This site is dedicated to new ideas and concepts with regard to Sirius XM Satellite Radio. New technology, marketing ideas, and strategic partnerships are fair game. This site is for brainstorming and I welcome all new ideas.
DISCLOSURE: I own shares of Sirius XM Satellite Radio.


Sirius Emergencies

Disaster strikes when you least expect it. Sirius and XM have committed to providing up-to-date information hen an emergency presents itself anywhere in the country.

Sirius and XM have given the Red Cross a number of receivers for emergency purposes. As satrad becomes more widespread throughout the country, Sirius XM has the opportunity to aid greatly in coverage of these events for those affected by it. They also provide safety and evacuation information. Sirius XM should consider activating in the region. Work with terrestrial services in the area to notify anyone in the region about the service.

From a business perspective, it shows consumers the value in satrad. From a cummunity erspective, it saves lives.

Hurricane Gustav Emergency Services

SIRIUS Weather and Emergency channel 184
XM Emergency Alert channel 247
SIRIUS’ and XM’s news and weather channels deliver the latest breaking national news on the storm, its path and how it affects the county.

– CNN, SIRIUS channel 132 and XM channel 122
– CNN Headline News, SIRIUS channel 133 and XM channel 123
– CNN en Espanol, SIRIUS channel 92 and XM channel 126
– Fox News, SIRIUS channel 131 and XM channel 121
– The Weather Channel XM channel 125

Information provided by
Further information for evacuation routes available here
Another resource with projected storm paths located here - Thanks Don!

UPDATE: I am happy to say that Sirius is already doing this and radios in the affected region should have emergency information.


Multizone listening

My wife's a little bit of country. I'm a little bit of rock-n-roll. We are sometimes at odds over what to listen to. It is my car, so I win most of the time. How do you make all passengers in the car happy? You probably guessed that the answer could be multizone listening.

Imagine this: One receiver gets the satellite radio signal into the car and then redistributes the signal via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or hard-wired to all receivers in the car. This could allow for multiple receivers to piggyback on the car's signal so each user can have their own listening experience. This could be via another head unit in the back seat or portable devices. Toss in a wireless headset and everyone is happy.

This same idea could be adapted to restaurants or other public locations. How about satrad hotspots with free listening at McDonalds? All of this free listening could be subsidized with commercials. How about business subs with satrad jukeboxes?

I guess my point here is that with multizone listening, my wife gets to listen to whatever she likes without affecting my listening experience. It allows the kids to listen to all the Disney Radio they like while I listen to Linkin Park.

Conceptually, it would be something like this, but adapted to use in the car. The price could use some work too.


Rock On Dudes!!

One of the strengths of satellite radio is the ability to broadcast music from one location to a nationwide audience. If Sirius XM had a few scattered locations throughout the country that could provide a platform for live performances, they could help promote local talent.

Live recordings or concerts of top (possibly unsigned) talent could help further localize and diversify the current content on satrad. Friends, family, and fans of local bands would flock to satrad to listen to and support these same bands. This is content that you don't get until a band has "made it". Think of it as an "American Idol" competition on radio.

One of these locations is XM's new building in Nashville, which sports an area for performances. This is the perfect location for country talent. How about locations in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami, Seattle or Los Angeles?

Throw performance studios into the hotbeds of music talent and let them do the rest. It would create such a buzz about Sirius XM on the music scene that the publicity alone would make it a worthwhile investment by the company.


What's going on?

I am always listening to my radio in what I feel is a limited fashion. What I mean by this is that I listen to the channels I listen to, but never know what is on elsewhere. Unless I am looking for something specific, I don't know what I am missing. This is why I believe Sirius XM needs an on-screen guide.

Something like this should not be difficult to implement and would greatly improve program visibility. It would nicely integrate into the recording device and enhance the listening experience. It could be very similar to the DVR service that many people enjoy for TV viewing.

I see a guide that can be viewed as a hour-by-hour page with each channel defined. I can also see a selected channel being broken down based on programming if you already know what channel you want.

I think something like this would help me find what I want without constantly checking out the website. I think it would supplement the navigation system and further enhance the satrad experience. C'mon Sirius!! Gimme my guide!

Another Google in the making?

It cannot be disputed that Google is the king of advertising. Their model has overtaken the internet and has started eating into traditional advertising models. You can advertise with them everywhere on the web, including on this site. They are also making a push into mobile advertising, but it is limited to the cellular market at this time.

Sirius is the king of satellite radio. Users are very loyal. I became a subscriber 3 months ago after baulking for years that I wasn't going to pay for something I could get for free. A few things changed my mind somewhere along the way. I had a loaner car a number of times over the past few years and it usually had XM installed. I always enjoyed the selections of channels and the lack of commercials. I really liked the lack of commercials. After a number of years watching this stock, I decided to purchase a stake in it at the beginning of this year. It was time to go get a radio and take the plunge!

How does Sirius XM advertise when their model depends on a lack of advertising? I can see them exploiting the ad space market similar to Google via three main mechanisms (some of which exist today): advertising during talk and sports programming, targeted ads using the mobile market, and targeted ads using Sirius Traffic.

Advertising during sports and talk programming is nothing new to Sirius XM. However, there is one big difference from the past: Sirius XM has all sports programming one one radio. Advertisers have to take satrad as a serious platform now that there are 18M+ users. You will be able to get every MLB/NFL/NHL/NASCAR event. This is the dream of all sports fans. You will be able to hear Oprah/Howard/O&A/Emeril/Martha on one radio.

I think that the mobile market has a huge amount of potential.. Not only does it allow you to cheaply reach a multitude of users for little to no extra expense, but it gives you a location-based advertising platform. Many cell phones have GPS or triangulated position services nowadays. Knowing where a user is located gives Sirius XM the opportunity to show targeted ads on the display with their radio service. Since you cannot hear it, it does not take away from the listening experience. It also gives them the opportunity to offer free internet radio service if the user is willing to hear commercials.

Another advertising model which has been discussed briefly would be via Sirius Traffic. Since the service knows where the car is, they can easily suggest preferred gas stations, restaurants, entertainment, and shopping locations. They could easily provide the location, its distance, a brief description, and possibly even specials/coupons. This is where I think we have our greatest potential to become Google-like.


Pandora's Broken Box

A lot of talk has surrounded Pandora and other online services which allow users to design their own channels. I am a strong believer that this business model is a broken one. Let me explain why.

Satellite radio sends out one signal for a channel and each user receives that signal. Each time a song plays on that channel, a royalty fee is paid. If we assume this channel plays 3 minute songs for 24 hours a day, we would have 480 songs played during the course of the day. Royalties paid for one channel would equal 480 songs regardless of the number of users.

Pandora allows users to configure a channel to play the songs that they want. This means that the same figure above for satellite radio (480 songs/day) applies to each Pandora user. That's right! It is sort of like quicksand. The more users they have, the more expensive it is for them to stay in business.

So what does this all have to do with Sirius XM? I suggested to Sirius XM management that they should allow development of online channels by broadcasters/users. For a higher fee ($300-$500/month), each broadcaster could develop content and broadcast it online to any Sirius XM user. Since this is content on one channel, you are talking about limited royalty fees. The charge should cover all royalty expenses and put a little something into Sirius XM's pocket. Ad content could be provided by the programmer or coordinated with Sirius XM in order to defer the cost of programming.

Sirius could help to promote these very same channels by allowing some of these channels actual satellite broadcast time on special channels from time to time. It helps to legally spread online music service into mainstream use. These channels could be a great promotional tool for the recording industry. Broadcast concerts for local bands to promote themselves. Possibilities are endless.


As many are already aware, a program is in development for accessing Sirius XM content on the iPhone. Though I am sure they had this project in the works before I sent it on to Sirius XM management, it is nice to see that they are thinking about other revenue streams besides auto installations. Since some of my suggestions have not yet come to light, I will go into each one and explain why it is a serious opportunity for the company.

My suggestions to Sirius XM:
  1. Open Sirius and XM API to third party developers - This allows company to tap cell phone market via wireless internet. Applications could be developed for Palm, iPhone, and other 3G/4G devices to sign into existing Sirius/XM accounts. If Apple and Sirius XM worked together on this, they could potentially turn an iPhone into a virtual Stiletto! It could become a selling point for both the iPhone and Sirius.
  2. Internet-only subscription - Without a satellite radio, there is no need for a full-blown subscription. A cheaper fee ($5) could be charged for internet radio to help push its adoption. Of course, this requires some constraints on the user account accessing the service. Each login would have to be limited to one user at a time to prevent misuse.
  3. User logins - All users must be required to login to listen to radio service. Each phone could save off the password for ease-of-use. Login must be required in order to take owness for protection of Sirius XM content out of the hands of cell phone providers.
  4. Free trial subscriptions - From time to time Sirius and Apple could offer promotions where 1-3 months of Sirius XM internet radio is available for free. I am of the impression that once people start listening to superior content, they will not go back to terrestrial radio or stale playlists.
  5. Free Ad-based subscriptions - Sirius and XM could sell targetted, location-based ads which would be displayed to the consumer while they listen to their Sirius XM programming. These ads could also be audible in place of content while the user listens. The user could elect to receive this type of service instead of paying for the service.

With everything in place, I feel that this opens the door to another major dual revenue stream that has thus-far eluded satrad.

Ala Carte done easy

Ala carte for satellite radio is the ability for a user to define their programming, rather than receive and pay for everything. Satrad is the first of its kind to offer this type of service. I don't see this being very hard to set up.

They already have the capability to hide/block/remove channels from the programming received by customers. They have also marketed this capability in a "family friendly" package. This package removes "questionable" adult content channels, such as Howard Stern, Maxim Radio, and The Playboy Channel. I am sure this option saves parents a lot of grief answering questions about the birds and bees.

The most difficult piece of the equation is allowing all users the ability to chose individual channels from within their online account. Each programming choice would be saved off so that when a user turned on their radio, their programming choices would be pushed to the radio via an encrypted key. The encrypted key would contain the radio ID and 2 bits per channel in order to define on/off/advertising/non-advertised. Of course, any additional information could reside in this key.

A firmware update would be used to configure the radio to initialize itself based on this encrypted key. This key would tell each channel how to behave. This allows Sirius to offer any combination of channels and also allows them to offer free ad-supported content on a selected basis.

I am not sure I see a need for a new radio in order to do this. Of course, I am not privy to all the technicals of existing radios. It should be coming soon to a radio near you.

Interoperability near term

SDARS spectrum (2320MHz - 2345MHz) is striving to be more efficient in its usage. Since Sirius (2320MHz - 2332.5MHz) and XM (2332.5MHz - 2345MHz) never received each other's signals and only worked on prototypes to do so, there are many legacy receivers on the market which will only receive half of the SDARS spectrum. In order to use their resources more efficiently, there are only a few options which may or may not be feasible:

  1. Minimize redundant programming - Eliminate duplicate channels offered on both services by retransmitting the combined channel on both services. This is the approach that is being taken with Mad Dog radio. This reduces operating costs by only producing one set of programming, but uses an equal amount of spectrum.
  2. Compression technologies - If newer compression technologies allow the company to further reduce the spectrum needed to broadcast radio, the same channels could be broadcast on both frequency ranges. This would still not be as efficient, but would allow a wider range of programming for customers and all legacy radios would be able to work in the same manner.
  3. Firmware upgrades - Some have theorized that by using firmware upgrades, you could potentially expand the range of spectrum that a radio could receive. If this is feasible, it would most likely affect receivers designed after an interoperable prototype was developed by a joint venture between the two companies. In designing software, it always best to allow configuration of your product using the easiest possible means. This would be done using a variable which defines the lower range and another to define the upper range. Whether this is modifiable via firmware has yet to be seen.

Any combination of the above would allow interoperability to begin to occur. The ideal scenario would be to have a firmware upgrade which expands the current frequency range. The companies would then gradually eliminate excessive duplicate programming. Further compression of the signal or compacting of the radio channels post-cleanup would be icing on the cake.

Welcome to the site

Welcome to my first blog. This site is intended for the sake of collaborating ideas and new concepts. I strongly believe that Sirius XM has a lot of unrealized potential. There are many directions which can be taken to further the footprint of satellite radio (satrad) into the U.S. and beyond.

Companies often narrowly define their product based on what the company feels that the end user would like the most. Sometimes they are right on the mark, sometimes they miss completely. I hope to foster the positives in this emerging technology and develop ideas to move it forward and adapt to the ever changing environment.

Enjoy the site.