The Last DJ: SiriusXM

12 May

As they say about anything addictive, the first taste is free.

When we bought a new car a few months ago, it came with a three-month trial subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio. Since it wouldn’t be my primary ride, I didn’t think this would matter much to me, but once I realized 1) we were going on a cross-country vacation and this could save me from 20+ hours of radio hell, 2) I could also access the stations via the web and a phone app and 3) there is a station dedicated to playing repeats of Tom Petty’s Buried Treasure 24/7, I knew it would spell my doom.

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Paying for satellite radio seems practically un-American

I am not a fan of the concept of satellite radio. I believe that, like schools and security, radio ought to be a free service existing for the public good, providing listeners a quality listening experience with as much variety and as few commercials as possible. Following this logic, I should cut my Comcast cord, slap the round antenna back onto my television and be grateful for the times I can get PBS without too much snow on the screen … and turn off the TV during pledge drives.

Many problems exist with this model now, particularly for rock enthusiasts. There are only so many channels on the dial, and that sorry few have to balance popular taste (which is often an oxymoron), the sheer quantity of rock songs produced since “Rocket 88” started the fad, and the overwhelming competition from more flexible streaming options that serve every possible taste.

Streaming sites have their advantages, particularly the fact that anything that’s ever been recorded is right there, a few keystrokes away. If you detest commercials or crappy loading speeds, you can pay for their services, meaning that instead of being completely ripped off, signed artists might make minimum wage once their songs get played approximately 1.1 million times. (Check out the amazingly depressing infographic to see how the streaming sites stack up in terms of how well they pay their artists … if at all.)

But what if you have lousy taste and want to expand your horizons? What if you don’t have a patient older brother (or cool mom) to take you through the milk crates or playlists? Who’s going to tell you what’s worth your time? The answer is DJs: music geeks with robust personalities, vast musical memories and voices with a bit of grit. That’s what’s missing from the streaming sites, and that’s what got me hooked on SiriusXM good and quick.

Little Steven's Underground GarageThe E Street Band’s Steven Van Zandt is a pillar of SiriusXM as the leader of his namesake Underground Garage channel. In addition to his own show, he’s got a passel of DJs “spinning” a great mix of gritty rock classics, recent pop punk and little-known gems including a weekly Coolest Song in the World. My favorite is Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators NYC – check him out here and on tour:

I’m sure the other 964 channels have their charms, and one has Tom Petty 24/7, which I may have mentioned already (ahem). I’ll have to find out before my six-month fix subscription runs out …

See you on the flip side …

P.S. Need a beach read? Love and Other B-Sides is the perfect paperback for summer: breezy, romantic, and holds up in the heat!

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3 Responses to “The Last DJ: SiriusXM”

  1. pamhoughton May 13, 2015 at 9:08 am #

    We’ve been spoiled with Sirius/XM Radio…and it’s hard to go back. But that’s the only way, I’m convinced, that I’ve been exposed to newer sounds. Underground Garage is one of my favorite stations. It can be expensive; fortunately, my sister-in-law is a master negotiator and she always gets our bill down to a manageable fee. They don’t want to lose customers, so if you are willing to dicker with them, it seems you can do that!

  2. Handsome Dick Manitoba May 14, 2015 at 7:27 am #

    Hey! Thank you for the kind words but I must fix one thing

    I am not formerly of the Dictators, I am currently
    a member of THE DICTATORS NYC, the latest incarnation of the DICTATORS, including three members, Ross the Boss, myself, and JP “Thunderbolt” Patterson. Daniel Rey who wrote songs with and produced for the Ramones and the great bass player Dean “The Dream” Rispler are the newest members. We are currently in Europe starting a 22 city tour. Just needed to update that.
    Thank you,
    HDM

    • lpon45 May 14, 2015 at 8:39 am #

      Thank you for reaching out, and my sincere apologies for the error, which I’ll fix shortly. Clearly I need to speak to my fact-checker (ahem). I’m thrilled that The Dictators NYC are touring and hope that Detroit will be on your itinerary soon. Thanks for being one of the best voices on radio today and for expanding the musical horizons of fans like me.

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