Sirius Debuts new Radiohead Album: In Rainbows

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Radiohead recently shocked the world with news of the purely online release of their brand new album, In Rainbows. The band has shocked record companies as well as fans by giving consumers the option of paying what they want for a digital download of the CD. Also, their is a box set version which includes a vinyl version of the album for about eighty dollars USD. Sirius radio station "left of center" will be playing every new song from the album all week long.

"In Rainbows" has received mostly positive reviews. Fans have described the album as somewhere in between previous records "OK Computer" and "Kid A". The album seems to have a lot of the electronic sounds that Radiohead is famous for, as well as great guitar parts and melodies reminiscent of their more pop-focused efforts.

The Best thing about "In Rainbows" is its return to the Radiohead five man show we all know and love. It seems front man Thom Yorke has gotten most of his experimental music out of his system with his previous release of a solo/electronic themed album "Eraser". The whole album seems to have a great broad appeal, and reminiscent of Thom Yorke's biggest influence: Jeff Buckley. It almost seems as if the band is trying to not reinvent the wheel this time, which in Radioheads case, is a good thing, but surely if they decide to in the future, everyone will be o.k with it.

Be sure to Tune into Left of Center to here it for yourself, you won't be disappointed.

Starmate 5

Stratus 5

Motorola reveals FM Capable Cell Phones

With the electronics market changing and becoming increasingly competitive, Motorola hopes to dip into the buyers market established by this years "super phone/mp3 player/camera/palm pilot/laser cannon" phenomenons like apples "i-phone" and the Microsoft's "Zune" by introducing the "W-series", A line of sleek new phones with the ability to feature internal FM radio capability.

In light of the recent popularity of satellite radio, the move to FM seems like a risky venture for Motorola, but it does hold some advantages over satellite radio, such as the ability to receive radio signal indoors, which for some consumers who commute on public transportation, work indoors, or live in a large urban area, would be a huge selling point against satellite radio, especially the portable versions. It will be interesting to see how these FM radio phones will pan out and if Sirius or XM will be able to provide a similar type of integration to jump the hurdle that the lack of reception indoors creates. In the long run, Satellite radio still holds the deck of cards so to speak in advantages over FM (Variety of Selection, Editing, Lack of Commercials etc.), but the ability to reach EVERBODY, easily could sway some consumers to come back to their long lost friend FM.

These trends should be interesting to watch in the upcoming months as the W-Series makes its debut. Also any consumer interested in industry trends can't help but wonder, what will they come up with next? In other words: only time will tell.

Howard Stern: Still the King of Media

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It has been almost 22 months since Howard Stern made the leap into orbit, but even now, he still carries a huge influence on what is happening in terrestrial radio. When Stern made the decision to move to satellite, the impact was far more reaching than just a new studio. There was a virtual vacuum left in his wake as radio companies scrambled to find new programming, and reinvented their formats in an effort to become more relevant to consumers. Sterns’ move actually became an opportunity for the “little guys” to make an inroads and win over new listeners.

When King Of All Media made his decision to move to satellite radio, there were hundreds of radio stations that saw an opportunity to make their own mark. Being number 1 was back up for grabs on terrestrial, and a shift in the ratings book balance was about to happen. It would take time to pan out, but in the minds of many radio operations, there was once again a chance. Sterns move actually invited a new vigor amongst many stations that simply had become complacent.

It was announced yesterday that New York City has a new number one terrestrial radio station. For the first time in over 20 years, Z100 FM became the number one station in New York. While the press release did not mention it, the feat would not have been possible if Howard Stern was still on the air at K-ROCK. Stern dominated the airwaves for a period of decades. His number one position was so entrenched, that other radio stations simply tried their best at becoming number two, and second place became the ultimate goal that any other station could hope for. When Stern left, the race was on.

In many ways, Stern is actually responsible for terrestrial radio stations thinking outside the box. He is responsible for radio companies taking risks again with new formats, new talent, and a new vigor. Some terrestrial radio stations even cut a deal with XM Satellite Radio (one of the terrestrial radio “enemies”), to bring Opie and Anthony, who themselves had made the move to satellite, back onto terrestrial airwaves in nineteen markets. The Opie and Anthony Show have posted what can only be termed as mixed results. The XM shock jock duo are available in the New York Market, but have been unable to reach the type of ratings that Stern delivered as exampled by the top New York spot going to Z100.

When Stern moved to satellite, there were those that stated that he would make himself irrelevant. That assessment could not be further from the truth. Millions have come to Sirius since he arrived, and not a quarter has passed since that arrival that Sirius has not garnered a retail advantage over their competitor XM. That is only half of the equation though. Sterns relevance also has been demonstrated in the terrestrial radio world he left behind. What has also been demonstrated over the past 22 months is that terrestrial radio is indeed competing with satellite radio. There has never been a period of time where the number of format changes, host changes, and jockeying for position has been so prevalent. These stations clearly demonstrated that they were indeed eager to get the attention of the audio entertainment consumer.

Whatever your opinion of Stern, there are simply some things that can not be debated. He carries influence and relevance in whatever he does. Perhaps that is why he is called THE KING OF ALL MEDIA.

Sirius and XM any closer to merger?

Sirius & XM Any Closer?

CNBC just had some back to back coverage regarding Sirius Satellite Radio and possibly of XM Satellite Radio. We've been closely monitoring this merger and it just seems that at least the chances of a "biast toward approval" have increased at least a bit.

David Faber got to interview Sirius' CEO Mel Karmazin. Karmazin noted to Faber that both Sirius and XM have each sent in 6 million pages of documents to the regulatory agencies and have communicated with the FCC. Karmazin said he thinks the chances should be 100% that the deal closes in his opinion, but he wouldn't give any formal percentage chances that the merger would really pass regulatory scrutiny. The backup plan is sort of a business as usual if the deal does get blocked. The truth is there wasn't really anything new in the interview.

Shortly after the David Faber interview, Jim Cramer came on CNBC (with a slur from root canals) discussing this and said he thinks the companies will get the deal done and that could get it to a $5.00 stock.

We'll know fairly soon if this will occur or not by the end of the year. We have covered this ourselves with recent notes about the chances getting higher that the deal could close. One thing is for sure though: If the DOJ blocks this merger, XM and Sirius are both likely to announce substantially higher monthly prices to remain viable. We recently noted how it sure sounded like the XM group was preparing to operate as its its own entity.

We have reviewed this merger on and off, but have not yet made any formal calls for our Special Situation Investing Newsletter subscribers. It is our opinion that the deal SHOULD be approved based upon other approvals, but ultimately this is at the mercy of too few key people that are deemed as being heavily under the influence of terrestrial radio lobbying to be able to make the "SHOULD" status become a "WILL" status. The government has rubber-stamped just about every single "inside the US merger" and the influence from the radio industry is what has been holding this up; and the DOJ recently requested more data. We have been reviewing Sirius and XM for the subscriber newsletter but have yet to make a determination we'd be willing to sign our name to. An analyst opinion is one thing, and a decision from the government is another.

Shares were up 1% at $3.58 before the call, but Sirius shares are now up 2% at $3.62 on over 33 million shares today after the two segments.

Article Courtesty of Jon C. Ogg
October 15, 2007

This is all good and valuable information, but what it really boils down to is how this merger will effect the consumer market, as well as the thousands of people who have electronics from either Sirius or XM. Will the equipment change? How will issues of compatibility of parts and price be effected?

Sirius reveals the Stiletto 2!!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sirius has taken the wraps off of the new Sirius Stiletto 2, Here is the breakdown of the features and highlights:

* Store 100 hours of content
* The Stiletto 2 is smaller (1.9" x 4.3" x 0.6") and lighter (4.3 oz)
* Enhanced 802.11 b/g WiFi now supports commercial hotspots (username/password options now available)
* MicroSD slot for expandable MP3 storage
* Support for any Windows Media-based music store
* Sirius Replay, which allows users to pause, rewind and replay 60 minutes of live radio programming
* Radio Replays - stored music broadcasts from your favorite music channels that create "virtual channels" - these are available even when you have no WiFi or Sirius signal (awesome)
* Altec Lansing will supply new antenna headphones (model # AHP202SIR) for the Stiletto 2. Featuring 30mm drivers and an adjustable headband for increased comfort.
* Battery life: 4 hours live satellite, 10 hours WiFi, 20 hours of pre-recorded content
* MSRP: $349.99 (vehicle kit: $49.99; executive system: $149.99)
* The Sirius Stiletto 2 will be available in Fall 2007

There also is a video available online that can be found here . Sirius is yet to announce the official release date, but they speculate is should be out sometime this upcoming fall.

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