Orbitcast: May 2005 Archives

May 2005 Archives

Coldplay at XM

Coldplay is all over Satellite Radio - first SIRIUS, now XM. They’ll be doing an at the XM Performance Center on June 13th with encore performances on June 15th, 17th, 18th and 19th. Good stuff.

SIRIUS at the FBR 9th Annual Growth Conference

David Frear, SIRIUS Executive VP and CFO, will present at the Friedman Billings Ramsey 9th Annual Growth Conference on Thursday, June 2, 2005 at 9:00 a.m. ET.

You’ll be able to listen to a webcast of it here.

Change in RSS Syndication

Just a quick note. I’ve decided to change the RSS feeds to include the entire article rather than just the article excerpts I had before. Partly because I now have Google Ads included in my feeds (which is the only way I can pay for this site), and partly because excerpts are annoying.

Anyway, RSS folks can rejoice now. If you haven’t subscribed to the Orbitcast feed, you can do so here or through the various links at the bottom of this page. Rock on.

Tao XM2go XM Radio Receiver now available!

Tao XM2goThe Tao XM2go Portable Satellite Radio Receiver is now available for sale! Click here to order the Tao XM2go with free shipping to the continental US. MyRadioStore is also offering a 15% discount off of the Tao. During checkout, enter the coupon code “XM15TE” and you will receive 15% off of the Tao XM2go receiver.

If you purchase the Tao XM2go Receiver before July 2nd, you can receive a free Roady 2 Receiver with mail-in offer from XM.

Not sure when 15% offer will expire, but it’s only available for a limited-time, so if you’re looking for an alternative to the XM2go MyFi, this is the one. The Tao XM2go sports identical internals and firmware to the MyFi XM2go unit, but with a different black casing. While I’ve heard the antenna for the Tao XM2go is supposedly improved, to my knowledge they’re the same. Either way, the Tao is definitely a cool looking unit and if you want to have something different but still want the portability of the XM2go line, the Tao should definitely be considered.

XM planning MP3 subscription service?

TUAW threw out the idea that XM may be setting up a subsription service to download songs to your “XM Digital Music Player” (aka the device formally known as the SkyPod) based on a survey they received. Orbitcast reported on a similar survey a little while back, but the subscription model wasn’t mentioned at the time - this new survey seems to stray away from one-offs and instead focus on a Napster-To-Go style business model.

Here’s my take on the whole thing:

  1. A Subscription service would only work if the price was reasonable. I’m already paying for Satellite Radio, I don’t want to pay much more for a song I just heard. Charge me a reasonable price (TUAW suggests $5.99/month - I’m leaning more towards $2.99/month).
  2. Goes perfectly with the Ultimate Playlist branding strategy. XM would be the natural evolution from the iPod.
  3. Sets the groundwork for my Satellite Podcasting wish. Adam Curry playing a ‘best of’ Podcast Channel loses the essence of podcasting which is: micro-customization. For my custom listening experience, I don’t really care what Adam Curry feels is cool, I want to listen to my own taste of podcast. This subscription service would provide an interface to save the podcasts I want. Custom radio is the future.
  4. Give me the ability to keep the songs even after canceling my XM subscription. Chances are, I won’t ever cancel because it gives me simple access to a massive library of songs, but just make me feel comfortable by not adding that restriction. It’s a deal breaker.
  5. And the Digital Music Recorder? This is the kicker. Needs to have a good capacity, portability, and an interface that makes me drool. The accompaning interface must be extremely intuitive because you’re managing both your own songs and XM’s songs.

XM's driver Bryan Herta finishes 3rd at Indy

XM Satellite Radio’s driver Bryan Herta finished third at Sunday’s Indy 500. The finish was Herta’s best in the 2005 season and moved him to within seven points of third place in the IRL IndyCar Series championship overall. Don’t forget that XM is running their Fast Cash Finish contest that could allow someone to win 10 grand if Bryan finishes first - unlikely I know, but worth a shot anyway.

XM Country Music Fan Club Parties

During next month’s CMA Music Festival in Nashville, XM will be broadcasting several country music fan club parties on Highway 16. The kick off begins on June 7th with Chely Wright’s fifth annual “Reading, Writing and Rhythm” benefit concert broadcast live from the Wildhorse Saloon.

XM will also air the fan club parties of other country music artists like Tracy Byrd, Andy Griggs, Terri Clark, Dierks Bentley and Phil Vassar, to name a few.

What if Howard Stern Podcasted instead?

Howard Stern posing with Sirius Satellite Radio unitsThis has been discussed elsewhere before, but Rexblog has a very interesting take on the business behind podcasting, and throws around the idea of Howard Stern podcasting instead of joining SIRIUS.

Great thoughts, but one flaw with the theory is the artistic limitations of Podcasting.

Podcasting has an inherit problem - it’s delayed… very delayed. A podcast is only accessable once it’s complete, so the real time abilities are removed and in turn there’s a disconnect with the DJ and Listener. Howard talks about current events and things that happened the night before - that’s part of his whole appeal. Howard interacts with his listeners during phonecalls about things he’s talking about in real time - these interactions make him the entertainer he is. I was listening to Howard when the first plane hit the WTC only to look into the horizon and see the plume of smoke. This is something you can never get from Podcasting.

XM to drop Boeing in favor of Loral?

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Forbes is reporting that XM Satellite Radio is rumored to be dropping it's long standing relationship with Boeing, in favor of Loral, to build it's next powerful new satellite estimated to cost more than $200 Million.

While no official decision has been released, it's rumored that other industry officials have been discussing the decision, and Loral's internal email system has leaked the confirmation that XM made its choice.

Boeing manufactured the XM-1 and XM-2 satellites that turned out to be faulty, which resulted in the launching of XM-3 in February and the planned launch of XM-4 in 2007 to replace the dying birds. These buggy birds left many at XM with a salty taste in their mouth and they've been battling it out with insurance companies to make sure they don't need to foot the bill. Loral coincidently manufactures SIRIUS' satellites.

According to WSJ Online, this new satellite is intended to be a spare to back up XM's four other satellites, though they say they're not ordering anymore for at least a few years. XM-3 and the upcoming XM-4 should remain operating for 15 years.

Designed to have more than 20Kw of power (the current Boeing satellites are 18Kw), apparently this bird would be one of the most powerful commercial spacecraft ever built in terms of electric power. No word as to what model the Loral is.

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Have a great weekend...

Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend everyone. I’m going to submit myself to ridiculous and totally irresponsible heavy drinking accompanied with fire, heavy machinery, and extended family members. Don’t forget to tune into all the Memorial Day brew-ha-ha on both and .

If you too decide to get sloppy drunk and happen to be around your satellite radio, take a pic and shoot me an email and we can post it for all the adoring masses to laugh at (blurred out faces and/or body parts can be arranged upon request).

Rock on, enjoy yourself, be safe (or not) and keep an eye out for exciting things next week as Orbitcast invades [snip]!

Satellite Radio and iPod ... please God, make it stop.

Is this still news? I don’t get it, anytime there’s a shareholders conference someone will ask about the combination of Satellite Radio with the iPod (Zzzz), and everytime the question gets answered with “Well, we’re looking into it, but there’s no deal yet.”

And everytime the media freaks out about it and makes it a big deal. Which then sparks a storm of ridiculous speculation. Enough already.

Photo: Coldplay with Dave Mac

To go along with today’s entry about Coldplay taking over SIRIUS, here’s a photo of Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland with SIRIUS host Dave Mac.

Coldplay - Jonny Buckland, Dave Mac & Chris Martin

Indy 500 on XM

XM Satellite Radio will provide broadcast coverage of The Indy 500 race on Sunday, May 29th at 12 noon on Extreme XM.

This’ll also be the debut of XM Satellite Radio’s “Fast Cash Finish” promotion offering fans the chance to share the rewards of victory with the #7 XM Satellite Radio vehicle. Every time XM driver Bryan Herta wins an IRL race, you’ll be entered for a chance to win $10,000. A winner will be selected after each 1st place finish by Bryan Herta for every 2005 Season IndyCar Series race. A Grand Prize winner will be selected after the final IndyCar race of the season, to win a VIP Trip to the 2006 Indy 500.

You can enter once per race between May 12 and October 15.

Business 2.0: Why Is This Man Smiling?

Business 2.0 interview with Hugh Panero. Whether you’re an XM fan, or a SIRIUS fan, you gotta love his attitude. Great read, highly recommended.

Sportster IR Unveiled!

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An anonymous reader sent in some juicey photos of the new upcoming Sportster IR (Instant Replay) first shown at CES. According to reliable anonymous sources, the Sportster IR will be available in stores next week.

The new Sportster IR has been redesigned to be sleeker than it’s predecessor, with an integrated FM transmitter and a new antenna. But the real feature that everyone’s been waiting on with the IR, is the built-in internal memory that lets you record up to 44 minutes of content for later.

The blue displays shows quite well in sunlight: Sportster IR Installed

More photos after the jump…

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Coldplay takes over SIRIUS

The Grammy award-winning band Coldplay will perform, answer fans’ questions, personally introduce every song on their new album and will be guest DJs, from Saturday, June 4 through Sunday, June 12, 2005 exclusively on SIRIUS Satellite Radio.

Here’s the line-up:

The Spectrum Ch 18: “Inside X & Y” - Host Dave Mac will go over each song on Coldpay’s new album X & Y with Coldplay members Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland, who provide their insights into every track on the band’s brand new third album. Debuts Saturday, June 4th at 4pm. (Additional broadcasts on Sunday, June 5th at 7pm, Monday, June 6th at 1pm and Tuesday, June 7th at 5pm.)

Alt Nation Ch 21: “Coldplay Interactive” - Coldplay will respond to ten ALT NATION listeners’ questions and will perform live in the SIRIUS studios. Debuts Tuesday, June 7th at 7pm. (Additional broadcasts on Wedsday, June 8th at 12pm, Thursday, June 9th at 5pm, and Friday, June 10th at 11am.)

Sirius Disorder Ch 24: “Disorder Takeover” - Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland of Coldplay will take over Sirius Disorder, joining programmer/host Meg Griffin to play DJ. They’ll spin tunes from their new album, and play songs by some of the artists who influenced the making of their X & Y album, as well as some of their all-time favorite tracks. Debuts on Saturday, June 11th at 4pm and airs again on Sunday, June 12th at 12pm.

SIRIUS Annual Meeting of Stockholders tomorrow

SIRIUS Satellite Radio will hold its Annual Meeting of Stockholders on Wednesday, May 25, 2005 at 9:00 a.m. ET.

You’ll be able to listen to a live audio webcast of the meeting here at the same time.

Tuning In: What're you Listening to Right now? (05/24/2005)

Okie dokie, well it’s that time for the semi-monthly on-going time-wasting Orbitcast segment called Tuning In. Here’s how it works: turn on your satellite radio (you don’t actually turn it OFF do you?) and post a comment saying what you’re listening to right now. Channel, song, service - whatever you want.

In the end, we tally all the comments, and collectively see what everyone is into (and which satcaster gets bragging rights).

It’s simple, it’s fun, and it’s a complete waste of time. Perfect!

The first time we did this, we had a rockin’ 166 comments - with the clear winner being Opie & Anthony XM 202. The second time we did this, the 45 comments declared SIRIUS the winner.

What will happen this time around?

Gorillaz invade XM Satellite Radio

Gorillaz on XM Satellite Radio

Awww yeah. Bring in Noodle, Murduc, 2D and Russel of the Gorillaz as they take over 4 XM channels to spin whatever the hell they want.

Celebrating Demon Days, their latest album, tune in as these lyrical lunatics descend on XMU, Boneyard, Ethel, and The City and monkey around with the playlists.

Ted Koppel to join XM?

Ted Koppel joining Sirius Satellite Radio? ((( Speculation Alert )))

Somehow Ted Koppel has the tendency to throw off the speculation alert alarm, and this is definitely up there in the speculation rating (I’d give it an 8 out of 10), but an article in Boston.com does have a very peculiar snippet:

“The other day I saw Cal Ripken, who was in the building for an interview on the baseball channel. Then I noticed Ted Koppel, who had come out of the CEO’s office, talking about who knows what.

Could be nothing, could be something. But it’s a funny coincidence since I also threw the speculation alarm on Ted Koppel joining Sirius not even a month ago. Busy man.

Video and Invisible Antennas

Edmunds has a quick tidbit on the potential for in-car video and “invisible” antennas.

Invisible antennas definitely have a market - but in-car video is still something I’m a little skeptical on. The idea is great, but it all depends on how it’s implemented.

2nd O&A Heckler = Crazy Cabbie?!

crazy-cabbie-opie-anthony.jpgA loyal reader pointed me to this article from FMQB:

“A closer examination of the footage shows the second would-be-heckler placing his middle finger up to the sign in effigy of O&A, then whispering something into Nathaniel’s ear. The person? Embattled WXRK/New York deejay Crazy Cabbie who happened upon the scene by chance and decided to show his disdain for the XM personalities.”

Upon closer examination of the video? You bet, it does look like Cabbie to me.

Crazy Cabbie is a frequent guest on The Howard Stern Show, and has had issues with O&A in the past. Cabbie apparently is using his time wisely before he goes off to jail for a 1-year prison sentence for tax evasion.

O&A Assault on the Media

Opie and Anthony assault on the Media have an on going “assault on the media” as a way to get publicity for the show. Well, they hit gold yesterday.

During a report on WCBS Channel 2, two virus spreaders walked behind reporter Arthur Chi’en with an Opie and Anthony sign saying “Opie and Anthony… XM Radio!” while flipping off that camera.

Chi’en (who apparently thought the camera had cut to tape) turned around and said “What the FUCK is your problem man?!”

Chi’en incidently, was fired. “I regret the entire thing and I apologize to those who were offended,” he said.

Watch the completely hilarious video clip here.

You have to wonder whether this is good press or bad press for O&A and, as a result for XM. Understand the audience that O&A attract - 18-34 males. Understand the audience that satellite radio attracts - 18-34 males. Which demographic is the most mischievous and cynical and loves this sort of stuff? 18-34 males. (Oh, and who do advertisers want to target the most? You guessed it.) Sure, this type of publicity is “bad” publicity, but really very good as a result. I don’t see Opie and Anthony having to worry about any repercussions over this - perhaps a dressing down will be in order (which, by the way, is also wonderful publicity for O&A). But a public statement from XM disowning responsibility over this? Please. Sure, corporate yuckity-yucks hate this kinda of stuff - but subscribers looove it.

XM and Raytheon to demo Satellite Radio for Military Use

XM and Raytheon - Satellite Radio for Military UseWhoa, this is cool. Raytheon and XM Satellite Radio are teaming up to demonstrate how satellite radio can provide customized alerts to military troops as part of the Defense Department’s Joint Blue Force Situational Awareness (JBFSA) program.

Dubbed “Mobile Enhanced Situational Awareness” or MESA, the effort is a joint program between Raytheon, XM Satellite Radio and worldwide satellite radio provider , which has coverage over Africa, Europe and parts of Asia.

The idea is to setup tailored missile warning alerts to specific geographical regions, as opposed to broadcasting to everyone (causing confusion, pandemonium and general mayhem amongst troops… not fun). With XM, they’ll be able to send the warning messages to specific selections of troops on the ground. The MESA receivers will decrypt the message for the users that are intended to hear it, using pretty much existing communications hardware (camo MyFi skins anyone?).

As the technology gets better Raytheon sees lapel-sized receivers being worn by individual soldiers. No doubt any technology developed for military use can then be in turn used for civilian use… with the appropriate limitations of course.

Justo Jaison to be honored by SIRIUS

Justo Jaison SIRIUS TributeThis is very cool of Sirius. On May 27th, SIRIUS Satellite Radio will dedicate an entire day of programming to the late Justo Faison. Justo Faison (founder the Mixtape Awards back in 1995) died in a car accident in Virginia on May 13th - a death deeply felt in the hip-hop community.

SIRIUS’ Wax channel 42 will honor Faison by playing mixes from DJs across the U.S. who have been honored with Mixtape Awards.

DJs include: DJ Ace (New York City), DJ Smallz (Florida), SIRIUS host Clinton Sparks (Boston, MA), DJ Warrior (Los Angeles), DJ E-Rock (San Francisco) and Mick Boogie (Cleveland), to name just a few.

Condolences from many DJs who knew Justo, or who received Mixtape Awards, will also be included in the special day of programming, which will begin at 9am and end at 9pm on Friday, May 27th.

XM Partners with Jazz at Lincoln Center

XM Satellite Radio to open studios as Jazz at Lincoln CenterWow, this is pretty cool. Starting in June, XM Satellite Radio will broadcast live daily from new, state-of-the-art XM studios at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s new home, Frederick P. Rose Hall, at Broadway at 60th Street, in New York City.

The Frederick P. Rose Hall (opened in October of last year) will be home for a bunch of XM’s music channels, such as Real Jazz and On Broadway.

XM will also host and broadcast live performances from the Jazz at Lincoln Center facilities featuring a wide range of styles, from rock, hip-hop, and country artists to classical and jazz performers. These XM shows will include new episodes of XM’s Original Music series Artist Confidential and Then … Again … Live! Special features from XM’s news, public radio, sports, kids, talk, comedy and entertainment channels will originate from the new studios as well.

The control rooms, designed for 5.1 surround sound mixing and one of the largest studios in Manhattan, will have the capability to capture live performances. XM Productions - Effanel Music, (recently acquired by XM), will provide recording services for live venues.

Don’t worry kids, O&A will continue to broadcast from the Economist Building on West 57th Street.

(Since I’m local to NYC, I’m hoping I can get a photo tour of both facilities going. I’ll keep everyone posted on that.)

Sirius launching a 4th Satellite?

4th Satellite from SIRIUS?Some interesting information has come in about a the possibility of SIRIUS launching a 4th Satellite into orbit. This from Bear Stearns:

"There has been some concern recently about the implications of Sirius potentially launching its 4th satellite, which is already completely manufactured and flight ready and is in storage as a ground spare.

As the company has mentioned in the past, it could launch the satellite into a geostationary orbit. However, since it was originally constructed for elliptical orbit, it would have to be refurbished, which could take as much as 8-10 months to complete and could cost Sirius an additional $25-50 mn.

While not incorporated in our current projections, we think that this decision would be positive for the company in many ways, such as: 1) It would augment the reception of their signals to mobile and fixed devices, and 2) it would help insulate any service interruption should one of their current satellites fail.

The major impact on capex likely would include: (i) accelerated launch and insurance costs of $80-100 mn, (ii) cost of refurbishing of $25-50 mn, & (iii) accelerated buildout of a new ground spare that could cost about $100-125 mn. In aggregate, we think capex over the next year could be higher by $200-275 mn, that is not included in our current capex forecast. We assume negligible cost for TT&C.
We note that this would merely be capex acceleration, except for refurbishing costs. However, due to potential timing of the capex coupled with any outperformance of gross adds, Sirius could potentially need to raise additional funds. Lastly we underscore the point that we don't believe Sirius has made a definitive decision yet (although we expect one shortly). Hence, we maintain our Peer Perform."


While a decision hasn't been made (or released), there's a possibility of Sirius launching a 4th satellite into geostationary orbit as opposed to their current elliptical geosynchronous orbit. Bear Sterns likes this idea because it compliments the signal, but it'll cost Sirius to convert the satellite to perform this way.

Very interesting indeed.

Had a great back and forth with a reader, and here's some thoughts about the mechanics of all this.

Keep in mind that Sirius has 3 satellites in constant motion over the sky - 2 within range of the US at the same time. If Sirius were to launch a geostationary satellite, they would probably need to time it so that they drop the signal from a second orbiting satellite while it's over the US. Each satellite must transmit on a unique frequency so it's not overlapping with other satellites. So with a 4th geostationary satellite, Sirus could either kill power on a second satellite while it's over the US, or use half of each geosynchronous bird's resources and run the geostationary one at full tilt.

More on this from TheStreet.

TIME: Stuck in the Orbit of Satellite Radio

Time Magazine has a facinating article about the anti-localizing effects of Satellite Radio. Very well written and holds true an interesting point. There is a bit of disconnect now without any local content.

Sirius partners with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

sirius-rock-roll-hall-fame.jpg and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum have signed an agreement making SIRIUS the Official Satellite Radio Partner of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

SIRIUS DJs will broadcast daily live from the Alan Freed Radio Studio located inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

SIRIUS will also have exclusive special programs and events related to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s inductees, as well as live performances from the Museum.

The Death of HD Radio

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WOW. Great article by Mark Ramsey of Radio Marketing Nexus about The Premature Death of HD Radio. Brings up some great points about terrestrials attempt to beat Satellite at it’s own digital game with HD Radio…. and how HD Radio is just not going to cut it. Doesn’t really bash Satellite either, which I’m impressed with.

Very well written, and brings up some great points. If you’re anywhere interested in digital radio, you must read this.

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The Death of HD Radio

WOW. Great article by Mark Ramsey of Radio Marketing Nexus about The Premature Death of HD Radio. Brings up some great points about terrestrials attempt to beat Satellite at it’s own digital game with HD Radio…. and how HD Radio is just not going to cut it. Doesn’t really bash Satellite either, which I’m impressed with.

Very well written, and brings up some great points. If you’re anywhere interested in digital radio, you must read this.

The Men of OutQ

The Men of Sirius OutQ Radio - John McMullen, Charlie Dyer, and Jeremy “J.Ho” Hovies - all were interviewed on AfterElton.com (goatees and all).

XM in talks with cell companies?

OK, so I missed this one amidst all the 4 million hubbub yesterday, but Reuters dropped this little bit of “news” about wireless carriers about offering some form of its radio service on mobile phones. Hugh doesn’t really go into details, just says that the cell companies are in search of more content and they’ve been in talks. We learned back in December that Panero expects satellite radio to be in cell phones within 5 years, who knows if that will be become a reality sooner than we thought.

Found on The Future of Radio.

InFusion Internet Radio

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infusion-internet-radio.jpgHas anyone seen this thing? It’s called the Infusion developed by a bunch of Aussies at Torian (awful website, neat product). I just had a chance to look into it after first spotting it on . Some are speculating it might be the Satellite killer - but I’m not so sure. Reception is key, and blanketing the US with Wifi just doesn’t seem possible.

Whatever, it’s still pretty neat.

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All smiles over at XM

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Hugh Panero is all smiles

Here’s a great shot of XM president and CEO Hugh Panero taken this morning in front of the NBC Jumbotron at Times Square in New York City.

Check out the uber-version here.

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XM Reaches 4 Million Subscribers

There was a lot of buzz as to whether the 4 Million annoucement would happen today, and it looks like the chatter was right. Satellite Radio today announced they have reached 4 Million Subscribers.

XM has 4 Million Subscribers

They’re growing at an astonishing rate - over one million new subscribers in less than five months! And the goal is 5.5 Million subscibers by the year’s end, which is no doubt a conservative estimate.

Congrats XM!

XM available in Toyota Avalon, Lexus GS 300, and Lexus 430

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XM-Ready Toyota Avalon, Lexus GS 300, and Lexus 430 vehiclesToyota’s been busy today. XM Satellite Radio, just announced that XM-Ready models of the 2005 Toyota Avalon, Lexus GS 300, and Lexus GS 430 are now available nationwide as a dealer-installed option.

In 2006, XM will be available as factory-installed equipment in a variety of Toyota and Lexus vehicles. Factory-installed is the way to go.

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SIRIUS available in Toyota and Scion Vehicles (sorta)

Sirius now available in Toyota and Scion Vehicles as post-production option just announced that Toyota is now offering Sirius Satellite Radio as a post-production or dealer-installed option in select Toyota and Scion vehicles dealerships beginning this month.

They’ll be available in the:

  • Toyota Camry

  • Toyota (2005 and 2006) Solara and Solara Convertible

  • Scion xA

  • Scion xB

  • Scion tC

This is good news for Sirius because the Camry is a big seller, and Scions are big in the target audience. Sirius needs to land more Factory-installed deals than post-production in my opinion. Still, it’s better than nothing.

UPDATE: Apparently the wording on the is more than a bit misleading. Sirius does not have a deal directly with Toyota (at least one hasn’t been announced). In fact the Dealer-Installed Option is apparently available through the Penske Automotive Group - one of Toyota America’s distributors. A major distributor infact, but nonetheless, the wording on the press release makes it sound like something bigger. Sure, technically it’s correct, “SIRIUS as a post-production or dealer-installed option on select Toyota and Scion vehicle lines” - but leads the reader to a false conclusion in my opinion.

I should have remembered this, having posted about it - but I forgot. I know, my mistake. I took the press release at face value, and delivered it as such. My bad.

Still, it really pisses me off that press releases are put out like this, and in my attempt to turn around news as quickly as possible to everyone, I end up looking like an ass. I’m pretty infuriated right now. The point of Orbitcast is to give an unbiased source of news, but when I write up a post based on what I assume to be fact and it’s not - I look like a schmuck. Note to Sirius PR Dept: funky worded releases that leads the reader to a false conclusion will only cause a backlash amoungst those who support you the most. It’s NOT good PR.


Sirius 3G Wearable News

Reports are coming in like crazy from this morning’s Bear Stearns report on Sirius discussing Sirius’ 3G chipset technology and this is bombshell material. If anyone has a better link to a more detailed account of the Bear Stearns, please send it to me.

Here’s the breakdown:

  1. Sirius’ 3G Chipset will be available on the market later this year.

  2. The new 3G chipset technology should offer recording and playback features standard. That means that ALL Sirius 3G units will have time-shifting capabilities.

  3. The ReGo will require 2 batteries to be wearable - one for Plug-and-Play usage, and one from the Wearable kit. This explains the confusing line-item I was scratching my head over. NOTE: The Bear Stearns report mentions that the Xact ReGo will be available this fall. From what I can tell, this is probably the result of confusion with the other upcoming Sirius wearable, though it’s all still unconfirmed.

  4. At the end of the 2005, we will see the unveiling of a 3G powered Sirius Wearable unit - but due to power constraints this unit will not have “live” listening capabilities while in wearable mode. So, you’ll be able to plug-in and listen to satellite radio, and access to your recorded material on-the-go.

  5. According to Bear Stearns, the 3G powered Sirius Wearable capable of live reception could become available by early-to-mid-2006.


Sirius does Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend, usually involves two things: trudging through traffic-snarled roads and listening to music with friends and family (usually accompanied by heavy drinking… hopefully not while stuck in traffic). Well, to appease the herding masses, is hooking up Memorial Day Weekend with performances by country/rock artists Van Zant, and providing enhanced traffic and weather reports.

Coming from Tennessee’s Ocean Way Studios, brothers Johnnie Van Zant (known from his work with Lynyrd Skynyrd) and Donnie Van Zant (known from his work with .38 Special), will perform songs from their new album Get Right With the Man, (plus some stuff from .38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd). The exclusive performance will be broadcast on SIRIUS channel 31, New Country, on May 27th at 10pm, May 29th at 5pm and May 30 at 8pm.

Starting May 26, the Weather Channel reports on SIRIUS traffic and weather channels will provide resort and getaway destination weather, every Thursday through Sunday throughout the summer. Starting on Friday, May 27, traffic reports will provide uber-coverage of US beach, mountain and getaway destination routes every Friday evening for the trip away and Sunday afternoons and evenings for the grueling return trip home.

XACT ReGo Update

XACT Xtr5 ReGo Sirius Satellite RadioIt seems that Crutchfield has added the XACT Xtr5 ReGo to their product listing with a release date expected on June 3rd, 2005. This is a little sooner than the Father’s Day release date I was told - but close enough for me.

All the previous specs I released are also pretty much on the money. Here’s the highlights for you lazy people out there:

  1. ReGo Base Unit Cost: $279.99
  2. The ReGo radio itself comes with accessories for the car. You want it to be wearable, or use it at home, you need to buy separate kits.
  3. Xact ReGo (XS043) Wearable Kit Cost: $99.99
  4. Wearable Kit includes a clip-on lithium polymer battery rechargeable battery, headphones with an integrated antenna, AC power adapter, and belt clip.
  5. Wearable Kit has a built-in antenna on the headphones, so you’re sure to pick up all the ladies.
  6. Home Kit Cost: $79.99
  7. Home Kit includes desktop cradle, indoor/outdoor antenna, amplified speaker, audio cable, and power adapter.

All prices are based on what Crutchfield is charging, so I’m sure there will be places where you can get the Xact ReGo cheaper.

The only slightly confusing thing I’m seeing is the line item listing:

“MP3 accessories included: lithium-polymer rechargeable battery, 32MB Trans Flash card, earphones”

I’m not really sure what the difference between the Base Unit’s rechargeable battery, and the wearable kit’s rechargeable battery is. Is it the “clip-on” part?

I’ll be bugging the folks over at Xact for some more details. For now, enjoy this latest hi-res picture of the ReGo on the carkit suction-cup mount. You can put your name on a list to preorder it for $275 - cheapest price so far.

Sirius' Fatal Flaw?

TheStreet goes into an indepth review of how SIRIUS’ content-driven strategy is impressive for PR, but not so impressive with investors. It’s a really great article looking at how both XM and SIRIUS are attacking from different mindsets to gain marketshare.

A big bombshell is this little snippet:

“…even if Sirius’ subscriber base grows to 6.3 million, it will need to return to the capital market for more money by the end of next year to support its business. That means an additional dilution of current shareholders, and it will be compounded if the company pays Stern in stock instead of cash.”

Definitely a good read.

UPDATE: A concerned reader has mentioned to me that I seem to favor the conclusions drawn by this article. I definitely did seem pretty damn convinced by it, I have to admit (c’mon, it’s convincing dontcha think?).

Two things the concerned reader points out:

  1. The comment about running out of cash contradicts SIRIUS’ often stated position that they will be cash fow positive before burning all its cash.

  2. The entire analysis seems based on the view that content is not the most critical factor which is at best a dubious assumption.

Both very valid points, and it’s pretty damn important that I point them out. What’s your take on it?

Yahoo to unveil Music Subscription Service

Yahoo is said to be unveiling a new music subscription service to called Yahoo Music Unlimited. For about $7/month, or $60 a year, is muuuuch cheaper than RealNetworks’ Rhapsody To Go service ($179/year).

Yahoo Music Unlimited is supposed to offer something like a million songs. More information on this as it comes in.

XM Radio HIN in Georgia

The XM Satellite Radio title sponsored Hot Import Nights is going ATL style at the Georgia International Convention Center, on May 28th.

Hot bootie and dubs baby!

Canada outlaws Satellite Radio

Gotta love this. I recently mentioned how carmakers are getting pissed off at Canada, but now Harry from The Future of Radio has pointed me to the interesting fact that it’s even illegal to own, or even operate Satellite Radio in Canada. WTF is this?! Yeah, that’s smart.

Honda selling off shares of XMSR

Honda had something like 27 million shares of common stock in , or about 10% of XM Satellite Radio. As of today, Honda will sell off almost 10 million shares Class A common stock to Bank of America. The transaction relates to approximately half of the 10% notes held by Honda.

Following the transaction, Honda will continue to have ownership on an unhedged basis of approximately 17.5 million shares of XMSR. Someone from Honda will continue to sit on the board of directors.

Wonder what’s going on?

Jimmy Buffett joins Sirius

radio-margaritaville-sirius.jpgSirius Satellite Radio is set to announce today that they’ve inked a deal with Jimmy Buffett to produce Radio Margaritaville for its listeners as a 24-hour channel.

The station will feature a variety of music, live broadcasts of Buffett’s concerts and other new programs.

Sirius will broadcast Radio Margaritaville live from a studio located at Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant at Universal City Walk in Orlando.

MyFi XM2go Lite - finally an affordable XM2go unit!

Delphi MyFi XM2go Lite for $99Whoa, talk about a good deal. A reader just let me know that there’s a new stripped down Delphi XM2go MyFi available for only $99.

It doesn’t include all the crazy accessories - just the MyFi with built-in antenna, and the battery plus charger. You want headphones? You gotta get them yourself. Still, even without the accessories, this is an incredible deal. The MyFi goes for around $250 and all the other XM2go units are expected for $300-$330 - so if you want a bang-for-your-buck wearable unit - this is the one.

Green Lantern and Shade 45 fiasco explained

DJ Green Lantern on Shade 45 - no moreA loyal reader has sent in some insight as to why is no longer part of , Eminem’s channel on Sirius Satellite Radio. A bit like a Thug Soap Opera, but still is oddly fascinating.

According to an article on MTV, Lantern has left the Shady organization, home to Eminem and 50 Cent, and is no longer a personality on Shade45. (Rumor has it that he was fired, while he says he left Shady but… oh who cares.)

The drama starts with the DVD “The Come Up, Vol. 5,” which includes an interview with DJ Lantern. But, the real issue lies is another separate segment when rapper Jadakiss called Lantern on the Nextel and discussed their wins at the previous night’s Mixtape Awards, and then blabbed about the recent feud between 50, Fat Joe, and Jada, unbeknownst to Lantern. Rumor has it he said “You hit 50 with the left hook, now hit him with the right and he’s done” or something like that.

Green states that the caught-on-film conversation made him look like he’s siding against 50 in the midst of this feud, so rather than put Eminem in the position of choosing between the DJ and 50, Lantern left on his own.

“I didn’t want to create a tension between Em and 50 with Em going to bat for me and all that when it’s a crazy situation. For what? I’ll just be out,” Lantern told MTV.

No longer affiliated with Sirius hip-hop channel Shady 45, the DJ now hosts the syndicated radio show “Mixtape Radio.”

And there it is folks.

Dave Matthews Band on SIRIUS

Dave Matthews Band will be topic of a special SIRIUS program “Inside Stand Up” featuring an interview and a track-by-track discussion with the band on SIRIUS channel 18, The Spectrum.

The show, hosted by SIRIUS’ Dave Mac, will cover topics about their brand-new album being released on May 10, Stand Up.

When? Wednesday, May 11 - 5 pm ET Thursday, May 12 - 7 pm ET Saturday, May 14 - 1 pm ET Sunday, May 15 - 10 pm ET

Toby Keith to be a DJ (for a day) on Sirius

Toby Keith - DJ for a day on SIRIUS satellite radioHonkytonkin' Country music singer will throw down the cowboy hat and risk looking like when he dons a set of headphones and becomes a DJ on SIRIUS Satellite Radio all day Tuesday, May 17th.

From 6am to 12 midnight ET, Toby Keith will be the sole host of SIRIUS New Country channel 31. During that time, he'll play whatever music he wants (yeah baby! Death Metal!!). He will also play a song an hour from his new album being released that day on DreamWorks, Honkytonk University.

Good stuff. I see a lot more artists singing on to do stuff like this in the future. Satellite Radio has graduated from a simple techie toy to a full blown media device. And those who ride this wave right now will have a more attentive audience than those who catch the wave late. PR Firms take note!

Commercials matter to listeners... sorta

Arbitron and Edison Media Research did a study focusing on the effects of commercials against listenership on Terrestrial radio. None of this is really ground breaking stuff (spoiler: cheap people will sit through commercials for free radio), except for the difference in age groups.

First apparently 47 percent of consumers would listen to a radio station "a lot more" if the station had fewer commercial breaks, while 44 percent would listen "a lot more" if it had shorter commercial breaks.

Even more interesting, more than eight in 10 Americans consider listening to commercials a "fair price to pay" for free radio programming. (even if that programming sucks? I don't know if that was one of the questions...)

Now onto the good stuff.

According to the study, the 12 to 24 age group is bothered more by the quantity of commercials (58 percent) as opposed to how "annoying" they perceive those commercials to be (33 percent).

People in the 25 to 54 age group also are more bothered by the quantity (53 percent) than the quality of commercials (37 percent).

Listeners 55 and older are slightly more bothered by annoying commercials (44 percent) than they are by the number of commercials (35 percent).

So, the younger listeners are getting more and more accustomed to listening to commercial-free music (no doubt because of the terrabytes of mp3s sitting on their hard drives). As they get older, Terrestrial listenership will quickly dwindle unless Big Radio changes something - fast. Meanwhile, the old bags are willing to sit through Dial-A-Mattress and 1-800-EAST-WEST commercials as long as they don't have to hear that damn jingle anymore. What about the hours of incessant begging marathons on NPR? Is there a study on that?

Business TalkRadio won't Syndicate to Satellite Radio

Terrestrial Radio Launches Despirate Ad CampaignThe Business TalkRadio Network and Lifestyle TalkRadio Network will not be airing any shows in the future that are distributed to either of the two satellite radio companies. Wah wah wah.

Currently, of the more than 60 shows that air on the two networks, only four have such arrangements. Oh shucks.

"Those of us in the radio industry have sat back long enough and allowed satellite radio to be perceived as more of a force than it really is. The time has come for there to be more of a concerted effort on the part of all us, particularly the NAB and RAB," said Jeff Weber, executive vice-president of the Business TalkRadio Network and the Lifestyle TalkRadio Network.

"We applaud radio executives like Ed Christian of Saga who have the courage to stand up in opposition to what is obviously competition to terrestrial radio."

Heh. I thought Satellite Radio was just a fad?

Car Makers getting peeved with Canada

Canadian Satellite RadioExecutives at two of Canada's biggest car makers, namely General Motors and Honda, say that if the Canadian federal broadcast regulator doesn't decide soon on whether to license satellite radio, they won't be able to install units in their 2006 models.

And in the quote that makes me gosh-darn proud, David Paterson, GM Canada's VP of Corporate and Governmental Affairs says about the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission:

"We need a damn decision . . . The 2006 selling season starts now."


Break out the Tequilla!

Cinco De Mayo - Happy Birthday Mike!
It's Cinco De Mayo! Office Lunches across the nation will be filled with shots of Jose.

...and it just so happens today is Mike K's () birthday. Go make fun of how old he is.

Sirius adds Two Regional Advertising Directors and One New York Account Manager to Team

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SIRIUS Satellite Radio has hired two regional advertising directors and one New York account manager to expand its advertising sales efforts on its non-music channels.

Mark Kallen joins as Western Regional Sales Director, Stephen Scheu joins as Midwest Regional Sales Director, and Kevin Zoback joins as New York Account Manager.

Kallen, Scheu and Zoback will work to increase SIRIUS' advertising revenue on its 55+ Talk, Traffic, News, Sports and Entertainment channels (no worries, the music channels will remain commercial-free).

Kallen was the VP of Sales for Infinity Radio Sales and brings with him 20 years of experience. Stephen Scheu, has more than 25 years of experience in advertising sales, was most recently National Sales Manager for Infinity's WCKG-FM/Chicago. And Kevin Zoback comes to SIRIUS with 15 years of experience in broadcast ad sales. Previously, Zoback developed customized sales and marketing strategies for national advertisers, agencies and clients at Disney/ABC Inc.

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Analysts Bullish On Future Of Satellite Radio

Are investors calling Sirius out?

Sirius Satellite Radio Stock downgradedThe boys over at MSN Money aren't very kind to SIRI in this article, but it's an interesting read and may be a dose of reality to some stock owners to read something like this. Then again, I'm sure most investors already know this stuff and have made up their mind regardless of what the media is saying (and hats off to that).

One of the big questions people were asking at the (), and several time via private email, was whether I'd recommend SIRI stock or not. So I just sorta want to snip that in the bud right now.

Honestly, I don't own any XMSR or SIRI stock (though I probably should seeing how much of my time this stuff takes up), mostly because I'm broke but also because I don't feel I know enough about the Wall Street side of the industry. I listen to the conference calls, read the inteviews, tune into the stock news, and watch the videos - but when you get into the real stock-talk stuff, I go numb.

So whether I'd recommend one stock or another? I'll leave that to the more intelligent people out there. All I have is my own personal thoughts that Sirius isn't going anywhere for a while, and that the Satellite Radio Industry as a whole will only grow. Adopting from terrestrial to satellite is getting easier and easier for the general public - and I think now we're getting away from the "early adopters" and closer to critical mass. It's not hard for Joe Sixpack to say "Gosh, my radio sucks, I want to listen to some real country music!" and to go out and buy a plug-and-play unit. It's Radio, only Better. Easy message to consume. I recently heard that some analysts are actually expecting there to be 55 Million subscribers in 10 years - an aggressive, but maybe not too far off estimation. All we need to do is get over this initial hump of grabbing new content to broadcast, and the rest is profit. There's no fiber to lay down or infrastructure to build (well, maybe we could use a few extra towers to get signal to the nooks and crannys out there), just cooler receivers and better content to come - which after a while will only get cheaper and cheaper for both the manufacturer and the consumer.

So, to actually answer the question, an investment the either XMSR or SIRI would be a smart one if you're in it for the long-haul.

National Lampoon to join Satellite Radio

National Lampoon has announced they're starting a 24/7 radio network in January 2006 with comedy veteran Kent Emmons at the helm.

The National Lampoon Radio Network will be distributed to "major market" FM stations along with a special programming channel for one of the satellite radio services.

No word as to which satcaster will be used, though since XM already has a partnership with them, it's my guess that XM will be the one - though you never know.

WSJ Video: Mel Karmazin Interview

Video: Jim Cramer interviews Mel KarmazinThe Wall Street Journal has a video interview with Jim Kramer and Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin. I was able to access it without a WSJ Online account - not sure how long that is gonna last - so I hope no one else encounters any problems.

Video is in two parts: Part I, Part II

Pretty interesting interview. Highly recommended.

NYC Geek Dinner

Went to the NYC Geek Dinner last night and had a grand ol' geeky time. About 40-50 people showed up (I think I spotted 3 women in the whole group.. yeesh) and we munched on pizza and beers at Two Boots. Met for a few fleeting minutes as well as a bunch of other "a-listers" like and . It was Dave's 50th so a room of RSS consuming maniacs erupted into song for him.

Everyone was totally into the deal and I got bombarded with Satellite Radio questions as a result. Who'da thunk that Bloggers would have so much interest in satrad now? :)

Anyway, pizza was good. Conversation was better. I'll upload some pics I took with my crappy cellphone camera when I get the chance.

Other reports: Mike Dunn, David Parmet, Nat Luengnaruemitchai, BL Ochman, Susan Mernit, Maultasch hated it.

SIRIUS Adds Thoroughbred Horse Racing


has announced that it has added thoroughbred horse racing to its "deep stable" (ho ho!) of live sports programming.

SIRIUS will feature a weekly two-hour talk show devoted to the "Sport of Kings," titled Down The Stretch, with track announcer Dave Johnson serving as host, and analysts Bill Finley and Jay Privman.

Down The Stretch will air every Saturday morning from 10am to Noon EST on SIRIUS Sports Action channel 123. On certain special Saturdays, SIRIUS will also air a Race Of The Week featuring live coverage of the biggest race of that day from around the country.

I guess there's a market for this? Seems like we're just covering all the sports we can. What's next, Poker?


Satellite Podcasting - Official Word from SIRIUS

SIRIUS has just released their official release about the Adam Curry hosting a Podcast Show. Here's the further information we get from it:

The four-hour, weekday program will feature highlights and insights from the world of podcasting and will introduce SIRIUS listeners to a completely new range of talent and artists from around the world, including the best new, undiscovered music.

The program's SIRIUS debut coincides with the launch of Curry's PodShow.com, the first true entertainment and information network in podcasting.

"Podcasting is not just about portable media players," said Curry, the former star MTV VJ who developed podcasting in mid-2004. Explaining how the new collaboration between SIRIUS and PodShow.com takes podcasting to a completely new level, he said, "Podcasting is an entirely new form of broadcasting that enables anyone to create powerful content. By combining the creative talent and content of available podcasting with superior programming of SIRIUS, we can create and showcase talent that terrestrial radio listeners would not be able to hear. We think that this partnership is about introducing the best of podcasting to the world."

Awesome stuff.

NYTimes: An MTV Host Moves to Radio, Giving Voice to Audible Blogs

Adam Curry on SIRIUS Satellite RadioThe NY Times has a feature on Adam Curry's new deal with Sirius Satellite Radio with a little bit more information than what I originally got.

Pretty much, all we have additionally now is that the name for the show is "Adam Curry's PodShow" and Adam will help choose material from some of the thousands of Podcasts floating around in the PODosphere.

More info as it develops.

Sirius to Offer Podcasts Hosted by Adam Curry

has arrived! Sirius Satellite Radio is launching a show later this month that will feature a daily selection of Podcasts hosted by noneother than the PodFather himself - .

The show, which Sirius is expected to formally today, will begin broadcasting weekdays on May 13. It will be hosted by Adam Curry, the former MTV personality who helped create the technological tools that allow podcasting to work. The show will be broadcast on Sirius Channel 148, and will carry commericals.

This is awesome, and I applaud Sirius for taking this huge step!

NASCAR to go to Sirius early?

NASCAR rumored to leave XM Satellite Radio earlyCould NASCAR be jumping ship to Sirius a year early? We all know, NASCAR will be dumping XM Satellite Radio and will be hoping on board with Sirius Satellite Radio in 2007. Or so we thought.

According to an article in the NASCAR Notebook,

"NASCAR's new satellite network radio deal with Sirius may kick off sooner than originally planned, according to NASCAR sources who say Sirius may buy out the last year of XM Radio's contract and take over the exclusive NASCAR franchise."

Since the five-year agreement with Sirius was for $107.5 Million, I can only assume that the one-year early buyout would be for a minimum of $21.5 Million.

No official word yet, so for now I'll file this as a rumor until more information comes to light.