Return of XM Fungus or Sirius Punk "not a guarantee" - Orbitcast

Return of XM Fungus or Sirius Punk "not a guarantee"

Punk on Satellite Radio
Following the launch of the AC/DC channel, and the subsequent replacement of XM Fungus and Sirius Punk, many angry fans took to contacting Sirius XM Radio to find out if punk will ever return to satellite radio.

And judging by some of the comments posted, it doesn't look hopeful. So I had an exchange with Jon Zellner, SVP of Music Programming at Sirius XM Radio, to find out for myself.

Zellner seemed very empathetic of the fans' concerns, but also didn't give much of a guarantee that the punk channels will return. Zellner said that "the return of Fungus or Punk is not a guarantee," adding that "the channel had a loyal but very limited audience on the network."

Still, he did indicate that customer feedback is appreciated, and that the company will "monitor customer feedback closely and re-evaluate early next year." So voicing your concern does make a difference. Incidentally, there is a petition for those who want to participate.

I can understand the difficult position Zellner (and everyone else at the company) is in when it comes to the elimination of programming. It's a constant balancing act, and you usually end up making some segment of your audience angry - no matter what you do.

Zellner added that he really does love the music, and wishes that the services "had room for 200 more music channels in every possible genre."

The conundrum for satellite radio is that the sleeping in giant in the room - Internet Radio - does have room for channels of every possible genre. It just doesn't have a reliable delivery method... yet. Something tells me there must be a better way to include the artist-only specials, without eliminating entire genres.

(Photo Credit: Flickr)


I'm curious if you asked him why they do the Artist Channel specials, and if they receive payment from the artist, record label, etc., for doing that.

I can see something like Branding a general genre station after an artist like Sintara or BB King, but I can't see a station that only plays one artists output as being a big draw.


While I am personally not a listener of Fungus, Lou's Special X programming was nothing less than radio genius, and I am very saddened to see that yet another of his programming efforts - one that clearly fills an area of music that is completely ignored by terrestrial radio, thus making it a perfect candidate for satellite - might be gone from satellite radio forever.

If this becomes a trend, that similar niche formats are dumped in favor of either single-artist or mass-market programming efforts, I won't blink at cancelling all three of my radios and finding an alternate form of mobile audio entertainment.

THIS is what I was fearing would happen when word of the merger first came out.

What they should do in cases like this, is start a list of channels which they "guarantee" to add once they shed the legacy XM & Sirius technology platforms. In theory, they should be able to at least double the existing music channel count, once the entire system is integrated and they no longer have to broadcast to "legacy" equipment.
Granted, they would not be able to add any channels on such a list for years, but perhaps it would be better than nothing, and would be a way for the company to show they do have some interest in serving diverse listener bases.

Or - the punk fans could band together and form a non-profit organization to apply for a "public interest" channel.

"In theory, they should be able to at least double the existing music channel count, once the entire system is integrated and they no longer have to broadcast to "legacy" equipment."

I imagine it has little to do with what eq they're broadcasting from or to, it has more to do with track licensing fees on channels that benefit few customers.

Fan outcry brought XMLM back to the airwaves, so I'm sure that if enough people cry out, Fungus can be saved as well. I didn't listen to it too much, but I always enjoyed it when I did.

Definitely not a fan of AC/DC radio though. I can take a song or two, but not a whole channel.

"I imagine it has little to do with what eq they're broadcasting from or to, it has more to do with track licensing fees on channels that benefit few customers."

Wrong. XM pays a percentage of revenue to license all music covered under the RIAA.

While I'm sure there are music acquisition costs, these would be minimal by comparison (and my guess is that most of the actual media comes to them via promo releases by the labels).

I'm not saying the cost to run the channel is nothing, only that it most certainly is less than, say, 2,000 cancellations due to the elimination of the channel.

Maybe it's starting to dawn on people now - the true price to the listener if XM/SIRI wants to sell a channel on both services for cash and drop an ENTIRE GENRE from both, where are you going to go to listen now? If these were your favorites, maybe pull your sub and get in iPod?

As long as Hee-Haw-Hell comes back on another channel, I won't be too sad.

If this is true, I will be ditching XM for a 3G phone. Between Slacker and internet feeds, I can have the selection I want.

I know this is a satellite forum, but, having been a subsciber to XM for years and recently giving it up for Slacker (, their punk stations are very good.

The diversity of Slacker's programming reminds me of the early days of XM, before all of the traditional radio consultants moved in and made so much of XM's programming as boring as standard FM radio.

Although I don't remember one time I ever have listened to Fungus, I fear that what is happening with this channel will happen with many others. A lot of the reason I subscribed to Satrad is because of the diversity that I cannot find anywhere else. Granted, that is still the case, but not nearly as much as it was even a few months' ago. I'm certainly not prophesying--and I hope I'm wrong--but it seems that XM is slowly moving toward a much more "populist" model, much like the evolution of FM from the 70's to today.

I'll be canceling my XM as soon as it expires if Fungus doesn't come back Fuck XM! I supported the merger with Sirius because I thought it would increase programming then they turn around and stick it in their customer's ass! I hope they go bankrupt and have to sell their children into prostitution!

There is a better way to included artist only specials. Dedicate one or two channels towards single artists/bands and rotate a new one out every month. That will give people time to hear just about every song (probably multiple times) and it will keep the content fresh. The way Sirius/XM keeps going, every channel will be an artist specific channel.

I agree with jeff. I worked at XM for a year and a half and I said the same thing to several of my co-workers: dedicate a channel or 2 to artist only channels. There are a bunch of bands that could easily support a full time 3 month channel. Love them or hate them, bands like The Eagles, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, etc etc are great examples. Hell, have a "classic rock artist channel" and an "other". I think it's great.

HOWEVER, having these channels WILL NOT INCREASE SUBS. No paying customer is going to sign up for a year JUST because XM is having an "all pink floyd channel" for 3 months. That type of programming is in effect to keep current subs interested, get pub and spread the word about "diversity and special programming".

HOWEVER again, having a punk channel that plays interesting music NOT found on terrestrial radio DOES bring in subs - because those fans cannot find that music anywhere else.

I am not quite sure why XM can't get this into their head. They spend WAY too much time and money promoting to their own customers and less to others that could be new subs.

They have absolutely NO idea about grass roots marketing - something that would work very well in circles of each genre. Ie. XM has a ton of country channels. It may seem like too many. But to country music fans, who apparently sometimes only get ONE channel where they are (or none), it's an enormous selling point - having 6 different country channels. It's a reason for them to spend money to get the service.

If XM had even 2 great punk channels and PROMOTED IT TO THE PUNK COMMUNITY, and did a good job with the programming, those folks could easily see the value in getting 2 non-stop fantastic punk channels for their monthly fee.

Sadly, XM just does NOT get it and it's extremely frustrating - as a fan of the company and a former employee.

I mean, I like AD/DC as much as the next guy, but I am not gonna sign up for the service because of it.

Isn't having "a loyal but very limited audience" for certain channels the fundamental principle that sets satellite radio apart from terrestrial? If they give up too much niche programming and offer no more than what listeners can find on AM and FM, then they're no longer worth paying for. Subscribers will abandon XM Sirius in droves. Satellite radio certainly doesn't have an advantage when it comes to sound quality. HD Radio aside (and from past posts I already know how threatened this site's editor feels when it comes to the subject, so don't bother), a good analog FM signal still sounds WAY better than all but a handful of satellite radio channels these days.

It's unfair to the Punk music fans to lose those channels on both services. There are other genres of music that have too many channels that could have been sacrificed (on XM that i know of).

Or the other alternative could be that one channel rotate, perhaps on a monthly basis, Metallica one month, ACDC the next, etc.

>>> I supported the merger with Sirius because I thought it would increase programming then they turn around and stick it in their customer's ass!

I could care less about these channels.

But what we're seeing here is the beginning of the post-merger period. To some of us, it was obvious this kind of garbage is what the merger would bring, and this is only the beginning.

When Mel was telling you it would mean "more choice", it was clearly a lie at the time. What you're going to get now are more single-artist channels because they're cheaper to produce. This is just the start.

Strangely, I don't feel as screwed over by Mel as I do by Gary Parsons. Not only did he destroy XM's shareholder value with the merger, he also destroyed any hope for quality programming going forward.

For XM to have merged with this turkey, Sirius, is one of the worst business decisions I've ever seen.

Uh Oh!!! I guess I sucked Mel's cock too that it brought over these shitty stations

And the post-merger bullcrap continues...

Didn't XM and Sirius promise more and better programming with an allowance for more niche programming after the merger? Guess this is promise number one that's been broken already. Wasn't the merger supposed to benefit consumers? Fuck XM, Fuck Sirius, Fuck the FCC.

If I didn't have receivers that get free programming, I wouldn't even bother listening to either service anymore.

Speaking of the "genius" of Lou Brutus he's brought his band the Dead Schembechlers back:

Very obnoxious and very funny as long as you're not from Michigan.

Coming soon to XM and Sirius: The Osmond Family Channel. Let's bring hometown goodness back to satellite radio. Donny, Marie and lots and lots of other white pearly teeth will entertain you 24/7. Super Sunday feature: All Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat all the time! Let's put the 'more' back in Mormon!

It's gotten to the point where I don't even listen to XM except for O&A.
Started with a handful of channels I dug. Then those channels slowly but surely changed into FM garbage. Tracks from bands you would maybe hear tour in support of the headliner were replaced by B-sides from the headliner.
I used to say if O&A got dropped, I'd go too, out of support for them. Now it couldn't be more true. I'm spending money on something useless to me, outside of ONE show. The technology lost it's luster a long time ago. Sadly, the passionate programming has caught up to it.

Hey Jon Zellner...

"What time in the morning do you get up and decide you're going to fuck your subscribers?"

What is scary about this is satellite radio is defeating itself. I already complain often that many songs played on satellite radio are only the hits and can be heard on terrestrial radio any day of the week. Sure currently there are stations on Sirius/XM that play stuff you will never hear on terrestrial radio. But how much do you want to bet by the time the channel line ups are finalized those channels will be gone? That is an enormous problem. Satellite radio is garbage if they begin to play only what is popular. When I first purchased XM I thought I would be hearing deep stuff from various albums but I was wrong for the most part. Sirius is actually worse when it comes to this. The reality is when it is all said and done Sirius/XM will have the majority of there stations programmed like hits channels. Only the most popular rap, rock, country and what not. Removing XM Fungus and Sirius Punk was two steps in the wrong direction for satellite radio and another step toward hits only radio. Which to me is garbage and I might as well flush my money down the toilet. Niche listeners is what satellite radio should be all about. I usually find that the hits are usually the worst songs off their respective album. Satellite radio has plenty of great programming but music sure isn’t part of it.

Slacker is an amazing service. Musically it destroys Sirius/XM. Internet radio services like Live365 easily provide better musical choices; the plus is fans of the music create the majority of the stations. It is not a job but a passion. Most people listen while driving and that is where these other great services are lacking.

I find it sad that XM continues down the path of siriusization with these single artist channels (I don't recall these on XM before the merger talk started)

while punk may have a limited niche audience, you can't tell me that an AC/DC channel (or any single artist channel)is going to bring in the subs.

Now we have two channels that feature a single artist (metallica and ac/dc) and i have yet to listen to either, and probably will not.

Thank you merger.

After I got over the initial shock and dismay (and some back and forth with Zellner myself), I realized that I will live. I have a 3g iPhone, and Pandora has been pretty good to me, especially since they recently upgraded their bandwidth options for better quality. I'm sure FlyCast will straighten their $h(7 out soon as well. I canceled my XM sub after 3 years with a pro-rated refund. I will miss Rancid Radio and Hee Haw Hell though. If Fungus comes back to xm/Sirius, so will I. Unfortunately, we will likely see some kind of "Americas top 40 Punk Hits", but I'll remain hopeful.

Two hundred stations and have to cut BOTH punk stations?!

What crap if it comes to be ...

Neither punk channel is coming back. They said so earlier. So why does customer service for both companies say the channels are going to come back? Sure sounds like somebody fucked up this situation and now are trying to save their ass and more cancellations by making shit up to keep customers from bailing. What will people do if it turns out that customer service was lying to them? I bet it will get very ugly.

This just pisses me off to no end. they replaced Fungus with greaser cock rock. Who's bright idea was that? "Don't worry, they will never notice, AC/DC is the Misfits of Australia, right?" AC/DC? That's just a slap in the face! I know a lot is going on over there with the merger and what not. Just don't forget Fungus is as reason a good chunk of their subscribers even signed up for the service. NOFX even wrote a song about the station. You think anyone is going to write a song about their shitty 24 hour AC/DC channel? (except maybe AC/DC if there not too fucked to leave the nursing home). Who can listen to AC/DC 24hours a day? If it wasn't for the news channels I would cancel today. I live in the real HeeHaw Hell and we don't get much news radio around here.

First of all. As good and sucessfull as AC/DC is, they don`t deserve their own channel. Dirtheads already own everything they ever made and it is a steady stream on many xm, serius and classic rock stations. Just a waste when you consider both satalite stations killed over a 30 year genre and bridge of music. People like us don`t need 6 country channels or stations dedicated to one band or artist. No subscriber should put up with this weather yo tune in to Fungus or 29, or not. There is an entire western and european music staple not represented for a service we have been paying for.

I can not read any of the comments or the original article on here due to the intrusive ads that are on your page.

What a bummer, I really wanted to see what your page had to say..................

Jon Zellner.

Glad I finally have the name of the retarded asshole who decided to piss all over punk/hardcore fans, fucking hebe.

Punk 29 doesn't come back me and my 4 subs are gone.

Sirius stock is down to what, about 5 cents?

Hope they fucking choke on Angus Youngs cock.

Here is an email thread with Mr. Jon


Dear Jon,

I'll make this short and sweet Fungus 53 was always tuned to my XM radio, unfortunately now channel 53 is packed with 24/7 AC-DC. While AC-DC is a good band, I really do not see anyone person in this world that would dedicate themselves to that much "Back in Black".

I am begging you to bring Fungus 53 back to my receiver (all three of them), and I hope that more listeners like myself are voicing the return as well.

Thank you for your time,


Thanks for the e-mail, Quake. I do appreciate hearing from you and empathasize with your situation. I also recognize the fact that you're passionate about music. I am as well.

The fact is that the decision to pre-empt or discontinue a channel is never easy. We struggle with these challenges on a daily basis because of the limited space on the network. If space wasn't an issue, we'd offer hundreds of more channels covering every musical genre imaginable. The challenge with Fungus is that is was consistently one of the lowest performing music channels on the network. That doesn't mean the channel didn't have fans or that it wasn't great (I actually listened to Fungus quite a bit and my son did as well), but as our subscriber base grows to nearly 40 million listeners, channels that reach limited audiences become harder to justify.

I hope you take the opportunity to surf through XM's other 170 channels and find something you like. There may be a channel you may have missed in the past.

Again, thank you for writing. I'm sorry you're unhappy with the decision and I hope you'll stick around as a subscriber.

Best regards,


Jon Zellner
Senior Vice President
Music Programming
Sirius XM Radio
1500 Eckington Place NE
Washington, DC 20002



I understand limited space, but what I do not understand is the need
for repetitive genre stations. The Fungus 53 community only had one
outlet or channel to which to hear what we prefer. The other genre
mappings have a choice of not one, but rather two or more.

I have been a subscriber prior to Fungus, when the sub base did not
even hit 1 million yet. And I have certainly influenced many others to
purchase an XM unit.

I just want to make clear that while other XM genre channels have
multiple dial listings, you are shutting out a great deal of listeners
who were never asked what stations they prefer. I for one was not.
Maybe you should poll your subs to see really what channels are a
waste of bandwidth.

Thank you,
Quake (Sub prior to XM's 1 millionth)


Thanks, Quake. We do actually poll tens of thousands of listeners several times a year but with nearly 20 million subs, not everyone is called. The margin of error is very low. Thanks again...


Jon Zellner
Senior Vice President
Music Programming
Sirius XM Radio
1500 Eckington Place NE
Washington, DC 20002

(202) 380-4040 (o)
(202) 380-4444 (f)
(202) 253-3478 (c)


Anyone every receive an XM poll ?

they would have PLEANTY of room for more genres if they got rid of the stupid idea of a single artist on a station... who really needs maragrita ville 24/7 or ac/dc..... or any of the other rediculous things like that?????? really folks... make more people happy with a larger variety... is it really that hard of a concept?! sheesh

I find it interesting, or rather, irritating, that Sirius and XM chose their respective punk stations for the AC/DC 'takeover'. Though I'm not saying AC/DC is not a good band, I can't say I'm fan, and as a die-hard 80's punk fanatic, it makes no sense to put them on a punk station. At no point in the history of AC/DC have they ever even resembled punk in any way, shape, or form. If anything, they should be on a hard rock or metal station, and even metal is pushing it. Anyway, I have Sirius radio, and the punk station was really one of the few channels I listened to, and honestly now, I'm not sure if I'll be renewing my subscription next month if the Punk station is to be no more.

I am also not happy about the loss of our beloved Punk channel. While it didn’t always give me what I wanted, it was great to have it. And no, the Faction channel doesn’t even compare. I’m not a kid either–I’m 38 and my boyfriend is 40, he’s also very disappointed. I’ve been checking around, and if there’s any channels you want to complain about losing, definitely give a call to Sirius Programming at (202) 380-2000. If there’s enough complaints there’s a chance they’ll do something about it. I’ve called 6 times. And I’ll call 6 more. The Google search says 390,000 people have searched “sirius punk gone.” THAT’S ALOTTA PUNKS! Call that number–I hear they’re not returning emails. It’s a punkers’ civic duty!


We need to collectively make sure Sirius is aware that we as CUSTOMERS know this is unacceptable. Jon Zellner - SVP of Music Programming at Sirius/XM stated that they will “monitor customer feedback and re-evaluate early next year”. Voicing your opinion WILL make a difference. Please let them know so we can possibly get this reversed.

PS: I have NOT received any kind of poll asking what stations I listen to. Guess the margin IS slim...

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