October 25, 2007

These Things Matter: Satellite Radio: Sirius Buisness

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For some things in life, once you start using them, you can’t go back to life without them … Wikipedia, Netflix, DVR. Well I’ve got the next addition to that list: satellite radio.
Most of you are probably saying “I’d never pay for something that I can get for free.” In this case, that’s like saying that you’d never pay for plumbing when you can just pee in the river.
Have you listened to the radio lately? It’s horrible. Nearly half of every hour of FM airtime is commercials, not music, and AM radio is filled with idiots who yell all the time or boring pundits with no credibility. Satellite radio fixes all that. All of the music channels run commercial-free. In addition, you can find nearly any style or combination of music to suit your spur-of-the-moment listening tastes. The talk stations provide shows and hosts that you actually are interested in.
Since my pitch for SNL last week was so successful (I’ve been told that thanks to me their ratings increased by a staggering 5 viewers), I will provide you with the 10 best stations on satellite radio. I have no doubt that you will be intrigued enough to make the purchase within ten minutes after reading them.
(NOTE: Unless otherwise indicated, the stations are on Sirius Satellite Radio. XM, its competitor, is simply not as good. However, the two companies have been trying to undergo a merger. Our friends in the federal government have been trying to fight it, because they, you know, don’t like when consumers are happy. But that’s another story for another time …)
10. ESPNEWS, CNN (tie) — So let me get this straight. I can listen to the actually televised news and sports updates on the radio while I am driving? Better this way than putting a TV screen in my windshield and accidentally driving off a pier.
9. Big ’80s — This channel is worth a look because their DJs are all of the original VJs from MTV in 1981. Plus, they play a lot of Prince.
8. The Foxxhole — Very simply, Sirius said to entertainer extraordinaire Jamie Foxx, “We’re going to give you your own channel. Do whatever you want with it.” In addition to a talk show where Foxx serves as host, you also get hours of music personally selected (if not performed) by the Oscar-winner himself.
7. BackSpin — Pretty much every music channel on Sirius has a “gimmick.” This is probably the biggest can’t-miss of the bunch, as it only plays old school rap. It’s refreshing to go from the current rap songs about ho’s in different area codes to rap’s roots, songs about Adidas and Mike Tyson.
6. Raw Dog — Uncensored stand up comedy from all of your favorite comedians. This is a good channel because in the time it takes to drive to Wegman’s you can listen to an entire Lisa Lampanelli rant about her favorite ethnic stereotypes. Sometimes you’ll even be treated to guest comedians in the studio talking about their favorite comics and bits.
5. Buzzsaw — Sirius splits their classic rock library into two primary channels, but I like this less-known third incarnation the best. It focuses on the “hard rock” sub-genre of classic rock, artists like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Guns ‘N Roses and Metallica.
4. Jam On — A 24-hour channel of jam bands. This channel gives you both studio recordings and live shows. There’s nothing like rocking out to a classic Phish track from a 1989 concert for a couple minutes, only to go back to the channel an hour later and still find the same track playing.
3. Deep Tracks — This channel is on XM, and is included here because it is better than Sirius’ version (The Vault). This channel plays obscure B-sides and long-lost tracks from across the rock era. More importantly, it features the programs “Tom Petty’s Buried Treasure” and “Theme Time Radio Hour with Bob Dylan.” Anyone who enjoys surreal and/or incoherent experiences is strongly advised to listen to either or both of these programs.
2. Lithium — This is my favorite music channel that satellite radio has to offer. It’s a collection of ’90s alternative bands, and they do a great job mixing up the song selection. You’ll consistently get song progressions of Nirvana followed by Smashing Pumpkins followed by Stone Temple Pilots. It’s hard to find matching music tastes from one person to the next, but I would be shocked to find anyone who adamantly disapproved of this station.
1. Howard 100 — Say whatever you want about Howard Stern, but the man brings ratings. More than that, the quality of his show is consistently great. It isn’t just that he is free from censorship, it’s that he is free from the pressure of trying to constrain segments according to the FCC’s standards. Even better, his station is filled with other mind-expanding content such as “The Intern Show” and an hour-long show hosted by The Iron Sheik. Now that’s the kind of programming befitting an Ivy League student like myself.