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Radio AM to FM: May 25, 2001

Satellite Set-Back?

The two upstart satellite radio service providers may have their satellites in the air ready to go, but it looks like it will take some doing to get capable receivers into the hands of consumers, according to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal.

While both XM and Sirius have launched satellites in preparation for offering their multi-channel nationwide audio subscriptions, General Motors plans to have XM-capable receivers available in only two models later this year -- both Cadillacs -- while Ford says that their Sirius-capable radios will not be offered until next year, probably on only one or two models. Chrysler, also tied to Sirius, says that they will only pre-wire cars for dealers to install the receivers for customers who request them, rather than building the radio at their own factory.

Interestingly, the Journal left out an important point: it doesn't matter. At least right now. First generation receivers are really designed for those who must have the latest and greatest; those who wait will be able to purchase radios capable of receiving both services, according to an agreement the FCC worked out with XM and Sirius; first generation receivers will only be able to receive one or the other.

Additionally, several aftermarket manufacturers have announced support for the satellite service in their future models.

You can expect to hear more about satellite digital radio toward the end of Summer, as capable receivers get into the hands of consumers.

Full Circle

It looks like KLAC (570 AM) will keep music after all, outside of the just added talk shows and periodic sports programming. And after analyzing it, I believe it may work out well.

Not that regular listeners won't miss the music. But owner Clear Channel hopes that their new version of "full service radio" will appeal to current listeners while attracting new listeners burned out on "in your face" talk radio.

An expanded news department and an actual promotional campaign to be launched in the future certainly can't hurt either.

Joe Daniels will continue in the mornings until 10:00, followed by Michael Jackson, Doctor Dean Edell and Clark Howard. When Angels or Lakers games don't interrupt, the music is back on at 7 pm. The combination of adult standards, intelligent talk and consumer news may be just the ticket for the new full service KLAC to win big.

I am working on getting the inside scoop of how this format was developed and what made Clear Channel decide to drop the male-oriented "Buzz" format that was set to launch last month. I have my theories, but I hope to get station manager David Hall to confirm them in an upcoming interview. Until then ...


Copyright © 2001 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

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