XM-Sirius deal has extraordinary ramifications




By: Art Vuolo

On The RadioThere’s an old expression that goes “Please somebody shoot me,” and that’s how I felt this past week with all the Anna Nicole Smith and Britney Spears stories.

When Channel 4 actually brought a psychiatrist onto the news set asking whether Spears was crying out for help, I nearly put a brick through my TV set. (I changed the station, a move that proved less costly.)

Sadly, radio is also guilty of overexposing tabloid-style stories.

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Last Monday, Sirius and XM announced a merger between the two satellite radio companies valued at a cool $13 billion.

Since I and Mike Austerman have been writing about this relatively new technology in these pages longer than anyone else, I felt compelled to contact our three local TV newsrooms, offering to help them shed some light on this major story. It’s one that has far reaching effects on the Big Three automakers and, particularly, Oakland County-based Delphi, which makes and distributes most of the XM radios. Certainly it was a story of great local interest.

Results? Not one single TV station felt the need to even return the call.

In the business world, the bigger the deal, the longer it takes to complete. And this is a big deal. The top brass at both companies — Mel Karmazin at Sirius and Gary Parsons at XM — feel it will be a done deal by the end of this year. Parsons was actually quoted as saying: “This transaction is about choice. No longer will subscribers have to choose between Howard Stern (on Sirius) or Opie & Anthony (XM).”



Jim Carnegie, publisher of national trade Radio Business Report, said: “Gary, you might want to lose the reference to Howard and O&A when you get to Capitol Hill next week. Giving subscribers access to twice as much programming that would not pass the indecency standard for broadcast radio is not something that is likely to win you many friends in Congress.”

Personally, I think both satellite companies have Sirius-ly overspent on big-name talent, which most people couldn’t care less about. Stern is breaking the bank at Sirius, along with Martha Stewart and other high-priced names. XM is paying far too much for Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Bob Dylan, in addition to Opie & Anthony.

The original plan was for people to subscribe to hear music without commercials. Unfortunately, both are making the same mistake as commercial stations, going after the midrange demographic and largely ignoring the under-18 and over-55 crowd. Not smart.

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A year ago, it was announce that Citadel Broadcasting was going to acquire ABC Radio from the Walt Disney Co. ABC locally owns newstalk WJR-AM (760), adult hits WDRQ-FM (93.1), pop/ adult WDVD-FM (96.3) and Radio Disney WFDF-AM (910).

It was to have been wrapped up by the end of last year, and now they project early summer, but some say it will be later this fall.

Judging by that time frame, don’t expect the XM-Sirius deal to be consummated anytime soon.

 • • • • • • • • 

In local news, huge congratulations go out to Dick Purtan and oldies WOMC-FM (104.3) for the incredible job they did Friday with the largest one-day radiothon in America benefiting The Salvation Army.

It was the event’s 20th anniversary, and it raised a staggering $2,398,783.

I even had two minutes of fame on the annual broadcast.

With Dick’s daughter JoAnn, a reporter at WXYZ-Channel 7, and his son-in-law Neil Goldstein, news director at WDIV-Channel 4, I was hoping for even more extensive TV coverage, but I say that every year. Local 4 did do a nice profile on the Dickster last Thursday.

 • • • • • • • • 

Country WYCD-FM (99.5) is among the first stations in America to offer text messaging for requesting your favorite song from your cell phone. The text number is WYCD1.

 • • • • • • • • 

Set your dial: Hear big band music from 90-year-old Bloomfield Township resident Sonny Kippe at 6 p.m. today on the “Somewhere in Time” show on WMUZ-FM (103.5).

 • • • • • • • • 

Sadly, since we last met, Jim Davis died of an apparent heart attack at 66 in Clearwater, Fla. Davis worked at WXYZ, CKLW, WOMC and, most recently, WYUR, and did some weekend weather on Channel 7 years ago.

Also, only a few days ago, Marv Welch passed away at 82. He did radio and was master of the “Wixie Wonderland” on Channel 7 in the golden era of local kids TV.

 • • • • • • • • 

Johnny Williams, nights on soft-pop WMCG-FM (105.1), was probably let go for budgetary reasons, considering eight others at the station also were cut — including longtime staffer Jon Ray, who dated back to the Honey Radio days.

 • • • • • • • • 

Over the next two weeks, the radio industry will host the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville and Talk Radio Seminar in L.A. I’ll report on both in the coming weeks.

 • • • • • • • • 

Art Vuolo has published the Radio Guide for more than 30 years and runs Vuolovideo.com. Contact him at artvuolo@aol.com.

Reprinted from the Sunday Oakland Press, February 25, 2007







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This page contains a single entry by Mike Austerman published on February 25, 2007 9:47 AM.

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