Saturday, February 19, 2005

A bad decision

Just before the holidays, I decided to bring my home into the satellite radio age. I'd been tempted for a long time. Commercial-free radio, and the opportunity to listen to any type of music you want. I checked out both XM and Sirius and chose XM. I was so happy with it after listening to a trial online, that I bought a car receiver and a boombox for the house.

Only a few months later, it looks a lot like wasted money. Earlier this week, I got into the car, flipped on one of my favorite channels, XMLM, to find that they had taken it off the air to make room for more baseball. (For me, there are few worse things they could have cancelled it for.)

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I didn't think XMLM was perfect. As a matter of fact, I dissed song selection in my last entry. I thought the station focused too much on the death/grindcore aspect of metal and ignored a lot of heavy bands that deserved some play. Still, I did listen to it regularly, and its loss leaves a huge void for metal fans in XM's programming.

Now your options are the Boneyard, which plays a lot of the more commercial hard rock from the 1980s, and Squizz, which plays a lot of the more commercial hard rock from today. While I do like those channels, if you want anything underground or really heavy, you're out of luck. (Oh, they give one of the XMLM DJs three hours on Squizz during the day, when no one with a job can listen; and of course, you can pay an extra $3.99 per month to listen to the 64kbps online version -- sorry, but there are a lot of FREE online metal stations that I really like.)

The great thing about satellite radio in the beginning was that it provided a place for bands that aren't going to get exposure on regular radio to be heard. It was a place where listeners who were into musical genres that don't get airplay could find new music. But, as with everything in the music business, the corporate machine gets to it sooner or later. I fully expect that one day, satellite radio will be just as generic and boring as standard radio, all of the promise lost. It's already on its way.

My advice, if you're a metal fan thinking about satellite radio, go with Sirius. At least they still have a metal channel ... for now.

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