Why I decided not to buy Sirius XM for my car

When I first got my new car, I got three months free of Sirius XM.  After some poking around, I determined that I found 3 channels worth listening to:  Broadway, Classical, and Opera.  These were great because I find listening to classical or opera to be soothing and during my commute times the local public radio station is playing news, which I do not at all find to be soothing.  Although there are multiple choices for creepy racist talk radio, there is only one option for each of these.  (There’s also a billion sports channels, but I don’t begrudge them that.)

And, after three months, I realized that they don’t have a big rotation list.  Or rather, they may rotate different versions of the same piece from different musicians, but they heavily play the most popular music.  (Or in the case of the Broadway channel, they heavily play music I’m not crazy about.)

If I stuck with Sirius XM, I would likely get sick of some of my favorite operas, especially Tosca which they seem to play at least 2x a week when I’m in the car, particularly the jail scene which is lovely but… I don’t need to hear it quite so often.  And I would DEFINITELY get sick of Carmen which I’m fine with but already wasn’t one of my favorites.  I think the full opera has been on twice during my commute and they often play assorted songs from it.  During the summer I was able to explain part of Carmen to DC1 in the morning on the way to camp as part of the full opera and another part on the way back as a one-off.  Die Meistersinger and Don Giovanni are also a couple that I like that seem to be in pretty heavy rotation.  And some other Wagner that I don’t like so I switch channels.

So, instead I’ve asked DH and the kids to rip all my cds to a flash drive so I can listen in the car.  It is true that I own a copy of Tosca, but I don’t have to listen to it if I don’t want to.  I’ve also been playing more podcasts on my commute (I went through the entire backlist of By the Book this summer).   I also need to remember to spend more time listening to the Mexican stations (there are several that we’re not *quite* in range for, but when the weather is good we can usually get one or two of them to work) para practicar.

If Sirius XM were free, I think I’d still listen to it from time to time.  I do like it more than the local top 40 station.  The lack of commercials is lovely.  But I’m not sure there’s an actual price point that I feel like it’s worth getting.  Especially since it also supports so many crappy crappy evil talk radio stations.

What do you listen to in the car, if anything?  What is your ideal thing to listen to?

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20 Responses to “Why I decided not to buy Sirius XM for my car”

  1. Michael N Nitabach Says:

    I listen to Pandora in shuffle mode so I get a mix of zydeco, classic ska, classic calpunk & britpunk, disco, new wave, old-school rap & hip hop.

  2. Kingston Says:

    In my car I stream radio (usually KEXP Seattle live or archived shows, or public radio for news/discussion) or podcasts via my phone, or listen to one of my Spotify playlists (Spotify app — again, on my phone). I do have to pay $15 a month for Spotify but I don’t mind because I use it at home a lot, too.

  3. delagar Says:

    I used to listen to NPR, but the news is so depressing lately, I’ve found it’s not the best thing to listen to while driving. I like silence a lot lately. I work on plots to my books.

  4. bogart Says:

    I’m with @delagar. We also have a local radio station that provides decent coverage of local news, e.g. town council meetings (I am not kidding) so I listen to that some. We have a Spanish-language station that I listen to a fair amount now. I don’t speak Spanish, but I’ve learned a bit more from listening, and it avoids my understanding much about the news. I’ve decided I’m largely informed enough that I don’t need to hear the latest outrages (I do read some news, also, so I’m not completely clueless. But basically, I need to work for immigration rights and women’s rights aka human rights in both cases, also the environment, and I already know that.)

    I also recently bought an e-bike, which coupled with bus use is dramatically decreasing the amount of time I spend in my car and I find I much prefer riding the bike to driving the car. ***Love it***.

  5. teresa Says:

    Podcasts 98% of the time. The rest of the time, pandora. Both from my phone…via bluetooth in my car now but before I had that I just kept a lightning-USB cable plugged in to where the flash drive would go and used that to listen to music on my phone.

  6. Steph Says:

    I have spotify premium, though my commute is by bus. I originally got premium because I need commercial-free sounds for work. On my commute I usually listen to upbeat pop or rock music to wake myself up in the morning, but afternoon varies more and might include broadway or quieter music (esp if I’m also reading). I rarely listen to podcasts while commuting because I miss too much – they are for mindless work or plane rides.

  7. First Gen American Says:

    I just let my Sirius expire this month and didn’t renew. Usually I call and haggle on price and they are good about saying yes, but have been listening to podcasts or playlists off my phone lately. I’m starting to go into cheap mode again so that’s part of it too.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Any reason for cheap mode?

      • First Gen American Says:

        Many reasons. Usually it is related to unhappiness at work. 1) If there are too many things I can’t control that are affecting the quality of my work, like dumb metrics, competing instead of collaborating org structure, too big a geography, I try to gain more control elsewhere. 2) I am seeing signs of an economic slowdown (our industry has historically been a leading indicator). 3) Most of our really big ticket house projects are behind us so I feel like I can start saving real money again. It seemed penny wise and pound foolish to be spending tens of thousands of dollars a year on house repairs and then stressing over an $87/year bill. 4) my kid started high school so I am doubling down on college savings and obsessing over it right now. 5) my husband wants to be in a position to be able to downshift his job when he’s 55 (in 2 years). For me it’s more like 4 years at 50.

  8. monsterzero Says:

    College radio: KFJC, KZSU, and KALX when I can get it. If they have overlapping non-musical segments (boo!), I can plug my phone into the car stereo aux (unfortunately I didn’t take the Bluetooth option back in ’07) and shuffle about 20,000 songs.

  9. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    If I have the kids we alternate between blues, bluegrass, and the children’s music that I like..if not, I usually have about two months of Science Friday to catch up on.

  10. Candi @ minhus Says:

    I listen to my music collection on my ancient iPod Nano. I’ve never liked listening to people talk on the radio and after years of listening to the iPod, I have a low tolerance for commercials.


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