Back to Wag-Net Main Page

Radio AM to FM: October 26, 2001

CRN Gets PAXed

OK, everyone. let's mosey on over to the television set so we can listen to the radio.

Television? For radio? You must be joking, you say. Actually, I am serious. CRN -- Cable Radio Network has worked out a deal with PAX television stations in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago to simulcast CRN's formerly cable-only service on the second audio channel of PAX. In Los Angeles, just tune into Channel 30 and set your stereo television to SAP (Second Audio Program).

CRN founder and president Mike Horn says that people are using CRN's feed between their favorite programs.

What viewers er, listeners will find on CRN is a wide variety of programming, including music (pop, polka, disco and aloha), general talk (cable, advise, pets, lifestyles), restaurant, food and wine information, health information, sports, news from China (presented in English) and shows related to metaphysics.

CRN was originally filler on cable systems, used on channels that were either not broadcasting or were graphics-only, such as the old channels that ran nothing but stick recaps. Eventually it graduated to the cable FM band on some systems and is currently available to 26 million households throughout the country. The PAX agreement takes it outside the cable realm, expanding its audience substantially.

Do As I Say

Dateline: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. WINZ/WIOD General Manager Ronna Woulfe produced a promotional commercial earlier this month urging listeners to help the economy in South Florida by spending their money locally. Less than one week later, the station -- a member of the Clear Channel family -- fired most of the local personalities and replaced them with syndicated programming from other cities.

Better Late ...

I promised information on the launch of XM Satellite Radio two weeks ago, and then got caught up in other breaking news. Or stuff I made up. It's hard to remember ...

XM launched its subscription radio service in los Angeles on October 18th, after a successful launch in San Diego a few weeks ago. So far, enthusiasm from those that have heard it is high in spite of the relative strangeness of paying for something that is available for free over traditional airwaves.

Fortune Magazine describes it this way: "... the best thing to happen to car radio since FM emerged some 40 years ago." Of course, seeing how bad FM radio has become I'm not sure that is a great claim. However, fortune continues, "the sound isn't of CD quality, as the company claims, but its close enough, definitely better than FM. And the programming is a vast improvement over the choices in even the most cosmopolitan cities. Beyond the cities or in the cabs of long-haul trucks, satellite radio is heaven-sent."

Cost is what's keeping me from trying it for now, although another factor is the fact that next-generation receivers will be not only improved but also able to subscribe to XM's competitor, Sirius, as well as XM. Current receivers are dedicated to receive only one or the other, not both.

Its not the $9.99 per month that bothers me. It's the $300 receiver PLUS the $100 antenna PLUS the $9.99 per month, for a system that can only be received on a single radio. Want it in two cars? Better buy the equipment and order two subscriptions. Want it at home? Another equipment buy and another subscription.

Those factors aside, I am intrigued by the concept and will probably try it myself, once things get worked out. Until then, its for me ...


Copyright © 2001 Richard Wagoner and The Copley Press.

To subscribe to The Daily Breeze, call (310) 540-5511