Tell me about satellite/XM radio

My new truck came with a free 3 month subscription to XM/satellite radio. I know next to nothing about XM or what’s on it, except Howard Stern moved to satellite (or something like it). What’s good out there? Do the stations work about the same way as AM/FM?

Help the XM noob. Is it worth keeping the subscription on? What’s the price range?

I am in the same boat as you are. I just bought a new Toyota as well. I have been underwhelmed with the sample package that comes with the new vehicles in general. However, I do love the Margaretville station (Channel 55) though. It isn’t all Jimmy Buffet but it makes the commute seem like a vacation. I also like to turn into the all traffic alert stations for places hundreds or thousands of miles away from me though so I may not be the best reference (I am thinking, good thing I am in suburban Boston and not on I-5 in LA this morning) . You can print a handy station guide at You just tune an XM station by number after you switch the radio to satellite radio mode. You can select a specific number with the right-hand radio knob. If you use the other control buttons, it may try to go to presets and you will miss a lot of the ones available. I like it but I am not sure if I like it enough to buy it after the trial expires.

Got it with my VW in November.

I’m never going back to AM/FM.

There are >100 channels of music and other stuff, so it’s a pretty fair chance you will find music you like.

Where else could I find a station that plays nothing but Bruce Springsteen (“E Street”) or one dedicated to The Grateful Dead?
There are a dozen or so rock-and-roll stations, including one dedicated to old vinyl.

By surfing around I found that I really like driving fast to pounding club music (“BPM”).

For calmer times I tune into one of the jazz stations. When my wife is in the car I usually select a classical music station. There are no commercials and very little chatter.

The monthly rate is anywhere from $7 to $20/mo. I’ll gladly cough that up when my free trial ends.

Satellite Radio has made my commute so much more pleasant :cool:

My Honda came with a 3 month XM trial and it was awesome for all my long road trips. Then, it ended. I looked up the pricing and I just wasn’t willing to shell out $12 a month, so I went without for a few weeks. In less than a month, XM started calling me, asking me to reconsider. Finally, I bargained down with the sales agent- I got 3 years (the duration of my lease) for. . . drum roll $3 a month. I just paid it in 3 chunk payments (that was her idea, not mine) and all is well.

So, bargain away, friends. They will get pretty damn low.

Oh: and it is the same package I had under the preview-- whatever the one with all the channels is.

I have the “XM everything” (I think thats what they call it) package, 176 channels and MOST of them commercial-free, $13.95 a month.

My current favorites (10 channels) are:
40 Deep tracks, classic rock and Tom Petty does a weekly show as does Bob Dylan.
44 First wave, classic alternative music.
46 classic vinyl, stuff that was originally released on vinyl.
52 Faction, unsigned garage bands and punk rock.
54 Lithium, 1990’s grunge.
134 NPR now, NPR.
148 Blue collar radio, blue collar comedy.
150 Raw dog, comedy with “adult language”.
153 Laugh attack, Canadian stand-up comedy.
236 NBA, there are actually 6 NBA channels but the Rockets are generally on this one.

I LOVE XM and FM is dead to me, I just wish XM had a “proper” Punk channel.


Nothing to add, but I’m a HUGE XM Fan. I had the SkyFy2, then I upgraded to the color split screen and I just got a new car with a Navi system so I got a module to integrate it into that (which I really really don’t like compared to the standalone units but the car is small and I was trying not to have another thing cluttering it up, I’ll more then likely go back to a standalone unit on my next car, but it would be way to time consuming to rip this out and try to sell it on eBay).
Oh, and for the record, when you activate your radio and they tell you about a $15 activation fee, just ask them to waive it. On the three radios I’ve had, I’ve never paid that fee and only one time did I have to ask more then once to waive the fee.

I rented a car that had satellite radio and I was really impressed with it. So the next time my fairly new car (which didn’t have satellite radio, but it was available as an option) needed service, I asked the dealer how much it would cost to install it. His answer: $950. So I said, thanks, but no thanks.

We went ahead about continued with XM after the trial period expired on our 2008 Honda. It’s OK, but there are a few things that I wish they would change.

First, I 'd like it better if the channels were grouped a little better. When scrolling though the stations, you’ll find the talk stations mixed in with a ton of sports stations. Speaking of which, do they really need 20 or so sports channels? Hell, it seems like far more than 20, maybe they have more. They have a lot of channels reserved for sports.

Second, the programming on the music stations is pretty lame, when compared to what you might find on internet stations. In fact, one thing I really wish XM would do is cede some of the thousands of sports channels and stream a variety of internet radio stations, who do a much better job of programming. For instance, I’d love to listen to SOMAFM in the car. DirecTV has very little programing that they provide, they mostly just serve as the signal provider for other TV stations. XM would be much better if they adopted a similar model.

I had XM for a few years before they were bought by Sirius. Before the merger, I’d give XM an 8 out of 10. The music had good variety, and the few on-air personalities weren’t bad.

After the merger, Sirius runs all the programming on XM radios. I’d give it a 5 out of 10. I still like being able to listen to CNN while in the car, and it’s nice to have access to a lot of sports broadcasts, but the music and comedy channels just aren’t very good.

I signed up for a three year plan (or something like that) in my new car, and I view the cost as more of a “damn, I don’t really want to pay for this, but I’ll complain if I don’t get it” more than “whoopie, I love satellite radio!”

I have lately spent much more time using Pandora on my iPhone and plugging it into my car stereo than listening to any satellite music station. As broadband cell coverage continues to increase over the next few years, I’m pretty sure Internet radio is going to drink satellite radio’s milkshake.

Agreed on this point. I’m always astonished by just how many freaking sports stations there are on my package (and I didn’t get any extra sports anything). Now, I freely admit I’m clearly not their target demographic and certainly, those sports stations are probably pretty popular, but JFC.

It’s also weird to me that there are 14 or 15 rock stations. . . but only 3 rap, 3 (classic) RnB. Again, I just happen to not be a fan of most rock (like the older stuff, though), so I’m sure this just particularly sticks out to me, but I don’t entirely get it.

Love the Elvis channel, though. Shade 45 (Eminem’s channel) is great. Soul Town isn’t half bad either (Motown channel).

We got Sirius when my wife got a new car 2 years ago. We like it a lot, though we probably listen to only a dozen or so stations with any frequency.

One of the things we don’t like so much is the lack of diversity on some of the stations. One of our favorite stations is “Classic Rewind” (15 on Sirius, not sure what it is on XM), which plays classic rock from around 1978 through 1990 or so. It’s become a running joke with us that Classic Rewind will play a Van Halen song about once per hour.

With the subscription, I’m also able to listen to most of the Sirius stations online, which is a nice extra.

We’ll never go back to FM. If we rent a car that doesn’t have XM, we have no music at all.

The stations that get the most play are 46 (Classic Vinyl), 40 (Deep Cuts), 55 (Margaritaville), and 6 (60s). Then it’s the various comedy channels and whatever station is carrying the Dodgers game that day. What more do I need?

My new truck came with 6 months of Sirius, so using it now. I used to deliver stuff in my old bosses truck and he had me install XM for him so I used it during the day. I remember thinking XM had better 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s stations. They seemed to play more of the big hits from those decades. Sirius seems to play mostly lesser hits, I guess they want to make it feel like you’re listening to a radio station from that time instead of a greatest hits style station. I am happy to have the NASCAR station though.

I love my XM. Most of the time, my Roady2 sits on my bedside table, and I use the FM Modulator to listen through my larger radio: but I can put it into a portable kit and take it with me. This is an older model, one they don’t sell anymore: but I love it.

Also, you can pay extra to listen on your computer. I also have the app on my iPod Touch. It’s incredible. We have one radio station here I love: the rest of the time, it’s XM.

You’ve got a lot of different programming to choose from, and the music channels still don’t have commercials so it’s miles better than radio. We are still subscribing.

The display on our XpressRC shows the current song on 3 stations at a time, and records the active station for 1 hour (you can go back song by song), and can save up to 10 songs in memory (in addition to the hour).

We first got XM when it was programmed by XM. Loved the programming and lack of talk and commercials on the music channels. When Sirius merged (read ‘took over’) XM, the music programming suffered terribly. The playlists are considerably smaller and repeats are heard frequently. XM used to have station IDs every three songs, but Sirius has real people to make those announcements…and little else to contribute. The ‘personalities’ on the music channels are annoying and add nothing to the programming (Madison, I’m talkin’ 'bout you!).

Like I said, we are still subscribing, but it was shortly after the change to Sirius programming that I bought a new car stereo that has a USB port. We sometimes listen to that while we monitor the display to see what songs are currently playing. If something comes up that we don’t have on the USB, we’ll flip over to that.

I am looking in to other music services like Pandora or Slacker. It would be easier if we weren’t living in Canada (blocked IPs).