Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Tuned in

I have a new toy, even if I can't play with it in the house.

It's XM Radio. It came with my new car.

I've had satellite radio a couple of times in the past. It was on a couple of rental cars that I had on vacations.

The service is really great on a trip like that. If you've ever driven across Western Nebraska, a little entertainment is helpful. I have a memory of driving into Kings Canyon in California, admiring the cliffs on either side ... and listening to the game between the Athletics and Red Sox in Boston.

The most obviously comparison for XM is when someone subscribes to cable television for the first time. He or she goes from a handful of stations to a couple of hundred. The amount of choice becomes almost overwhelming.

I've been hitting the scan button, bouncing around from station to station, looking for favorites. The first few stations are music by decade, so that I can go from the 40's to the 50's to the 60's to the 70s to the 80's to the 90's at a touch of a button. The variety of songs is quite impressive, I find myself saying, "I haven't heard that song in a long time."

The most obvious channel for me, though, is "E Street Radio." It's Bruce Springsteen, 24/7, night after night. Come to think of it, it reminds me of his last tour. I'm not sure I want to tune it for hours at a time, but it's nice to know that some friendly, familiar music is usually available at the touch of a button.

The vast channel selection probably is the biggest drawback, as well as its biggest advantage. I'm not going to listen to country or hip-hop stations, and I'd prefer to avoid Fox News' version of events when possible. You know how you can edit your television controls to skip over stations? It would be nice to have that feature here.

It all can be its own little world. In driving from South Dakota to Denver one time, we arrived at our destination and a friend said, "Being from Buffalo, you must be upset about Tim Russert." I replied, "I've been listening to the Sixties on Six for a while. What are you talking about?" Yes, nothing gets in the way of the music.

Still, the possibilities -- for the moment, at least -- remain fascinating. Can't wait to take a long drive to give it all a good listen.

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