Friday, June 23, 2006

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND WHY PHONERS SUCK

It's been an interesting week at XM. After years of pounding, someone comes up with some production that is absolutely horrible. Depressingly average. Man in the box filtered voice bullshit lies. The best music, circa 1980 st-st-stuttering sampled effects. Textbook crap. The person was pretty new so we realize it takes time to de-cliche---but it underscores the importance of liberating people from the FM baggage. It happens to everyone who comes to XM from FM. Takes time. We fixed the production and got it cool but the fact that it actually got cut scares me. Radio production is stuck in 1980. US Army ads have cooler sound than radio and car companies are on the cutting edge of sound in their ads---this is not the way it's supposed to be. I kinda think Radio should be leading the sonic charge. Orson Welles is rolling over in his grave.



Then another channel wrote some copy for their production. Damn! It was worse than the other stuff. SEVEN PD's came to me and told me about it. Thank god we have a staff of quality police. This stuff was all of the trite Best of the 70s and 80's with no heavy metal or rap style garbage that helps in radio's quest to have zero cred. Writing is a lost art. There's this FCC law it seems that all promo writing must come from this pre-approved lame-o book written in 1980.


Our Ethel channel is coming together. It got unglued. It got "over-radio'd"--subscribing to the FM playbook for Alt radio which I think is painfully out of date and out of sync with the fans. Ethel started believing in things like playing ONE track off an important release. Most artists and releases that are important are so because there's depth there. Take Red Hot Chili Peppers. CD comes out--and they played one song. The single. Huh??? A reason RHCP is what they are is because they make great songs...alot of them. Not one cut.
If that thinking was around in 1971, Stairway to Heaven would have never gotten played because it wasn't "the single". Anyways, Ethel is back after a short trip to the dark side. Listeners let us know. Hell, I got a call from Cliff Burnstein all freaked out about how we're killing Ethel. He was absolutely right. How did it get there? that's another blog---but this shit AIN'T going to happen again. The best thing we did was brought in Erik Range to be PD. Erik's experience is deliveries for Lido Pizza...and a burning understanding of the street. He could give a shit about the single, or what the trades say because he cares about whats good and right. In FM I was always amazed by the "blind leading the blind" thing. Label takes out ads for the "radio cut", Station X adds it, trades report it, and the sheep follow. Does the PD LISTEN to the CD? Rarely. Just follow the label leads and the trades. Anyways--Ethel is back on course after a brief excursion. Ethel is trying to actually BE an Alternative instead of simply hanging it's hat on the "Alternative Radio" thing which is about as Alternative as Burger King. I strongly believe that the problem with Rock Radio is about the stations doing it not the music itself. The rap on the streets is that "Rock Radio is on Life Support"---other than a few stations doing well with it, it's going away fast. Look at NYC--No current Rock station...but again, you'd THINK that the station operators would look at WHY their numbers have been crumbling---It ain't because of the music. It's available...it's because the stations' programming is SO out of sync with 2006. It's got 'radio-ized'--playing to the industry and each other instead of the street.

Some channels need to play JUST the hits. CD cuts on 20on20 one of our CHR's doesn't make a lot of sense...but then again, maybe it does. The point is that thinking our people thining STREET not INDUSTRY .

The whole idea of musical exploration literally DEFINES POP CULTURE 2006. It wasn't a factor 15 years ago...but today I strongly believe the "musical exploration" thing is critical. It's cool for an 18 year old to know about Ella Fitzgerald or Ray Charles. And exposing these artists is something WE do But FM DOESN'T....but I don't think that message is getting out there to the masses quite yet. When two young people trade I-Pods, the cool person is the one with Tom Waits and Frank Zappa...along with some indie bands. The point being some exploration beyond the obvious.

I certanly realize that Mariah Carey and the obvious hitmakers are still the big volume players, but I also sense that there's an underground "explore music" kind of thinking that is quickly becoming mainstream and we will miss the boat if we don't play to it...and play to it is an Eccentric of way...eccentric all the way to the bank.


Eric Logan is concerned about not having enough young and pop bands in our mix of original programming. OK---He's right in that XM is all about balance. Balancing Unsigned with Blues with Pop, etc...But there's something in my DNA that is very uncomfortable about having some disposable pop star that won't be here in a year featured as if they actually have anything going beyond a face. You can get that in any tabloid or FM CHR. Some if not most of these artists can't play a note, can't talk intelligently and aren't what XM needs to be. Of course there are some amazing new artists emerging...but it seems alot of the high profile newer artists are driven by fashion and look---which is something that is fleeting. BUT, can't get too cool for the room. Can't get into this whole self importance routine---It forces me to re-think myself a bit. I've been doing this since 1965, advised a ton of classic artists, owned label that had Johnny Winter, Eric Johnson & Dave Mason. I grew up in a different era. I DO know how to win in any demographic...or at least how to inspire the people who are in the trenches to win. Hell, I ran Z-Rock when I was 40-something and had to appeal to pimply 20 year old earth dogs. No problem, It was fun. Especially with a staff that "got" this generation. But I also remember my parents ragging on me about how Hendrix was a weirdo and his music was noise. Can't get TOO caught up in where I come from. Classic error. But still I'm of the mind set that Quality lasts. Been through the endless cycle of momentary success stories built on fashion rather than substance. That 35+ is the #1 music demo (it is). Still, He's right. XM does have to have a better balance. Support ALL music.The solution was simple---We got Jon Zellner, Steve Kingston and a ton of talented programmers who LIVE in the Pop world. It's a challenge for Steve & Jon and anyone focused on Pop to live on the STREETS of the Pop World, as it is for all of our pop people. It's SOOO easy to get reeled into the whole "Industry Scene" which has nothing to do with the streets. In fact, I think EVERYONE in the Industry should spend a week in a place like Rockford Illinois and move in with a family of Pop fans to see how the real word. NO trades...NO industry contact...just get the feel for reality. Anyways...I live in the heritage world. Let's divide and conquer. That's the mental diversity that makes XM work. I DO still believe that great music is timeless. We DON'T necessarily live in the 1956 James Dean world. I remember the manager of a major rock band telling me "the kids are really enjoying the show tonight" while at a big arena gig. Looking into the crowd there wasn't a face younger than 40. The Kids? To think of contemporary music as reaching only the kids is right out of 1956. I guess the point is that the spirituality of music touches all lives and the more we understand it without prejudice or hanging on to our roots, the better we'll understand and deliver. Diverse thinking rules. When I get to hang with Quincy Jones,that really shines through. The reason he's STILL relevant is because he "gets" all generations. I guess I need to pick up more on Quincy's vibe. He gets it. It's important for ME to get the timeless all-generation thing along with everyone here. Musical empathy. Serving everyone ain't easy, but it needs to be done.

I remember the damning I Got for supporting Led Zeppelin instead of the Snivelling Shits. It was all about hanging in Rockford. If the Sniveling Shits could make it in reality land--then no sweat.

OK, we finally got our "Blistering licks" release ready. It's a joint venture with Concord Records. This one will be distributed at Starbucks. It's all about "jaw dropping virtuosity", the kind of playing that will make a fan of any guitar speedster take note. It's jazz but the idea is to illustrate the chops of jazz players to OTHER genres. The playing is SO impressive. It'll be a bit much for some but for others it is a trip to musical nirvana.

Oh yeah---then I see high fives because we got "a phoner" with Mariah Carey. Big fucking deal. The fry cook at Wendy's could get a phoner with Mariah. How lame. Being part of a cattle call. Slammed in between K-109.5 and Hits 92 in Biloxi. Mariah is bored, our DJ's are forced into lame phoner land and listeners would rather hear music,and she's talking about absolutely nothing. Nothing against her. It's the idea of lowering ourselves to a phoner. 12 million listeners and we do "phoners"???? Just say NO! I approached McCartney a year ago. Got offered a phoner. NO! In HIS and his fans best interest we NEED to do something bigger. Took a year, but we got an ARTIST CONFIDENTIAL with Paul live here at XM. How depressing to think we can't do better than a phoner. Classic case of thinking old line FM. Sometime ya gotta say NO for the sake of what we deliver to listeners. Phoners suck.



Now there's the issue of all these new channels on XM. With every new channel there's the exercise to make sure the guys running it "get" how to do it. I'm not talking mechanics. I'm talking soul. When we put THE LOOP on in Chicago, Cecil Heftel called me as he'd just bought the station, and said "Just make it work" Love that! With the attitude of a manager at spring training we combed through the staff, found the keepers, then hired a team of potential all-stars. BUT---instead of looking at the demo target and slapping together another Rock station, we looked into the soul of the target. What are they all about and constructed the station from there. These listeners were Rockers. Hated disco. Disco was 180 degrees from Rock. Instead of sweating drummers, festival seating, guitars and long hair it was drum machines, elitist clubs, synths and greased back short hair. A threat to Rock. So the Loop took a firm anti-disco stance. It helped when Steve Dahl grabbed the idea and maxed it out and made baseball history. Disco Demolition wasn't a promotion, it was a call to action. Then, Chicago Rockers viewed themselves as tough, so we came up with the first graffiti logo, Chicagoans talked Chicago speak, so it was Da Loop,16-30 male rockers were pretty horny, so we got a gorgeous blonde as the mascot, made the competitors chicken look kinda lame, These guys were TV freaks so we played TV themes, and the list goes on...The point is we looked into the soul of the audience and created a station that touched it. Screw the demos, targets, numbers, etc..We wanted to touch NERVES. It worked. Went from a 2 to a 7 for #1 12+ in 90 days. THAT is the kind of programming that is what we preach today. I aint always getting that at XM, but we're always working toward it! One day!.....


But----Despite all the challenges and re-learning taht we ALL gotta do, All of this is FAR better than boredom. Kinda like my feeling about the people I Work with. Outrageous is always more fun than boring.

23 Comments:

At 1:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad Ethel is fixed, Now maybe they could work on the Boneyard. Hey Lee, hire Eddie Trunk to program the Boneyard!!!!!

 
At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lee, you are a God--it is so great to know that XM cares enough to have addressed the Ethel situation-yes,it has been that bad.

I wouldn't say Ethel is fixed, but it has definitely improved, especially over the last few weeks, and does seem to be on an upward trend. It was truly unlistenable in those early Kingston days in late March/early April--I mean that was really scary. What was that guy thinking? Had he ever lsitened to the channle before or even XM for that matter? And more importantly, why would XM hire a pop oriented FM kool-aid drinker who doesn't know the music to program Ethel?

Ethel is now a good channel, but isn't quite great yet--still too much repetition from day to day--especially of non-currents--and way too uneven--the channel lacks identity--

Erik is great as a DJ, but I do not get the sense that he REALLY knows the music especially the Ethel catalogue(he says things sometimes on-air that indicate this). Will he be the official PD going forward? Anything other than Kingston is positive--I notice that about 80% of the Ethel catalogue of non-currents consists of Lucy songs--there should be a better balance between Lucy hits and the gems and deeper cuts and less repetition of these older songs(and the only way to fully achieve this is to get someone in there who really knows the music--the way Lambert did)--

I am hopeful, but I really don't believe Ethel will ever get there 100% with Kingston in the mix--they need someone who really knows the music, and can program the rotations of the non-currents better so as to avoid repetition. This whole thing of "it gets played a lot, or not at all" thing that Ethel has going on now really stinks--Ethel was never about that--hopefully this will change--Surprise should be an element brought back to Ethel--And we should go back to the days of sampling the big buzzworthy new releases--now we are getting 1-3 songs if we are lucky--The RHCP CD has 28 songs on it!

And for cryin out loud, the Green Day American Idiot singles are so STALE--we do not need to hear them every day!

Bring back Lambert, or get someone in there who really knows the music.

Thanks Lee--for sticking up for the soul of XM--

 
At 4:19 PM, Anonymous Jason Birzer said...

I understand the delema. There are a lot of cool band that you'd like people to hear, but some people are stuck on the flavor of the week. That isn't always a bad thing, tho.

I think we all have liked our share of disposable artists, but the point is to expose them to better things. So, when you may have to hold your nose to play something you think sucks, it helps to draw the listener in, and not feel like that they don't belong.

So, it is always a balancing act between what people expect to hear, and the cool shit you want to play.

It sounds good for Ethel, but I think the same thing needs to happen with Squizz as well. That station all too often plays the "hit" and nothing else. I mean, how many times to I need to hear Tool's Vicarious, or Lacuna Coil's Our Truth, or Sevendust's Failure? Go deeper into the album to mix things up. It was nice when I heard Tool's The Pot, but that happened only once.

Also, as above, hurry up and find a PD for Da Boneyard. The thing with Joe Elliot and Collin was a valient experiment that was a total disaster. I think just about everyone hated it.

 
At 7:54 PM, Blogger Billy Roberts said...

I really enjoyed your latest blog entry! I'm glad that you addressed that there was a problem with Ethel.

While Ethel has improved, it is not as good as when Rick Lambert programmed it. I think that Erik does not have enough experience to be a PD - I heard he never even worked at a radio station prior to coming to XM. I think somebody with more experience and a stronger knowledge of the music would be better.

I'm glad that people such as yourself and Eric Logan stepped in to improve Ethel. However...I am puzzled and even disturbed that the person who made Ethel a shambles, Steve Kingston, was appointed a higher position at XM. Why did this happen? He nearly KILLED the channel; why is he being praised? I would have fired him - I feel that the man just does not get it, does not get XM's original vision. In my opinion, he does not belong at XM. I'm sorry, but I must express my true feelings on this matter.

One other thing to mention...while I'm sure that Jon Zellner is a great guy and that he knows a lot about pop music, I feel his presence at XM is bad for the company. I remember when he was appointed Vice President of Music Programming - literally right after that, playlists on certain channels were cut. I don't think it was just strange timing either. He just comes across as very FM-like. I have heard the results on certain channels.

I do hope that XM will be soon returning to the way it was before 2005 arrived. Hopefully it will happen.

 
At 11:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the love of God, please shut up your jocks.

 
At 8:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lee:

Excellent post, but your pre-'90s rock bias continues to show. You say you don't want to push artists "who won't be here tomorrow" too heavily today. I suppose you have a crystal ball, or maybe record company friends who have it all planned out: they've determined in advance that Band X or Singer Y will have only two years of popularity?

Lee, back in the '70s, did you honestly think Elton John was a keeper and Leo Sayer wasn't? Or that Kiss was a keeper and the Knack wasn't? Who'd have thought in 1985 that Madonna would still be relevant 20 years later?

The point is, just because you and I may not like today's music -- whatever the genre -- or understand why it was popular, we are NOT of today's generation, and it is presumptuous to the power of X to think we know that generation's mind. And arrogant to the power of X to think that generation must sign on to our concept of "quality" music.

We've got an oldies/classic hits station up here that plays everything from the Fleetwoods to Manfred Mann to Al Green to Huey Lewis. One of their sweepers is "Your kids call it old school ... We just call it good music." They've got it right -- it's all a matter of perspective. In 20 years, Coldplay and Kelly Clarkson may replace the Fleetwoods and Manfred Mann on their playlist, but they'll still be able to use that sweeper, because the generation to come will have musical styles and stars of its own.

 
At 10:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think XM would do well to make sure a PD of a genre stream is extremely knowledgable, as well as passionate, about that genre. Someone fans of the genre would admire and look up to for their music smarts, programming skill, and depth of knowledge. Not someone "too cool for school", but someone who just really really knows their stuff.

It seems like a no-brainer, but it is often not the case at XM. Recently we have seen the problem emerge with Ethel; while Stabwalt and Lambert fit this profile, those who have come after in many listener's opinion do not.

This has been an extreme problem with XMU for several years. Tobi came across in her programming as someone overwhelmed by the job and not at all knowledgable of the music to the extreme. The average fan at an indie show probably knows far more about the genre than she does, based on several years of her output. I was always baffled, frankly, at this choice to run what must be the widest-reaching such station in the nation. I have high hopes for Billy Zero on this front, however.

Thanks for listening and considering this.

 
At 4:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah--whoever mentioned Jon Zellner is right on point--I have a feeling that Newcy was his idea, and an awful one at that--I am glad Lucy is now back--how Ethel has more repetition than Lucy is something that is just unacceotable.

I rememeber Emailing Zellner in April complaining about Ethel, and he acted as if nothing was wrong--it wasn't until Eric Logan stepped in that Ethel started addressing the issue of how bad it had gotten.

Lee, I think you and Eric Logan get it, but I do not think Kingston and Zellner really realized how strong the Ethel brand was--even on the Sirius fan boards, people would drool over Ethel. And if XM thinks the boards are just a fledgling group of die-hards, I disagree. We live in a Google culture--people do not blow their nose anymore witghout consulting Google, let alone buying Sat radio--and potential customers do read the boards--this stuff gets in the ether,a don't I do not think Zellner and Kingston get this. What has happened is as if HBO cancelled The Sopranos and Deadwood to make room for a new Olsen Twins series...

I like Erik, and I am rooting for him, but it is so clear that he needs someone else in there helping him program the channel--this is a no brainer to me--bring back Lambert in an unofficial capacity...

 
At 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this week's blog entry, and I say that as someone who has never listened to Ethel, not even once. People pay for XM to be surprised, tickled, shocked, in whatever genre of music they listen to. This means deeper and deeper playlists in all genres. Whenever a channel tightens its playlist too much you'll hear it from the fans. Even the Classical stations...the slogan is "The greatest music of the past 1000 years" but why does that mean a playlist of about 300 pieces all from the same 200 years? Introduce us to great classical music we haven't heard before. And Bluegrass, well I just found a site at some university that had public domain bluegrass recordings from the 50s through the 70s. The sound quality is pretty bad but the music is amazing. Who cares if it's not on a label and not for sale, as a Bluegrass fan this was incredible to listen to and XM subscribers would love it.

Keep up the good fight, Lee.

P.S. Please bring back World Zone the next time you rework your channels!

 
At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not apply some of this logic to other stations, most notably "The Village". You guys are missing the boat. Sirius screwed up their take on "folk" music royally. XM has always had a better handle on folk, but there are miles to go. This is one channel that needs some DJ's. There are hundreds of great songwriters out there that need to be heard. A knowlegeable DJ (and there are many Folk DJ's around the country) could turn this channel into a real gem. XM could be at the forefront of a growing cultural phenomenon, sort of the way MTV grabbed hip-hop and ran with it. Modern "folk" may not have that sort of generational effect, but there are festivals around the country that are drawing large crowds and the music is growing. Take a lesson from your own mantra - don't follow dated playbooks. Give a little effort and you will have a lot of people signing up just for this channel.

 
At 11:07 AM, Blogger top40fan said...

Lee,

Can you do something about the 70s channel. Since the end of March, the emphasis has been toward classic rock artists at the expense of the softer stuff (I've checked). Not the recreation of the sound I grew up with. Get them to play ALL the hits, sprinkled with ALL those "oh wow" songs. For example, the Eagles are played often and deep, while the #2 Calypso, by John Denver is no longer on the playlist. Not what I understand you're trying to accomplish. I like it like it was. That's why I listen to the decades channels.

 
At 11:39 AM, Blogger David said...

Lee I appreciate the passion that comes through in your post. It seems like some positive changes are going on with Ethel. I hope the process is a sign that there is more connection to what people want and like from there XMsubscription.

Being a long time subscriber I noticed a lot of changes for the worst in the last year.

The greatest error in judgement was the loss of Luna. There were no bulk emails asking subscribers about the possible changes. I have never found any type of explanation as to the thoughts behind cancelling Luna.

When I read your blogs I just have hard time taking you seriously. You write about being in touch with the street, and about this rock experience and that person you respect, and how important PDirectors are, etc, etc. Meanwhile Luna was cancelled like it was some unimportant kids channel. The actual reality was that Luna was one of the most unique and highest level of music of any music channnel ever played on the entire planet. That is not an exageration. Latin Jazz is an amazing form of music. Luna played music by Gumbi Ortiz, Dave Valentine, Michel Camilo, the list just would go on and on with names of muscial geniuses. What does XM do with this incredibly rich muscical experience, THEY CANCEL LUNA AND WITH NO EXPLANATION.

It is no wonder they went from out selling sirius 5 to 1 at retail to what ever the current sell rate is which is at best even.

So, Lee, please can you write a blog about Luna and Ngoma and the World channel. Tell us the thinking behind these changes and who was responsible for the loss of Luna.

Oh and most important GIVE US BACK LUNA.

David

 
At 12:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read your blog Lee. Just decided to listen to ethel for the first time.

Is Ethel a talk radio station? When I tuned in there was music playing and now an interview with someone about superman.

 
At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lee,
Your blogs are passionate, but rock music is not the "pop" music anymore. I agree with the blogger about Luna and Ngmoa, just because people are not writing comments on it does not mean that it is not loved. I'm a young adult and I was exposed to Luna and found another form of music, that I like. That is what I fell in love with at the first time I tuned into XM. The diversity of music. I know you love rock and wish rock was the way it was in the sixties and seventys, but its not going to be like that. What you need to do, is tell the PDs, that they should make their channels as great as rock was once was when it was pop music. XMU is very good, indie genre is the way to go. focus on some more of the Urban, latin, and dance channels, that is where the money is. Your subscribers will probably triple, if you put the same effort in the urban and latin channels as you do rock.

 
At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lee: No one will ever dispute your knowledge of the business and your ability to build winners. You and Kent basically invented the AOR format and did it best of anyone before or after. I enjoy reading your blogs and, by and large, think you're incredibly on-target. You should be--as your experience and success parallels your desire to smash a market to bits. I like radio people who want to win and know how to do it. But, these days; the up-and-comers who have what you have are a rarity.

The business has changed. No longer do we work in Altoona so we can someday work in Philadelphia. In Altoona, or, any other P-2 or P-3 market; more and more broadcast people--on-air or otherwise--are deciding they don't want to move anymore; don't want their kids changing schools; like shopping at the Wal-Mart Supercenter. So; they stay, making a quarter of what they could make elsewhere. In some ways; this makes your search for the "right people" tough...as so many who might be exactly what you're looking for might be buried in P-3 land. Further; many of those "right people" are also afraid of approaching someone heavy like yourself. Now; that may take them out of the "right people" category right away, but they certainly can't be blamed for staying in a comfort zone.

What would you rather have? Mariah Carey now...or not at all? You did the right thing by getting Paul McCartney live, but are you willing to spend a year to get a Mariah Carey at the XM Live studio? Foners may suck, but in some cases; it's all you can get. Perhaps some of the reason foners suck is the people actually doing the foner? Perhaps there's such a thing as a good interview and bad interview? The bad interviews usually happen when the air personality, barely familiar with a Telos hybrid, let alone the artist, starts the interview with, "so--tell us what you've been up to..."

One more thing: As an XM subscriber (3 radios); I've noticed the audio quality is tanking on some channels, especially Nashville, the 60s and 70s channels. I realize XM has added many channels and must now share bandwidth. On the other hand; when audio quality starts to resemble original Optimod 8000s and carts; something has to be said. Some of the music is poorly dubbed; obviously by someone who has no clue to the art form. Jingles go into low-level intros that, in the car, leave several seconds of perceived dead air before the music's heard. What can be done about this? Where's Smitty when you need him?

It's not a question of whether XM is better than Sirius. It's which service is doing more of what people really want. Since satellite-based radio is consumer driven, not advertising-driven; it's where the consumer's dollar is going that's most important.

 
At 5:27 PM, Blogger ai4i said...

I always used Luna as a selling point to show XM's sound quality. Latin jazz is great for its consistant broad sound.

 
At 11:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen on WorldZone. Dropping that channel and Ngoma just to be able to sell 50,000 units in Quebec is simply unjustifiable. Ditch a bunch of TV simulcasts (TV on radio is a dreadful idea!) or redundant talk stations before you ditch global music.

I hope you address this affront to world music in an upcoming blog entry.

 
At 12:13 AM, Blogger Matt said...

Lee, another great blog. I always look forward to them throughout the week.

I think Erik Range really works hard at what he does and I'm one of the fortunate ones that has been able to communicate him my ideas and he seems to listen. I actually plan my drives home from college to listen to his show. And as pathetic as it sounds, I even have set up a few dates so that when he's playing I can call in a make a request and get the song played immediately...girls love that. :)

Ethel is a great station, and it's head over heels better than Sirius' AltNation (I currently have both services XM and Sirius). What XM does is music, what Sirius does is talk radio. But one station that Sirius currently does very well is Channel 10, "The Bridge". It's what I feel "The Blend," "The Loft," "XM Cafe" was supposed to be, but maybe I'm missing the point of the station.

Thanks again, and keep up the great work! I was trying to find both your e-mail and Jon Zellner's e-mail, but unfortunately came up short on XM's site. If you could tell me that would be great, I've got a few ideas that I feel would really help XM.

 
At 12:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lee--

I am so sorry, but Ethel is NOT fixed.

This issue needs to be addressed by getting a PD that knows what they are doing--

 
At 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your posts are encouraging, but the fact is, much of the programming (especially in the rock category) is becoming more "FM-like." XM radio used to be a savior when it came to listening to music. XM provided listeners the opportunity to listen commercial-free music and not hear the same "cookie-cutter" playlists. While we can still listen commercial-free, it seems that the extra time XM gains in every hour that an FM station would be in commercials, we get to hear "Dani California" for the fourth time.

Your vision is so encouraging, but many of the people that you've set out to implement your vision apparently don't see it like you do.

 
At 9:41 AM, Anonymous Uncle Freddy said...

I'll jump on the World Zone bandwagon here as well. I wasn't surprised to see Ngoma go when the Candadian channels came on board, but looked at World Zone and saw a well-run channel and couldn't imagine a world category not having a world music channel.

Looking at the XM lineup, clearly some channels approach the vision Lee describes while others don't seem to get the same degree of attention and care from their PDs. As an apparently rare fan of both progressive rock and jam bands, I enjoyed Music Lab, but readily acknowledge that the effort to make this channel into something special just wasn't there. World Zone, on the other, had and still has a knowledgeable staff who really add to the listening experience.

Also, it seems that World Zone has improved since it moved off the birds, with festival coverage and other intriguing programming. This channel is a gem and hopefully we will hear it again someday.

 
At 10:39 AM, Anonymous Uncle Freddy said...

Since World Zone has become a major theme with a lot of the comments, I’ll join in. I was shocked to see it disappear with the addition of the Canadian channels. It seemed to fit with many of the things Lee has blogged about, with a knowledgeable staff that really enhanced the listening experience.

I’m a fan of both progressive rock and jam bands, but readily acknowledge that Music Lab was lacking in the vision of being something special. World Zone, on the other hand, continues to have great programming, perhaps even better lately with the addition of festival coverage.

I realize that this channel isn’t 100% XM controlled since it comes from Worldspace. Still it’s a real gem. Lee, if there’s anything you can do to get this channel back on the birds, I’d appreciate it.

 
At 12:39 AM, Anonymous Sid said...

I'm 17 and just got XM a couple weeks ago. Never really knew why I hated FM until I read your blog. Thanks for all of the passion you put into making radio great. I really get "It". I'm glad a small part of my $13 a month goes to paying your salary.

 

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