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Posts Tagged ‘XM Radio’

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment it happened. Maybe it was the first time I saw that trucker crying in his beer while the Blues Brothers sang “Stand By Your Man,” but on occasion I like to run the dial through the XM country music channels and have a listen.

And I don’t think I’ve heard any song more than Dierks Bentley “Free and Easy Down The Road I Go” on country radio.  It bridges the old and new and takes you back to the country of yore, yet is still fresh with a sound that’s modern.  Listen to it HERE.  You might say that REAL country music became extinct somewhere around the early 80’s in favor of horrendously polished and confectionery, factory-churned “hits.”  To that I say you’re correct in large part and long live Jimmie, Merle, Johnny, Willie, Waylon, etc.

If you haven’t been to Nashville, you haven’t been to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.  And you’re the worse for it.  You might think you don’t care about boot-kickers, and if so you’re missing out on the history of America.  From slaves to the Dust Bowl to the Elvis solid gold Cadillac and the history/tragedy of the Williams family. To see the old footage of people fiddlin’ and dancin’ and watching Jimmie Rodgers sing you become an instant believer and a fan.

My point?  To help evangelize that Dierks Bentley will host his Miles & Music for Kids celebrity motorcycle ride and concert series in Seattle on Sept. 18th. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Seattle Children’s Hospital. The approximately 45-minute ride will depart from Destination Harley-Davidson of Tacoma and travel to the Puyallup Fair. Tickets go on sale March 27th.

Should be fun!

Photo courtesy of Dierks Bentley.

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As an “oldster” I remember a time when automobiles (or motorcycles for that matter) didn’t come standard with FM radios.

Back in 1978, KINK FM ran entire vinyl album sides without a break.  The year prior they added Les Sarnoff as Music Director.  And I remember waiting in the car to hear songs end so that I could learn who the artist was or determine if it was a new release. I haven’t done that in 20 years with any commercial station.    Why?

Advertising.

The ad machine ensures there are 26 minutes of ads every hour and in this diminishing musical content/increased ad model every radio station has made changes – for the worst in my view – with huckster ads interrupting the music and snake-oil voices peddling foreclosed houses or bankruptcy evasion schemes leaving listeners with airwave SPAM just like late night TV.  Thank the FCC, which allowed Clear Channel and Entercom to acquire anyone, in turn they fired the music programmers and dialed up the wattage on the commercial noise in cookie-cutter repetition for every market – and play the same crappy 25 song sets 24×7.

As for AM radio, I suspect that most people under 40 never press the “band” button unless they want to hear “talk” stations degrade us with their vulgarity.  So, it would seem there is a market for satellite programming, but of course the niche listener/technology shifts are affecting all media outlets ad revenue and some are struggling more than others.  Services such as XM/Sirius are essentially replacing what used to be the independent small market radio.  Satellite radio is a lot like FM in the ’70s where stations varied considerably and few advertisements crept in.  But that’s a changing as many of us have witnessed and complained about on our so-called $15 monthly “commercial-free” service.

Satellite radio for motorcycles up until recently was only available by third-party suppliers as radio add-on kits.  Back in 2005 Harley-Davidson announced a partnership with XM and a year later offered an aftermarket solution based on the Road Tech AL20.  Then all the major motorcycle manufactures started to offer up satellite radio as part of the standard audio systems.  H-D made it standard on many touring motorcycles as part of the Advanced Harmon/Kardon Audio System or as kit upgrade.  In the fall of 2007, Kawasaki partnered with XM and made satellite radio standard on the Vulcan 1600 Nomad touring models.  Honda was also quick to jump on the trend.

XM/Sirius provides little detail on their listener stats.  They provide stats on the number of overall subscribers, but they don’t release demographics or detail subscription numbers by vehicle type or channel.  That makes it impossible to get public information on the number of motorcycle subscribers.  In fact, many of the GPS (Garmin, RadioTech, Zumo etc.) have satellite radios built in, but again there is no subscriber info.  I’d like to analyze a consumer breakdown because I suspect that less than 5% of the satellite enable radios on motorcycles have an active subscription.

So how do you roll?  Whenever, wherever 150 channels of information and entertainment have to be at your side?  Or are you there to experience the ride with all your senses intact?  Do you want the freedom to listen to commercial-free music while crisscrossing the country or are you out there to enjoy a quiet ride?

Don’t know what a satellite radio is?  Then more info on a XM Satellite Motorcycle Antenna HERE and nothing like an endorsement from OCC’s Paul Jr. who states satellite radio is “cushy” HERE.

Photo courtesy of H-D

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bmrcI’m not sure who coined the phrase; “I don’t want a stereo on my motorcycle, or engine sounds in the living room”, but I’ve tended to agree. 

However, I’m somewhat surprised at how much of the riding public seem to enjoy having a sound system on their motorcycles.  I do have my reservations about music or musical device accessories while riding.  There seems to be a proliferation of devices some of which are specifically built for motorcycle use and others designed for the helmet.

I’m tuneless on the road.  When riding a motorcycle on an open two-lane highway, you have a lot of time to think. After a while you get tired of thinking, so maybe you sing songs to yourself in your head. Anything can trigger a song. I remember heading east across Montana on the way to the 105th Anniversary and seeing a sale sign for Amarillo Western shirts.  For the next several hours George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning” kept running through my head. It’s a great song.  But after awhile the music in your head turns down the volume, and all you’re left with is yourself in the wind. You may not be aware of it, but if you ride a motorcycle and really like it, I think this is probably a large part of the reason for your passion.

Obviously some motorcyclist disagree because there are lots of riders who have “Tunes.”  If a motorcycle is a metaphor for quality, then when you’re out in the wind, the world disappears inside the quality of the ride.  It takes practice, finding the quality in motorcycling.  It takes the ability to concentrate without concentrating. I consider music too much of a distraction and a great ride can only be diminished by sounds other than “throttle” music!

How about you?  Does music instill calmness and a soothing, relaxed mental state?  Is riding with music like skiing new powder snow and adds a rhythm that makes everything happen with a certain smoothness?  Do you lust after a Garmin 376C to avoid rain storms and listen to college football games on Saturday afternoon rides?  Or does the idea of an iPod mounted on your motorcycle remind you of that horrible long ride on a bad application of chip seal?

Photo courtesy of BRMC and Flickr.

 

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