The Day My Satellite Radio Died

It was a week ago today that I turned on my car to learn that Fred is dead. That's what I said.

Fred, the 80s-sipping new wave channel on Sirius XM Radio's (Nasdaq: SIRI  ) , was one of the many XM commercial-free music stations replaced by somewhat similar Sirius alternatives last Wednesday morning. Fred was toast. 1st Wave is the new Fred.

I recounted the experience with Mike Snider from USA Today over the weekend. I wound up being the anecdotal lead in his column yesterday.

Being singled out is typically the result of standing out. Unfortunately for Sirius XM, I am not the only one.

I hear you
There have been 79 comments tacked on to the end of my original article on the satellite radio switch last week. Apparently the satellite radio provider has hit a nerve with its subscriber base.

  • "I am very disappointed with the removal of BOOMBOX and BACKSPIN," writes efy007. "Sirius is supposed to provide genres that are not available on FM Radio. They did this, up until the merger. I am truly disgusted. I hope and wait to see if they see enough feedback that they adjust their lineup. But, if they don't, I will cancel as the stations I listen to just done exist anymore."
  • "I have been with Sirius for 4 years, and I just cancelled my subscription," posts maxwell303. "They even offered to give me 3 free months for both of my radios, but I declined. There were 4 stations (Left of Center, Purejazz, The Pulse, & Chill) that I listened to regularly, and 3 of them went away or changed drastically. Well I guess ITUNES can get my monthly budget that used to go to SIRIUS. Such a shame. First Tower Records goes out of business and now Sirius sucks! Another day the music died."
  • "I just called Sirius to cancel my service because my car had been stolen and I don't plan on replacing it for a while," sensij notes. "I was on hold for close to 10 minutes waiting for an operator, who informed me that they have been *swamped* with cancellations since the merger this week. She was excited to finally talk to someone canceling for a different reason!"
  • "I have four Sirius subscriptions because I really enjoyed the electronic music channels," writes mp3man2000. "I was shocked last Wednesday morning when I found my favorite channel 39/Boombox, replaced by pop2k (pop hits of the 2000s)??? Great, just what I wanted, MORE access to top40!? I can get that from any three FM stations in my home town for FREE. If something is not done about this, I plan on canceling all four of my subs next month."

There's more, but you get the point. Obviously a few negative reactions make for an incomplete sample. The vast majority of the company's 18.9 million subscribers are either fine with the moves or are willing to stomach the changes. However, how many cancellations can Sirius XM take at this point?

Not many, one would think.

Bad press at a bad time
Cyberspace is alive with cancellation stories over the past week, many of them alleging to be axing multiple receivers. Sirius XM has already hosed down its expectations for the current quarter. It expects to close out the year with just 19.1 million active receivers, a mere 200,000 net gain sequentially. If the cancellations are in the thousands or tens of thousands, the company's monthly churn rate will bump higher than the 1.7% rate it posted in the third quarter. However, what if we're talking about hundreds of thousands of cancellations?

I can't be the only one recalling last year's XM promise.

"XM's programming, including Major League Baseball, Oprah & Friends, Bob Dylan, Opie & Anthony, and commercial-free music channels, will not be interrupted by the merger," XM promised last summer.

It may have bended that promise when it temporarily suspended Opie & Anthony after some on-air remarks, but how about now when so many channels are being replaced? Can Sirius XM afford to be moving the furniture at this penny-pinching moment?

Consumers are really being prudent with their money. Just consider the following recent nuggets that indicate tighter guarding of discretionary income:

  • Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) lowered its subscriber targets last month, with the average consumer paying nearly $1 less monthly for the service than he was a year ago.
  • On the satellite television front, Dish Network (Nasdaq: DISH  ) closed out its latest quarter with fewer subscribers than when it started. Rival DirecTV (NYSE: DTV  ) gained subscribers, as it typically does heading into the NFL season, but at a much slower pace than a year earlier.
  • Rhapsody provider RealNetworks (Nasdaq: RNWK  ) saw a slight uptick in music subscriptions during the third quarter, but is lowering its overall guidance for the current period.  

Clearly we're in a very sensitive market. The last thing a subscription service needs is to give its cost-slashing customer a reason to cancel. The timing also couldn't be worse, with more than $1 billion of the company's $3.4 billion in debt due to be repaid next year. Creditors applaud cost-cutting initiatives, but it's a different story if growth turns the other way.

Searching for a scapegoat
If Sirius XM does come up short in the holiday quarter, you can be sure that it won't point at last Wednesday's switcheroo as the culprit. It will seek out external factors. It can certainly do that, as the weakness at other subscription-based entertainment services justify the softness.

However, what if an analyst asks the company specifically about the number of cancellations immediately following last week's programming shift? Will CEO Mel Karmazin own up to the numbers? I hope he does. I hope he's also armed with the cost-savings behind the move to at least deflect any of the potential criticism.

If the holiday quarter finds Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) booming on the iTunes front and music subscription services like Rhapsody and Best Buy's (NYSE: BBY  ) Napster faring relatively better, Karmazin will need to justify the reasons to kill Fred, Lucy, and Ethel.

For Sirius XM shareholders' sake, let's hope they didn't die in vain.

Some other tales of low-priced stocks on the move:

Best Buy is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Netflix, Best Buy, and Apple are Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks. The Fool owns shares of Best Buy. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is such a fan of satellite radio that he subscribes to both Sirius and XM. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story, save for Netflix. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (36) | Recommend This Article (11)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2008, at 1:01 PM, TMFMitten wrote:

    Rick, you know I've been complaining about this trend for a long time now. I canceled my XM subscription back when Music Lab got the ax. Even then I could see the creep toward homogenization across the various channels. Now it's happening even more. Fine Tuning was the last decent channel XM had, and now it's going away, too. The niche channels with any kind of interesting content are vanishing, and what's left are just slight variations of mainstream tastes. Why would anybody pay a monthly fee for the same thing that can get on terrestrial radio for free?

    Satellite radio is slowly writing its own obituary.

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2008, at 1:24 PM, alejrios wrote:

    I will cancel XM today... there was one key stations... Viva I listented to... non stop latin hits... and its gone. Replaced by tropical music as their 'latin hits' alternative.

    You seem to be ingoring this large and growing market... and I can only guess its gonna hurt you in the long run.

    Time to get my ipod fm transmitter!

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2008, at 1:33 PM, jcrash wrote:

    They renamed the stations my wife and I listen to, but the music is similar and she still gets the talk radio she liked - mostly. I still CNBC. However, we are overjoyed at the addition of Coffee Shop. We have listened to it for a long time on our Dish Network setup during times when we just wanted music instead of TV - dinner every night for example. Now we get it in our cars too.

    People don't like change. The happy ones rarely speak up. So in times of change, all feedback is negative.

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2008, at 1:43 PM, GlennLili wrote:

    I have been with XM for over 4 years. I got Sirius for a 3 day free online and they had nothing to compare to XM41 BoneYard. Now that XM has cut my only station that was all me throught out, I will cancel when my sub runs out. I sent them an e-mail and commented on this canceling when finished unless they return the station. I know they won't. As always with radio stations, you find a great one and time will make it go away.

    1 more X-Sub,

    Glenn

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2008, at 2:13 PM, DemianBohemian wrote:

    For crying out loud, yet another worthless Motley Fool article mentioning SIRI...

    The Motley Fool recommended XM as a stand alone company to their paid subscribers at over $30 a share and have been bashing the combined company down in the pennies day after day. What kind of pump and dump operation are they running? It's quite amazing that they release so many articles day after day with the SIRI ticker symbol in them. They have lost all credibility and are now fishing for hits..

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2008, at 2:39 PM, jsl4980 wrote:

    Its always been the case that people only go to the internet to complain. No one goes out and actively talks about a subject they're happy about or content with. I've had Sirius for years and these changes aren't too bad. Every individual channel welcomes user input and feedback. If you don't like what you're hearing call them or write that station a letter and tell them what you want. They're not doing it for themselves they're there to provide a service to you.

    All of you idiot slackers out there: if you're unhappy don't just complain on the internet to people who can't help you. Contact the station and tell them what you want.

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2008, at 2:44 PM, MikeT38606 wrote:

    Are the changes at XM/Sirius acceptable to listeners?

    Are the changes advantageous to advertisers?

    Are the changes tolerable to stockholders?

    Are the changes in line with the expectations made by the FCC?

    Advertiser-supported media, offered at no charge to users, is responsible to its clients for attracting the quantity and quality of audience required to meet their marketing objectives.

    Subscriber-based media, though obligated to meeting the necessary requirements to maintain advertisers, also has an obligation to meet and maintain the standards expected by its subscribers. I believe the XM/Sirius merger and their subsequent business tactics have compromised the performance expected not only by its subscribers and advertisers, but also by its stockholders.

    I believe the integration of Sirius into the XM service is an insult to all parties involved, but especially to its listeners. Personally, as a long-time XM subscriber, I believe the integrity and ingenuity of some of the XM concepts have been terribly compromised; the XM service has lost the vitality, variety and value provided when originally conceived and offered to subscribers. And I am under the impression that subscribers who preferred and originally chose Sirius also feel that some of the compromises made by the merger lack the original expected standards promised to them when they originally signed up with the Sirius service.

    What will happen to Sirius if subscribers become as disenchanted as their stockholders have already become and do not renew their subscriptions? Will the service need to be offered to listeners at no charge and be completely advertiser-supported? Can Sirius afford and support such a model?

    If XM or Sirius subscribers had wanted standard broadcast radio formats, they possibly would not have subscribed to XM or Sirius in the first place. I subscribed to XM after being disappointed and dissatisfied with how CBS/Infinity led by Mel Karmazin (now CEO of Sirius XM Radio) was compromising the resources and programming offered by their radio stations which for the most part had previously offered superior content, better execution, respect for their audiences and consistent results for their advertisers.

    I suggest Sirius learn from the mistakes made by CBS/Infinity during Karmazin's tenure. I suggest Sirius not repeat the same types of strategies and tactics implemented by Karmazin which seem to disregard what is best for listeners, advertisers and stockholders. I believe CBS might still be trying to catch up due to mistakes made during Karmazin's tenure at their company; trying to catch up on quality of product, competitive position, revenue, value of equity and overall profitability.

    I understand the need to eliminate redundancy. I do not understand anyone (including the FCC) tolerating Sirius' complete disrespect of subscription contracts. Maybe the current leadership is making the same type of mistakes they made in the past. Now that's redundancy and that should not be tolerable to anyone, especially to Sirius stockholders.

    Maybe Sirius needs to bring back some of the original XM Radio management and eliminate the current leadership. Not all of the previous XM management led with integrity or honesty; but a new board of directors could be careful and perform their proper due diligence and assemble a team of managers, programmers and talent along with sales and marketing personnel to rebuild a superior product.

    The unfortunate truth to Mr. Karmazin and his stockholders is that listeners and advertisers could all live without XM or Sirius, unless of course the product is made to be unique and relevant, and thereby possibly irreplaceable.

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2008, at 3:45 PM, 4phun wrote:

    Another choice presents itself to me. I am canceling XM when my subscription expires in February 2009 after four years and up to four simultaneous radios on the plan.

    You see I have replaced them with the iPhone which does everything I wanted to do with XM. It is portable in that it works perfectly in my pocket as well as in the car or at home.

    I can listen using the WunderRadio Application from a choice of thousands of radio channels from all over the world instead of the couple of hundred on XM.

    Like any other iPhone user I have the Pandora streaming music application which allows me to create my own genre of music. Each genre I can save as a favorite and pull up any time the mood changes.

    I feed the audio into the car sound system just like I did with the XM and I use the same connection to the home stereo system for room filling sound.

    Many of the items broadcast on XM can be had for little or no money through iTunes. Music, video, and PodCasts transfer easily to the iPhone.

    There is much more that could be said for using the iPhone to replace XM but many may get the idea by now. For many people satellite radio is no longer a necessity and IMHO it represents an old technology that has passed its usefulness for mobile entertainment.

    The money wasted on XM is better spent defraying the cost of using the iPhone which is a unique mobile entertainment and information center that drops in your pocket. By the way it also can be used to make a phone call, which I couldn't do on XM either.

    XM also has a limited video distribution system for public safety which features real time radar data of local storms and other information needed at an ongoing incident. It cost about a hundred dollars per month per receiver.

    I have that data on the iPhone too at no extra cost so there is another revenue stream for XM that is now obsolete.

    BTW one of the sources of that data for the iPhone is the Weather Underground which also provides the WunderRadio application for the iPhone.

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2008, at 4:50 PM, Fredlee009 wrote:

    As a member of Motley Fool, and even had them quote me in a article on my opinion, as they do every so often, I am writing that this will be my last time I click on Motley Fool articles. There are other and better ways to communicate about this company. This man is a joke, and so are his articles. So full of opinion, and every fact presented with a side of bs. Thanks for the dumb times Motley, and you just lost another user. Goodbye. Ps. This has nothing to do with Sirius, I dont even own it anymore, this has to do with your flip flopping and biased articles.

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2008, at 6:42 PM, tsunam1 wrote:

    I have a paying Sirius radio subscription for the Jeep as that is what came in it. Yet I have XM on my other two vehicles as well as my home stereo. I get a multi-radio discount from XM on the subscription so if they merged then why do I still have to pay two separate companies? I don't even get to have the same channels across the board? I understand that XM went the way of the Dodo and the channel mix-up was expected, but make them all the same and merge my subscription also please.

    Maybe I am old fashioned but my phone is for communication, not tedious hours in front of my PC trying to figure out what I want to listen to in the foreseeable future, or driving into the ditch whilst I fiddle with the ever oversensitive touchscreen. I just want to turn on the car and there's the radio, the point behind Satellite is that when I drive 16 hours somewhere I'm not scanning every 30 minutes because I'm out of a listening area. As for that matter my local FM market changes stations about as often as the wife says no in the bedroom, and I also stopped listening to her years ago.

    I can take the crap, just give me the same crap and let me sort through it, like Government and the Media.

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2008, at 8:23 PM, frankiecooper wrote:

    i am scratching me head and trying to think of an occasion when there is CHANGE and EVERYONE is happy about it. let's face it - when "all in the family" ended on CBS did i stop watching tv? no. the KINGS of the satrad lineup have remained and they cut the superfluous programming. what is the big deal? believe me, the subs are not going to be running for the door because of a little shake up. i must admit that it seems that you ran out of anything valid to write about, and just did a rush job on this article. motley fool is becoming aptly named.....

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2008, at 9:40 PM, bndfishing wrote:

    I agree and am ready to cancel my 2 subscriptions and sell my stock (at a huge loss) I turned on my radio last week to find that X County, the only progressive country station available was replaced my Sirus's Outlaw Country. The new station is only "outlaw" to those born before 1962 and most of the music can be found on Willies Place.

    SirusXm has lost the edge and uniqueness that differentiated it from FM radio. The Sirus part is way to conservative (this coming from a die hard republican) and is killing satellite radio. I can't wait for the company to fail and will dance on it's grave. You don't mess with peoples music!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2008, at 12:12 AM, MadRussianHobbit wrote:

    This is the second time that XM has screwed me over.

    First, when I originally got XM, my favorite station was MusicLab. About half of what was played on MusicLab was progressive rock. (The other half was jam bands, but I could deal with that.)

    MusicLab was killed off a long time ago.

    OK, I found that Fine Tuning played interesting music. Some lighter progressive rock, as well as some other music. Occassional classical. Strange ethnic music. Interesting music from Africa. I wouldn't have normally listened to that music by choice, but I was never bored listening to Fine Tuning.

    It's gone; killed during the latest decimation of the stations.

    Now I get to listen to Deep Tracks. Yes, it plays progressive, but only stuff from the 70's. It also plays more traditional "longer" cuts from the 70's. If it's from the 70's, I probably already own the CD.

    I want my radio to play music I can't get from my CDs.

    So I went through the channel list. Multiple stations based upon a single person's style. Talk about boring.

    What I really want is one station which plays progressive rock, from the early stuff in the 60's & 70's all the way to modern stuff like Mars Volta. A wide selection, including the spectrum from Progressive Metal (Dream Theater?) to the Celtic Rock of Fairport Convention.

    That's got to be more interesting than the stations I see now.

    Yes, I listen to Bloomburg, CNBC, & Fox Business. But life is more than the Market.

    My current car stereo is too tied to XM for me to drop the service at this time. But unless they better meet my needs, when the car goes, so does XM.

    (With the subscriber loss described above, I also wouldn't recommend it as an investment. But I never recommend anything that isn't making money. Given the way they treat their subscribers, it's not surprising.)

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2008, at 1:14 AM, bc2009 wrote:

    I cancelled last week after years with XM.

    This new company is worthless and run by morons.

    If they respected their paying customers they would not delete all our channels and hosts that you were very happy with. This behaviour is as low as it gets.

    If there's any chance of getting rid of this idiot CEO and getting new blood that cares about it's customers than CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTIONS... Don't give them your hard earned money. It's the only way they will listen to customers.

    I am royally disgusted with losing all my favorite channels and hosts last week. Fred, XMX, Soul Street and many many more.

    So again CANCEL if you want to save whats left of both

    companies.

    The FCC should NEVER have allowed this merger.

    It was as Anti-American as it gets.

    bc

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2008, at 1:22 AM, seanbay wrote:

    The former subscriber maxwell303 mentioned that 3 of the 4 channels he listened to most had gone away or changed drastically. Not the case. Pulse moved to channel 12 on Sirius radios, Left of Center is the same but with the XMU name on it and while Pure Jazz is gone, many of the features it carried like the Blue Note Hour, Trane Trax and others remain on Real Jazz.

    This is the case for much of the lineup. The name changes were a little jarring to me when I found them too, but I'm finding out not much was lost. While a little of what I listened to is gone, I have to give kudos to Sirius and XM for making smart combinations.

    No loss here...In fact, Thanks Sirius for bringing some of XMs programming to your radios. The mix sounds good.

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2008, at 10:41 AM, TMFMitten wrote:

    A previous commenter said we shouldn't complain if we don't engage the company with our complaints. Believe me, for my part, I did. I'm sure every XM executive heard from me. I even got a sympathetic ear from Lee Abrams, but I was also left with the impression that there was nothing he could do about the changes. MadRussianHobbit, your experience is pretty much like mine. When Music Lab went away, so did I. I'm getting a Slacker radio so I can program what artists I want to listen to and not have to worry about my favorite station going away. For those taking a similar route with iPhones, that makes perfect sense. People are being driven away from the satellite services by the programming choices being made, and new technologies that put the user in control are only going to exacerbate the industry's demise.

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2008, at 11:04 AM, clevethedog wrote:

    Mel Karmazin is the problem. He dumbed down CBS/Infinity to produce "shareholder value" (whatever that is - CBS is now trading in the 8 range, down from the 30s), and now is doing the same with SIRI. I believe that Mel wants to trash the subscriber model and replace it with ad-based programming. Just like "free" FM. I don't think Mel knows a good idea even if it slapped his face.

    I was expecting some changes in the programming lineup, but I believe the core has been gutted. Mel needs to go. I would love to see Lee Abrams come back - this guy knows programming and was one of the reasons why XM succeded in the music area.

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2008, at 11:49 AM, inetport wrote:

    A person commented you should not complain if you do not get the company involved. That person was lucky and got a reply.

    I sent 3 notes last week right after the change and all I ever got back was an automated answer saying they would try to respond in 24 hours. Here it is over a week later (over 192 hrs) and no reply. At this point I can only assume they either do not care or they have been swamped with so many mails they can not keep up. Most of the complaints are from the XM people on this site but the Sirius side is equally annoyed. I had XM yrs ago and was not impressed. Dropped it and went to Sirius. I also had Free XM in my new car until last Friday. I had noticed some improvement but still did not meet my needs for ROCK music.

    Now the new formats which I would have assumed combined the best of both, seems to have combined much of the worst from both.. I actually went to the the local FM station to hear songs that no longer are played. I have not listened to FM in 5 years.

    My main preset was Sirius 19 Buzzsaw, and the 2 classic rock stations ( Classic vinyl and rewind) The classic stations have also changed and not for the better. Now it looks like my main preset will be the MP3's in my overpriced Stiletto Sirius Radio.

    It seem to me that Sirius has no clue what the people want.

    Also looking at the DJ's that stayed it seem that many of the subpar DJ's stayed while the good ones were let go. I figure they paid the better ones more but many people tuned in to the good DJ's knowing they had the same musical taste. You would listen to something that maybe you never heard before knowing the DJ has your likes in mind. They did keep some good ones like Carol Miller, Pat St.John, Keith Roth etc but then let stand out DJ's like Long Paul go.

    I've seen all the notes how we should not be trashing the company as the stock is in bad shape and this will only make it worse. Many of the listeners (Myself included) are stock holders and with the stock trading today at 15 cents what difference does it make. The stock is useless. Right now I can make more money by dumping it and taking the capital loss on my taxes.

    I drive about 2 hours a day ( to and from work an hr each way) Prior to last week I would change stations to make a change in the music (classic rock, newer classic rock, Hard Rock) Now I have to change the station several times per trip because they play a good song followed by crap. I wait to see what the new Boneyard ( which was a sub par station on XM) is on Jan 15.

    Supposedly it is Buzzsaw under the Boneyard name ( guess they want us older rockers to feel old using a name like bone yard)

    The new station is suppose to be slightly retooled. Looking at the retooling I've seen lately I have my doubts that what it becomes will be worth $12.95 a month ( plus $6.95ea a month for my 3 additional radios). Also the 24/7 stations are TOO much. I love AC/DC. I have really good tickets to their show next month but 24/7 is too much. Bruce Springsteen has had a 24/7 station for over a year. That should have been canned a long time ago. Zeppelin now has a 24/7 station Why? If they do decided to tour then maybe they should have a limited 24/7 station but they are not so why have it? At this point maybe all the upset listeners should start sending e-mails every day. Maybe then Sirius will have to pay attention and start responding to the people that made them what they are. I have nothing against change, sometimes things do need to change but if it does not work ( and it did not) go back to the drawing board and find out what went wrong. Maybe Sirius/Xm should "grow a pair" and admitt they messed up. Then listen to all the comments and give the PAYING listeners what they want. Sirius/XM would be nothing without the listeners and they seem to disappearing fast.

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2008, at 12:14 PM, PinballWizard5 wrote:

    Add me to the list of unhappy subscribers. XM Channel 60 (soul) went from excellent to horrible. XM Channel 5 (1950s music) is the saddest for me. They got rid of excellent, intelligent, live announcers and replaced them with boring voicetrackers. The only bright spot is the addition of Cousin Bruce but that's only 4 hours/week.

    I don't believe that the company will save much from the salaries of the people who were let go. The savings must be minimal. I just don't get it.

    btw, sadly I also own SIRI stock.

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2008, at 1:16 PM, scfff wrote:

    You guys are missing one important thing - Sirius acquired XM, not the other way around. I would think the Sirius channels would survive, not all of the XM channels you are complaining abiout.

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2008, at 1:44 PM, inetport wrote:

    To Answer SCFF. Yes Sirius did Aquire XM and Yes I would think Sirius would survive but looking at the new lineups they shafted both Sirius and XM subscribers. Yes, Many XM stations are gone. Many of the Sirius stations were modified to try and make the transition easier for the the XM people. In the mess they destroyed much of the reason why Sirius subscribers choose Sirius instead of XM. Now they have 19 million subscribers which I would say at least 1/2 are extremely disappointed and at least a quarter are ready to cancel if they have not already.

    I have not found a single person (XM or Sirius) that is happy.

    Most are the silent majority that won't say a thing but have told me they do not plan to renew. I think the Churn numbers are about to go way up and with Car sales falling through the floor I do not see them being replaced by new subscribers.

    I spent an hour with a friend the other day who was trying to find an new station he liked. After finding out his favorite was gone he said "I listened to the other stations and really do not see a reason to keep spending the money". He told me he is not renewing. Another told me he is going on line and removing his credit card number, since they automatically charge your card on file. He wants it to just expire and if they want him to stay then they call him and make him a better deal since right now it is not worth it.

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2008, at 3:36 PM, tboneplyr wrote:

    I'm a XM subscriber and listened to Fine Tuning a lot. Music that was hard to find with an interesting balance. Now its gone. I also listened to Watercolors, it has now been dumbed down.

    The same scenario played out over and over when over the air radio stations were acquired. Experimental stations were bought with new formats crowding into the larger main stream. The result was lots of stations competing for the same demographic. This then caused them all to fail. Narrowcasting.

    Is this the SIRUS / XM strategy? Crowding the subscribers into narrower and fewer choices? If it is, the strategy failed once, look for failure again.

    I wonder if they'll be looking for a bailout?

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2008, at 5:32 PM, Bigmike7717 wrote:

    Well, I'd also like to add 66Raw, 67The City, Lucy, and Squizz to the obituary. R.I.P. Goodbye old friends.

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2008, at 6:47 PM, Bootluver wrote:

    When will the day come when the FOOLS website dies??? OMG when will it come, soon I hope, Please! Let it be soon!!!! There is way to much BS in the world allready with out all this Foolish Bullchit!!!!

    Boots, DE

  • Report this Comment On November 20, 2008, at 7:24 PM, TheWongg wrote:

    Fred is dead!

    You got that right....replaced by the inferior First Wave.

    There are far more upset former XM subscribers than Sirius subscribers because far more XM subscribers subscribed to what mattered most....music you couldn't get on FM (and remember that XM still had more overall subscribers, listening to the music channels than Sirius ever did). XM had deeper playlists, far more knowledgeable DJ's and better rotation. Sirius was too much like FM without commercials, which is why most of the people signing up didn't care (they went there for Stern and the NFL).

    Now that they "merged" the channels, most music subscribers are alienated because they lost what mattered most. FRED was a perfect example. It was vastly superior to Sirius's 1st Wave, it wasn't even a contest. Smarter hosts, better rotation, and no repeats for days on end. XCountry is another perfect example. There was nothing like it on Sirius...and almost nowhere on FM, and now it's gone.

    Guess what guys, most of you here are investors, but the vast majority of subscribers are not. They don't give a crap about the stock, they want their music you can't get elsewhere, and much of that is now gone. It is barely better than FM, and it shows with the merging of channels. This alone will cause bigger churn than anything they ever done in the past.

    Mark my words. Subscribers don't give a crap about you investors, they will show Mel and Co. with their wallets.

    I am one of them.

  • Report this Comment On November 22, 2008, at 8:45 PM, JonTampa wrote:

    I had fully supported the merger of XM and Sirius in hopes that satellite radio could stay alive. I was an XM customer from day one. Once Sirius came on, I became a subscriber because I had thought the music was better. I maintained subscriptions to both XM and Sirius, though it seemed that XM was poorly managed and had much room for improvement of programming. I had hopes that things would improve when the merger took place and Mel Karmazin was on board. Initially, it was nice to get some channels such as Opie and Anthony on Sirius (for an additional fee). However, many channels that I had enjoyed are gone....ie: boom box, back spin, fred-80's alternative,...etc. The audio quality is also not what it was in the early days. It used to sound amazing now some channels sound as poor as AM radio. Sirius XM still has Howard Stern, Bubba, and music selections that are better than regular radio however, there are other options available such as IPOD and internet radio to listen to music and talk.

    It seems that Satellite radio is not what it was promised to be.

    Hope your listening Mr Karmazin

  • Report this Comment On November 22, 2008, at 10:28 PM, Recondo72 wrote:

    I certainly appreciate the article and hope more articles are written about the state of SatRad under Mr. Karmazin's watch.

    I've been a XM multi-year subscriber for 6 years and was against the merger but being a realist I went along with it. Now it seems like my concerns have come true. Stations like "Soul Street" and "The System" have been replaced with diluted channels that do not have near the depth & quality of the previous stations. It is generally agreed that XM had the better programming and the hardware was definately better and less expensive than what Sirius offers.

    I too think that many mistakes have been made since the merger and that Mel Karmazin is responsible for the sad state that has befallen SatRad. Diluted playlists,unknowledgable announcers,songs not even associated with the genere of a particular channel,etc. Is this what Sirius brings to the table?

    I was a rabid XM fan and still listen to SatRad much more than terra radio but am fearful that too much damage has been done under Mr. Karmazin's time at the helm. He may have singlehandedly killed a medium I have loved and supported so much over the past 6 years.

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2008, at 1:39 PM, Bomarsh810 wrote:

    Don't feel bad folks. I had no idea anything had happened so O&A go on "early vacation" last week and when I tune into Boneyard it's gone. OK, I'll just go to Toptracks... Oops! Not there. Hmmm. Big Tracks? nope. Fine I'll listen to a little comedy on XMComedy...gone. Here are the stations I HAD as my XM presets; The Virus, The Boneyard, Top Tracks, Big Tracks, XM Comedy, and traffic for Detroit (useless). With the exception of the occasional hockey or baseball game, those are the only stations I listened to on a regular basis.

    I mean it was like some weird sci-fi scene where all my favorite stations were replaced by cheap (and bad) replicas when I wasn't looking.

    I understand some sacrifices had to be made so I hope SirXM understands that they're not the only ones to have to make tough decisions when I cancel the sub for my MyFi. I mean If I have to "adjust", why not just re-adjust to terrestrial radio?

    Hey O&A! Come on back to Detroit radio! Now that Greater Media has killed the only competition you had (Drew and Mike, JJ and Lynn), you got free sailing!

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2008, at 1:44 PM, Bomarsh810 wrote:

    Reply to splintar aka NAB. Wow! Do you also sell Chewlies Gum?

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2008, at 2:41 PM, sizen wrote:

    SIRIUS Board of Directors - ever think to ask your subscribers before making unilateral changes to the line-up? Every single stand-out station (Buzzsaw; Backspin; Boombox ; Punk) is GONE. We dont need another mediocre pop station. We dont want Y2K dance music (to the execs: Y2K is not 'cutting edge'). Oh, and why dont you add censorship to the hip hop/rap station. Are you kidding me?

    When you make your CEILING the LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR there is no where for you to go but down...

    I guess I'll be cancelling my subscription like everyone else...

  • Report this Comment On November 24, 2008, at 10:05 PM, splintar wrote:

    Well Rick, you've done a great job mobilizing the NABsters who are blogging this site to make SAT RAD look as bad as possible.

    Oh, did I mention SIRIXM is still ADDING subscribers.

    All of the niche guys here go find your fix else where. We can't cater on an individual basis.

    You are not the demographic for SAT RAD as a successful company. Now get over it and go buy some CD's.

    Bomar - get a clue. I'll give you $100 to leave SIRI so you can buy some more of those anti depressants to get you through this.

    Great job Rick. Love your middle name. That's cute.

    Make sure to use it all the time OK.

  • Report this Comment On November 25, 2008, at 2:28 AM, ClassicAlt wrote:

    What a funny article. Years ago I compared the channel lineups for both XM and Sirius. I listened to both First Wave and Fred. First Wave was and still is far superior to Fred. First Wave DJs (Richard Blade, Swedish Egil, Freddy Snakeskin, etc.) are the who's who of DJs in this genre.

    In fact I subscribe to DISH instead of DirecTV because DISH has Sirius channels instead of the XM channels as on DirecTV. I haven't checked since the merger, but if DirecTV now has First Wave I might have to do some serious competitor shopping.

  • Report this Comment On November 27, 2008, at 11:50 AM, boywonder56 wrote:

    i too am upset with the switch being a former stockholder i am also a subscriber of 4 years and thinking siriously of not renewing...they took away the vault and replaced with deeeeep tracks havent heard pink floyd yet but plenty of prog rock will be sending email to them but i think the damage is done....also notice the good dj are gone....

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2008, at 12:59 AM, theprist wrote:

    I'm canceling my XM subs this week. I was listening for more then 5 years to CH 77 Audio Vision. 24 hour easy music in my house. Now they cancel it. YThey replace it with crap. Good bye

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2008, at 1:09 PM, Cirbrius wrote:

    I've been listen to Sirius since the month after Howard Stern announced he would be moving there (a year before he actually moved) so I know the music used to be a thousand times better. They would play un-censored songs and songs you never heard anywhere elses. Now it's just the same 10 songs over and over again on every channel.

    Old timey radio is dead, Mel killed that with his souless management style now he's killed Satellite as well.

    I mean WHY would you hire such a grossly incompetent person? The guy is a total idiot.

  • Report this Comment On December 11, 2008, at 10:38 PM, akonrulezz wrote:

    I am still upset about this "Dark Period" of the sirius line-up, going on one month. I lost The Beat 36 and The Strobe 37 because of mel. I am going to be a subscriber who will cancel his 2 radios after the history of Howard Stern airs. Many people have called and emailed sirius since the 12th of November, but all they are doing is taking the information. I don't think they really care. Oh, and I have been telling people not to get a subscription with sirius because of this fiasco of a channel line-up. I hope this hurts them in the long run. Its been a great 3 years, but I'm going back to traditional radio now. Thanks a lot mel.

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