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Mathieu St-Pierre
Do you know about satellite radio? It is, in fact, nothing new as both Sirius and XM were launched roughly 12 years ago as competitors. With marginal to good success in time, Sirius eventually acquired XM in 2008, and the network is now known as SiriusXM.

Satellite radio offers the broadest possible choice of uninterrupted audio broadcasting in North America. Regardless of where the subscriber is located -- be it Nova Scotia or Southern California -- on a road trip from one end of the country to another, the same channel will stream nonstop.

This is the other undeniable advantage to satellite radio when compared to HD Radio and, especially, regular AM/FM radio.

I’m hooked on satellite radio, and there are many good reasons for it. First and foremost, it’s all about the selection: I’ve got my favourites such as Lithium, Faction and Real Jazz. As I noted earlier, what I love best is taking the drive from Montreal to Toronto listening to some soothing jazz.

This brings a whole other dimension to long road trips if you don’t regularly carry your music with you.

Radio SiriusXM Hyundai Santa Fe
Photo: Sébastien D'Amour

My other favourite aspect is the clarity of the signal. Unless underground or stalled under an overpass, channels literally come in loud and clear. Like HD Radio (currently not available in Canada), the definition and depth of the sound projected by the speakers is far superior to anything that regular AM/FM signals could ever muster. Then, there’s the absence of commercial advertising…

SiriusXM services up to 20 million subscribers thanks, in no small part, to its receivers being set up and integrated into new cars as part of the standard in-dash radio. Because of this, and the included 3 or 6 month complimentary subscription, consumers get hooked and keep coming back for more.

Currently, SiriusXM provides BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Toyota, and Volkswagen with programming. Recently, they added Chrysler to the list. You’re not likely to find a new car that doesn’t offer satellite radio anymore.

A number of years ago, I received an after-market receiver as a gift. For a number of reasons (including costs) I never got it installed in my then Volvo XC70. And this is the issue with the service…

The monthly subscription fee is $15.99, whereas the other two types of broadcasted audio entertainment are free. I’ve had numerous discussions with owners of new cars equipped with satellite receivers, and most have stated that they will not sign on once their trial period has expired. Should SiriusXM start including commercials in their broadcasts and lower the costs?

The programming and channel selections are so good that for, let’s say, 5 minutes of advertising per hour and a monthly fee of no more than $9.99, subscriber numbers would increase -- same for renewals.

I think satellite radio is the best thing since horses were replaced by internal combustion engines to get buggies going.

Don’t try it out ‘cause you might like it.

Mathieu St-Pierre
Mathieu St-Pierre
Automotive expert