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Radio AM to FM: August 10, 2001

XM Ready to Launch

September 12th is the date set for the big launch of XM Satellite Radio, at least in San Diego. It appears that San Diego has the right demographics to be the first city in Southern California to try out the new subscription radio service.

Subscription? Radio? Yes. XM is one of two competing systems for satellite-delivered audio -- the other, Sirrus, plans to launch its service later this year -- and features 100 channels: 71 music channels and 29 sports, talk, or entertainment channels.

Interestingly, your $9.99 monthly subscription doesn't include commercial-free entertainment. Only 30 channels are going to be noncommercial, kind of like the deal you get with cable or satellite television.

Clear Channel Communications is a major investor in XM, and that shows in the channel listings, which include KISS-XM, based off of its Los Angeles station "KISS-FM" (misspelled as such on the web site) and Mix-XM, based on the Mix format that is heard on many CC stations across the country. Unfortunately it apparently isn't based off our own local Mix as heard on 95.9 FM until last year. That version was a "renegade" Mix that was far better than is typical.

Also represented are ABC news, the Weather Channel and BBC Radio, along with a musical spectrum that covers the 1940s through today.

Cost of the equipment runs from about $200 if your radio is "XM-Ready," all the way up to about $500 for a full system. The initial systems will receive only XM feeds (as the first Sirrus systems will receive only Sirrus feeds). Later models will be able to receive signals from either XM or Sirrus as desired.

Business News

Charles Lazlo has resigned from KNX (1070 AM), so morning business reports are now handled by Randy Riddle. Jere Laird, back from traveling the world, is filling in on the afternoon reports until a permanent replacement is found.

No Rock

KROQ (106.7 FM) has won a Federal Court injunction prohibiting KRCK-FM/Mecca, CA from using the "K-ROCK" name. KROQ claimed that it would be irreparably harmed if KRCK used the name in its signal area of a remote desert between Palm Springs and the Salton Sea. Keep in mind that KROQ was not the first station to have called itself K-ROCK ...

Show Goes On

Arbitron and Clear Channel have kissed and made up. After threatening to pull its subscriptions from Arbitron and help start a competing ratings service, Clear Channel Communications has agreed to a new deal with Arbitron covering all of its stations in 187 radio markets through Fall, 2004.

Details of the deal were not released, but in 2000, 22% of Arbitron's revenue came from Clear Channel stations, giving CC a great deal of bargaining power.


Copyright © 2001 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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