Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Sirius Rant.

If you're a subscriber to satellite radio... either Sirius or XM, you already know what this is about. Like me you woke up last Wednesday, turned on your radio, got the message "Updating streams... this may take a few minutes". OK, this has happened before, no big..... WTF?!?!?!?!? Sirius Disorder, the station I listened to about 60% of the time, was gone. In its place, something called "The Bridge". I have no idea what format "The Bridge" is, because it's currently the home of "Led Zeppelin Radio" for a limited engagement.

Welcome to "Sirius XM"... the future of satellite radio. We know the merger was approved in the congress last Summer. We knew there were probably going to be some changes coming. We knew ...thought... there would be some time before the changes took effect that we would be sent an email, or got some kind of notice about what the changes would entail. Un-uh. I listened to Sirius all the way across New Mexico, and a hunk of Texas driving back to Oklahoma last Tuesday. Not a word was mentioned on any of the stations I listened to. Larry Kirwan spoke as if he'd be there the next day, and the day after that.

Wednesday morning some time.. probably right in the middle of a song on some channel, it all changed. I was pretty sure I knew what happened, but until I got an email, hours after the fact, from Sirius, trumpeting their wonderful new channel lineup, I could only guess. It took a lot of online time to ferret out the true nature of the beast. Indeed, Disorder was gone. As was the classic jazz channel I listened to, replaced by something lighter weight from XM. Left of Center.. the alternative, "college format" channel was replaced by "Sirius XM U". And on and on it goes.

Most media sources I Googled, agreed this transition was not handled well by the corporate brain-dead. (Read the article, but also the comments). While almost no one, in or out of the media, knew what the changes would be, or when, save this site, which let its readers in on it. It's now bookmarked on my computer, as I don't want to be, as The Who sang, fooled again.

Writing this one week after the fact, I can now say that this would be much more blistering had I responded immediately. But now I've got a week under my belt... or between my ears. Things may not be as bad as they seemed at first. The Loft, a station recommended by Sirius for folks who liked Disorder, is loading up with some of my favorite shows- "Vin Scelsa's Idiot's Delight", David Johansen's Mansion of Fun (perhaps the most eclectic bit of programming in the history of broadcasting), Lou Reed's New York Shuffle, and perhaps most importantly, Meg Griffin- the brains behind the Disorder channel will return December 1st with a program called..... Disorder.

I'll still miss Larry Kirwan's Celtic Crush, and The Kennedys' Dharma Cafe on Saturday mornings, but on the plus side- Outlaw Country remains, anchored by wild man Mojo Nixon, and it's been complemented by a new channel, Willie's Place, featuring Texas Honky Tonk music! All the NPR channels are untouched, and in December we'll also get a channel for movie soundtracks, so maybe things arent as dire as they seemed last week. Time will tell. It appears maybe our emails did some good.

Tell us about your transitory experiences last week when your favorite channels disappeared.. do it in the comments section.

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