Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Satellite Radio News

Since I've been driving for over an hour a day, I got satellite radio. Depending on my mood, I may want to listen to rock, comedy, or news. NPR is only on Sirius, so that was an obvious choice. Unfortunately, none of the US-originated news stations is very good. There are several of them, but they're all seriously flawed. NPR only does hour-long programs like Fresh Air. This is a great program, but it doesn't suit commuting very well. The first problem is that I don't always manage to start driving at the top of the hour. The second is that I'll never get to listen to a whole show.

CNN, ABC, and Fox all have satellite radio stations, but they're mostly just an echo of their cable networks. Simply taking the audio stream from a video program doesn't work. Besides, listening to Steve Douche and friends laughing at each other all morning just isn't my thing.

What is pretty good is BBC News. They do 5 minutes or so of news every half-hour and the programs seem to be split into segments that provide context. If I start listening some random time, within a few minutes, they'll give a few-second summary of what the show is about. Another problem I have is that my attention gets interrupted. This isn't just ADHD; I'm driving. There's something more important going on. But if I get distracted from a long program for 30 seconds to deal with a car driven by someone crazier than myself, suddenly a long program is blown to bits. BBC News seems to avoid this problem somehow, possibly with their frequent summaries.

For a real model of what audio-streamed news is supposed to be like, the satellite networks should look at KYW news radio out of Philadelphia. They've been in the business a long time and they know what commuters want out of a radio station. Satellite networks might not need to put so many commercials in, but the general idea stays. Run a 10 minute cycle and talk about something for no longer than a few minutes.


Nate said...


Template change.

Piltz said...

Try 1010 WINS out of New York if you want a non-Philly news channel. I'm pretty sure that KYW copied their format off of WINS.

"Give us 22 minutes and we'll give you the world"

Nice fresh look, BTW.