Satellite radio in 2008: What a year!


As the only satellite radio fan here at CrunchGear, I feel it’s my duty to review the year that was and point out some of the events that made the medium such a joy. This isn’t a typical “Top 10 Movies” snoozefest, but rather an illustration of what makes satellite radio inherently superior to regular, terrestrial radio (provided you don’t mind a nominal monthly fee).

Please note that this list isn’t to be ranked, but seen as a sum total “these were the best moments of the year, in my [worthless] opinion.”

With that…

1. The Back to the Future Secret Show on XM. If any broadcast showed the power of satellite radio it was this one. Hosted by the Opie and Anthony staff (minus Opie), they narrated the classic movie Back to the Future live on the air, riffing on the abject corruption of Mayor Goldie Wilson, the awkwardness of having your high school-age mother hit on you in the past (even though you’re from the future and know she’s your mother) and just how big a creep the Doc is. I could have done without Sam’s last 100 examples of “foreshadowing,” however.

2. The Ron and Fez election special on XM. The great Ron Bennington, as well as the rest of the Ron and Fez staff, should be applauded for their election coverage this year. Rather than focus on the horse race aspect of the election—oh my God, candidate A is six-tenths of a point behind candidate B in sate Y!—the Ron and Fez team went the other way, telling heartfelt stories about what the first black president meant to them. The many terrible songs about the election, submitted by the show’s listeners, made light of the awful importance of the election.

3. Coldplay Nation on Sirius. Please note that this is a catch-all selection. That is, whenever any band “takes over” a channel it’s worth listening to (provided you like the band). I merely picked Coldplay because they were everywhere this year. Their songs were in iTunes commercials, the BBC used “Life in Technicolor” for its Olympic coverage, etc. (Though the New York Times went out of its way to hate on the band.) When was the last time your local rock station (“the real home of rock and roll,” no doubt) has done anything like this, letting bands run the station?

4. The Winter Music Conference on Sirius and XM. Yes, I’m biased toward electronic music, but Sirius really goes out of its way to make this festival seem special on its airwaves. (Or, about as special as it can feel when you’re 1,000 miles away from Miami.) For that one week in March all you need is Area (called Area 33 back then) or BPM. Lots of fun.

5. The merger, shared content, the firings and the future. The dumb merger between XM and Sirius finally went down this year, and it wasn’t until the fall the people started seeing Howard Stern on their XM radios and O&A and Ron and Fez on their Sirius units. The shared content between the two services hasn’t been well received by everyone, but think of all of the people made redundant by the merger. (Not that it matters: look at Sirius XM’s stock price.) The question now becomes wether or not Mel can find the money to keep the service running, so that we can look forward to the Back to the Future Part 2 Secret Show next year.