Stern dollars

Shawn Mamros mamros@MIT.EDU
Fri Oct 8 10:32:37 EDT 2004

>3. If XM/Sirius ever figure out that they could provide a 'basic' free 
>subscription package with a few limited music and news/talk channels to 
>attract an initial audience then intice them to purchase an enhanced 
>package, you guys better figure out that terrestrial radio is essentially 
>doomed, except for the few FM stations which understand that they key to 
>success will be a full-service format, modelled after what AM was doing in 
>the late 70s/early 80s.   [...]

On my most recent trip to visit my family in Pittsburgh, the Hertz
rental car had a Sirius receiver built in, with all channels available.
(Didn't get a chance to play around with it, though; my fiancee brought
CDs. ;-)  Don't know if XM has a similar deal with another rental firm,
but that sure seems like a clever way to get folks introduced to the
concept, and if they like it enough, they'll subscribe to it at home.

As for the notion of the so-called full-service format (make that the
"try-to-be-all-things-to-all-people" format) making a grand return, I
just don't see it.  Most people seem to want to listen to what they
like most.  If they like a particular type of music, they want a
station that plays it, with as little interruption with other stuff
as possible.  If/when they want to hear news instead, tune to "the
news station".  If they're in the mood for talk, tune to "the talk
station".  That's the model people have become comfortable with on
TV, for certain, and I don't see radio as being any different.

Terrestrial radio will have to become more locally-oriented if satellite
radio does catch on, no question about it.  But I don't see that translating
to the "full-service" format maing a comeback.

And as for the notion that companies currently in terrestrial broadcasting
are gonna be quaking in their boots if the satellites do become successful,
keep in mind that those same companies will be just as glad to provide
content for the satellites (if they aren't already), and save themselves
the expense of maintaining terrestrial broadcasting facilities.  The
money will ultimately wind up in the same pockets; it'll just take a
different route to get there, IMO.

-Shawn Mamros
E-mail to: mamros -at- mit dot edu

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