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Out of this world: XM, Sirius and satellite radio

By Jon Johnson, November 2004

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"The vast majority of radio programmers believe that the chart tells you what you need to be playing," says Lindy. "I'm a fan of the music. I don 't guess right all the time. I'm probably right a little bit better than 50 percent (of the time). But I'm also smart enough to surround myself with people who are also right a little bit better than 50 percent of the time."

Lindy adds, "I'm not really concerned with what's on a chart or what radio's playing. I can promise you that anything FM is playing, we've already probably been playing because we've got wider real estate, and we've got more freedom to get those songs out earlier. Earlier I created a 'buzz bin' category of nine songs (on the New Country channel). Some of these songs haven't even been released as singles yet. I've been handed some of these songs by a person at the record company, and I've said, 'Hey, this could be a single!' And the person says, 'Yeah, we're thinking about it.' And I say, 'Well, it's a single on Sirius tomorrow because it's a damn good song.'"

Knight also espouses a belief in getting new music out to fans quickly, saying, "Let's get it out on the air and see what the reaction is! I know that seems very simplified, but that's really what it's all about. When you put something on the air, you're not just throwing it on the air. You're celebrating music."

Knight goes on to relate a story involving a visit by Joe Diffie to XM's Nashville studios.

"We were talking about a new project he was doing, and I asked, 'Is there any other new stuff we can play?' And he said, 'Just demos and raw versions of the songs. They're in my truck if you want to go get them.' And I said, 'Sure.' And he was just thunderstruck by the fact that we would go out and get some music we'd never heard, listen to it and put it on the air."

As for the future, Knight says a southern gospel channel should begin broadcasting on XM in the near future.

For his part, Lindy says the sky's the limit - quite literally in this instance - and is enjoying the process of creating a whole new segment of the radio industry on the fly.

"I don't consider us to be in competition with anybody but ourselves," says Lindy. "We aren't really limited by how much we watch what everybody else does."

"What a boring way that would be to do your job if you're in satellite radio!"

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