Tag Archives: satellite radio

The Music of Money

Somehow along the way I missed that “iHeartMedia, Inc., the parent company of iHeartCommunications, Inc., . . . one of the leading global media, entertainment and data companies,” “filed voluntary petitions for relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division” last March 14. The Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings portion of the business—essentially the billboard part of things, and I don’t mean Billboard as in publication but “billboard” as those eyesores—wasn’t part of the filing.

When the filing was announced, Bob Pittman, iHeart chairman and CEO stated in a news release, “We have transformed a traditional broadcast radio company into a true 21st century multi-platform, data-driven, digitally-focused media and entertainment powerhouse with unparalleled reach, products and services now available on more than 200 platforms, and the iHeartRadio master brand that ties together our almost 850 radio stations, our digital platform, our live events, and our 129 million social followers.”

While that sounds all-good, the statement went on to say, “The agreement we announced today is a significant accomplishment, as it allows us to definitively address the more than $20 billion in debt that has burdened our capital structure.”

Yes, 21st century. Multi-platform. Data-driven. Digitally focused. Social followers.

And $20-billion in debt.

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Bob Dylan: Blowin’ in the Ether

Forever Young: Photographs of Bob DylanWhen a public personality who doesn’t have some physical impairment yet otherwise can’t get much of a job in the public eye finds him- or herself in this sitatuion and thinks that eating and paying the rent are good thing, that person tends to go to something like “Dancing With the Stars” or one of those lemming-like shows on VH1. It may be pathetic. But it pays the bills.

A newer venue for those whose star is fading is satellite radio. Seemingly, those Space Cadet Companies have an endless source of money to match their bandwidth. They’ve discovered that it is necessary to find any and all means to fill in the time that people are paying for who otherwise might just say “screw it” and turn on a terrestrial system, especially those who have discovered that they are sick and tired of hearing commercials for going to their PC and the like, commercials that have all of the intrinsic interest and quality of those shown on cable TV stations that few ever venture to.

Which brings me to Bob Dylan and the “Theme Time Radio Hour.” Yes, I know that his Modern Times disc is doing remarkably well sales-wise. Good for Bob. But his radio program is pathetic, as he rolls out patter that sounds like it was scripted by a writer of ’50s pulp detective fiction—regardless of the “theme.” Sure, Bob can pull out some rather arcane tunes. So can Dr. Demento. This is what the voice of several generations has come to?

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Radio, Radio

StripperellaIf you’re like me, when it comes to quality musical entertainment, the first thing you think about is Pam Anderson. That’s right, she of the pneumatic torso and plasticized pouty lips. The human (OK: maybe she’s a cyborg; you can’t be too sure nowadays about things like that) Barbie doll who has shown a proclivity to attach herself to monosyllabically monikered performers (e.g., Lee, Rock). The woman who has proven that method acting is profoundly overrated if you can wear very little while emoting. In fact, it could be argued that Pam has proven that talent is overrated as long as you are, well, talent.

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Will You Pony Up for Satellite Radio?

Raise your hand if you listen to the radio. Good, you can all put your hands down. Now, raise your hand if you subscribe to satellite radio. That’s what I thought. Satellite radio is here now; it has been for a few months. But you aren’t listening, and you won’t listen, and I know why.

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If you’ve ever watched any NASCAR racing (and if you haven’t, you can catch the Daytona 500, this Sunday, the 17th—which is now causing you to wonder what the hell this has to do with music: Good question, but be patient; we’ll get there), you may have noticed certain things about those cars that aren’t quite, well, right.

Although the vehicles have the same names as cars rolling on thoroughfares across the land (e.g., Taurus; Monte Carlo), there are certain peculiarities. For example, consider the headlights. They’re not incandescent, nor are they halogen. They’re stickers. Just like all of those sponsorship logos. With regard to the interior, the vehicles are Spartan to an extreme. First of all, to get into the driver’s seat—the only seat, incidentally—it is necessary to clamber through the window opening. Or that might be “opening opening,” because where most of us have glass surrounded by that door frame, there’s just space in a NASCAR vehicle. Webbing is snapped in place instead of a window. One thing that seems oddly absent is the lack of a speedometer on the instrument panel; perhaps the thinking is that if you need to know how fast you’re going, you’re not going fast enough.

Which leads me to wonder about Sirius Satellite Radio’s February 13th service launch in Jackson, Mississippi. Sirius, if you’re not familiar with it, is radio’s version of cable television. Buy a subscription ($12.95/month) and get “60 original channels of completely commercial-free music in virtually every genre, and 40 world-class sports, new and entertainment channels.” In other words, rather than being surreptitiously hit up for cash by listening to commercials, or overtly hit up during public radio pledge drives, Sirius allows you to pay up front (along with your cell phone bill, ISP charge, car payment, car insurance payment, rent, groceries. . . .).

The kick-off in Mississippi sounds like it will be quite an event: Randy Travis, Earl Scruggs, Tom T. Hall, and more. Presumably a point is that you’re not going to get that sort of music on your AM dial. . .although I suspect that in places like Jackson, Mississippi, you do.

Anyway, here’s the thing that is exceedingly odd. In addition to the musical guests, there will be, and I am quoting from a news release, an “Appearance by the No. 7 Sirius Satellite Radio Dodge Intrepid R/T driven by Casey Atwood on the NASCAR circuit.” An appearance by a car? Is someone going to drive it in to the lot at “Famed Jackson Retailer Cowboy Maloney’s” and then simply allow the vehicle to make a cameo?

And while I may be wrong about this, I suspect that the vehicle in question will not be equipped with a digital quality radio system. Fire extinguisher, yes. Radio, probably not. No matter how many channels it pulls in.