...the string of Porsche press cars I've had over the last few weeks (more on that soon) have mostly all had XM satellite radio systems in them.
If you travel long distances, as I have done a few times recently (and if you have a string of Porsches, why wouldn't you?) satellite radio is a nice feature. Yes, you do lose the signal when you go under a bridge or in certain weather conditions, but you don't outrun the reach of the station before Beethoven's Fifth is over.
Speaking of, as much as I like and listen to 96.3, I hate the fact that they never play the entire piece, just one movement at a time. Mess with Beethoven, and some day you're gonna pay...
And while I'm at it, in the UK that main BBC stations have a deal whereby if your radio is so equipped, it automatically switches the frequency so you always have BBC2 or whatever on as you drive across the country. Brilliant.
Anyway, I got in the new 911 the other morning and noticed that my satellite pre-set stations had been changed. Instead of XM Pops (same complaint as 96.3) and XM Classical (they do it right) there were Sirius Pops and Sirius Symphony Hall.
Turns out at midnight the night before, the merger of Sirius and XM had been completed, and the amalgamation of the systems' programming had been implemented.
I knew this merger was imminent, and also that the US merger had somehow gone further faster than the corresponding one between the equivalent Canadian companies.
Still, it caught me by surprise.
The clever, almost scary, thing was how the system had managed to re-program my radio with no intervention from me.
Turns out some XM channels survived - the '50s on 5, '60s on 6, '70s on 7 (I am constantly looking for new/old repertoire for 'The Compleat Works on their Mid-Life Crisis Tour') were all still there, but the XM classical stations had been replaced by the Sirius equivalents.
Still no Blue Collar Radio ("Git 'er DUNNNNN!") I guess Porsche only subscribes to the one comedy channel.
Satellite radio actually got off to a somewhat slower start than I think the industry expected. Sort of like the Internet, the prospect of paying for broadcast radio after getting it for free for so long wasn't universally welcomed by the target audience.
Especially because it was not even commercial-free. (Bugs me too when I pay eight bucks to watch a movie and they have ads in there too. The trailers for new movies are bad enough - but I digress...).
Which is presumably why the two competing systems merged - there wasn't room or profit enough to support both.
In-Car was obviously the main market for satellite radio, although you can have in-home systems as well.
But with the advent of iPods, music on the Internet, and the near-universal adoption of AUX input connectors and/or USB flash card slots on today's car radios, some industry experts figure that even CD players might be as rare in five to ten years time as 8-Tracks and cassettes are now.
The Times They Are a-Changin'...
(No, we don't normally do that song, but if you want it, we can fake it...).