Sunday, December 25, 2005

Are you tired of commercial radio? Try XM satellite radio!

My favorite Christmas gift, hands down, has to be my new XM satellite radio. In the city where I live, there is one talk radio station and one NPR station. As a fan of talk radio, my options were limited. The local music stations offer little variety, and one must endure seemingly endless commercial breaks. You may wonder about the cost of satellite radio, and why you should pay for such a service when you can get broadcast radio for free. Plenty of info can be found at, but I'll give you an overview. As far as hardware, an excellent option is the Delphi Roady 2. The normal price is $50, but a current sale takes the price down to $30. This radio is affordable, and reliable. It can be used in the home or in the car. It has an AC adapter for indoors, and in the car, the power source is your cigarette lighter. Indoors you will want to point the antenna out a south facing window. The signal is transmitted wirelessly to FM radios in the home. In the car, an external antenna is held to the vehicle's roof with a powerful magnet. A more expensive option would be the MyFi, which has a normal price of $200, and a sale price of $150. This model has a built-in battery and antenna. The monthly subscription for XM is $13 per month. For that price, you get 160 digital channels with every type of programming imaginable. 109 channels have commercial free music, everything from rock to country, to jazz, blues, classical, and everything in between. XM's playlist includes over 2 million titles. If you're from generation X and a fan of the 1980s music like myself, an entire channel is dedicated to groups like Men at Work or Culture Club. Other channels are dedicated to music from different decades, like the 50s, 60s, 70s and 90s. 30 channels feature news, sports, talk and comedy. XM employs diverse radio celebrities such as Bruce Williams, George Noory, Art Bell, Matt Drudge, Jim Cramer and Phil Hendrie. Catch up on the latest news from CNN, Fox News, Bloomberg or MSNBC. If you're a fan of morning radio shows like Bob and Tom, Don Imus, or Howard Stern, check out Opie and Anthony or Ron and Fez on XM. A word of warning-not all programming is appropriate for all ages. Channel blocking is available. 20 channels on XM have local traffic and weather 24/7 for major urban areas. I think that satellite radio is an industry in its infancy, which will only grow over time. 30 years ago, people had a hard time justifying paying for cable TV, but now, the overwhelming majority of Americans have cable or satellite television. Currently 5.8 million people subscribe to XM and that number will only continue to grow. For all of you portfolio watchers, XM radio is currently about $29 per share. Its competitor, Sirius is approximately one quarter that price, at about $7 per share.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Oprah yields big ratings for Letterman

After a 16 year absence, Oprah Winfrey returned to chat with David Letterman on December 1. Dave had said that he felt that Oprah hated him, and that's why she had not appeared on the CBS late night show. Winfrey denied disliking Letterman, and said that there never was a feud. Referencing the joke made by Letterman when he hosted the Academy Awards many years ago, Oprah presented Dave with an autographed picture of herself with Uma Thurman. The two talked about Winfrey's involvement as producer of the Broadway show version of The Color Purple. Oprah had received praises for her portrayal in the Steven Spielberg directed film. They also discussed Oprah's humanitarian efforts to help those ravaged by poverty in Africa. She is building a center which will help African girls to learn leadership traits. At the end of the interview, Letterman escorted Winfrey to the theatre a few doors down from Letterman's Ed Sullivan Theatre where her Broadway production will premiere. Hundreds of paparazzi snapped photos of the pair of TV icons. The average rating for The Late Show has been 4.3 million viewers. With the appearance of Oprah, the numbers soared to 13.5 million. Jay Leno's Tonight Show averages 5.8 million viewers.