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Chriss Scherer Scherer has been the editor of Radio magazine since 1997. His experience in radio includes work as chief engineer at stations in Cleveland (WMMS-FM, WHK-AM, WZJM-FM, WJMO-AM...more

The sound of sat radio

I was in Atlanta recently to attend the Executive Committee meeting of the Society of Broadcast Engineers. The car I rented had a Sirius radio installed. It’s been some time since I listened to satellite radio, so this was a good chance to catch up, although when I travel I like to sample the local radio offerings.

When I left the rental lot, the radio was already playing a Sirius station. I scanned up and down a few channels and heard some 80s new wave, the heavy metal offering and few others. I liked the song on the 80s station (ahh, the sounds of being in college and college radio), so I left it there to listen. When the song ended, I switched to terrestrial radio and scanned a while.

I found a station I thought I would like, but the next song didn’t hold my attention. I scanned again to find another station. As I scanned, I wondered what was playing on the 80s station I left earlier.

I abandoned my search on FM and went back to satellite. The 80s station (called First Wave) was playing another familiar song. Familiar that I knew it, but not so familiar that I had just heard it 20 times. It was like comfort food. I stayed and listened.

Yes, I succumbed to satellite radio during the trip. It was a good chance to sample the stations that were available in the car. I heard songs that I had not heard on the radio for time. I heard a few new things that caught my interest for a while. I liked having the instant display on every channel to tell me what being played.

What I did not like was the audio coding of Sirius. The average listener probably doesn’t notice the swishy highs and splattered cymbals, but I did on every song. I could overlook it some of the time, but it wouldn’t take long for me to hear it again and again.

While I don’t like the audio quality, I liked the variety. I liked the choices. Would I pay a monthly fee for it? I don’t know for sure, I like the price of terrestrial radio. Would I tire of the service once the newness wore off? Possibly, but I had it for three days and always found something to listen to.

All that said, I can tie this back to terrestrial radio. Sirius promotes its service by having it available in rental cars. Why aren’t we doing the same with HD Radio? Get HD Radio in rental cars and tout the multicast channels. Tout the data. All the listening and data options are not available in every market, but pick and choose a few to start.

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Related Topics: HD Radio, Industry

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