Digital movement

Local listeners catching satellite radio buzz

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Video didn't kill the radio star. And, though it's quickly gaining popularity, it's doubtful satellite radio will, either.

However, the allure of satellite radio -- the burgeoning entertainment medium offered in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa -- lies with its lineup of more than 100 channels of clear music, news and weather without commercial interruption.

People and businesses in Craig are dialed in as well.

Employees from Jackson's Office Supply and Radio Shack said satellite radio is gaining a foothold among customers.

"It's very, very popular here," said Eddie McGuinness, a sales associate at the store. "It's one of our bestsellers. Commercial free music, that's the main thing going for it."

The store, 106 W. Victory Way, sells 10 to 15 satellite radio packages each month.

Costs for components generally run between $50 and $150. There are two providers for service in North America -- Sirius and XM -- and subscriptions cost an average of $12.95 per month. Installation costs $45.

Count McGuinness as a satellite radio fan.

"Love it," he said.

He's recently been without his system because he loaned it to a relative. He's ready to get it back.

"I've been jonesing," he said. "My same CDs are getting burnt out."

Businesses, too, are catching the satellite radio buzz.

David Dempster, president of the Bank of Colorado, said the bank uses XM radio and plays a wide selection of easy listening for customers and employees.

Jared Perea, a waiter at Casa Loya, said his restaurant has had satellite radio for two years. He said customers compliment the tunes being played at Casa Loya almost as much as the food.

Songs from the 1980s are usually a big hit.

"We use it to set the mood," he said. "It has a great, wide variety of stations. A lot of people will hear something and ask us what station we have it on.

"I like (commercial radio), but it can't compete with satellite radio."

The emergence of satellite radio has fueled speculation that FM, ad-based radio would become a dusty relic of the past. Commercial radio, though, has its advantages, making its extinction unlikely.

One advantage is that commercial radio provides content aimed at local news, advertisers and community groups. Also, it is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission and thus, must edit its content to conform with decency rules and standards.

It's a relationship similar to the one shared by cable and basic television.

Although a co-existence between commercial and satellite radio seems assured, it may be a tenuous one. The new kid on the entertainment block has been plucking listeners away from its commercial counterparts, and one bold move stands out.

If its introduction into the market place was satellite radio's shot across commercial radio's bow, then the October 2004 announcement that shock jock Howard Stern was leaving commercial radio for Sirius, was an outright declaration of war.

Stern inked a five-year, $500 million deal with Sirius. XM and Sirius have been angling for star power since.

Sirius boasts a lineup of Stern, Hollywood legend Robert Evans, Sen. Bill Bradley and former "Sopranos" wise guy Vincent Pastore.

XM counters with a roster of Ellen Degeneres, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Chris Matthews, among others.

All this equals more choices for listeners. And, for the traditionalists still craving the hometown spins, fear not, McGuinness said.

Commercial radio has the biggest advantage of all.

"Commercial radio will always be around," he said, "because it's free."

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