Thanks for the lessons satellite radio.

It’s been fun to listen to SiriusXM radio off and on for the past few weeks. It was included in my new vehicle purchase. (A trial)…..and I also decided to download the app to listen on the deck.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

It took only a day or so to get the automated calls. “Hello Mr Kingsbury. Thanks for subscribing to SiriusXM radio. (I actually didn’t). Please call us back to talk about the options available. Uhm, no, but thanks.

Lesson 1. Don’t rush. Court me, let’s get to know each other a bit. Buy me a drink. Say I look good in that shirt. Ask me if I’ve been working out?

I finally answered one of the calls because I was in the mood. When I did, I was transferred to a call Center. It took about :30 seconds in total. News flash. Consumers don’t think that’s cool, but I hung in and finally spoke with a nice woman. She seemed under pressure.

I know people pretty well I think and she seemed a bit uptight. That was sad to me. I felt for her and I get that she was probably compensated on closing guys like me…….And that she has a family and is doing what she’s doing to make a living. I was not going to be a jerk.

She gave me an offer to extend the trial if I committed immediately. I didn’t take the bait. Truth is I was a motivated customer as well because I have never heard my buddies Howard and Fred on satellite and thought it would be cool to hear them driving to work one day…..which I never mentioned. That’s another story now apparently anyhow.

I promised her…..and I’m not kidding here, promised her, that I will try the 90 days and to call me back in September or whenever and I’ll let you know. She said thanks and I reminded her to call me back. It’s a make or break proposition.

Lesson 2. You are as good as your frontline reps

Give CSRs some leverage to instantly offer the customer some incentive. Customer service reps are heroes to me. All businesses. The shite they have to go through is ridiculous. The best ones……and I know a few…..are totally up for the challenge. They love people, they love solving problems. They are intuitive to the know it alls on the phone and they can keep the conversation on track. At their worst, they misrepresent otherwise well intended companies. Treat your call Center workers like stars. At SiriusXM they need CSRs who know the product.

Lesson 3. Product is paramount.

I’ve eked out a living in this crazy business for 40 years and I have always tried to be a an ok programmer……tried to differentiate between good and bad……And most importantly a fan of great radio. All kinds.

SiriusXM has some smart people putting the playlists together. In an unregulated environment, and lots of research at their fingertips, their music and branding is great. Radio guys will appreciate the next comment about artist separation and rotation issues but in general they play the hits and some great hidden gems. But those same radio guys know that the music is the easiest part. It’s between the tunes that’s the art. I like the way they promote their other channels as well. Why not? I wasn’t offended.

70’s on 7 has been my go to for personal reasons. I love the genre. The way they use the jingles between songs and the tightness of the element to element is inspiring. Wow. That’s what I grew up with. Big jingles with station call letters sung by a company in Dallas. Tightly mixed into the intro of a big hit.

Whoa!!!!!!!! Epic at times.

And they keep the audio levels HOT!!

Only jocks from that genre will appreciate hitting the jingle, and then hitting the next tune on the last note. Radio momentum. Love it.

Lesson 4. Personalities are vital.

There are announcers on satellite music radio but honestly, they feel like props. And it’s not their fault. They are told to keep it tight and play on words and be “boss”. I’ve tried to get attached to many of the announcers and I’ve been impressed with a few breaks as a fan, but no way do any of them drive me to the station. And I love jocks.. sigh.

Lesson 5. Be local.

This is my biggest takeaway point. They can’t be local. And that’s why satellite radio will continue to struggle in their quest to overtake terrestrial radio. (And the fees) The best radio is done by personalities…..the ones you have gotten to know and like and look forward to listening to. The most successful stations still have great announcers who know their market and relate to the community. Sounds old school? It is.

Yes there are levels of local. Sometimes International is local, sometimes national is local, but local is always local.

Lesson 6. No more excuses. Terrestrial radio can absolutely do the great things satellite radio does to sound great, but so much more.

In Canada and the US about 9 of 10 people tune into over the air radio each week. (If this was a dissertation I’d source that but trust me, it’s true)


News, Sports and music radio is as strong as it’s ever been. Listeners love radio.

Let’s be great programmers. Let’s do great radio. We have lots of runway in front us.

It still works really well for the advertiser. For those that don’t know, terrestrial radio is not subscription based, its revenue is 100% advertiser driven. And retailers don’t do radio favours. They invest because they get a return on their investment.

Oh, and terrestrial radio is still free. That’s an advantage we have in a subscriber based world.

Satellite radio is streaming. I like streaming. And I’ve enjoyed listening on vacation. There’s an old radio adage that we have the best chance of changing listener’s habits in the summer when they are out of their own routines. I guess it’s true.

For personal and professional reasons. My habits won’t likely change.

But if that CSR calls me back in September…..I’ll make them an offer.

I do dig the 70’s.

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