Before I left for E3, I decided that I would subscribe to XM. I am a loyal listener to SIRIUS, and have been happy with their service for the past year. But I do have some issues.
My biggest problem is the repetition of music that takes place on some of my favorite stations. Come on, how many times can 1st Wave (a station that specializes in 80s alternative music) play music from either U2 or the Cure? It seems that The Cure is played every hour on the hour. It started to irritate me a bit and that, in addition to wanting to listen to satellite radio while in Los Angeles, made me want XM as well.
So the week before, I found a great deal on an XM dealer site which offered the "MyFi Lite." Rather than paying $300 for the full MyFi package, I only received the MyFi portable unit, a battery, and an AC charger. Total cost: only $100 plus activation.
Upon returning home from E3, I added additional parts to complete the XM experience, including $40 for a specially designed car antenna and a $60 home kit. It still was a far cry from the cost of the full kit.
Needless to say, my first impressions of XM were high. I noticed far less repetition in the music channels, and much to my delight, there were stations that played songs that I have never heard in over 20 years. Add in a station called Cinemagic, which played nothing but movie soundtracks, and I was in heaven. (The fact that Cinemagic played mostly Star Wars music in honor of the release of Episode III was a big plus).
But when I checked XM's talk stations, it was a completely different story. In particular, my problems concentrated on two individuals: Greg "Opie" Hughes and Anthony Cumia.
Now I have followed these two back in 2000 when they arrived on WJFK as part of a syndication deal that also allowed Don and Mike to broadcast on New York station WNEW. Sure the program had its moments, but most of it was unbearable, and made even worse whenever I heard their associate, a bald headed, big mouthed bigot named Jim Norton, shoot off his mouth. It turned out that I was not the only one appalled by these three, as WJFK's afternoon drive ratings went from first (during the Don and Mike era) to seventeenth!
But on XM, they are much worse. Their constant obsession with attacking Howard Stern is one thing, and I will get to that later, but one thing that really got me irked is their current "Assault on the Media." Basically what happens is members of O & A's cult sneak up behind field reporters, hold up a poster of O & A, and yell out stuff like "Opie and Anthony"XM Radio!" These attacks would occur at the most inappropriate settings. One of which actually took place when a reporter was covering a rape scene, for crying out loud.
No one was affected more in the "Assault on the Media" than Mr. Chi'en. A reporter at Channel 2 in New York, Chi'en was doing his live report, and two guys come up behind him and do their "Opie and Anthony"XM Radio" bit, and right after he is done with his report, Chi'en turns around and yells out "What the f*** is your problem, man?" Little did he know that the program was still live, and as a result, Chi'en was fired.
Granted reporters are supposed to be professional and not snap out in the way Chi'en did, but still, when someone is pressured like that, reacting in that way is understandable. In my opinion, Opie and Anthony should take some responsibility for these actions. There is the right and wrong way to get attention (I know by writing this I'm helping them out), and this is definitely the wrong way.
But what makes me really mad at these two are the way they make blatant lies about SIRIUS. Recently SIRIUS unveiled their Sportster Replay, a follow up to their top selling tuner. The Replay features buffer memory that allows at least 44 minutes of replay capability. However, Opie and Anthony, in their "not so divine" wisdom, ridicule the Replay, comparing it with, of all things, the MyFi, a completely different model. Why? Because it stores five hours of music for portable use, and also because O & A would do anything to bring SIRIUS down!
Anyone who follows the satellite radio market like I do will know that the real competition to the Sportster Replay is XM's Delphi SkyFi2, and in that competition, the Sportster Replay's 44 minutes and easier to read display is far superior to the SkyFi2, and its 30 minute buffer.
But the bigger lie that gets to me more than anything is how Opie and Anthony refer to SIRIUS radios as "archaic and huge." This is complete "bravo sierra." I own both a MyFi and a Sportster Replay (which I picked up just this week, thanks to Taylor from colormatchantenna.com), and aside from form factor and overall function, they are exactly the same size! SIRIUS' smallest radio, the Starmate, is identical in form factor AND size to the XM's Roady2. But then again, what do you expect from a couple of Howard Stern ripoffs who are in XM's back pocket?
Still, I don't think SIRIUS has anything to fear from these two blowhards. Over the last few months, SIRIUS have been on quite a roll. As if deals with the NFL, Dish Network, and of course, Howard Stern, were not enough, they took advantage of Infinity broadcasting's blunders.
Earlier this month, Infinity Broadcasting turned New York's oldies station WCBS-FM into a new format known simply as "Jack," which acts like an iPod Shuffle on crack with no DJs at all. One of the DJs that lost his jobs was a New York legend: Bruce Morrow, also known as "Cousin Brucie." It was a travesty so atrocious, even a New York state senator demanded someone hire Cousin Brucie since he was such a staple to the Big Apple.
Well, SIRIUS responded, as they added Morrow to their camp with a July 4th debut. But for SIRIUS it's been nonstop. Just last Wednesday, they debuted their latest station, Radio Margaritaville hosted by Jimmy Buffett. While I'm not a Parrothead, per se, it will surprise many of my readers that I do enjoy listening to Buffett, and I have been impressed with the station so far.
Still, SIRIUS is surprising me. In addition to the Margaritaville station, SIRIUS has just made an agreement with Sprint to broadcast their music on PCS phones. XM had talked about putting their music on cell phones, but SIRIUS beat them to it. You watch XM make an agreement with Verizon next week to counter the SIRIUS/Sprint deal. All we need to see is that "Am I Annoying Now" test guy doing ads for XM. Quite a scary thought.
One thing is for sure, SIRIUS is nowhere near "archaic," but they are definitely "huge" with their aspirations. Such events will continue until that glorious moment on New Year's Day, 2006: the day Howard Stern makes his long awaited satellite radio debut.
CURRENTLY LISTENING TO: Radio Margaritaville (SIRIUS), 1st Wave (SIRIUS), Fred (XM)
DEFINTELY NOT LISTENING TO: High Voltage xL (XM)
MOST WANTED: Howard Stern's contract with Viacom to end sooner than 2006!