TULSA now has satellite radio

Wednesday, November 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

There's a new radio station in town - a hundred of them actually. They're all part of satellite radio - a new service now available in Tulsa. Six In Your Corner reporter Diane White has a closer look at what it has to offer.

Drivers scan radio airwaves, searching for the right sound. There's a new choice in town. "XM radio and America, the new vibrations." XM radio, satellite radio. Tim Neumann signed up when it hit Tulsa stores three weeks ago. "5:30 in the morning I go to work so I'll listen to CNN right off and then in the afternoon I like to listen to the 60's stations, kind of unwind and think about the good ole days." He says it was worth the $350 he paid for the receiver and antenna.

Its $10 a month for the satellite service - 100 stations - many without commercials. Beau Wyers, Ultimate Electronics: "If they do have commercials on a channel it will be no more than 5 minutes per hour." Dealers say interest is growing - especially among truck drivers - and others who travel. "You get digital quality sound no matter where you are in the United States. So you can drive from New York to Vegas listening to the same station without a single break in reception."

You must buy the XM system for digital satellite sound - about $500. The FM radio system works off FM signals. You still get all your 100 channels -no matter where you are -just not the digital quality - a little bit cheaper too. Both systems let you switch to commercial radio. "Beyond, AM, beyond FM - it's XM." But XM radio is banking on more people tuning in to its satellite station - and tune out local radio.

Local radio stations are listening - and watching satellite. Steve Hunter, Mix 96 Program Director: "Obviously we don't want to bury our head in the sand and not pay attention to a potential threat. Short term over the next few months - few years - we don't see an immediate threat because people have come to rely on local radio and I think there's always going to be a place for local radio." Local personalities - which radio stations say satellite companies won't be able to match.