XM Radio

I just got back from running registration at a customers event down in Washington, DC. Jonah generously agreed to be my second, as well as let us use his truck for hauling the equipment to and from the event. One of the nifty toys he has installed in the car is an XM Radio SkyFI receiver.
For the uninitiated, XM Radio is one of 2 satellite radio systems available that provide full time access to hundreds of radio stations from anywhere in the continental US. I had been intrigued by this concept for a while, but the cost of the receivers and the monthly fee (around $10) sort of scared me off.
Since this was a longish (7 hours) road trip each way, I had plenty of time to get a feel for the system.
I’m impressed! On the way south, we chatted a lot, so we left the receiver quietly playing 80s tracks. The unit rebroadcasts the reception via a local FM signal, so it was simply sitting on the dash playing through the cars stereo via the radio. The XM display would show what song by what artist was playing (in that nifty amber LCD display). Unobtrusive, no commercials (other than ones for XM itself), nice!
On the way back I did a lot of driving while Jonah slept, so I noodled around with the receiver, checking out other channels. The unit has a jog-dial on it that shows what station you’re tuning to, and the title and content. Blues, various rock stations, a couple different Jazz stations… then it got interesting.
Various news feeds (MSNBC, CNN, etc), a couple comedy stations and… whoah! NPR!! There is a full NPR feed as part of the lineup. We listened to This American Life as well as some other shows. The signal was strong, clean, and we were able to listen to it from the middle of New Jersey all the way into Massachusetts – something you can’t do with any local radio station, let alone NPR.
Okay, so that’s pretty neat. But it just got better. XM Radio is preparing to release MyFI, a portable XM radio receiver the size and shape of an iPod. It’s somewhat expensive ($349), and not out yet, but it’s mobile, rechargeable, dockable, and pretty durned sexy.
If XM were to ever get Radio Paradise as an active channel, there would be no question, I’d be there in an instant. As it is now, I’m just screamingly tempted. Heck, just for the regular drives we do up to Maine during the summer, having regular, dependable radio reception from door to door would be wonderful. And with something like the MyFI, we could put it in any vehicle we happen to be driving up in.


A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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3 thoughts on “XM Radio

  1. There are channels with almost as good a mix as RP.
    I can always find something good to listen to within a few presets.
    I dunno if you noticed it, but they also have instant traffic channels for major cities. No more waiting for traffic reports. Whee.

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