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Sirius Satellite Radio  Print E-mail
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Written by Bryan Dailey   
Sunday, 01 February 2004
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Sirius Satellite Radio 
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The Downside
As much as I thoroughly enjoy my Sirius receiver and the programming that it pulls in, I am fully aware that the sound quality is not stellar. The amount of compression on the talk radio stations and on the DJs’ voices that introduce the songs is pretty bad. I could count my list of favorite radio talk shows on one hand, so that is not too much of a concern for me. If I’m driving around town and want to catch David Allan Grier guest hosting Loveline with Adam Corolla and Doctor Drew, I’ll turn off the Sirius and tune to that FM radio station.

Two of my favorite channels on Sirius are the comedy channels, but I have a fundamental problem with the way comdedy is presented on Sirius (and XM’s two comedy channels, for that matter). Great stand-up comedians do not just tell jokes. They are storytellers. On Sirius’ comedy channels, we are treated to clips from some very talented (and sometimes not so talented) stand-up comedians, but the clips are often so short that you are never drawn into the performances. In a perfect world, I’d turn on Sirius on my way home from work and listen to a full-length Eddie Murphy or George Carlin stand-up special. These two-to-four-minute chunks of stand-up comedy are just not enough time to really get into the vibe of a comedian’s act.

Although Sirius does not have commercials, they certainly have their fair share of their own promotional spots, telling you about the shows on other Sirius channels. The comedy channel puts goofy filler spots between almost every stand-up routine, which aren’t technically commercials but waste as much of your time as short commercial spots do.

The last and biggest downside I could find with Sirius became apparent to me on a 16-hour trip to from Long Beach to Sacramento and back. Because I have about five or six channels favorite channels that I tend to gravitate to, I found the depth of the programming to be a little thin. I’m normally in my car in one-hour chunks of time, but when spending a half a day in the car, I began to hear patterns in the stations. I could tune in to Channel 1 and there was a pretty good chance I’d hear the newest No Doubt song once an hour. On Channel 20, I could almost predict with 50 percent accuracy when the next Hoobastank song would be on. As long as you mix up what stations you focus on, this is not a problem, but I was amazed that I could hear song playlist patterns emerging on the stations, even though I tend to skip around between about 10 to 15 stations.

Conclusion
Satellite radio is not for everyone. If your commute to work is 10 minutes and you don’t care about listening to your favorite hockey or football team on the radio, then you can probably get by with just your AM/FM radio and a CD player. If you are like a growing number of people in the country, especially Californians, whose commute times to work are getting longer and longer, you’ll seriously want to consider getting it. The technology is incredible but the sound will probably not “wow” anyone. What it all boils down to is content when choosing between the two providers. For me, the choice is obvious. I love listening to sports, music and comedy and don’t feel the need to dig too deeply into the back catalogue of most musical artists. If you want to hear the hit songs that you know and love without commercials, than Sirius is the way to go. If you want to pay a little less and can deal with annoying DJs and commercials, then by all means, add XM to your car. Just don’t be bummed when you see all those Sirius subscribers listening to the big football game next year while driving home from Vegas on a Sunday afternoon.






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