XM Satellite Radio arrived at a time when conventional radio was lacking in imagination and interesting programming. I could sell XM in my sleep because it was that good. It offered 170 channels of programming—80 music channels, most of them commercial-free. It had every nuance of rock, from the hits (Top Tracks) to the “other” cuts you always loved (Deep Tracks). There was a singer-songwriter channel (The Loft) and some alt rock channels. You’d find folk music on The Village and reggae on The Joint, country on America, honky-tonk on Willie’s Place, R & B on The Groove, hip-hop on RAW, Beethoven and Mahler on XM Classics, college radio on XMU, children’s programming on XM Kids, and dance hits on BPM (Beats Per Minute). There were five Spanish music channels, plus every kind of jazz, bluegrass, and soul music. The lower channels were the “decades” channels—The 40s on 4, The 50s on 5, The 60s on 6, etc.—channels that not only played the music of those particular decades but sound the way radio sounded in each period. When I heard the sound effects and jingles of The 60s on 6, my acne returned.
There were channels devoted to religious programming, comedy, truckers, movies, books, women, and business news. The BBC, CSPAN, FOX, CNN, Bloomberg, CNBC, and the Weather Channel were all on XM—thirteen news channels in all, including my channel 133, XM Public Radio, which carried Marketplace, A Prairie Home Compan-