SIRIUS + XM = WTF?


xmx_exclusive_headerIf there’s one thing I dig about Wednesdays it’s the fact that I get to listen to Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour on XMX Channel 2, home of their exclusive programming, on my merry way to work. It’s one of the few reasons I have XM because Dylan spins some incredible tunes in that hour, many of which I ended up purchasing online.

What made it even better was that XMX played the show all day long in case you missed a portion of it. This was also the case with a few other programs they aired. Theme Time Radio Hour is indeed one of my passions.

So imagine my surprise this morning when I turned on my Pioneer Inno and discovered that when I punched up XMX 2, I got a “No Signal” message and was then kicked back to the channel lineup–a very different channel lineup. Hmm.

I then manually searched for the station and, causing more havoc on the streets than an expectant husband on a cell phone driving his wife to the hospital in a stick-shift, discovered that XMX was no more.

Yay verily, it has finally happened: without any kind of advance notification (save for talk of the “potential merger”), XM and Sirius have joined forces. And I’m none too happy about it–at least for the moment.

Upon further (and not-too-thorough) review, I noticed that many of my favorite presets have either been moved, renamed or in some cases, eliminated altogether. This rather sucks because now I have to sit down and give each station a listen and decide if I want to bookmark it because, quite frankly, the descriptions aren’t all that great on this PDF.

So gone are the channels I’ve known by name such as Lucy, Ethel, Fred and Squizz. In exchange for those, XM subscribers now get much lamer substitutes, 24/7 channels dedicated to Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC and The Grateful-Fucking-Dead, and some bullshit channel called Margaritaville. (An aside: I despise Jimmy Buffett greater than the fury of a thousand asteroids hurtling relentlessly towards planet Earth. And while I’ll stop short of calling him an asshole, I think his music–and this may sound physically impossible–both sucks and blows.)

Also gone is Caricia 93, a station I had just started getting into, which played old-school Spanish “romanticas.” Chrome 83, XM’s disco/dance channel, has also been axed. Ay caramba.

And I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this in any other posts, but I’m not a fan of Sirius. I had the chance to extend my 6-month trial on a few new vehicles I’d purchased but opted for ol’ reliable XM instead. Sirius’ catalog seemed lacking at best and one way to prove this was (is?) to listen to their Kids Stuff channel–now called Kids Place Live–and count how many times Laurie Berkner was (is?) played in an hour. Seriously, it was (is?) that bad.

Alas, I knew this was going to eventually happen. It was evident these past few weeks when stations began to broadcast their “off the air” recording as well as being generically referred to as “Sirius/XM radio.” But I don’t think any of us satellite radio subscribers were truly prepared for what we tuned into this morning. With the strangeness of it all I feel really alienated, as if I was shipped in a crate to an unknown city and state with only $5 to survive.

Maybe once I sit down and figure it all out I my mind will change about the merger. But as of now, I’m just one of the many that aren’t pleased.

Way to fuck us all over, guys. I wonder how busy their Cancellation Department is today because it may finally be time to buy that 120GB iPod Classic and load it with every-freaking-thing I own.

Seriously, a Grateful-Fucking-Dead channel? My God, man.

By the way, Bob Dylan’s Theme Time Radio Hour is back on its original home at Deep Tracks. You now just have to adjust your schedule accordingly to listen or catch an encore.

UPDATE: Here’s my assessment a day after the merger:

Lithium is no Lucy and 1st Wave is no Fred. 1st Wave features a plethora of former KROQ jocks including Richard Blade and Swedish Egil but their delivery all sounds very canned. While I appreciate and even like their music selection, how many times do they need to play The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?” That song SUCKS!

Alt Nation? Thar she blows!

Where in the hell is my Chrome 83? It seems to have been integrated into The Groove, which was nothing like the old Chrome. Gah.

I used to love XM Chill but I don’t think so anymore. Top Tracks and Big Tracks, another two of my favorites, gave way to Spectrum (blecch), Classic Vinyl (meh) and Classic Rewind (very good). They are nothing like the former, but I’m glad Deep Tracks is still around.

High Standards is now Frank’s Place Siriusly (get it?) Sinatra. I know people love their Sinatra but HOLY FUCK, there’s a limit! I think I’d rather stick flaming Q-Tips in my ears before listening to more than two of his songs.

The consolidation of Aguila, Caricia, and Viva into XM’s existing Caliente channel was very stupid. Each played their own type of music and cramming them into one station was a pretty narrow-minded thing to do. No song ever played on Caricia would be played on Caliente. Bring back my romanticas, you morans!

So as of now, I’m only real happy that Deep Tracks is still kicking, I like 1st Wave’s playlist, and the addition of Classic Rewind was nice. That isn’t quite enough for me to keep my subscription. Stay tuned for more assessments and my final decision.

I’m still scratching my head about Margaritaville and more importantly, how the hell anybody can listen to Jimmy Fucking Buffett–period.

Oh, and…

dead


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20 thoughts on “SIRIUS + XM = WTF?

  1. I got nothing……… absofreakin nothin’ to say about them taking my 80’s channel and making it Sirius 80’s. I spent my day listening to to the y2k or some crap like that.
    Can we cancel now???
    Buy me an Ipod and lets go!

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  2. Note that Kids Place Live is a “rebranding” of the wonderful XMKiDS channel. It is NOT the now defunct Sirius Kids Stuff channel. It is full of interesting kids’ music and programming. Yes, they play Laurie, but also BareNaked Ladies, They Might Be Giants, Dan Zanes, and many, many wonderful kids’ artists.

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  3. @ GBK Gwenyth: Now that’s a relief! Our son loves XM Kids so he will be glad to hear nothing’s changed, as was I when I heard that Robbie Schafer is still stuck in his real, tall tree πŸ™‚ Trout Fishing in America rocks!

    @ My Lovely Wife, Ann: Christmas is coming, my sweet lemon pie πŸ˜› Let’s give this until then and decide if it’s worth keeping.

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  4. I say go for the iPod, (or any other mp3 massive storage device that you find that can serve your needs).

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  5. I don’t have pay-for-radio. I have that regular, old radio that magically comes through my car stereo for free. My friends Scott and Sean, and Bob (who I go down to the shore with) have Sirrius and they love it to death. I have to admit that it makes the 60 minute ride to Cape May more enjoyable. But for the 25 minute ride to work and the 35 minute ride home, I still haven’t justified paying for radio. But like my buddies, you sound addicted to it…YIKES!
    I just have a hard time paying for something that was free and I know, I pay for TV and it was once free but this is different. When is it going to stop? Next thing they’ll be doing is requiring you to deposit quarters at red lights to make them turn green!

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  6. The thing is that XM was worth paying for, IMHO. They offered the variety that Sirius didn’t and, as I was just discussing with my brother, less talk. I want to hear music, not some washed-up 80s MTV VJ yammering during an intro on a song from my youth.

    Also, they were competitors for a reason. If you liked MLB and NHL, you bought XM. But if you liked that jerk-off Howard Stern, NASCAR or NFL, you went with Sirius. The merger seems to have defeated the purpose.

    With half of my favorite stations gone or being consolidated into an existing Sirius channel, things are sucking because the variety is no longer there. And to prove Sirius has a much smaller catalog of music, my Artist Alert notifications–a little beep and on-screen display of one of my favorite songs/groups–have dropped significantly.

    And oh, don’t get me started on those 24/7 channels for The (I’ll Be) Grateful (When They’re) Dead, Bruce Springsteen, etc. Ugh, what garbage! I’m not entirely ready to drop my subscriptions just yet but it’s getting very close to that point.

    All things considered, with the number of disappointed subscribers, I expect sales of iPods to reach insane numbers this holiday season and sales of XM’s new XMp3 unit to be just the opposite.

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  7. Nail on the head man. In addition to Lucy, Fred, Ethel, and Squizz, ‘The Rhyme’ is gone completely; they played a great mix of old school HipHop. If something *could* suck and blow, I think it just may be Buffett.

    My world is now a confusing, scary place when driving.

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  8. @ Zeph: Boy, how I do miss Fred, Lucy and Ethel. Sirius’ substitutes aren’t even close to those. What is Lithium? It sucks! 1st Wave is nice but does anybody really need to hear The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?” twice an hour? But it figures: with a bunch of washed-up KROQ joqs at the helm, what would you expect?

    Yeah, I had The Rhyme as part of my presets, too. I didn’t listen too often but I do remember some of those classic hip-hop tunes they’d play. And where is my Chrome 83? It’s been consolidated into The Groove which was nothing like Chrome–and never will be.

    I’m disappointed. But I’m glad we share the same sentiments on Jimmy Effing Buffett. I’ve often said that if he was abducted by aliens and I was the only witness, I wouldn’t report it!

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  9. Not having Chrome sucks!!!!!! I must say that The Pink Channel is the only station that plays a lot of music from all eras and is still the same.The former MTV jocks were on TV for a reason: they were LOUSY on radio! But I hope 6’s on 6 leaves the Friday Flashback alone.The old jingles and airchecks are great! And also Wolfman Jack!

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  10. The lack of Chrome definitely stinks. Where else am I going to hear funky stuff like “Moon Over Moscow” or “Machine Gun”?

    eMpTyV VJs: no need to say more. The Pink Channel I dig.

    My only hope is that they are just experimenting with restructuring and plan on bringing back or retuning some former channels–at no additional charge, I might add. Not very likely but we can hope.

    I seriously wonder how many subscribers they’ve lost since the transition…

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  11. I come from the other end, I was sirius now all my stations are fucked also.. they changed the whole fucking guide and now I think….. Was FM that bad?????

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  12. Well, I guess it’s good to know that this merger has turned out to be an equal opportunity fucker.

    FM…I’ve gotten so used to the whole satellite thing–artist, song title, etc.–that I’ve found it hard to go back. For that reason, an iPod will replace my subscription(s) should I choose to cancel. It’s still up in the air at the moment.

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  13. Man up Nancies! The XM listeners seem to be griping a lot more than the Sirius. Have a listen and you should eventually realize that Sinatra and Margaritaville play more than just the musicians their names imply. Plus, I can’t remember the last time I heard “How soon is now” on First Wave. My only complaint currently is that it seems that audio bandwidth / bitrate has been reduced on some talk channels causing certain show hosts sound like my radio has a blown speaker.

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  14. “Man up, Nancies!” You must be a Farker πŸ™‚

    Maybe it’s because the XM subscribers feel as if they’ve been screwed a bit more than their Sirius bretheren. I’m not sure exactly what went down on the Sirius side of things but all I know is that at least 4 of my (favorite) presets are now gone, and combining 4 Spanish genres into one station is like pouring ketchup on a pile of pancakes: if you like such a strange combo, fine, but don’t expect everybody to enjoy it.

    High Standards played some great vocalists and didn’t favor any particular one. Siriusly Sinatra seems to be as its name implies. That or I only seem to tune in when Sinatra is being played.

    I tried Margaritaville. Buffett or not, me no likey. “How Soon Is Now?” will eventually hit you and yes, the sound quality on certain channels seems to have suffered for everybody.

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  15. The crap they play on the new company is horrible. Xcountry was the best discovery station for americanna alt.country rock/blues etc. Lucy 54 and Ethyl 47 after 3 days and an email or 2 I am going to cancel and I have 3 recievers and close to 4 yrs

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  16. @ Christine: I’m not a real big believer in the effectiveness of online petitions but I can respect what you are doing to make your point. And honestly, I felt Sirius’ Kids Stuff was nowhere near XM Kids: too much repetition of Dan Zanes and Laurie Berkener, and you’d never hear stuff like The Real Tuesday Weld’s “Bathtime in Clerkenwell” or Sugar Chile Robinson’s “Donkey Song,” now both of my son’s favorites. I wish you luck with your efforts!

    @ Dan: Although I’d heard that Xcountry was one of the best country stations on XM, I’d never listened and it’s a shame that now I won’t be able to give it a try. But the elimination of Fred, Lucy and Ethel was definitely a wrong decision, as was the consolidation of XM’s Viva, Aguila and Caricia into Caliente. DUMB! And The Spectrum played Genesis’ “Squonk” followed by some song by Snow Patrol. What the hell is that?! Wrong, I tells ya!

    I’d e-mail everybody involved with the channel re-arrangement, but at this point it seems clear that Sirius/XM doesn’t care what we think. Showing them with your wallet would definitely have an impact. I’m still giving it some time, perhaps until the New Year, to see what happens next. That’s when my 3-month trial is up. (I canceled my subscriptions, had my wife sign up again, got a free code online and voila! 3 free months!)

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  17. Canceled my subscription Friday. Til FRED returns and I can sample the DISORDER station that Sirius customers brag on, Steve Jobs will be getting my extra pennies via iTunes. (It wouldn’t kill them to bring back X COUNTRY and RAW).

    I’ve filed complaints in three different countries (judging from the broken english and heavy accents on the other end of the 800#), which I’m sure is going to hit the CEO’s desk any moment now.

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  18. XM’s terrible customer service was partially the reason I canceled not too long ago (after 3+ years of being a subscriber). But after being a week without Fred and not willing to switch to FM, I found a code online for 3 free months so I renewed. Their reps overseas couldn’t figure out the cost of a prepaid subscription for two radios. Imagine that: I want to give them money and they couldn’t figure out a way to take it. Yeah…

    It’s getting to the point where I want to e-mail them–even if nothing changes or I don’t cancel my subscriptions–just to let them know my displeasure over the handling of the merger: waking up to an entirely new format, stations, etc. I think I will anyhow. If you have the address you used, send it to me.

    And FYI: Amazon’s music selection rivals iTunes, songs are DRM-free, and are automatically imported to your iTunes music library when you download a simple program from them πŸ™‚

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