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An Open Letter to XM-Sirius Satellite Radio

Country Musings by Robert Loy, January 2009

Dear XM,

It's hard to know when to let go, especially in a relationship that has been as close as ours. I was one of your biggest fans, constantly singing your praises to anyone who would listen. Very few days went by that I didn't have XM with me in my car and when I did I missed you so much I couldn't stand to go back to FM and just left the radio off, preferring to commune with my thoughts -- many of those thoughts about how much I loved XM.

And now, I'm ready to cancel my subscription.

I was against this merger with Sirius from the very beginning for several reasons, mostly having to do with not trusting big business mergers, which inevitably lead to fewer choices and higher prices.

But also because Sirius didn't have anything that I wanted. You tried to get me excited about the merger by telling me what all I could get from Sirius - Howard Stern, Martha Stewart, NASCAR and the NFL. Wow! I hate Howard Stern, couldn't care less about Martha Stewart and have no interest in any sport other than baseball - which I already had with XM, and was one of - okay, the - reason I chose XM in the first place.

And you merged anyway, didn't you? I found out when I turned on my XM to one of my two favorite channels - XMX, channel 2 which I could count on to play "Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour" all day on Wednesday, and "Bill Anderson Visits With the Legends" all day Tuesday as well as Marty Stuart's "American Odyssey" on Fridays - and it was gone. Just gone, nothing in its place, nothing on Channel 2.

I went to my other favorite channel - America, the alt-country channel, channel 12, and it's gone too. But there's something in its place. Something called "Outlaw Country." My hopes are not high right off the bat for this channel. I haven't heard the term "outlaw country" since the 70's - but I guess it's apt, because this channel doesn't play cutting edge-country like America did; it plays stuff that was cutting edge in 1977 - a lot of Waylon and Johnny Cash and other stuff you can already find on the classic country stations. Seriously, most of these outlaws are long dead, hasn't the statute of limitations run out? I felt like I was in a time warp, and I had no way now to find new alt.-country artists. But I wanted to be fair, so I gave Outlaw Country a chance - and in addition to a lot of dead guys you also played Neil Young and Tom Petty (neither of which are country or cutting-edge. Did they get a parking ticket sometime? is that why you consider them outlaws?) And then I heard Black Betty from Ramjam.

Ramjam? No, I get why you're called outlaw country - it ought to be against the law for a country station to play Ramjam.

And of course there's no baseball in the winter. So you tell me, why shouldn't I cancel my subscription?
Sincerely,
Robert Loy

P.S. I decided to give you one last chance in view of our past relationship. Here's some of what you played on my ride home today. The Flying Burrito Brothers, David Allan Coe, Pam Tillis and Johnny Horton.

Come on! If nepotism is not a crime than Pam Tillis has never been an outlaw. Johnny Horton died in 1960, and I'm sure would be amazed to learn that he's an outlaw. Oh, and I also heard Jingle Bells done in all fart noises and a song from the idiot disc jockey (don't even get me started on the idiotic and intrusive DJ's) some foul-mouthed libertarian knucklehead named Mojo Nixon who did a Christmas song to the tune of Louie, Louie. It was excruciating. Unbearable.

On the old XM 12 what most of the artists had in common was that they were stretching the definition of what country music could be. Now what the artists on channel 12 have in common is that they're all dead - or in the case of that egomaniacal name-dropped David Allan Coe it's just his career that's dead. Look, I love classic country but we've already got an oldies station for when I want to hear Johnny Horton. Can't we have one that plays new country - I mean progressive country - Reckless Kelley, Chris Knight, Jim Lauderdale - the stuff XM played before this damned merger?