Posts Tagged ‘XM’

HARLEY-DAVIDSON MOTOR COMPANY REBEL SOULI was flipping channels on XM and landed on Deep Tracks listening to “See The Changes”, a song by Crosby, Stills & Nash about how surviving is difficult.

Speaking of music and with a twist of irony, just a few days after large sums of money were exchanged for the Kid Rock endorsement and music performance at the 110th  Anniversary celebration, Harley-Davidson management reversed a long standing music policy (John Dansby II, V.P. Manufacturing, memo HERE) for manufacturing workers stating they can only rock out to the sound of humming machinery on the plant floor.  Remove the headphones.  Remove the radios. That new sound you’re listening to is the sweet sound of manufacturing productivity.

Having worked several years in a manufacturing plant back in the day I could relate to both sides.  Does music on the plant floor lead to greater productivity and job satisfaction or does it cause distractions and kill creativity.  It’s the age old debate.

It would seem the grand “Music Experiment” — the role that music played in the motor companies evolution — and provided relief to Harley-Davidson workers doing monotonous tasks were now the cause of lapses in concentration and those distractions would potentially effect product quality.  Even worse, there were music hazards lurking everywhere in the workplace with the potential for injuries and as a result there was no longer a role for music in the workplace at Harley-Davidson.

Clearly I don’t work there, but on the surface this action doesn’t seem to be about building the foundation to help release the innovative juices in workers and provide the best environment to do the best possible job.  To be candid, it smells like a short-sighted decision from an outcome driven employer flexing management muscle when they have the economic upper hand and demanding that 8 to 5 workers step-it-up to get things done quicker and better.

I would anticipate that the younger H-D workers in particular would meet this decision with a wall of criticism and demand that management not lead the workforce back to the last century by banning music.  Given that technology exists today to provide multiple streams of different music channels wirelessly to large numbers of headsets it seems to be a backward decision.

We were all once young too, with an answer for everything.   But, if I knew this plant job was my one and only go-round and not wanting to make a career mistake I’d likely display some patience on any demands because we often fall into something and do our best to get ahead, and know it’s hard to rearrange when things go sideways.

And that’s when you hear “See The Changes” on the radio.

I tuned into the sound of Stephen Stills… telling me he experienced the same thing… it gets harder as you get older, and farther away as you get closer.

Photo courtesy of Harley-Davidson

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ZZ Top at Aquarius Amphitheater - 2007

On Saturday the Portland area recieved yet another blast of winter.  High wind warnings, low 40’s and over an inch of rain so, I’d been pushing the buttons in the automobile. 

From country to soft rock and then I settled on this little gem from XM DeepTracks channel. 

With its stuttering intro and swagger…it’s about living in the moment, enjoying the ride.

“Well I was rollin’ down the road in some cold blue steel
I had a blues man in the back, and a beautician at the wheel
We going downtown in the middle of the night
We laughing and I’m jokin’ and we feelin’ alright
Oh I’m bad, I’m nationwide
Yes I’m bad, I’m nationwide”

The cool cat musicians I reference are ZZ Top singing “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide” from the 1979 “Degüello” album.

I cranked up the volume to revel in the magic and was instantly reminded of the Aquarius Amphitheater at the 2007 Laughlin River Run. It was the 25th Anniversary of the motorcycle rally and ZZ Top headlined the largest bike rally in the western U.S. 

Thinking back to the concert I remember the stadium steps were sticky.  The people were sweaty.  The liquid refreshments were warm.  But we were thrilled to be there. There wasn’t a special section for hedge funders, no separation of the classes, we were one, motorcycle enthusiasts from across the country reveling in the music.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Laughlin, NV rally then it’s a must add to your riding “bucket list.”  It’s four days of wall-to-wall bikes, exhibits, vendors and entertainment. The rally is distinctive with 10 major casino resorts along a two-mile stretch on Casino Drive and everything is literally at your hotel doorstep.   The desert makes a great backdrop and riding bonus for the event. 

Sure there have been moments of negative, but in about 3 weeks it will be time for the 2010 Laughlin River Run.  I’m looking forward to a quick drive-by and then it’s on to a scenic tour around the canyon.  Grand Canyon.  I’ve previously posted on the 2009 Laughlin Rally HERE and 2008 Rally HERE.

Photo courtesy of ZZ Top, at Laughlin River Run.

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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?


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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