Satellite Programming to the Wrong Audience

A well-respected radio man and friend hit the nail right on the head today when he told me that the problem with satellite radio is that its market is older adults willing and able to pay monthly subscription fees yet both Sirius and XM continue to make their best efforts in music programming aimed at the young -- the very audience that doesn't subscribe in great numbers. He adds, not only that, some of the music stations aimed at their subscriber base aren't adequate. For example, oldies. Where is the quintessential WCBS-FM since Joel Hollander took the legendary, moneymaking oldies station off the air in New York in favor of "Jack"? On the Internet -- as a mere shadow of its former self. Why not lure WCBS-FM architect Joe McCoy into rebuilding WCBS-FM under a different name with the personalities and style he fully understands. The disconnect comes when satellite operators can't read the writing on the wall. A recent Bridge Ratings survey showed that some 50% of satellite subscribers who subscribed as part of their new car purchase said they were not -- not -- considering renewal. That's an awful 50% churn rate! And that's not good. So satellite operators may want to invest their assets in creating outstanding programming -- and lots of it -- aimed at their paid subscribers not the young listeners who are enamoured of the Internet right now. XM is doing this with Oprah & Friends -- the highest quality talk channel on satellite or terrestrial radio. And Sirius has turned its fate around by spending $500 million on employing Howard Stern, a personality proven to please listeners the ages of their actual subscribers. Simple, but apparently not simple enough for satellite operators to get it.