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Satellite: The Future of Radio

By: Matt Gordon

Drivers have complained about radio’s paltry offerings since it was first put into cars. I mean, let’s face it, radio gives music fans about as big of a selection as a vegetarian has at a meat market. However, these dark ages seem to have come to an end with the introduction of satellite radio.

Satellite radio, like satellite television, works around a monthly subscription fee. Depending on your provider, prices usually start at ten to thirteen dollars a month. This fee gives you more than a hundred channels. The variety in programming and the station reception are both noticeably better than traditional radio. XM Radio, the premier satellite radio provider, has received particularly good reviews for its seemingly CD quality broadcasts.

Aside from improving the basics, satellite radio also throws in a slew of new features for its subscribers. The display features song and artist information as well as station information; commercial interruptions are sparse, which helps to keep the mood of the music going. There’s nothing like an annoying mattress ad to spoil your favorite song.

Depending on the provider, you also get access to a whole host of specialty stations, as well as top news stations like CNN. XM Radio’s specialty stations include, “Special X,” which features off-the-wall shows like “Cover Songs That Give You A Burning Esophagus.” One of XM’s competitors, Sirius, offers programming for sports fans, including a broadcast of every regular season National Football League game. If none of the standard offerings interest you, extra channels like Playboy Radio can be added for a few extra dollars a month. With promises of new music channels and a twenty-four hour weather and traffic station, satellite radio is sure to have something for everyone.

The main downside of satellite radio is the price. While the specialized radio unit can be installed in new cars for about the same price as a normal radio, it costs over a hundred dollars to swap one into an already owned car.

Even with the installation fee and the monthly subscription charge, satellite radio has been embraced; the technology is spreading faster than compact discs or MP3’s ever did.

With few downsides, a relatively cheap price, and many advantages over traditional radio, satellite radio is sure to become the standard in car stereos. Now we just have to hope no one figures out how to use all this satellite technology to find out where we’re driving!


0 0 227 01 July, 2004 News, Tech July 1, 2004

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