Written Jan. 4, 2010 in Satellite + Technology with 0 Comments
Between an ailing Dad and terrible weather, I spent an inordinate amount of time watching television this holiday period -- especially sports.
One thing that was immediately apparent was that Sirius/XM had bought complete saturation coverage of sports (and also some entertainment shows) over the holidays. And well after Christmas, the spots were still coming. You know, this one with Howard Stern joining the pantheon with Elvis, Michael Jordan, and Richard Pryor:
As I kept seeing these ads over and over it occurred to me just how long it has been since I have seen a single radio spot in New York or anywhere else. While I see the stray billboard here and there (mostly when the boards are owned by the same parent company as the radio station), I would venture the guess that advertising expenditures by US Radio stations in 2009 were at most 5% of what they were in whatever their peak year was (just guessing again -- 1999?).
Kind of like having a child, advertising is an optimistic act. You advertise because you believe it will move your product, because you think it has a future, because you are prepared to make a bet on that future.
As the US 'terrestrial' radio industry has retreated from any 'external marketing' it is not just failing to remind people to listen. It is sending a quiet message about its future. If Sirius XM can afford to advertise (Sirius XM! -- the company that 'terrestrial radio' was cheering the demise of just recently) then surely America's radio stations can find some free cash to promote themselves. They have to remember they aren't just promoting this station or that, they are promoting an entire medium.
Written Oct. 2, 2009 in Content + Satellite with 1 Comment
It's a recurring riff here among Edison Research staffers: We're almost done with the '00s and broadcasters still haven't decided how to verbally identify them on the air. What's going to happen in the not-at-all-distant-future when "'80s, '90s and today" or "'90s and now" can no longer be taken to cover everything? Hot AC stations, already unable to come up with something more creative to be famous for than the decades of music they play, are going to really be in trouble.
So we now have our first sign of how this will be handled at Sirius XM 26, "The Pulse," a favorite channel of some Edison staffers, which has repositioned its "'90s and now" Modern AC format as "2000s and today." The change is so new that it wasn't on the channel's own homepage as of this morning. There are still some '90s titles, but they're playing roughly once every other hour according to a Mediabase monitor from yesterday.
The decade name aside, it's a logical switch for a service that already offers the "'90s on 9." And while broadcasters are just now grappling with how to give the '90s their own format, we're likely to see a few Hot ACs ankling the '90s because they haven't yet provided that many viable titles, and because Top 40's adult success continues to highlight the surprising power of now.
As for "2000s and today," it's not quite the catchy name we were hoping somebody would come up with. But having batted this one around a little, we understand the challenge. Here's The Pulse around Noon today:
Nickelback, "If Everyone Cared"
Melissa Etheridge, "Come To My Window"
Timbaland & Onerepublic, "Apologize"
Daughtry, "No Surprise"
The Calling, "Wherever You Will Go"
Gavin DeGraw, "In Love With A Girl"
Collective Soul, "Staring Down"
Goo Goo Dolls, "Let Love In"
Dave Matthews Band, "You And Me"
Our Lady Peace, "Somewhere Out There," a 2002 song that got a flashback stager
Written Feb. 6, 2009 in Satellite with 0 Comments
Okay, there's no question that everything is not rosy for the merged Sirius XM Radio. A number of my Edison colleagues have let their subscriptions lapse, either returning to terrestrial radio or streaming radio on their iPhones. Not everybody is sanguine about the new channel lineup, or having to keep the channel numbers straight when they're different between Sirius and XM. And there are those larger issues about the stock price, the decline in auto sales, etc.
But I've never heard Sirius XM playing in as many stores as I have in recent weeks -- not unusual for me to go from '90s on 9 at the gym to '70s on 7 at the grocery store five minutes later. Sirius and XM began their march into retail, replacing commercial radio but also seemingly devastating some other paid services, years ago, of course. But with the merger (and perhaps with the culling of choices), you're hearing the same channels everywhere now -- instead of hearing that listening divided up between the two services. So it sounds bigger.
Written Jan. 8, 2009 in Internet Radio + Satellite + Technology with 1 Comment
...is on your Mac, thanks to the user interface geniuses at Rogue Amoeba. I wrote earlier about Radioshift, which is the best online radio listening/timeshifting app I've seen to date, and now they've put a similar stamp on tuning in XM/Sirius streams online with their new app Pulsar. Highly recommended!
Written Dec. 18, 2008 in Content + Satellite with 7 Comments
At my house we get DirecTV, and I have it rigged up so that I can play audio from the television on various speakers throughout the house. So, for several years we had MusicChoice, and then XM got the contract maybe three years ago.
When we had families over, the XM channel of choice was Flight 26 - essentially a Modern AC. It worked very well for all ages.
Well, recently we had several families over but the stations had changed to the new XM-Sirius merged lineup. Suddenly, Flight 26 was unavailable to me - there was a whole new lineup of unfamiliar names and stations.
I clicked around with my TV remote - and landed on Channel 51 "The Coffee House." The adults repaired to the living room.
Soon thereafter someone stopped the conversation to ask: "What radio station do you have on? I have loved every song I've heard." The rest of the group - all adults in their 40s -- quickly began to discuss how much they liked the mix of songs they were hearing.
Essentially the station is what many Triple-A stations have been playing on their Sunday morning acoustic specialty shows - 24 hours per day. The channel is a mix of familiar singer-songwriter hits, unfamiliar currents from some known and some unknown acts, and a nice sprinkling of covers - acoustic re-interpretations of famous songs.
And it makes me wonder - why hasn't this been tried (at least recently) as a commercial radio format?
Many readers will instantly think of stations from the 1970s like KNX-FM Los Angeles and WBBM-FM Chicago - the singer-songwriter driven stations of the early FM era. But in the new singer-songwriter era, the genre has landed, but never taken up permanent residence at Modern AC, Triple-A and the handful of commercial American stations. So while a KINK Portland has elements of this music, this is still something else.
So take a look at the slightly Christmas-tinged sample hour below and ask yourself if there just might the makings of a format here. This would be at-work friendly, at-home friendly, and something that could lure adults back to the radio at night besides "Delilah" - essentially all the things that 'Smooth Jazz' has been trying to be for years, but from an entirely different angle.
2008 was a great year for the type of singer-songwriter music that might have otherwise not have made it to the radio. But if there's not another "I'm Yours," "Love Song," or "Bubbly" next year, it won't be because there aren't artists supplying that type of song or audiences who want to hear them - it will be because other formats go in a different direction. So why not a full-time home for singer-songwriters?
Please deliver your comments on this below - is this a potential commercial radio format in 2009?
Here's the channel at 10 a.m. this morning:
Dave Matthews Band, "Crush" (Acoustic)
Ben Harper, "In The Colors"
Jem, "Maybe I'm Amazed"
John Mayer, "Neon"
Joshua Radin, "Brand New Day"
Sixpence None the Richer, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"
David Gray, "Sail Away "
Jason Mraz, "I'm Yours" (Acoustic)
Freedy Johnson, "Bad Reputation"
Ray Charles & Norah Jones,"Here We Go Again"
Ryan Adams, "Evergreen"
Katie Melua, "Just Like Heaven"
Steve Earle, "Sparkle and Shine"
Catherine Feeny, "Christmas Song"
Elliott Smith, "Somebody That I Used to Know"
KT Tunstall, "Suddenly I See" (Acoustic)
Josh Rouse, "1972"
Jewel, "Foolish Games"
Written Oct. 16, 2008 in Satellite with 5 Comments
I was sorry to hear about the recent round of layoffs at the newly merged Sirius XM Radio, and particularly sorry to read how many of those exiting were the programmers of its "Decades" oldies channels. Over the years, with the mainstreaming of XM, the Decades channels had done a fairly good job of maintaining the "not radio, but an audio experience" feel of the satcaster's early days. With rumors that many of the music channels duplicated by the two services would go away shortly, with the Sirius counterparts being the ones that remained, I figured it was worth another listen today to '60s On 6, '70s On 7, and the R&B Oldies Soul Street (channel 60).
'60s At 6 still had a lot of its initial atmosphere intact -- PAMS jingles, "top 6 on this day in ...." countdowns, drops from Vietnam-era Armed Forces Radio. '70s At 7 sounded relatively mainstream musically -- some songs that generally do better in music research than others, but nothing in flagrant violation of radio law, except for that music image promo that contained "You Never Done It Like That" by Captain & Tennille. Both the '60s channel and Soul Street did manage to play at least one song I didn't know -- which takes some doing. A final salute to all involved is in order.
Here's a stretch of each from around 3:30 this afternoon:
'60s On 6
Dave Clark Five, "Catch Us If You Can"
Len Barry, "1-2-3"
Bob Dylan, "Subterranean Homesick Blues"
Delfonics, "La La Means I Love You"
Moody Blues, "Lovely To See You"
Status Quo, "Pictures Of Matchstick Men"
Archie Bell & the Drells, "Tighten Up"
Gale Garnett, "We'll Sing In The Sunshine"
Brenton Wood, "The Oogum Boogum Song"
Herman's Hermits, "I'm Into Something Good"
Terry Stafford, "Suspicions"
'70s On 7
Doobie Brothers, "Minute By Minute"
Ace, "How Long"
Al Green, "Here I Am (Come And Take Me)"
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, "Mr. Bojangles"
Billy Preston, "Outta Space"
Van Morrison, "Domino"
Heart, "Magic Man"
Edwin Starr, "War"
Jim Croce, "Bad Bad Leroy Brown"
Steely Dan, "Rikki Don't Lose That Number"
Edison Lighthouse, "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)"
Diana Ross, "Love Hangover"
Johnnie Taylor, "Testify (I Wonna)"
Walter Jackson, "Speak Her Name"
Rufus Thomas, "The Dog"
Temptations, "I'll Be In Trouble"
Tammi Terrell, "Come On And See Me"
O.C. Smith, "Little Green Apples"
Frankie Lymon & Teenagers, "Goody Goody"
Jackie Ross, "Selfish One"
Diana Ross & Marvin Gaye, "My Mistake (Was To Love You)"
Black Ivory, "Time Is Love"
O'Jays, "Time To Get Down"
Spinners, "I'm Coming Home"
Impressions, "I've Been Trying"
Written Aug. 8, 2008 in Satellite with 0 Comments
In a move sure to gladden the hearts of terrestrial Rock radio PDs, XM Satellite Radio announced this afternoon that it will unveil a "Mandatory Metallica" channel for six weeks beginning Aug. 16. The channel (airing on the XM side of the newly combined Sirius XM) will be hosted by band members (including James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich) and feature other artists, from Atreyu and Dragonforce to Triumph and Guns 'N' Roses commenting on the band's importance.
Satellite radio was headed in this direction well before the Sirius/XM merger, of course, but it's interesting to see a satellite channel, even briefly, branded after one of Rock radio's best-known benchmarks -- a change from the early days when your XM employment was in jeopardy for mentioning anything that smacked of, well, radio. Now, with Mel Karmazin working to position Sirius XM as "the largest pure-play radio company," those days are officially over.
Written Jul. 22, 2008 in Satellite with 0 Comments
Up until now, I've stayed away from those single-artist channels that Sirius Satellite Radio does for a few weeks to tie in with a superstar artist release or some other event. It was an interesting concept when Todd Wallace signed on KYST (Beatleradio #9) in suburban Houston in the early '80s, but even with artists I like, it's usually too much of a good thing.
But I did check out Sirius' Abba Radio, appearing in place of Sirius Love on Channel 3 until the end of this week following the premiere of "Mamma Mia" the movie. Having slogged through "Mamma Mia" last weekend, I wanted to hear the songs sung well for a change.
During the 50 or so minutes I listened, there was a jingle that turned the Abba hit into "take a chance on [Channel] three"; interviews with the group members, a "story behind the song" segment with an Abba biographer. In other words, there was the level of production and staging that you'd like to hear go in to every jockless channel. (There are celebrity host segments on Abba Radio, but this stretch was jockless). It was also a good chance to be reminded briefly of some of the moments I'd barely registered at the time, like the group's attempt at '70s funk ("Man In The Middle").
Here's 45 minutes of Abba Radio; all songs are Abba unless otherwise noted:
"Summer Night City"
"Waterloo (French version)"
"Medley: Pick A Bale of Cotton/On Top Of Old Smokey/Midnight Special"
Hep Stars, "Bald Headed Woman" (Benny's '60s band)
"On And On And On"
"Head Over Heels"
Amanda Seyfried & "Mamma Mia" Cast, "Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)"
"Man In The Middle"
"I've Been Waiting For You"
Written Jan. 11, 2008 in Satellite with 1 Comment
With all the press that Slacker has gotten recently for its inclusion on RCA's just-unveiled-at-CRS "Infinite Radio," I decided to take another listen. As with many other Internet-only channels/music services, I'd given it an early listen, but it didn't ultimately draw my attention away from all the terrestrial radio that was becoming available again at the time -- something that will also be an option on RCA's device. But with the new radio giving Slacker its own place of prominence -- displayed above Internet, AM, and FM radio on your list of options -- it potentially becomes a much easier choice for consumers, and one worth re-examining.
I started with the Mainstream CHR format, Today's Hit Radio. Here's an hour's worth of music without any of the available customization.
Lifehouse, "First Time"
Justin TImberlake, "Lovestoned - I Think She Knows"
Ciara, "Get Up"
Maroon 5, "Won't Go Home Without You"
Timbaland f/Onerepublic, "Apologize"
Usher, "Caught Up"
Taylor Swift, "Teardrops On My Guitar"
Nelly Furtado, "Say It Right"
Gwen Stefani, "Four In The Morning"
Elliot Yamin, "Wait For You"
Paramore, "Misery Business"
Mariah Carey, "It's Like That"
That sounded like a lot of Internet-only CHR stations that I've listened to over the years, it's actually a few ticks more conservative than the average major-market Top 40. If you're looking for a truly different take on Top 40, Sirius Hits 1 and XM's 20 On 20 are more distinct. On the other hand, if you're not a radio/music junkie and want a comfortable, commercial-free Top 40 for the office, it's very palatable. Of the handful of extreme records that still get airplay at Top 40, the closest to anything noisy was Paramore, and I could have made it one of my six skipped songs.
And, to be fair, as with a recent examination of the hit-to-oh wow ratio on XM and Sirius Satellite Radio, there are plenty of other channels here if you don't want to hear the hits, from "Dysfunctional Holiday" to "U.K. Indie." So I decided to try the "U.K. Hits" channel. (In actuality, more focused on Alternative music that happens to be from the U.K.)
Snow Patrol, "Open Your Eyes"
Mark Ronson, "Valerie"
Fatboy Slim, "That Old Pair Of Jeans"
Dido, "Sand In My Shoes"
Libertines, "Can't Stand Me Now"
Kooks, "She Moves In Her Own Way"
Nine Black Alps, "Shot Down"
Coldplay, "Fix You"
Bloc Party, "Like Eating Glass"
Mika, "Relax (Take It Easy)"
Lily Allen, "Smile"
Dirty Pretty Things, "Deadwood"
Finally, I tried '70s Hits:
Chuck Berry, "My Ding-A-Ling" (all 10-plus minutes of the album version)
Seals & Crofts, "Summer Breeze"
Chairmen Of the Board, "Give Me Just A Little More Time"
Todd Rundgren, "Hello It's Me"
Foreigner, Hot Blooded"
George Harrison, "Dark Horse"
Shirley Brown, "Woman To Woman"
Brian Hyland, "Gypsy Woman"
Carole King, "It's Too Late"
Stevie Wonder, "I Wish"
Keith Carradine, "I'm Easy"
Jackson 5, "Mama's Pearl"
Van Morrison, "Domino"
John Travolta, "Let Her In"
It was about the time of George Harrison -- the first true "oh wow" for me -- that I finally started to enjoy myself. As regular readers may have figured out, if you can put enough of those songs back to back, you will probably get me to overcome my usual preference for full-service radio over jockless music. But I make no claims to speak for the rest of America here. And Slacker's emphasis on portability and customization -- long hailed as one of Internet radio's calling cards -- will certainly resonate with somebody. (I've already heard from one very enthusiastic radio person about this announcement.)
I usually come away from my forays into much of Internet-only radio with a new appreciation for the total package (and sometimes even the depth and variety) offered by mainstream terrestrial radio -- or at least the mainstream terrestrial radio that I can stream. But that's not a story being shared from many quarters these days. Those streams (including HD-2 multicast channels that stream) will also be available on RCA's device, but not with the same prominence as Slacker.
Which again raises a question: With all the effort that is going into HDRadio, shouldn't somebody be pushing for a portable device that gives the same sort of prominence that Slacker is getting here to HD-2 multicast channels -- offering all the available HD stations, not just those that can be heard in any given market?
Written Oct. 28, 2007 in Satellite with 0 Comments
I've commented in these pages before that for a number of us in the business, interest in music programming began with listening to "American Top 40" and coming to the realization that some of the hits around the country were different than the hits being played in your market. Whether it was "Rub It In" by Billy "Crash" Craddock in 1974 or "I'll See You In My Dreams" by Giant in 1987, "AT40" was often the only proof those records existed if you lived in a major market. (Conversely, if you lived in a more pop-driven market, it was often the only place to hear anything but the biggest R&B crossovers.)
These days, with the major markets often setting the agenda for the rest of the country, you're a lot less likely to hear more than a handful of songs not being played in your market on "AT40." But I'm listening to the Sunday afternoon countdown on Sirius Hits 1 (starting at 1 p.m. ET) and they've just gone for about 45 minutes without a single record that I'm likely to encounter on any of the four Top 40 buttons available to me on a regular day. The last hour has been full of Dollyrots, Wyclef Jean, Within Temptation, Yellowcard, the new Duran Duran, the new Linkin Park, Rascal Flatts, etc. And it very much feels like listening to "AT40" in the old days.
It has also been noted here before that Sirius Hits 1 is one of only a handful of stations that looks for their own reaction records as aggressively as the Rhythmic-leaning major-market stations (the others are the also previously cited WEZB [B97] New Orleans and WZKL [Q92.5] Canton, Ohio), but the countdown is perhaps the best showplace for that. Today's 16-year-old has a lot more places to hear new songs than sitting around waiting to hear them on a countdown, but I hope there's still somebody whose imagination is fired by this countdown (or AT40) like ours were.
Written Oct. 26, 2007 in Satellite with 0 Comments
As has been noted here (and elsewhere) extensively this week, the biggest channels in the recently released satellite radio Arbitron numbers have been relatively mainstream choices. All of which makes one of the exceptions stand out. XM's third most listened to channel, "XM13 Willie's Place," isn't its mainstream Country Gold channel, that's "XM10 America." Willie's Place is traditional Country, stretching back to Hank Williams and Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys. There are newer recordings (e.g., Reba McEntire & Asleep at the Wheel covering Classic Country songs), but there is nothing that could be called contemporary.
Here's Willie's Place this morning at 10:55 a.m.:
Amazing Rhythm Aces, "Yippe Yi Yo Yo"
Faron Young, "Hello Walls"
Bob Willis & Texas Playboys, "Roly Poly"
Vern Gosdin, "Right In The Wrong Direction"
Asleep At The Wheel & Reba McEntire, "Right Or Wrong"
Charley Pride, "Just Between You And Me"
Leroy VanDyke, "If A Woman Answers (Hang Up The Phone)"
Boxcar Willie, "Long Black Limousine"
Ray Price, "My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You"
Jack Green, "What Locks The Door"
Tommy Overstreet, "Don't Go City Girl On Me"
Hank Williams, "Lovesick Blues"
Rusty & Doug Kershaw, "Jole Blon"
There's not a song there that you could expect to hear on mainstream Country radio and only two or three I could even imagine hearing on KXBL (Big Country) Tulsa, Okla. -- a Classic Country FM that actually manages to surprise me from time to time. So how is this station No. 3 among XM channels in AQH and pulling more than 400,000 listeners a week?
XM senior VP/music programming Jon Zellner says that even before the channel was rebranded from "Hank's Place" to "Willie's Place" that "it's always been a huge channel for us. TSL and overall listener satisfaction is the driver. Also, we do very well in the south where Classic Country is and/or could be a bonafide format." You can also look at the surprise success of Easy Listening "XM78: Escape" and argue that XM has done pretty well at creating a tier of channels for disenfranchised older listeners.
It's also worth noting that "Willie's Place" remains one of the most distinct experiences and most produced channels on satellite radio. The two overlapping shifts I heard were both hosted and the first jock was touting an upcoming remote. It is, in other words, a real radio station. And because it is, some records that would sound old and creaky if they were just being segued one after another sound exotic instead.
Written Oct. 25, 2007 in Internet Radio + Satellite with 0 Comments
For all the attention that goes to the terrestrial vs. satellite battle, I was reminded anew of satellite's other rival this morning when I had occasion to check out Soft AC WJZQ (the Breeze) Traverse City, Mich., this morning. WJZQ streams through Live 365 and before my stream started, I heard a promo that asked something on the order of, "Why listen to a few hundred stations on satellite radio when Live 365's VIP service offers more than 10,000 stations with no commercials?"
The promo was a reminder that radio--satellite and terrestrial--is still competing not only with Internet radio, but subscription Internet radio services like Live 365 and Yahoo Radio that offer paid premium tiers of service. Whether it was Sirius and XM's intent to go after some of that business, or just establish their place on the forthcoming Infinite Dial of the wireless broadband era, their (relatively) recent emphasis on Internet listening has clearly been a shot across the bow, occasioning a shot back like this one.
Written Oct. 24, 2007 in Content + Satellite with 0 Comments
I've been rather amazed by the way the radio industry trades have covered the story of Arbitron's first release of national Satellite Radio ratings. They correctly point out that Howard Stern's total weekly audience is a tiny fraction of what it once was. But the spin is somehow that this is proof of Howard having made a mistake by leaving 'over-the-air' radio.
Let's do a little math here. If we accept Arbitron's estimate of Howard's weekly cume audience of 1.2million, and multiply that by the standard $12.95 per month subscription, we get over $185million. OK -- Sirius offers certain deals and the average rate is probably less than $12.95. And maybe some of those listeners would have subscribed to Sirius without Howard. Still -- is there any doubt that just on this calculation alone Howard's show is profitable? Probably wildly so?
And that doesn't even count what Howard has done for Sirius at large. This was a company that was in 'serious' danger of becoming 'Betamax' before they hired Howard. They lagged XM badly in terms of market awareness and penetration. Howard closed the gap in a matter of days. So much did he change the battle that Sirius will now be the acquiring entity if the merger goes through.
And yet the other argument one hears is: "But Howard couldn't turn Sirius profitable." Unfair as well. How can one evaluate him other than on what he has done himself? Sirius not being profitable cannot be tagged to Howard. The 'Sirius but not Howard' piece must be incredibly money-losing -- because Howard is making them money.
It is kind of a shame in sort of a metaphysical sense that millions of people don't hear Howard any more. But from a business sense, Howard continues to show himself as one of the most potent entities this medium has seen in our time (Rush Limbaugh being the only other similar force).
Written Oct. 23, 2007 in Satellite with 0 Comments
There are some fascinating numbers among Arbitron's just-released Satellite Ratings Report, many of which confirm last week's then-anecdotal observation that -- for all its depth -- satellite listeners are as interested in the hits as anybody else; many of the biggest channels are indeed mainstream formats.
Sirius has six channels that manage an AQH rating of 0.01 or, in one case, more. (The latter, not surprisingly, is Howard Stern's Stern 100 with an 0.04, followed by Stern 101 with an 0.01.) XM has 15 that manage an 0.01 AQH rating, including Opie & Anthony's "The Virus."
Sirius has its highest non-Stern AQH numbers for New Country, Top 40 "Sirius Hits 1," Modern Rock "Octane," and '90s and Now Hot AC "The Pulse." Of the service's Classic Rock channels, Classic Vinyl gets 2-1/2 times the AQH of the deep tracks "The Vault." (The proportion is similar on XM.)
XM does a little better as far as eclectic offerings go. Its best AQH number is for '80s/'90s/now Mainstream AC "The Blend," and Modern AC "Flight 26." But the next highest numbers are for the Classic Country "Willie's Place." The highest rated channels also include Oldies channels "'50s on 5," "60s on 6," "'70s on 7," and "''80s on 8," as well as Country "Highway 16," the Top 40 "Top 20 on 20," Soft AC "The Heart," Classic Rock "Top Tracks," newer Classic Rock "Big Tracks," Urban AC "Suite 62," Smooth Jazz "Watercolors," Fox News, and Standards/Easy Listening hybrid "Escape".
Where there is a turn toward the eclectic here, incidentally, it's to those channels that most clearly target the older listeners disenfranchised by mainstream terrestrial stations in most larger markets. You see it more with the success of the Smooth Jazz, Easy Listening, Classic Country, and '50s channels at XM, but even at Sirius, the listening levels are higher for the pre-Beatles Sirius Gold than they are for the '60s or '70s channels.
In that regard, you can finally say that satellite radio listeners aren't just paying for the radio formats they can hear anywhere else, but you can finally see them paying for the stations that mainstream radio forced them to get elsewhere. PPM has forced terrestrial radio to take a stutter step backwards as far as Oldies, but seeing the relative strength of other older targeting formats should give them pause as well.
Written Oct. 19, 2007 in Satellite with 0 Comments
After this week's Ross On Radio column comparing the depth on Sirius and XM Satellite Radio's Classic Rock channels, I got the "what about us" e-mail from Music Choice's Justin Prager. It was an fair question. In the days before satellite, Music Choice was an alternaive delivery system that was more informed by radio programming logic than others. As Sirius and XM have mainstreamed, Music Choice has expanded into the Video on Demand arena--where, of course, the radio notion of making every song a smash applies less.
So here's Music Choice Classic Rock at 9:50 p.m. on Wednesday (17). Songs that elude Mediabase's Top 1,000 most played are asterisked:
Jackson Browne, "Running On Empty";
Aerosmith, "Living On The Edge";
* Traffic, "Rock And Roll Stew" -- A one-time AOR staple that is now gone, gone, gone;
Jethro Tull, "Aqualung";
Pretenders, "Brass In Pocket (I'm Special)";
Yes, "Long DIstance Runaround";
* Rush, "Finding My Way"-- From their 1974 debut; sounds like AC/DC in places;
Foreigner, "Double Vision";
* Yardbirds, "Over, Under, Sideways Down";
* John Lennon, "Nobody Told Me" -- Released after his death in 1983, disappeared from the radio almost instantly;
* Ted Nugent, "Love Grenade" -- The only current I encountered in my listening except one of the deep cuts channels;
Bruce Springsteen, "Born To Run";
Rainbow, "Man On The Silver Mountain" -- Their most enduring song at radio.
There are indeed more spikes here than I encountered at Sirius and XM's mainstream Classic Rock channels (although both had deep cuts channels that played nothing but relative obscurities, which Music Choice does not). There's also a lot of that early '70s progressive music that used to be a center lane sound for the format and has selected itself out over the years, particularly at those Classic Rock stations that test both men and women (the latter seem to have less patience for it).
Written Oct. 17, 2007 in Content + Satellite with 0 Comments
A big part of the original promise of Satellite Radio was vastly enhanced variety -- not only across the channels but on those channels that duplicated over-the-air formats.
In this week's Ross on Radio column from Edison Media Research VP Sean Ross, he looks at whether one truly gets more musical variety from some of satellite's most listened-to channels.
We already have a lot of comments to the article -- as Sean's articles receive almost every week. Join the discussion!
Written May. 17, 2007 in Content + Satellite with 0 Comments
Written Feb. 8, 2007 in Satellite with 1 Comment
Been meaning to share this observation for a few weeks now: Shortly before the holidays, I heard from T.J. Lubinsky, the public TV oldies show magnate who has been as successful at raising money with Oldies as radio station owners are frustrated. Lubinsky had just started a new doo-wop program on Sirius Satellite Radio's pre-Beatles Oldies channel, Sirius Gold, and was surprised that the callers were younger (and more geographically spread out) than many of the fans he encounters, often concentrated in the genre's historical northeastern stronghold.
That says something about the problems that Oldies stations have had attracting younger listeners. In the '80s, when the format was new on FM, it drew a substantial number of listeners who had not grown up with the records but were enjoying them because they were new, novel, and, of course, great hit songs. But over the past five years, it's been Classic Rock and the '80s hits of the Bob- and Jack-formats that have drawn in listeners who appreciate that new song about Jessie's girl. It's now those records that are being handed down from one's parents--not '60s music--many have theorized.
But on satellite radio, you've got some listeners who are punching horizontally through 100-plus channels with the expectation that they are going to hear something different, and not going to know everything they hear. With that established, doo-wop becomes just another type of exotica, like chillout music, or like a 24-year-old listening to Sinatra. That doesn't necessarily help the remaining terrestrial Oldies FMs figure out how to attract younger listeners, but it does suggest that it's not impossible.
Written Jan. 2, 2007 in Satellite with 0 Comments
Given the ongoing durability of the movie "Grease," an enterprising Top 40 programmer probably could have brought back the 10-year-old "Grease Megamix," itself a remix of hits from summer 1978, at any time since it became a hit in late 1996. Then again, there aren't a lot of programmers bringing back records these days. So it's worth noting that Top 40 Sirius Hits 1 added two songs this week--the new Avril Lavigne single and "The Grease Megamix."
The immediate impetus for the return of the "Grease Megamix"--which was not to PD Kid Kelly's knowledge being worked by a label--was the debut of NBC's new Grease-themed reality show, "You're The One That I Want." But it's not out of character for Sirius Hits 1 which has, over the last year or so, gone aggressively looking for its own hits in a way that few Mainstream Top 40s do these days. With much of satellite radio becoming more conservative, Sirius Hits 1 has done an interesting job of creating a broader based Top 40 that sounds neither like a Hot AC nor the fast-on-rhythm/slow-on-rock template that still dominates in many of the major-markets.
Written Dec. 6, 2006 in Satellite with 1 Comment
Funny that Fred Jacobs should mention this today, as I have actually made it an effort to tune into Howard several times over the past few weeks. In one two-week period, I listened on three separate occasions--and on each, I heard essentially the exact same thing: Howard interviews porn star, asks her what she'll do, and gets her to sit on some gigantic vibrating contraption for a few minutes. That's it--same thing, three times. Maybe some guys never get tired of this, but I sure did.
With Howard, as with anything else in radio, there has always been something of a 20/80 rule (actually, more like a 27/73 rule, I think). There was always about a quarter of his audience that were hard-core listeners, and the rest were there for the occasional vicarious thrill. No further proof of this is necessary than to simply look at the box office grosses of his movies--if everyone who listened to Howard's former terrestrial show actually went to see these movies, they would have grossed a zillion. They did OK, but not a zillion.
Now that Howard has moved off to Satellite, the loyal quarter went with him--but the rest stayed behind. And the show has changed because of it--sure, much of the change has been driven by the permissiveness of his new environment, but he sounds increasingly isolated: no longer 'king of all media,' but king of a stagnating kingdom of pornography, surrounded by a moat of rabid fans who may cheer just as loudly, but are no longer representative of the wide swath of middle America Howard used to command. And as such, the show sounds like it has drifted pretty far afield of what it once was. Fred is right--it is all about the environment.
Written Dec. 4, 2006 in Satellite with 0 Comments
This week we are pleased to have a guest posting from Jack Taddeo on what the future holds for Satellite Radio. Remember, if you have something to contribute to the Infinite Dial, just pop me a note! Now, here's Jack:
Hello from snowy Chicago!
Some of you know that I have been a bit of a hard head when it comes to satellite radio and its perceived threat to radio. We've had discussions on the subject in perceptual meetings or over coffee in your break rooms. I maintained that the satellite radio guys were not a long term threat.
I was honestly not sticking my head in the sand as much as I was sitting there saying to myself "the math doesn't work". I've also said (privately and in the trade press) that the best use of XM and Sirius bandwidth is not in what amounts to playing records without any commercials in between. Why? It just never made sense to me. They’ve launched several satellites including, in the case of XM, 2 replacements for premature failures. (I would love to have been on the call to the insurance company!) They build a bunch of studios for production along with a broadcast center then locate it on two of the most expensive chunks of real estate on the planet (New York and DC). They pay a ton of money for content (Stern, NFL, CNN, etc.) then charge 12.95 a month for the service. It doesn't add up.
HBO has arguably one of the best brands and delivers on their promise of quality content year after year. They charge about the same amount of money as XM and Sirius. Which one do you think gives more value for the dollar? Their call letters are HBO.
So, if you're in a segment that loses a billion dollars a year, and your business plan actually shows that the more subscribers you add the more money you lose, what do you do? You wake up and realize that you are in the MOBILE entertainment business, not the anti-radio business.
Bandwidth is bandwidth. Does it make sense to use all of the technology, satellite space and expensive corporate digs to "play records"? How about using the same bandwidth to send video entertainment? Think there are many SUVs and minivans out there with back seats full of DVDs to keep the kids entertained? You bet. Any reason they wouldn't want to watch all of the top-rated shows on Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, Discovery Kids, PBS, etc. while they are in the car? No. And that is just the lower end of the market.
Enter Sirius. In one quiet announcement they've said a mouthful. First, satellite radio isn't a big enough deal for them to base their future on. Second, they want to be out in front of XM. Third, they realize that content is king and that they can get great content with built-in demand from other sources without having to produce it in-house. And finally, they need to make a course correction and they need to make it now if they are going to avoid another ambiguous year.
Back to my original position on satellite radio. The bandwidth is worth more than what they are using it for presently. So Sirius is going to wake up and start using its transmission system for something besides a place out of the rain for radio haters. And they don't even have to merge with XM to do it.
FROM INSIDE RADIO:
Mel Karmazin says Sirius will break into TV in 2007. He tells the Reuters Media Summit that Sirius will begin announcing content deals next month. And Karmazin expects Sirius will offer a live TV service to cars by the end of next year. The service is likely to begin with kids' channels and would be ad-supported.
If you'd like to comment on this article, please feel free to post here or contact Jack directly at jtaddeo1 at earthlink dot net.
Written Oct. 12, 2006 in Satellite with 0 Comments
This week's announcement that XM Satellite Radio's fall TV campaign will be tagged to, as the press release puts it, "the joy of discovery" is interesting for a number of reasons. Three years ago, discovery was supposed to be the magic bullet for satellite radio, but after the first two million subscribers or so (all of them, seemingly, adoring consumer press writers) the emphasis switched to cherrypicking the best of terrestrial radio's content, instead of just counter-programming it.
But in recent months, some of those consumer press stories have been a little less adulatory. Some have focused on satellite's slower growth. Some have pointed out, correctly, that the offerings are a little less exotic than they used to be. The marketing for HD Radio's collection of HD-2 stations has tried to position those channels as similarly adventurous. And these days, discovery is a lot of what sets satellite radio (or terrestrial radio, for that matter) apart from the iPod.
To see the new spots, click here.
Written Aug. 15, 2006 in Satellite + Technology with 0 Comments
The New York Times Sunday Crossword Puzzle this week includes a fascinating clue and answer.
40 Across: The clue is "Satellite Counterpart" and the answer is..."AMFM".
Really says a lot about satellite radio's status. And AM/FM's too.