Sunday, September 04, 2011

Satellite Radio is Still Radio

In May, I traded in my 2003 Kia Sedona. I didn't want a car payment, but with over $2000 in repairs needed on the Sedona, I figured cutting my losses was the best option. Normally I buy my cars used, but thanks to Cash for Clunkers and high gas prices, the only used cars in my area were just like the one I needed to trade in: old, high mileage, poor fuel efficiency. So for the first time in my life, I needed to buy a new car.

I did some research, and discovered for approximately $200 a month, I was looking at cars like the Nissan Versa and the Kia Soul (base models). There were no base model Versas around, but Turnersville Kia had a base model Soul. I liked the idea of the Soul. I like the way it looks, and it's built to work with Apple iProducts.It's funny that over the last 10 years, every time I go to buy a car, the salesman has made a big deal over a "6 CD changer". Since 2003, I've just wanted to plug a Pocket PC or portable Apple product into the car stereo to listen to my own content. I'm not sure if anybody has been impressed by a CD changer since the mid-90's. I haven't.


I went with the Kia Soul, since it was the only new car in my area I could get for approximately $200 a month, and it could accept my iPhone content in the stereo. Seriously, I'm 37, and this is the first car I've owned without a tape deck. I bought the $40 iPhone cable Kia sells, and I'm good. The car also came with a 3 month subscription to Sirius.
 My Soul, on the lot

That's where this post comes in. I've had rental cars with Sirius before. My in-laws bought a car with Sirius. They actually paid the subscription, so when I drive their car, I can rock out to the 80's.

But when it came to my car, and when I saw what a subscription cost, I decided to let it lapse. I only used the satellite radio a few times during the 3 month "complimentary" subscription, and when I saw what it cost, I decided the value wasn't there for me.

Why?

I had a few reasons.

1) Well, it's still radio. That means, somebody else still picks the songs. That means, even though I'm paying (I think it was $148 a year just for the radio in one car), that I can still go through several channels and find nothing I feel like listening to. That's in contrast to my iPhone, where every song on there is something I want to own and listen to.

2) Siriusly (a pun, combining Sirius with the word "seriously", for those of you too dense to understand), how many channels would I be paying ( I think it was $148 a year) for that I'll NEVER listen to? Well, lots of sports channels, and traffic channels. I really don't care about Chicago and Atlanta traffic. Also, hip hop, R&B, and several of the rock channels. If I could get al la carte, I might go for it. Like cable, let me pay per channel that I actually will use, and I might be interested. But $148 a year for lots of channels I'll never listen to, and I don't really want to bother subscribing. I think in the 3 month trial, I listened to the 80's station and one of three Christian stations. The other two Christian stations sucked. I might have listened to the 90's station a few times, until it played songs I didn't like. I tried several rock stations, but they didn't play anything I felt like listening to.

Of course, I only used Sirius when other people were in the car. When I was by myself, I'd listen to podcasts or audiobooks on my iPhone.

The subscription ended a couple weeks ago, and I don't miss it.

And so, as I said, satellite radio is still radio. It still has the same problems of AM and FM radio: somebody else is still picking the songs that will play, and somebody else still determines the channels that are available.

I'd rather just listen to the songs I put on my iPhone, or listen to Pandora, where I have a little more control over the content of the "station", and can skip a crappy song once in a while.
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