Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Melodramatic Retelling of my XM Experience

When I received my new car (it's one of these little numbers in sunshine yellow thanks to cash for clunkers) I also received a free three month subscription to XM Satellite Radio. Initially, I scoffed at the frivolity of the audio amenity. Why would you pay for something that's already available for free? To me it was the equivalent of buying a book you'd only ever read once from the bookstore when you could've had the same experience with a library version (exceptions, of course, for cookbooks, photography books, travel guides, and the like). I was resolved that I would listen to the XM to make use of the free subscription but that would be it - I would become a devout NPR and loaned-book-on-cd listener after that.

But I quickly became the kind of patron every XM exec hopes for. I developed an affinity for two channels that made my commutes to work and to and from the city bearable... nay, enjoyable. My morning wasn't complete until I'd heard the latest Chris Moyle's show on BBC Radio 1, providing my daily dose of British intonation and pop. My evenings weren't the same unless Derek and Romeine of OutQ were along for the ride. I programmed a few other strictly music stations into my control panel to provide a change of tempo when necessary, but I had no need to veer much from my core selections.

Despite my growing dependency on XM, I was resolute in my decision to not spend money on such an unnecessary luxury. When fliers proclaiming "subscribe now and save" filled the mailbox, I tossed them to the recycling bin without so much as scanning the byline. I had no use for another expense. I can be incredibly stubborn when I've made a decision that something is not worthy of my credit card number. And so it went until yesterday.

I had driven to work enjoying BBC Radio 1 as usual, laughing here and there along the way, so unknowing. When lunchtime hit I plopped into the driver's seat to hit up Target for a quick errand and immediately sensed something was wrong. The screen that usually displays what show you are listening to so cruelly stated: Unauthorized Channel. While there was sound it was only the continuous loop of XM channel ads. My time had come. I took a deep breath. The normal radio couldn't be so bad. What were those radio stations I used to listen to? The static of each FM I tuned to was overwhelming, my ears had developed a refined palate and only crystal clear radio would do. I tuned back to XM just to listen to the advertisements. At least there was no feedback to offend my ear drums.

That evening I sped home, fingers crossed as I gripped the wheel in hopes that my payment for a subscription would process fast enough for me to listen to Coffee Klatch on my drive to Boston later that night. I was in luck, and my reactivation occurred immediately after forking over a fair chunk of my hard earned cash... and it was so worth it.

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