Thursday, September 18, 2008
Saturday, September 13, 2008
- INSIDE RADIO is probably correct about economy worries preventing some folks from buying a radio and contracting for a subscription. Poor new-car sales is probably a bigger factor. That tail wags the dog of subscription radio.
- Many savvy potential subscribers are probably waiting for the next shoe to drop. Will the combined entity offer channels a la carte so subscribers can pick Channel 18 Spectrum and Howard Stern from Sirius and whatever sports franchises they want from XM? And will those who have already signed up have the same privilege? As an existing DirecTV customer, I did not have the option of upgrading to a free HD receiver/DVR, like someone coming new to the service does.
- Maybe most importantly, though, is the quality of the offerings. Most music channels are a jukebox. Subscribers quickly tire of hearing song after song after song with no entertainment value...or even someone telling us on many channels who the artist is or why we should care...between those songs. Listeners still want warmth, companionship, and a reason to listen besides song after song after song, even if those songs are not necessarily available on terrestrial radio. An iPod full of my favorite music is far cheaper and more portable than an XM/Sirius receiver and antenna, and it sounds just as good if not better.
So, we'll see what the future holds for satellite radio. Some suggest they will begin offering some content free. I already get a bunch of XM channels on DirecTV--not really free since I pay for the service, but they are there at no additional charge.
They may start making Howard Stern and other top content available on terrestrial radio for an hour or two a day, or on a one-day-delay basis. They'll charge stations for the privilege of carrying that content or make advertisers pay for the additional audience or both. (Note that a huge part of Howard's compensation is Sirius stock and he has to be miffed at where its value has gone. I'd imagine he would be amenable to doing whatever it takes to get the arrow pointed back upward, even if he had to clean up his act a bit for a couple of hours a day. Some even maintain he has lost his edge, even though he can say or do about anything he wants on the bird, because he can't tweak his nose at the FCC anymore.)
Just like regular over-the-air broadcasters, the sat guys will one day have to realize that they are purveyors of content, not satellite receivers and little, bitty dishes. How they deliver that content--via satellite, from a tower on a hill, over cell phones and PDAs, by strands of wire, or wrapped in butcher paper like a fresh halibut steak--is immaterial. People will still pay for content that inspires, warms, entertains, informs, or makes us laugh. And we'll pay with a check each month or by putting up with commercials. So long as a content provider can get enough people to do either (or both), the future will be bright for that entity.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
- Had a great trip (through the dousing remnants of Hurricane Gustav) to the U.S. Submarine Vets' annual convention in Ft. Worth, Texas, September 3-6. I had the pleasure of talking with a bunch of sub vets, but missed the ham radio breakfast on Thursday morning. Reaction to THE ICE DIARIES was wonderful. Thanks to all who bought and allowed me to sign their books.
- Spent most of the Labor Day weekend (when I wasn't grilling ribs for the family) working on a homebrew hexbeam antenna. The thing went together nicely and I am anxious to get the tower planted and get it up about 35 to 40 feet. The commercially-offered base plate from W4RDM and the pre-cut fiberglass spreaders from Max-Gain Systems make this a one-weekend project for most folks...which means three weekends for me...but I think it will be a very effective, limited-size, light radiator. Visit Leo Shoemaker K4KIO's web site for specs and detailed instructions on cobbling one of these "upside-down umbrellas" together.
- Promoting THE ICE DIARIES. Check out my newly-redesigned web site and listen to some of the interviews that I've put up there. We've also been negotiating for a movie deal on an unpublished follow-up novel to FINAL BEARING that George Wallace and I wrote. I'm probably jinxing it by writing about it here, but everyone has agreed to the terms and we are waiting for paperwork to be signed.
- Getting QSL cards out to the 500 or so who have responded from contacts with N9N in Groton, CT August 2 and 3. QSLFactory did a fantastic job on the N9N card and I think you who are getting them will like them very much. Granted the dollar-to-pound exchange rate (QSLFactory is in Great Britain) was painful, but Dave did a wonderful job with some design tweaks and got the cards to me last week. Now, the wife and I are doing as many as we can each night before we collapse. The first batch went out yesterday.
- Oh, and our daughter just got engaged, with a June 2009 wedding planned.
- And there's the day job with Education Corporation of America. We are expanding like crazy, it is a rollercoaster ride for sure, but lots of fun, too.
But I'll try to keep this blog up to date. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and reply. We have had quite a few new commenters and I think everyone who drops by appreciates your outlook.
73, (as we hams say..."best regards!")