No soap, radio
So is this what we've come to in the seemingly doomed world of terrestrial radio? Viacom (NYSE:VIA) and Clear Channel (NYSE:CCU) are speeding up efforts to broaden their reach and make digital radio a reality? Facing an onslaught of competitive forces -- from kids toting around Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPods to grown-ups thumbing through more than a hundred satellite radio stations with Sirius (NASDAQ:SIRI) and Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation XM Satellite Radio (NASDAQ:XMSR) -- the merchants of the AM and FM bands are pinning their hopes on digital radio.

In theory, I applaud the effort. You're not going down without a fight. I love that spunk. However, to the nearly 9 million satellite radio users out there, and those who have paid up for more than 600 million iPod downloads, was the timbre of traditional radio what sent you scrambling for premium alternatives?

I don't think so. It was the lure of customized playlists on digital music players and the wide breadth of commercial-free niche-specific music on satellite radio that attracted -- and continues to attract -- terrestrial radio defections.

That's why I wonder whether conventional radio has a shot here. The problem with aural content is that there is really no other way to subsidize the medium beyond advertising or charging subscribers for access. Yes, it's those chatty disc jockeys and annoying ads that turned folks to Apple, Sirius, and XM. If iTunes attached a minute or two of commercials before every digital download, do you think it would have worked? If XM or Sirius had to thin out their offerings with intermittent ads on their music channels, do you really think it would have attracted the huge wave of early adopters?

I'm not stupid enough to size up AM and FM radio for caskets. I know that the players have too much at stake to go down without a fight. They offer localized content. They are the voice of the community. I'm hip to all that, but why is it that I feel so empty when I find myself on a long-distance commute without my satellite radio or CD collection?

It's not about making the leap from analog to digital, folks. Watch Gigli on a high-definition set, and it will still stink. Colorize Ed Wood flicks, and they will still be campy. It's not the medium. It's the message. Good luck in finding a way to get a different message across.

A buyout frenzy
It was Buyout Week in Rule Breakers Land as Archipelago Holdings (NYSE:AX) received shareholder approval for its proposed pairing with the New York Stock Exchange, and Provide Commerce (NASDAQ:PRVD) accepted a $33.75-per-share bid from Liberty Media.

That's the beauty of picking up attractive growth stocks while they are still early in their industry-altering cycles. There never seems to be a shortage of larger cash-rich companies willing to buy them out at a premium. Whether it's to snuff out a threat or embrace the new ways, it has a habit of working out for the investors of the acquired company. Both picks worked out well for Rule Breakers subscribers, handily beating the market in their independent tenures.

Sorry, terrestrial radio: It's probably too late to swallow XM or Sirius whole.

The headlines behind this week's stories:

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves to look back, even if it means he falls on his face going forward. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Foo l has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.