Saturday, March 20, 2004

Radio, radio

I've had XM in the car for nearly three months now, and couldn't be more pleased. For one thing, XM went totally commercial-free in February. None of the channels I heard ever played commercials, but XM was able to drop the ads without raising fees. Over the past few weeks I've broadened my listening patterns a bit, moving away from an overdose of blues and Americana and spending more time with the handful of stations that play AAA (what us geezers used to call "folk rock" or "country rock") and the "Deep Tracks" classic rock channel. As I've said earlier, this isn't true free-form radio, but I continue to be impressed and surprised by the variety of artists and tunes, the XM-exclusive, in-studio performances, and the absence of formatting straitjackets. I've heard blues artists on the Americana channel, Jimmie Vaughan playing a solo acoustic set in the XM studio, Richard Thompson on a half-dozen stations, new songs from "classic rockers" who are still performing, recordings of live shows that may be decades old (Graham Parker and the Rumour from 1978!!), lots of neat stuff. I can't imagine driving anywhere without it.