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I Am Old

I was asking one of my teaching assistants about what he thought of the following research question (abridged version of the question), “Describe why you believe Sirius and XM should be, or should not be, permitted to merge.”

His response:

44 is about the radio and I don’t have any friends that listen to the radio (maybe I do, but they have never actually admitted it)

One Response to “I Am Old”

  1. rlonstein says:

    I’m an atypical listener but I echo that.

    Commercial radio, terrestrial and satellite, has become irrelevant
    except as a niche (I put talk radio including NPR in that
    category). Terrestrial radio has driven out listeners with relentless
    station consolidation and strict targeted playlists so that hearing
    something new and interesting on the air is uncommon. Given that the
    listening audience is the product sold to the advertisers, you can
    predict a degree of homogeneity. At one time there were regional
    variations but in the largest markets, ex. New York City, instead of
    having the widest choice of stations you now have the least. It may be
    the product the stations can pay the bills with, but its not what
    large numbers of listeners want. I had hoped that the FCC plan circa
    2000 to issue more low-power licenses would turn this around but the
    issuance was gutted by lobbying before much became of it.

    Satellite radio started out strong by redefining a market where the
    product is the channel and customer is the listener. By giving
    listeners more choices and fewer interruptions they grabbed a few
    million subscribers, but somewhere along the way discovered (to no
    surprise) that a satellite network is costly and producing fresh
    playlists is difficult. The better sets from program directors and
    dj’s are varied, some to the point of being idiosyncratic, and these
    people want to be heard and won’t stay with a small listenership (I’m
    thinking of someone like Nic Harcourt) so the satellite radio
    companies find themselves in a bind. Rather than have a channel risk a
    listener, every four to eight hours they play the same thing and
    change it every couple of weeks. The number of sports and talk
    channels on satellite is less evidence of customer demand (which, of
    course, there is) than of keeping costs low and holding onto a very
    reliable subcategory of subscribers. And they reintroduced
    advertisements and returned in part to the model of terrestrial radio.

    In comparison the internet has Pandora, iTunes, emusic, live.fm,
    hundreds of smaller sites, internet radio and millions of blogs, feeds
    and social networks to sample. Who is going to sit through 2-1 content
    to commercial time (or less) on the chance that they might hear something they like?

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