1. Computing

XM Radio’s '60 Stream More Than Just Music

Opinion/Review

By

Updated August 29, 2004
XM Radio’s “The '60s” stream, on XM Channel 6, is a prime example of what satellite radio can do that terrestrial radio can’t and never will. It takes chances - big chances - in the hopes of proving to subscribers that what they’re paying for really is worth the money.

Of course, “The '60s” provides first and foremost the music of that era surrounded by the most familiar sounding jingles of that decade. But, that’s just the beginning. The song library is so much deeper than any 60s-based oldies radio station I have ever heard. Besides the obligatory hits you would expect, what you will also hear are those “once-in-a-blue-moon” singles - as I call them - which are often overlooked for one reason or another by typical programmers.

These songs add so much more texture to the listening experience and hearing them is a surprise. And you will not hear many surprises any more on traditional radio because nobody will take chances.

The DJs on XM are also great. Terry “Motormouth” Young’s rapid-fire-sometimes-borderline-mush-mouth delivery (and I mean that in an endearing way) is reminiscent of the type of disc jockey you would expect to hear on a channel like this. The first time I hear Young I laughed my butt off because I couldn’t believe there were any deejays like this left in America. I was howling!

And listening to Plash Phelps is refreshing because he’s personable and doesn’t mind stopping the action for a moment to read an email from a listener or jump on the ‘Net to look up a listener’s GPS location.

But, there’s more. XM has recently begun saluting legendary Top 40 stations of the past. Last week when I tuned in I was delighted to hear WCFL, Chicago being recreated exactly as it would have sounded in its heyday including jingles, music and even specific references to Chicago as if it really was 1967. And “The '60s” plans to do more recreations like this in the future like WIBG, Philadelphia and others.

There are few places on the traditional AM/FM dial you can you listen to innovative programming like this.

One might think that an “oldies” channel like “The '60s” would be complacent by default because all anyone expects is the music. Not so here. Because XM Channel 6 doesn’t have to worry about ratings like traditional radio stations, it is free to experiment with new ways to present not only the music memories of the 1960s but the feeling of that decade as well.

Of course, XM Radio (and SIRIUS for that matter) has dozens and dozens of channels. But, I’ll bet if you asked a typical user how many channels he or she really listens to on a regular basis, they would name just a handful. And when you have choices like “The '60s” - the monthly subscription cost is worth it alone.

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