Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sirius Satellite Radio and Howard Stern

Sirius Satellite RadioHoward Stern only has a couple of weeks left on terrestrial radio. There are those of us out there who like him but are asking ourselves, "Is it worth it to purchase Sirius to continue to listen to Stern?" I'm here to help you make that choice.

First, be advised that getting satellite radio isn't nearly as easy or inexpensive as Howard would have you think (and we all know he berates those who don't have it yet because it's oh so cheap and easy to get). You actually need to buy four things:
  • a satellite receiver (the radio itself)
  • a satellite tuner (the part that communicates with the satellites)
  • an antenna (probably comes bundled with the tuner)
  • a subscription package
If you have none of these items, I can pretty much guarantee you'll be spending at least $300 to buy the equipment plus get it installed (what normal person wants to figure out how to install a car radio?). This doesn't include any extra money you may have to spend to get it working in your house. I know they sell units that you can drag from your car into the house, but that may/probably doesn't include the tuner. And Sirius forces you to pay extra per month for any other tuner you have.

Bottom line - this isn't as easy as getting cable TV, where the technician simply comes to your house and does this stuff, straight down to providing you with a cable box (if you need it).

But let's say that you're ok with all these hoops you have to go through to get the thing - is it worth the money for a regular fan? For me personally, not if I only listen to Howard. I listen an average of 30 minutes per day to him, so there has to be something else to get me to pay this kind of money.

I was able to get a free week subscription to listen to it on the Internet. It's ok, but it's nothing mind-blowing. Their metal station, while decent, is nothing compared to SnakeNet Metal Radio. I listened to some of the other stations, and while I dug some of the new wave stuff, chances are I'd end up buying the albums that make me go, "Whoah, I forgot about this band," which would eventually render that station useless. All the other programming on there - news, entertainment, comedy, well, I'm probably still going to go to my TV for it.

So what's left to entice me is Howard's additional programming. Unfortunately, most of it sounds like ass. I listen in the morning mostly because I want to hear him and what happens as he interacts with his guests: not just the guests themselves. I have little interest in how much crap High Pitch Eric can deficate, porn stars reading me bedtime stories, or his "Howard 100 News" (its primary purpose being to report on all the happenings of his "wack pack"). Don't get me wrong - this stuff is an important part of the vehicle that is Howard Stern. But what Howard doesn't seem to understand is that (I believe) a large part of his regular audience listens because he's there amid all the loopiness I described. We want to hear his reactions to all this nuttiness, and without him there to comment, it's just third rate entertainment.

So I don't see myself subscribing anytime soon. If the price comes down and it becomes easier to put it all together, perhaps. But for now I'm waiting and seeing. It's too much investment considering that I believe the future of this technology is still up in the air (no matter how much Howard claims otherwise.)


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