Is Satellite Radio the Coal-Mine Canary for Classical Music?


I recently got satellite radio for my home. Commercial free, and pre-selected channels by the dozens, covering every musical taste.  My plan has about 180 stations, including a few that I don’t have any use for – like Martha Stewart’s “How-To For Living,” and Traffic & Weather for the Dallas/Forth Worth area.

The first 30 or so stations are variations on “pop” and “rock,” including Elvis 24/7 (wow!) and “Deep Classic Rock” as well as “Hard and Heavy Classic Rock.”

Eventually, in the 70-80 station bracket, after 6 country stations and as many with variantions on “Hip-Hop/R&B,” we arrive at the stuff of opera houses and concert halls.     

And there are just thee: “Met Opera Radio,” “Classical Pops,” and “Symphonic & Chamber Music” !

Is the marketplace speaking?

Is the classical-music canary dozing off?

4 thoughts on “Is Satellite Radio the Coal-Mine Canary for Classical Music?”

  1. Classical music has not been “popular” since before I was born. That is why the music we mostly hear is called “popular music.” Thus, most of the music stations on satellite radio are for the people. Hell, we have to keep giving money to the Meyerhoff etc through bonds because it is not self-sufficient.

    Nothing bores me more than listening to classical music. I guess I do not have an ear for it.

    What makes people get satelite is commercial-free music and, Howard Stern. He has more listeners than Ellen DeGeneres, Bill O”Reilly, Keith Olbermann haved viewers, combined. And people pay monthly to listen. They don’t buy to listen to commercial free classical music.

    Yes, of course it is the marketplace speaking.

  2. Sure, the marketplace. But one station out of 180. There’s a difference between being not popular, and being unpopular.

  3. One very important and unmentioned factor is classical listeners’ tendency to support public radio. Since public radio’s business and ethical model is in many ways the opposite of satellite’s, the satellite folks have likely given up on most classical listeners, counting them as a hostile market.

    1. I agree. The sleepy canary in the coal mine: is satellite radio the wave of the future? When I was growing up, in far northern Minnesota, I could get two midnight-til-dawn AM classical radio stations, one from Chicago, and one from Detroit.

      I doubt they or their FM equivalent exist any more. But maybe I’m wrong, and too pessimistic.

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