Could satellite radio hurt local FM radio? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Could satellite radio hurt local FM radio?

January 10, 2005

Albany--Tired of punching the search button on your car radio looking for a song you like? Maybe satellite radio is the thing for you. Between them, Sirius and XM now have ten million subscribers, and they're growing fast. So could that hurt traditional radio stations? Folks at one Albany radio station say "no."

For more than 30 years, B100's Kurt Baker has delivered music over the airwaves and he says he'll continue doing just that.

"We are here. We are live. We are local, and yes we provide a great entertainment medium," he says.

But satellite radio is growing. "FM radio is trying to fight them, but it's not working," says Luke Pettit sells about thirty satellite radios a month at his Albany store, Rodd Electronics.

"They have a lot more choice on Sirius or XM than they do on the regular radio," says Pettit.

From classic rock to mainstream pop, satellite radio offers hundreds of stations, most of them commercial free and uncensored.

XM and Sirius radio are the biggest satellite players out there. By 2010, experts predict more than 35 million Americans will subscribe to satellite radio.

"I'm not trying to please 35 million people, I'm trying to please my area and what people want," says Kurt Baker. Baker says satellite will never replace FM because local stations have the local advantage.

"It's the same way in cable, when you want to hear weather, you go to Channel 10, when you want to hear news, you go to Channel 10 or you go to B100," he says.

"I don't think satellite radio has any chance of replacing local radio. Is it a force to be reckoned with as far as an entertainment vehicle? Absolutely," says the general manager of Clear Channel in Albany, John Richards.

Richards says FM radio could soon give satellite a run for its money as more stations go digital with high definition radio.

"Does it sound different if you do an A and B comparison? Yes. Just like a CD sounds different from vinyl," he says.

While the battle of satellite radio versus FM radio continues, Baker says he plans simply to continue doing what he loves.

The average subscription cost for satellite radio is about twelve dollars a month, plus installation fees.

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