. That puts Clear Channel in control of over a third of the radio market nationwide! They run the same contests and play the same music nationwide, and they even advertise other Clear Channel stations - like I need to know where to find "the best country music" when I'm rocking out to Tool or whatever. Please.

    So, just to keep things ontopic ;) I'd definitely consider paying for commercial radio, if it could get me out from under Clear Channel!

    --

  • I got into music around 1993. What did HFS used to be like? It would be nice to have a station in D.C. that played good classic rock, I don't know what the hell 94.7 turned into. Last I listened to it, it was all hippie music.
  • Every time I hear about another "big development in the wireless scene", my first thought is about the bandwidth of the air.

    Consider everything that's going through the air even today. First of all, even without human interference, it conducts heat, electricity, and sound. Studies have been done on all three - some very fascinating stuff is surfacing about the effects of noise pollution in big cities on the human physiology. The human contribution to electricity and heat conducton affect the environment in various ways I don't understand.

    But then there's the issue of all these high-frequency waves - AM and FM, CB, long-range and short-range wireless networking, television, microwaves.. and their intensity is exploding. I don't have graphs handy on the growth of satellite transmissions or the wireless internet, but I think you can guess that they're following not a linear or even geometrical, but an exponential curve.

    Think of an analogy to sonar. If you have one submarine in the ocean, it's going to be able to navigate without any trouble. It simply bounces its signal off of everything. Sure, it might confuse a couple whales and cause them to crash into each other, but it's more or less benign.

    But think of an ocean filled with five billion submarines, each one sending out sonic vibrations. Obviously, each one is going to have to send out a vibration that's unique; otherwise, they'll start confusing distances from objects and going completely awry. If a sub sends out, say, a bleep at 440 mHz, and receives one back from a sub 50 yards away, if the signals were fired simultaneously, both subs will think that they're 100 yards apart.

    But how many ways can water vibrate? If water's vibrating at two physically sympathetic levels, like the notes "C" and the "G" an octave and a half above, won't it throw off a whole slew of overtones? And can the same cubic inch of water really carry a million transmissions with a million different frequencies and vectors? It boggles the mind.

    The point I'm driving at is: What are the possible effects of completely saturating the air with information?
  • by sjbe (173966) on Friday May 04, 2001 @04:52AM (#246610)
    Yeah yeah, I know. "Don't leave me alone with my brain! I must have crappy background music or me head will explode."

    Never could understand why some folks think a little quiet "just ain't right".

  • Will people pay for radio that still has ads?
    Yes, for example Net Zero uses ads to provide free internet service. The average local provider is between $19.95-$15.00/month with no banners but also comes with a shell account. In contrast, AOL costs $21.95/month, drowns you with ads from the time you logon to the the time you logoff, yet it is the most widely used ISP in America. So, yes, people will pay.
  • I've been on site at XM, seen the facilities and heard the radios. From a quality of sound POV, the difference between XM and FM is like that between FM and AM. You don't need golden ears to hear it, XM just sounds great. They already have radios working flawlessly in moving vehicles through cities with preliminary repeater networks. The car radios look like any other car radios and handle AM/FM and CDs. The antenna is about the size of your thumb.

    So from a tech POV, I have no worries about XM. From the content POV, they are working pretty damn hard at providing content that is an alternative to terrestrial radio. They don't want to just be a better sounding alternative, they want to be unique. The test versions of the first few stations sound good, it will be neat to hear what they sound like with the live jocks (and most of the stations will have live jocks).

    Mostly XM has a lot of marketing to do, and I don't think you're going to be able to escape it this summer.

    JD

  • How long is it going to take for us to see hacked xm units on the market? Or a link to XMDeCss on 2600? More lawsuits, more whining about IP. Does anyone know what they are using for security? Smart cards? Software keys? GPS and laser deathrays from space? In a month everyone will be wearing aluminum foil hats and bootleging XM. Just thinking about it makes me want to down my sorrows in a 40 of Malt Liquor. SD
  • by TheOutlawTorn (192318) on Friday May 04, 2001 @03:39AM (#246614)
    I suppose if you live in the large country-music-only zone in the U.S., you might be willing to pay for something different...

    Ever been through Central Texas? Radio there makes you wanna scavenge through your glove box for that old Whitesnake tape you stuck in there 7 years ago.

    Shudder
  • Anyone else figured out that it would be potentially possible to distribute entire albums at 44 KHz 16 bit quality this way?

    Not directly, considering FM radio has much less quality than that. You could send it as digital data, but that would probably look a bit suspicious. :-)

  • will anyone pay for radio at all? There are so many other alternatives now.

    Of course, with more equipment than you really want to put in your car, I'm sure you can do this already. Just a wireless Internet link and a streaming MP3 player.

    Well, here's to the homogenization of yet another aspect of America...
  • I already boycott the stations around here.
    Just use your own CDs or MP3s in your car. Then you can take YOUR favorite music anywhere.
  • They could embed error correction in the signal, or go so far as to overlay a copy of it 60 seconds later. In short: "If they haven't solved this problem, they're sunk"

    Also from the web site, explaining how they will cover in cities:
    "We've created the world's largest network of 1500 radio broadcast repeaters to supplement satellite coverage in urban areas where tall buildings and other obstructions might interfere with satellite radio reception. These repeaters will receive our digital XM radio channels from the satellite and transmit them directly to your XM Radio. To bring you the best repeater network possible, we partnered with LCC International, the country's leading expert in wireless network design and construction."
  • They most likely would do some type of buffering, just like the anti-skip features on newer CD audio players. Test ground: Boston's Big Dig!
  • I don't know of any country-music-only zone. It could be pretty good. Oh, you mean that crap-commercial-twangie-music-only zone. That's different.
  • A quick search for "satellite radio" (and when is Taco going to figure out that no one can find a search box at the very bottom of the home page?) turned up:

    Satellite Radio Coming Soon(?) [slashdot.org]
    Satellite Radio Coming in 2001 [slashdot.org]

  • Regular radio sucks, and this will suck worse. Radio stations have become homogenized slaves to the recording industry.

    Just the contrary, actually. The problem with American radio today is that 90% of the stations are owned by a handful of companies, and they all play the same pop or classic or country or rock'n'roll songs. The potential for satellite radio is to have a hundred stations broadcast across the continent, reachable from anywhere, and each one targeting a specific niche. One station could just play 80's hits, another grunge metal, another baroque classical, another NPR [npr.org] news, another guitar jazz, and another electronica. If you've ever enjoyed Spinner [spinner.com] radio, you've already seen a glimpse of what satellite radio can offer.

    Myself, then, I'm all for it. I'd gladly pay $10 a month for the chance to listen to exactly the music I want, rather than music I can tolerate which was compiled by a bunch of suits in New York City for consumption by the masses.

  • I travel in my car... a lot. The city I'm based out of has a handful of stations, that typically stink. Get 60-80 miles away and there is nothing but country, religious, and spanish speaking to be found on the airwaves (and even then, in mountian areas, you still can't get a clean signal).

    My understanding is, this will be simular to the audio services offered from DSS (but with more stations and commericals). If this is the case, I'll be in heaven. I like the idea of being able to turn to different genres of music at any time, to my own whim.

    I just hope I don't spend a few hundred bucks on the equipment, only to have the company go bust in 6 months.

  • I live in the uk. We have satellite tv, and have recently (12 months) started getting digital tv services. We're also starting to get DAB (digital audio broadcast) radio over traditional frequencies.

    Our digital satellite serves, BSkyB and OnDigital, operate sort of half tv/half radio channels. The idea is very obvious. Its a TV station without the pictures. Put the satellite signal through your amp for sound, and leave it on the music channel while keeping the television off. Instant satellite broadcast radio using equipment a large number of people already own.

    A dedicated radio network is not necessary. Just piggyback off the television bandwidth. In fact, its probable that you could multiplex a very large number of radio channels into the bandwith of one television channel.

    The best part of it is.. if you're subscribing to digital TV, this service is entirely free.
  • I quite listening to FM radio a long time ago and switched to AM Collage Radio [radiok.org]. I don't have to listen to annoying disk jockies, endless comersials, or the top 40. Plus they have a weekly program dedicated to sound collages.

    "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion."
  • by glebite (206150) on Friday May 04, 2001 @04:03AM (#246626)

    It's only now that I'm really getting into listening to internet broadcast radio stations that something has happened: business weasels and unions want another big chunk of the pie from advertising to the now larger audience. And now, stations are no longer broadcasting - or even worse, turning into M*zak'd stations with no DJs and no none of the flavour that made up

    Is this sattelite broadcast technology going to be broadcasting static after people have bought them and the legal world steps in? Certainly there are licensing issues here, and I'm just curious if everything has been worked out with the artists union, broadcasters, advertisers, et al...

    Personally I'm going to wait a while before getting one of these beasts - just let the market play out before buying some piece of tech that will join its brothers in the pile.

  • by sdo1 (213835) on Friday May 04, 2001 @04:26AM (#246627) Journal
    Regular radio sucks, and this will suck worse. Radio stations have become homogenized slaves to the recording industry. See this salon article [salon.com].

    As far as radio goes, I live in one of the best areas of the country... around Boston. There's lots of selection in many genres (unless you like country), but there's still not a damn thing on worth listening to. It's all so boring. The few bands that are worth listening to don't get any radio play. Even WBRU has gone down hill in the last couple of years...

    And satellite radio is supposed to be a good thing? It'll be the worst that traditional radio has to offer.

    -S

  • They will pay dearly, just like the free TV people pay. Worse programming, Infomercials, and extended fund raising by public stations because revenue from advertisers dried up. Think about what is on free TV now. Shock TV, Reality shows, Infomercials, etc. It's all aimed at the dregs of society. There is almost nothing of class on regular TV. Even the ads are aimed at the low life. The messier the hamburger, the less responsible the joyride (spaceship soft drink ad) etc. the better. TV when there was no cable (OK I'm dating myself) was very enjoyable and had high standards. The low quality of Free TV is what is killing the digital TV over the air. Nobody will pay for the equipment to get a clearer picture of Jerry Springer or the latest convection oven infomercial. TV has lost me to the internet where there is real content.
  • My mom loved it. I will admit not all programs were equaly enjoyed by all. However, There was NBC, ABC, CBS, & public broadcasting. It was never lots of channels of junk.
  • Iridium failed because it tried to pay for billions of dollars in satellite technology with a few subscribers spread between Outer Mongolia and Antarctica. Penguins, while noble and proud mascots, just don't have that kind of cash.

    I gotta think satellite radio will fail for the same reasons. Urban areas have much cheaper access to many things, including radio, and much more choice. Even if the local radio broadcasts suck, the urban areas have cheap internet access. And there just aren't enough rural folk to make the radio bird economical.

    To all those who point to the Hughes death stars [directv.com] pumping 800 TV channels down to the starving masses... I have one word: bandwidth. If the internet could support the TV bandwidth, those sats would be dead big time.

    On the other hand, maybe the Iridium satellite buyers [slashdot.org] could start to broadcast radio to bolster their business!

  • Think of this concept. Very few people like klezmer music. There's maybe a few thousand in any city. That's not enough to support any radio airplay.

    BUT, there's enough aggregate klezmer music listeners in the entire country to get some airplay on a station that broadcasts to the entire country, and it's likely that they will not mind paying $10 a month to hear their favorite music.

    Satellite radio will be successful if they carve out small musical niches. I can hear top 40 anywhere, but where am I going to get late 70s, early 80s punk? We've already seen this to some degree with internet radio. Most internet only stations are niche stations.
  • I'm split about satellite radio.

    It's clear to me FM radio has been disintegrating since FCC regulations changed, and is now a pile of crap except for the public [listener paid] stations (which are actually excellent in my area). I would love to get some more good content, and I suspect satellite radio might address this. Especially given that I, the listener, rather than the producers, would be paying for it. The thought makes me want to run to the store right now!

    On the other hand, I am deeply suspicious of these things. A number of indivduals have made comparisons with Spinner, for example. Spinner does give me choice, but it's a choice that's driven by demographic studies and industry genres. I get tired of not hearing real people on Spinner, people who want to tell me about what they think is interesting or cool, people who interview real artists and discuss their music with them, make it a process rather than a product.

    I don't want separate channels for trip-hop, ambient, free jazz, fusion, avant-guarde, baroque classical, minimalist classical, opera, or bebop. Those aren't musical tastes, they're categories of music sales departments. I'm not a label, nor are my musical tastes. Ten years from now, the categories will be different, and I want stations that will be flexible enough to encompass them.

    To be honest, except for the existing services to be carried by satellite, I don't see satellite radio providing fundamentally better programming. It's just another corporate attempt to encompass the widest demographic via radio (albeit, perhaps, a much better attempt than the corporate attempts of current FM).

    The real problem won't be solved until radio becomes truly accessible to the average joe and jane, enough for a group with a certain vision to establish a radio station because they have a voice they want to be heard. The FCC needs to come up with a way of making audio broadcasting accessible.
  • I'm surprised nobody mentioned talk radio.

    When I am on the road, I enjoy listening to various talk shows on AM. These AM stations don't have a lot of range and they fade in and out all the time and sound horrible. Powerlines are a pain in the you-know-what also.

    I would pay for decent coverage of talk radio.

  • IANAP- I am not a phycisist but i dont know how well you can compare sonar to radiowaves considering one is a mechanical wave, (actual particles vibrating) and one is an electromagnetic wave.
  • This service is absolutely nothing like your at home small sat tv service. Can you take this with you on the road? Can you mount one of these dishes on top of your car and pick up these stations? Nope. This is an entirely different technology that uses specialized receivers in the cars/homes that do not require a dish to be aimed and aligned. It is just a small antenna. Simple to install and operate.

    There are a couple of these type of services here in the states, XM being on of the two. Unfortunately they are not yet compatible with each other, but the manufacturers of the receivers are trying their best to make them capable of receiving both the different signals.

    The main advantages of these types of systems fall to the frequent traveller and remote listeners. I know several travelling salesmen and they would love to not have to always switch their stations and find some local equivilent to whatever they like to listen to.
  • Hmm. I live in the US, and I subscribe to ATT Digital Cable service, which also offers about 10-15 channels of commercial-free audio along with the regular tv channels. The weird part about it is that even though the channels are somewhat specialized, they still play a mixture of the blandest of today's top 40 pop/"rock" and absolute crap. The "Today's Hottest Hits" channel tends to play music that was popular about 3-4 years ago, while the "Alternative" channel plays the same "alternative" crap they call Rock these days (Three Doors Down, Blink 182, etc). I really don't care for the Christian channel, the old-school country channel, or the "Adult Contemporary" channel which is neither adult in nature nor does it play "contemporary" music.

    Satellite radio could be extremely good, provided they have the bandwidth and the licensing to give consumers a real choice in what music we want to hear. Napster introduced me to techno/electronica, and I really wish I could listen to it on the radio in my car, with a dj announcing the artists and so forth.
  • I read story in a Wired, but I don't remeber what month it was from. Anyways, Sirius Radio [siriusradio.com] is going to be launching their satellites soon and they will be commercial free. Also, cars with radios ready to receive satellite audio are already being produced my many auto manufacturers.
  • Dear slashdot users and moderators,

    I've said it before [slashdot.org], and I'll say it again - Slashdot should organize and publicize a formal boycott. The music industry (really the whole entertainment industry) is a nasty, anti-competitive business that screws artists and consumers alike. This corruption and monopolization of radio is just one more facet of the bigger problem. Keep in mind these are the same folks who are vigorously opposing low-power radio [slashdot.org] and undermining commercial internet broadcasting [nytimes.com].

    Slashdot has a lot of readers and therefore a lot of influence. We ought to get the ball rolling on a boycott of the industry, and show them who's boss.

    Love n' stuff,
    cryptochrome

  • I live in Wyoming. Now, the town where I live has (which is the third largest city in the state mind you) has a grand total of something like four radio stations, all of which suck most of the time. I myself like to listen to talk radio, sports, and music on the radio (but not any of the music on the radio here.) So that leaves with exactly zero radio listening options. And on top of that, I really like to listen radio in the car while driving the long distances between towns here. Of course, get fifteen miles out of town and you can't get any radio stations, even ones that suck. So, though I realize it's a small market, I think those of us living in relatively unpopulated areas would definitely pay to at least be able to get a bit more choice and to be able to get stations while driving.
  • by Kliop (314670)
    This seems to me that we as Americans put up with this for cable, someone else is saying "Hey consumer, bend over a little bit more..." There are so many alternatives, i say it's time for a nice fun boycot of stupidity again.... anyone game?
  • As a former Radio Jock who is now a College Student, I can say that this is already happening. If the station isn't owned by ClearChannel Communications, it's probably a local station trying to survive. Radio DJ's are expensive. A station can save a lot of money by getting a sattelite dish, a contract with WestWood One, and a Computer to play "96FM" or Whatever when the jock in California pushes the button to make it sound like a local radio station.

    I still don't see it as a big deal.
    ----
    Ian
    ONU's Finest Computer Sciences Geek

  • And you thought cell phones were a distraction? How many of you reading this actually listen to one complete song on FM radio? Yes, you station-surf constantly, don't you; We all have two minute hamsterlike attention spans. Is having 100 channels to flip through a really fantastic idea?

    Umm, I do. I listen to complete songs all the time. I even have a stack of about 10 CDs that I've customly made, and listen to them all the time too. There 2 or 3 good radio stations that I like to listen to here, and when I do I'll listen to 4 or 5 songs in a row before one comes up that I don't like.

    Quite frankly, I think that radio has become... well it's nearing the end of it's life. Realistically I only listen to radio when I'm bored with the CDs that I've made, or if I'm in a atypical music listening mood, or if I'm with someone else in the car who doesn't share my interests. With the internet and the plethora of wireless devices coming, and portable MP3 players, etc, radio as we know it isn't as appealing anymore. I know that most of the world still hasn't heard an MP3, but I mean that within the next 2 decades we'll probably see the death of radio as we know it, and head to a much more subscription/specific music broadcasts that are either tailered to what we like specifically, or are literally what we choose.

    Besides, I think it's about time that radio got a revamp, I mean, how long has it been since we had a real change in the way that radio works?
  • First of all, even without human interference, it conducts heat, electricity, and sound

    Heat, yes. Sound, yes. Radio? yes. Electricity? I don't think that having air constantly conducting electricity is a good thing, but I suppose lightning does fit under that bill, but not in the constant sense that you're referring to, unless I'm missing something

    If a sub sends out, say, a bleep at 440 mHz, and receives one back from a sub 50 yards away, if the signals were fired simultaneously, both subs will think that they're 100 yards apart.

    You got it backwards. If 2 subs simultaneously send out a sonar ping, they will receive the other one in 1/2 the time expected, and therefore think they are 25m apart (1/2x), not 100m (2x).

    But think of an ocean filled with five billion submarines, each one sending out sonic vibrations

    You're not going to have everyone using the same frequency, and besides, sonar was designed for casual use. If we had 5 billion subs, then we'd be using something a lot more sophisticated.

    But how many ways can water vibrate?

    You're not looking at things correctly. You don't need to simply assign everyone a different frequency. Think about how modems work [howstuffworks.com]. Think about our wonderful 300 baud modems 20 years ago, and now we have 56K packed into a tiny little 8khz of bandwidth, and that's low for that size of bandwidth because of the unperfectness of the phone network! For another example, take 1 freqency and randomly pulse it. I'm not entirely sure of how signals work underwater as well, but I'd imagive that it's not much different than through air. So send a "digital" sonar pulse with a unique ID attached. If you receive one that isn't yours, ... Just like how a network works. There are a zillion ways to pack a lot of different data and signals into a single band.

    And can the same cubic inch of water really carry a million transmissions with a million different frequencies and vectors?

    Radio waves travel through substance. For that matter, air is not much different than water. They're both 'fluid', one is just a lot more dense than the other. For this matter, you should be able to pack just about the same amount of information through water as you can through air. I'm not an expert, but that only makes sense to me.

    What are the possible effects of completely saturating the air with information?

    I think we're far from that point, and one thing you're forgetting is that we evolved being bathed in radio waves. The more hazerdous stuff was blocked by our wonderful atmosphere, but radio has always been around. There is no apparent large health risks for the amounts that are being broadcast, at the powers that they are being broadcast at. I think as technology progresses (as it has already), we will be able to pack more and more information into less and less power and bandwidth in the air, and since there's just so much of it, I don't think this is a problem we'll have to face any time soon.
  • There are a number of Kenwood eXcelon receivers available that are capable of receiving SIRIUS [cdradio.com] broadcasts. They range from the KDC-X717 to the KDC-X917. I don't know if anyone else includes this as of yet, but looks like an eXcelon is on my shopping list. For those of you like me, who are tired of those annoying morning show DJ's, but who don't want to throw in a CD, this seems to be a possible (but mildly expensive) solution.
  • by eggfellow (415474) on Friday May 04, 2001 @03:44AM (#246645) Homepage
    Washington City Paper had a good article about satellite radio. See: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/archives/cover/ 2001/cover0216.html
  • Just a quick note, the auto-makers ARE going to be putting these satalite radios into their vehicals. (I have inside sources in a way). There are two systems, one by Serious, and one by XM. I can't remember exactly who's going with what service, but GM, ford, chrysler, BMW, Mercedez, Honda, and more that I can't remember off-hand are already moving to put compatable radios into their cars (and might be as an option on the new models now). Serious radio is actually going to have 50 commercial free channels, and 50 with very few commercials, and XM will have 100 channels with very few commercials (4 times less than radio broadcasts). Both have special format channels included (Discovery, Fox SPorts, stuff like that), and XM has totally digital studios in NY where they can make original content or live proformences. Remember, this will be CD quality sound, not FM. there will be NO fading in and out, better stereo seperation than FM, with a higher Sig-To-Noise ratio. It's like DMX is for your home (but wireless!) XM Radio is also signing home audio companies to allow home systems to receive the services also. Current after-market radio manufacturers include Pioneer, Alpine, Clarion, Kenwood, Sony, Sanyo, Jensen, and others. (Remember, Alpine and Clarion are pretty much the highest end radio makers you can get on the mobile market) Just go into any car audio shop that has the 2001 model kenwoods, pioneers, and alpines. They'll say either XM or Serious Ready. (even if you have a radio that doesn't say it.. they are going to have RF Converter systems that will convert the Digital feed into FM to be used on your radio, but that takes away the whole sound quality aspect!) Pretty much it comes down to the analogy of having a 5000+ cd changer in your trunk that allows you to pick from any 100 cds at a time. I'm a major car audio fanatic (I guess that's the term to use) who's been working with it for years... and this is one thing I'm definantly hitting up.
  • Ya.. they are using 2 satalites in Geosyncronous orbit that will be over the US at all times, and Serious satalite radio is using 3 in an oliptical orbit that will have 2 over the US at all times

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