Technology Futures

Commentaries on Directions That Will Impact the Future of Technology

Free Streaming Radio: Sayonara SiriusXM

English: Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh

If you hadn’t already noticed, free streaming radio service is all over the Internet.  Here is a partial list of websites that offer it:

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  New sites are coming online so frequently, it is nearly impossible to keep up.

To make it easy for people to access free radio from anywhere (at home, on foot, in a vehicle or hotel, etc.) all one needs is a smartphone, and, unless headphones will satisfy, a means of transmitting the sound from the phone to a player.  Today, that is cheap and easy.  Here are some choices:

  • A headphone -to-RCA cable to play through any amplifier or stereo system that has RCA connector jacks:  Cost: $1 – $3.
  • A phone to FM transmitter.  Will play through any FM radio.  Cost $12 – $35.
  • Bluetooth:  Needs to be built into the receiving device.  An increasingly popular option in cars.
  • RF (Radio Frequency) Transceivers.  These are a great solution for whole house applications.  There are many choices on the market using 900 MHz, 2.4 GHz and other frequencies.  $35 and up.

What this means is that the days of SiriusXM Radio are numbered.  Unless there are one or more channels exclusive to Sirius XM that you absolutely have to have (e.g., Howard Stern or Martha Stewart), there is no reason to pay for digital radio if you have a smartphone.  Considering that SiriusXM charges $180 – $200/year for a single radio subscription and more for multiple radios, there is little economic justification for the service.

I don’t mean to say that SiriusXM will disappear overnight.  The company, in league with the car manufacturers, has a racket going that will take years to get rid of.  Today, it is almost impossible to buy a car that doesn’t have a Sirius or XM radio in it with a “free” 3-month subscription to suck in the buyer.  But the result is inevitable as smartphones and smart people who know how to use them become ubiquitous in society.


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