By on April 9, 2015

05 - 1976 Buick Electra Down on the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

Though one can now connect their smartphones and iPods to their vehicle’s infotainment systems, consumers still go gaga for AM/FM radio.

Forbes reports the demand for radio is as strong as ever, serving as one of the main drivers for a consumer looking for a new vehicle. A poll by market research firm IPSOS found that while features like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, touchscreens and apps are desirable, a majority of the 1,000 polled want radio at the center of it all, ranging from 91 percent when asked about radio versus apps, to 80 percent preferring radio over CDs.

As for why radio still holds a strong following in the United States, reasons range from wanting to listen to music and sporting events, to keeping up with the world via local news and traffic/weather reports. Advertisers, too, love radio listeners, mainly due to the size of the audience: 60 percent of Americans listen to the radio daily, while 85 percent listen at least once a week.

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146 Comments on “AM/FM Radio Still High Among Consumers’ List Of Car Features...”


  • avatar
    ijbrekke

    I will say, my recent new car purchase has exposed me to HD Radio for the first time. It is dramatically better, especially on AM. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by this when listening to games.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed, HD radio is amazing. I listen to a news channel during my commute and when the HD radio signal drops out, it’s sorely missed. Plus the secondary HD only channels a lot of stations offer can sometimes have better programming than the main one.

      Better than getting another XM subscription. I wish they had a reasonable plan for multiple users, it’s not worth it to add me onto my wife’s subscription.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I know what you mean. We get SiriusXM as part of our DishNetwork Top 250 subscription, plus we have to pay separately for the SiriusXM radio in our Grand Cherokee, and I still have some left-over standalone SiriusXM receivers that I picked up at garage or estate sales for a couple of bucks.

        If I wanted to carry SiriusXM with me on my person, like when camping, hunting, snowmobiling or fishing, that would be yet another subscription of >$200 per year.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          SHEESH! Who pays THAT much for an S/XM subscription? I sure don’t and I get everything I want.

          • 0 avatar

            Faced with a $400 or so renewal for my cars, here is what you do.

            Change, or call to have them remove your credit card number. The CSR will argue with you and try to get you to the next level. Remove the number.

            You will get letters. Let them cancel you.

            When they do, sit tight. You’ll get a letter asking to re up for a LOT less. Re up.

            For the time being, you can listen to the ipod music you have, or stream audio from somewhere else. Since hackers keep breaking into businesses I use, my CC number changes all the time…..you just have to make sure they won’t automatically resubscribe you.

            HD Radio is great, but they have to up the power. HD works within 10 miles of NYC but is almost useless elsewhere due to drop outs. Those who live on a flat plain will have better luck…I live on a washboard. We need a full power HD radio station….but part of the HD thing is Ibiquity owns the patents. Unlike europe, we don’t have an open source HD radio solution, but, well, we do live in the USA..what AM I thinking ?

            The one rant about HD radio is that there isn’t any stand alone receiver you can buy and hook up to your home system. Sony made some a few years back, but unless you get an ebay (at a $400 price point, no less) buy used, you can’t get a receiver. Great Business Model…transmit a signal you need to buy a new car to receive.

            I almost never use AM, other than the 530 traffic alerts. I like the local NPR stations at the bottom of the dial, and those change a lot by location. Commercial Radio with screaming shock jocks sounds the same everywhere….if you can get a cell signal, better to stream and bluetooth or aux in….

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            speedlaw, we tried to change the subscription after the first year of free trial on the JGC.

            The lady at SiriusXM my wife talked to told her that there were no other options available to us because ours was an established subscription by the car maker.

            We would have to cancel 30 days before the expiration date, and pay a renewal/setup fee if we wanted to continue under a different plan.

            We’re happy with what is offered on our plan, but it is pretty damn steep. So for the next three years, she just renewed whenever we got billed.

            The three NEW plans are available to new subscribers and to re-activations.

            I have no doubt that after we notify SiriusXM at least 30 days prior to our expiration date that we are not going to renew, they will offer us a sh!tload of special deals.

            But there’s really no reason for us (my wife and I) to renew the SiriusXM radio subscription. We already get it on Dishnetwork.

            I have their programming we like to listen to on the radio (50s on 5, 60s on 6, 70s on 7, 80s on 8) recorded from Dishnetwork and reduced to mp3 format on CDs.

            My wife has already decided she will also not renew/extend the free subscription on her Sequoia’s radio.

            Bes!des, there is not going to be any more NEW 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s music being made, and I have more than 100 hours of programming already in mp3 format.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            http://hdradio.com/get-a-radio/home-radio/home-radio

            There are a fair number of HD Radio tuners [even more than on that link], though for under $1200 you’re not getting one that fits in a normal Stereo or AV stack…

            It does seem odd that only high-end component tuners and low-end portables exist.

            (On the other hand, I’m totally not the market, since I never actually listen to the radio in any of my cars, or at home.)

            (Also, for the homebrew-oriented … a cheap aftermarket headunit often does HDR these days.

            Combine that with a 12V power supply and a set of line-out converters and you can just plug it in to your system… or skip the converters and get some car speakers to run directly.)

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Sigivald, I picked mine (SXM receivers) up at garage sales and/or estate sales. Wonderful stuff out there!

            What is one man’s junk is another man’s treasure, like the 1970s Bose 800 Amplifier I picked for scratch along with four Bose 900 speakers, or the Marantz Solid State receiver, or the McIntosh Tube Amp, and of course the SXM tuners.

            They may be old, antique to some, but they all still work fabulously.

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          We have it free for the first year with our car. I wouldn’t pay more than $10 a year for it. Our local programming is far better than anything on S/XM.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Show me on AM/FM where I can listen to “Johnny Dollar” or “Gunsmoke” or Bob Hope or “The Whisperer”.

            There are some things on satellite that you just can’t get anywhere else.

    • 0 avatar
      Sky_Render

      The problem with HD Radio is that it doesn’t exist yet in a lot of areas. There are zero stations I can receive from my house.

  • avatar
    TW5

    When I’m road tripping through podunk, I like to scan the AM dial to get some local flavor. FM is usually less interesting.

  • avatar
    turf3

    For daily commuting, give me FM/AM radio. For long trips, give me a multiple CD changer. I for one would pay extra NOT to have “Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, touchscreens and apps”.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I’m as much a luddite as the next guy, but no way I’d give up Bluetooth audio and a couple hundred albums on my phone, just to go back to a 12-disc CD changer.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        CD changers have too much expensive mechanicals to break down. Repairs are prohibitive and replacements tend to be worse (in price). To replace the head in my Jeep would cost me over $1K for an aftermarket model and over $800 for a factory model. Forget actual repairs. I used to repair them when they were tapes and at least repairable. You can’t imagine what that laser assembly is like to align. A multi-disk changer is infinitely worse.

        Maybe I don’t need bluetooth to stream my music–all that does is drink the phone’s battery. If you’re going to have to hook up the phone to power anyway, why not just use the USB to stream the music as well? Conversely, the Bluetooth then gets used for what it’s intended–hands-free communications almost exclusively.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          “Maybe I don’t need bluetooth to stream my music–all that does is drink the phone’s battery. If you’re going to have to hook up the phone to power anyway, why not just use the USB to stream the music as well? Conversely, the Bluetooth then gets used for what it’s intended–hands-free communications almost exclusively.”

          Depends on how long you are streaming. For a 30 min commute, nice not to deal with cords. For long distances, I don’t mind plugging in.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “all that does is drink the phone’s battery”

            Don’t you have a USB port on your radio or in your car to keep your phone charged? If you don’t, Wal-Mart sells a 12V 4-USB outlet, brand name ONN, for <$10.

            I got one and it works great!

            Also have the 110v version.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            “Don’t you have a USB port on your radio or in your car to keep your phone charged? If you don’t, Wal-Mart sells a 12V 4-USB outlet, brand name ONN, for <$10."

            Why do you think I suggested going ahead and plugging in? As I said, "If you’re going to have to hook up the phone to power anyway, why not just use the USB to stream the music as well?"

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Vulpine, some people don’t have a USB port but have Bluetooth they use to stream. And on a long trip, that can drain the phone especially if they also keep the G3 or G4 transceiver on for weather or road conditions.

            When we travel, we do that all the time — leave the Apple cellphone transceiver on for GPS, Weather Alerts and Maps, while also using the cellphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot for others in the car to use with an iPad or MacBook.

            It is truly a rare occasion that we lose out completely on a cell tower signal, even in the desert. One good thing that OTR Truckers have done for all of us — cell phone towers.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Same here – I could not care less about BT (beyond hands-free) or touchscreens or apps. I do keep a SiriusXM subscription on my BMW, which I use on trips to listen to NPR and Blue Collar Comedy. My BMW has an old 8GB iPod Touch that lives in it permanently with a bunch of playlists, and I use thumbdrives for music in the rest of my cars, but I mostly listen to FM radio around town.

          My Rover has a Nakamichi headunit that does BT streaming, but I find it more hassle than it is worth, and it really does kill the battery on my phone in a hurry. I’m too cheap to pay for a data plan big enough to do much Internet streaming. I mostly am too old to care about all this Internet based music crap anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        Yeah, you don’t need to use a touch screen or apps to “play music from the phone”, once it’s set up (typically).

        Commercial breaks and DJs make me want to commit murder, so … no radio for me.

        (I carry around 3,800 songs, currently.

        That will increase with my next phone, which will have 128GB of storage.)

        • 0 avatar
          Mandalorian

          Wifi is completely useless in the car. I had it on my Q7 but did not use it once. Did not renew,

          And AM radio, jeez, is that even still a thing?

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            I have a 2y/o who my wife commutes with every day. We bought a mifi for $50, and I stuck it in the center console of her car so my daughter can use the iPad as she desires to watch her weirdo toy review videos on YouTube. Thing is a life saver. But agree, with Mifi-type dongles so cheap, no reason to go with in-car wifi, it’s like chosing a car phone over a cell phone and we all know how that turned out.

          • 0 avatar
            GiddyHitch

            Seriously, what’s the obsession with YT toy reviews?

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      Most new radios have a much lighter, more reliable and easier to manage alternative to a 200 disc CD changer. It’s called a USB port. You can get a 32 GB usb drive on Amazon for about $20, you can rip your CDs for free, and you can keep your CDs safe at home instead of in your car.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      USB with a flash drive with gigabytes of music is fine for road trips and the Aux connection is good when the kids are watching movies.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Seriously? WOW! I switched to Sirius/XM about 12 years ago and haven’t touched AM/FM since. I also use my iPhone with Slacker and iTunes, but its 90% Sirius in all 3 of my vehicles. The sound quality isn’t great but way better then FM and of course light years ahead of AM. Sirius has all the NFL games plus local weather and traffic. I realize plenty of people think paying for radio is insane but the variety and lack of ads is well worth it to me and my wife. Plus plenty of rental cars have satellite radio so I instantly feel right at home even when they lack a USB port.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I used to have sirius in my last car, it was OK but not the amazing solution to entertainment people say it is. The full price subscription is a rip off, if only because there are specials constantly for 1/2 to 1/3 the normal price. But you can’t get them without a hassle of calling in and fighting with a sales rep. And as for no ads, there are not product commercials, but there are constant ads for sirius/xm, constant call outs to the channel you are watching, and the talk radio shows have never ending product placement ads.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        I like the programming of SirusXM, but there are some real issues. First, there’s the dropouts. This gets really annoying and gets worse in the summer when the leaves are on the trees. Second, the sound quality is, at times, awful. Even on the mediocre Bose system in my car I can clearly hear the lack of clarity caused by the lossy compression they use.

        These days, I often lean on my iPhone connecting to my personal server (a Synology box) to listen to my lossless music collection. At other times I use Pandora (definitely worth the annual fee for no commercials and better data rate). I can’t remember the last time I listened to a CD in the car or the FM radio.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          I’ve noticed everything you mentioned while using the SiriusXM radio in our 2012 Grand Cherokee.

          Ours came with the “middle” package, not as much as the total package but more than the just-music package.

          During the years the GC was my wife’s daily driver she listened to the 50’s on 5 channel.

          Now that the GC is our grand daughter’s daily driver, if she wants to continue the subscription, she’s going to have to fork over the $200+ for another year.

          I think it’s too much money. And I believe more people would subscribe if they lowered the subscription price.

          Oh, and a lesson learned from a friend: always pay with a money order! If you pay with a credit card, they’ll just keep charging your card long after you’ve canceled the service.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Your anecdotes don’t fully exemplify the S/XM service. More specifically, that $200 price tag is WAY too high. I have the ‘plus’ and only pay about $120/year. And yes, I de-listed a standalone S/SM receiver I used to use in another car and didn’t have near the issues you claim getting the charges corrected. All you have to do is simply pay attention to your billing statements and make sure your account is properly listed on S/XM’s website. I, too, have been using S/XM since before they merged and haven’t experienced any negative issues from the service itself, though agree that sometimes weather and terrain can be an issue. But then, they can be with AM/FM as well.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “Your anecdotes don’t fully exemplify the S/XM service. More specifically, that $200 price tag is WAY too high.”

            Vulpine, why would I lie?

            Let me give you the specifics.

            SiriusXM Service 1 yr $164.89
            Radio Service Fee 1 yr $20.61 (Music Royalty)
            Invoice Fee $2.00
            City Tax $3.87
            County Tax $1.29
            State Tax $9.61

            Total 1 yr $202.27

            This is for the middle package, not the cheapest and not the most expensive with traffic.

            Since my 23-yo grand daughter is now using the JGC as her DD, she won’t be renewing it, so it really is a moot point. Even if we paid too much for the service, there will not be any more after Nov 2015.

          • 0 avatar
            JMII

            As others have mentioned the key to getting Sirius at an affordable rate is calling every 6 months to cancel. They are always running specials and a few minutes on the phone can save serious coin. I really think their business model is backwards. Long time users should get the best deals/discounts not new comers, but they continue to use incentives to get people hooked then jack up the rate later. DirecTV is the same.

            Its a silly game but my wife (who happens to work at a customer service call center) actually finds it entertaining to call and get the price lowered. Thus I paid only $97 a year for two radios, one has just the music package, the other is the full service (NFL, Howard Stern, etc).

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            JMII, our experience has been that the subscriber has two options of paying, by the month or in one lump sum total, but the contract runs for ONE year minimum, or as much as 3 years.

            The only time you can make changes is 30 days prior to the renewal date, and the only option is to discontinue the subscription. Then if you want to change your plan, you have to pay re-instatement fee, etc.

            If you get in on a trial subscription, usually only open to NEW subscribers, the whole ball game changes.

            We weren’t that fortunate. Our subscription came with the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and like fools we initially signed up for a second year, then a third, and now a fourth year.

            I agree that SXM’s business plan is wacko. It seems that they turn off established subscribers.

            But maybe things will change. It doesn’t really matter to us. We won’t be there to enjoy it.

          • 0 avatar
            golftdi

            $200 is steep. They constantly send me offers for 6 months for about $25. It’s pretty easy to get that offer if you don’t have a subscription. The first time I just called and said they sent me something in the mail about it and they added it no questions asked.

            I’ve had Sirius/xm on both of my VW’s and always end up canceling it. The sound quality is terrible, even with the Dynaudio system I currently have that sounds great for everything else, I suspect it’s the box VW uses.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            golftdi, we’ve never had a $25 offer for SXM. Like I said, if SXM lowered their price, more people would subscribe.

            The fact that SXM is now broadcasting in the clear to attract former and inactive listeners only underscores that SXM, too, is feeling the pinch.

            Maybe if Howard didn’t need to get paid so much……..

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Just got a whopper of a renewal notice for S/XM — ** $402 ** for two years. (Which I didn’t realize is in-line with what I paid two years ago! The Royalty Fee went up ~$40 or so. This is my 2nd car with this service!)

            Did a little Googling, and saw that Groupon or Retail-Me-Not — don’t recall which — showed people having success with a $90/year code. I’ll start there, go as high as $100/year, and even give them the larger Royalty Fee, and hopefully that works.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      If SiriusXM sounds better than FM where you are, then you must live in a place with truly terrible radio! I find satellite just about unlistenable for music, and only use it for talk stations. But my preferred options on trips are NPR and Blue Collar Comedy, so that works out OK. Around town, NPR and my couple favorite stations are all local HD Radio, so they sound fantastic in my two main cars that both have that. The Spitfire is too loud for it to matter much.

      I’m not doing driving trips as much anymore, so I may cancel Sirius, but I am only paying ~$7/mo for it so I don’t really care much.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        Agree with krhodes1. There were some great deals on SiriusXM, but the sound quality is what turned me off. Significantly worse than FM. Why would I pay for that?
        For the Comedy channels, sound quality was good enough, but I didn’t like the channels. Nothing but clips and that got annoying on road trips. Play the comedian’s entire routine!
        It appears they also got rid of the 40’s channel. Guess I’m the only one that thought that really old stuff was kinda cool.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          40s on 4 still exists. Whomever told you it doesn’t apparently doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

          My favorite channel is 82 Radio Classics, which carries all the old radio plays that were popular before television and in some cases lasted into the ’70s.

          • 0 avatar
            WildcatMatt

            SXM likes to preempt 40s on 4 for seasonal/specialty programming so from my experience it comes and goes. I don’t recall what they ran last year but two years ago they put Holly there during the run up to Christmas.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        When I’m driving my car, I’m not exactly listening for studio-quality sound. Heck, when I was growing up I listened to much of the same music on a cheap, one-speaker pocket transistor radio. Yes, a good aftermarket head unit and upgraded speakers make a huge difference in interior sound quality, but you’re still not going to have the kind of quiet interior that makes worrying about minutiae worth the effort.

        I don’t listen to satellite at home, only in the car. (Not that I didn’t, mind you, but as digital media devices have improved, I get surprisingly good sound out of my iMac and a pair of Altec speakers. If I really want to go high-end, I go to my AV receiver and 40-year-old wood-cabinet speakers upgraded with newer bass drivers. My turntable hasn’t seen use in eight years and even my tape deck is questionable, both probably in need of new belts (I miss my old Technics direct-drive turntable, though).

        Of course, due to a shooting incident 40 years ago as well, I’ve lost mid-range hearing in one ear which makes being an audiophile more difficult.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      You must have some really bad sounding stations in your area, because Sirius/XM sounds like crap compared to a decent FM signal. It’s not even close. There are a few songs played on Sirius 6, 6, & 8 that are so messed up due to the compression they don’t even sound remotely close to the “real thing”. I agree about the lack of commercials and other stuff that regular radio doesn’t have.

  • avatar
    ExPatBrit

    For my commute I always use the HD radio in my truck, like ijbrekke said the sound is very impressive. Most of the stations here have a drive-time mix of weather, local news, music and chat in the am.

    I have no CDs in either of my cars since 2005 or so when I first hooked up my ipod to my car.

    I do use bluetooth streaming but mostly on long trips, or if I want to listen to a non local internet station.

    Can’t remember the last time I used the AM band though, religious and R/W stations mostly.

    I do enjoy listening to classic music via bluetooth or over the air when driving my old sports car on fine days.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Podcasting.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Gotta have AM/FM. I’m on Satellite radio for music needs, but for local news and traffic, AM/FM is needed. I don’t see that going away any time soon.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I listen to AM for traffic reports on 700 WLW, and once I find my “spot” in traffic on the highway, I generally switch to our FM classical music station, 90.9 WGUC.

    On occasion I’ll pop in a CD, and when Wifey and I travel, I plug in the smart phone and listen to TuneIn radio and our favorite station, “Martini in the Morning” and enjoy. We use the IPod & CDs as well, so a lot of choices, but the “go-to” is radio.

    Radio: Turn on, select station, listen. It’s as simple as it gets. That’s why radio will never go away.

  • avatar
    mikey

    We have a ruling in Canada. The radio AM/FM has to play 40% Canadian content. It was okay when we still had a Classic Rock station. Its when they switched formats from 60s -70s to 1990- 2015 and had to include Canadian “rock bands”. Some of these guys should never have left thier parents garage.

    I got Sirius XM in both cars, channel 25 -26 is all I ever listen to. I get a classic rock feed, from my TV provider at home.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I hate that damned rule. It forces so much Nickelback by default. I’m pretty sure it sunk the local rock station.

      • 0 avatar
        cgjeep

        Is there anything else besides Nickleback and Bryan Adams? Oh I think Shania Twain is your fault too. That must be horrible. Not worth the free health care.

        • 0 avatar
          jjster6

          I am going to shout…

          THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS FREE HEALTH CARE IN CANADA. THERE IS VERY EXPENSIVE HEALTH CARE THAT IS PAID FOR EVERYTIME YOU BUY SOMETHING OR GET A PAYCHEQUE (note the Canadian spelling of paycheck). CANADA HAS TAXES ON TAXES (THERE IS GST ON THE ROAD TAXES YOU PAY AT THE GAS PUMP). THERE ARE HUGE WAIT LINES TO GET TREATMENT. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS FREE HEALTH CARE IN CANADA.

          I feel better getting that off my chest. Carry on.

          • 0 avatar

            Yes, but those working for a living can afford to get sick, something we here have “freedom” not to.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            @jjstir6……..You are SO RIGHT…Oh I would is much like to post my 2014 return . Just so the rest of the world knew what FREE health care means. GRRRRRR ! …okay ,back to cars.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @jjster6

            Not free, but certainly paid for in a far more equitable way than in the US. I fail to see how basic health care is any different than police, fire, roads, or basic education. It should be paid for by all.

            The US has the best health care in the world if you can afford to pay for it. If you can’t, well, it just sucks to be you, doesn’t it?

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          Well, yes, but not pop-rock.

          (Skinny Puppy and Frontline Assembly, Ladytron, 3 Inches of Blood, Coeur de Pirate, Metric, Sword…

          …and that’s just the Canadian Content *I* listen to.

          As far as I know it never gets radio play, most of it. I’m sure Coeur de Pirate has, probably some Metric.)

          • 0 avatar

            Don’t forget Voivod, Grimes, Lights, Barenaked Ladies, Alanis Morissette, Kittie, Sarah McLachlan, Images In Vogue (who gave the world Skinny Puppy, Oghr et al), The Silence Industry, Lowell, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Devin Townsend, Strapping Young Lad, Rush, Delerium… those are the Canadians I know.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I realize its a relevant Canadian band but I enjoyed how your listed Kittie in between Alanis Morissette and Sarah McLachlan.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            And don’t forget Celine Dion, who my Canadian college housemate always referred to as “that rat-faced Canuck”. I like a few of her songs though. “I drove all night” is a great road trip song.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Well known –
            Joni Mitchell
            Neil Young
            Leonard Cohen
            Gordon Lightfoot
            Arcade Fire
            The Band

            Known by jazz fans –
            Gil Evans

            Not as well known –
            Broken Social Scene (and Feist)
            Tragically Hip*
            Bruce Cockburn
            Jeff Healey
            Kathleen Edwards
            Mac DeMarco

            Kinda sorta Canadian-
            Heart
            Neko Case

            Unfortunately, these are offset by Justin Beiber and Bryan (not Ryan) Adams.

            *World famous in Canada, unknown everywhere else.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          “Not worth the free health care.”

          You mean the healthcare I pay a yearly premium for? I’d like to see this “free” healthcare everyone keeps telling me about. Combined with the weather and Nickelback, sometimes I wonder why I’m here.

      • 0 avatar
        kmoney

        “I hate that damned rule. It forces so much Nickelback by default. I’m pretty sure it sunk the local rock station.”

        LOL at this. I remember when “Photograph” came out you could tune to two and sometimes three different stations and hear that same song playing at the same time.

        Don’t listen to FM much anymore, but do listen to CBC AM fairly regularly.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I used to love CKLW, and their 20/20 news. The stuff about the murders in Detroit back then was creepy and hilarious at the same time. “The number is 400! 400 murders in Detroit so far this year!” I remember exactly where I heard them telling about how some kids found a dead woman down by a river by stepping into the middle of her body which was partially buried, and getting her leg stuck inside the corpse while totally freaking out. I had just turned off my street on the way to school. Everytime I go past that spot, it comes back to me, over 40 years later.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I could live without radio all together. Too many ads. On the rare occasion when I do cycle through all my preset stations, they’re all running ads at the same time. Just not worth the hassle, when I can have nonstop music from my phone playing over Bluetooth or the aux-input.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    For me it depends on how long I’ll be in the car. Under 15 min I’ll listen to local radio – over 15 I’ll hook up my phone to Bluetooth and listen to Pandora or iHeart. In Laws have satellite radio but I can’t justify paying for it.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      As long as Howard Stern is on Sirius, I will renew, but if/when he goes, and none of the “future Sterns” have stepped up, I, and a whole lot of subscribers will be gone.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    It’s the random ‘mix’ of radio and not knowing what you’ll hear next. Planning ahead takes away from the experience. And most times, I don’t care to think about what to play. Except a riff I hear will remind me of a song I have to look up.

    It’s not just that I’m too much a cheap bastard to pay a subscription, but there’s music to be had from everywhere, including my favourite radio stations playing resurrection tunes, free online, nonstop and commercial free. We’re talking playlists of several hundred thousands, obviously not just the smash hits of the era, you may be sick of hearing.

  • avatar
    Timtoolman

    The part I can never understand is that, no matter what genre of radio you like, they still play the same songs over and over. The River has a “classic hits” station in Atlanta, but it’s mainly classic rock. I can hear some of the same songs on the River, the classic rock station, and the pop station…sometimes simultaneously. I started listening to the news for variety.

    With Sirius, I can flit from station to station and have no commercials. The price tag is steep, but I am enjoying it while I can. I just wish there was more variety. The 70’s station on Sirius plays all kinds of stuff I never even hear anymore on regular radio.

    • 0 avatar
      GiddyHitch

      It pains me that the classic rock stations have started playing songs from the 90s. Makes me feel old.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        Me too

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        For years the Oldies station here in NYC CBS-FM played a decent mix from the 50’s through the 70’s. Do-Op, Motown, British Invasion and R&B. Now it’s insufferable corporate rock from the 80’s such as Journey, Styx, Foreigner as well as the disco era. Stuff that was part of the Lite-FM format for years. I guess this is what passes as oldies but people really need to be exposed to a variety of genres. As someone said “It’s only new if you have not heard it before.”

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        +1,000!

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Back in the old days, many radio stations were small, local family-run businesses that produced their own programming and playlists.

      Deregulation since the 1980s led to widespread corporate ownership and programming decisions being made by at a national level, which has made things more consistent and less predictable.

      Most listeners don’t want too much variety, so programmers are giving us what we want. For the few people who want more variety, there is college radio and NPR.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      As I’ve said to a friend of mine, I know I’m back in Ohio when there’s nothing on the radio but Ozzy or AC/DC.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        heh, yep. I can pick up WIOT from across the lake.

        • 0 avatar
          nrd515

          Toledo radio is pretty sad. I recently had a loaner with just AM/FM and just the ads alone drove me nuts. I ended up at 94.5, classic rock and left it there for the whole 9 days I had it. I was so happy to get my car back!

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Remarking just up-thread about “oldies” being ’70s-’90s, it reminds me of the infamous brouhaha when 93.5 WRQN went from Top-40 (better than 92.5, IMHO) to ’50s-’60s “oldies” over the course of a weekend by playing The Kingsmen’s “Louie, Louie” over and over — billed themselves “Louie 93.5, All Louie, All the Time!” I remember the horrified reaction, and the morning guy, Steve Mason, at his wit’s end and throwing a fit on the air one morning as I was commuting to BGSU, saying that the oldies aren’t going away!

            Hearing the ’80s and later on there makes me feel old, though they aren’t technically an “oldies” station any longer. Hell, WWWM, STAR105, went from oldies to hard-core Top-40, passing through the more “mature” side of Top-40 along the way, before moving back up that scale.

            The only consistencies in Toledo radio in the 31 years I’ve lived here (I’m 45; moved here when I was 14) are the two classic rockers, 104.7 and 94.5, and Top-40 92.5, WMHE/WVKS “KISS-FM.”

    • 0 avatar

      Timtoolman, current music-based stations play the same songs over and over because people tune in and out all the time.

      When they tune in, they want to hear the HITS.

      This is how it’s been for nearly sixty years, since the dawn of modern music radio.

  • avatar
    GiddyHitch

    AM/FM – sure, it’s good for sports, weather, and keeping the wifey entertained with pop trash and takes up no space, but can we get rid of the godawful CD player taking up valuable real estate on the center stack and just give me better iPod functionality? Make an old fart package similar to the smoker’s package with a glovebox or trunk mounted cd changer if need be but the standard CD player is an anachronism past its time.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Some companies are already doing that. The new GTI has the CD player in the glovebox. That leaves you with an MDI or 3.5mm auxillary input. Not both; you have to choose one. And no, USB is not an option.

    • 0 avatar
      meefer

      The Jaguar F-type has the CD player in the center console. I don’t think it resulted in better iPhone connectivity but the BT streaming worked pretty well for me even on Spotify.

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      I never used the 6-disc changer in my 2010 Challenger the whole time I had it. Now my 2015 has AM/FM/SXM with Bluetooth, USB/iPod, SD card, and aux-jack inputs; no disc slot anywhere.

  • avatar
    stevelyon

    Commercial terrestrial radio in Los Angeles is awful; just the worst glob of corporate playlist and schlocky DJ crap ever. I had an XM/Sirius subscription for a year, and while it’s fine for short drives, I quickly found that the stations I liked had pretty short playlists.

    70% of the listening I do now is NPR; for as bad as the commercial stations are, the two NPR stations we have in LA are awesome. The other 30% of my listening is Spotify off my smartphone.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Pandora has the same problem. Not much variety. The few metal stations I’ve made for myself just keep playing the same few bands.

      • 0 avatar
        bunkie

        The trick, I’ve found, is to make lots of stations using the interesting stuff to spawn another station. I have a favorite shoegazing band from the ’90s (Lush) that led me to a whole bunch of stuff I missed (The High Violets, Curve, etc.). I then made stations from these bands and repeat the process whenever I hear something I like. It’s a great cure for listening to the same old stuff.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          I’m getting a lot of Lush and My Bloody Valentine on my shoegaze station.

          I’m having problems with Japanese heavy metal though, or really any foreign music. For instance, if I make a Loudness station or an X-Japan station, I never hear one of those bands on the other station. Or any Japanese music at all. I’m getting a lot of thrash metal in English that I don’t want to hear. Pandora has the Japanese stuff, but it doesn’t know how to connect the different groups.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            IIRC Pandora groups by musical similarity – not really language or country of origin.

            (Music Genome Project data, in other words.

            I bet the thrash they add is *musicologically* like Loudness, as well as the underlying data can tell.

            I’d expect horrible, horrible failures for Noise, though.)

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            Which is where you use the thumbs up/thumbs down feature to get more plays on artists you like, and exclude the songs you don’t. The algorithm otherwise doesn’t work based off of artists.

            It is not the same as the like/dislike buttons on social media; you can use it to actively “tune” your channels to play the music you like.

          • 0 avatar
            TMA1

            I’m familiar with using the thumbs up/down feature. But if I want an all-Japanese metal station, I can’t have it. If I tell it to find bands like Loudness, and then thumbs down everything that’s in English, I’ll be left with a Loudness-only station, even though there are plenty of other bands in that genre.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Pandora’s selection algorithm is Not Good. I’ve listened to it enough times to notice many times it will select the exact same tune by the exact same artist from a different album and think it’s a different tune. That doesn’t make me happy. True, it has helped me discover other music I like, but I’ve found most of my favorite new groups from, shall we say unconventional sources? I discovered La Rue from a YouTube video and LMFAO also from YouTube, not radio or the Super Bowl. Run. Too, came from a video before I’d ever heard their music. Radio itself? Almost never offers anything new I like until after I’ve found it elsewhere and discovered I liked it.

        • 0 avatar
          jhefner

          The time I really use Panadora like crazy is during Christmas. I get tired of hearing even the hundreds of Mannheim Steamroller and other Christmas music I have on my iPhone; and I don’t like the Pop Christmas music that most stations played.

          I use the thumbs up and thumbs down to filter what I like on the Christmas Radio station; I end up with a wonderful blend of old Christmas songs mixed with Mannhiem Steamroller and some classical music; all with few repeats.

          It’s using the thumbs up and down to help Panadora figure out what you like that is the trick.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      If you think an 8-hour playlist on S/XM is ‘short’, I think we need to start worrying. I have five favorite channels on S/XM starting with ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, “Old Time Radio” (radio plays and series from the ’20s through the early ’70s) along with one other station that plays a broader mix of domestic/international pop. Personally, I like the international pop over the American stuff, though some of the newer groups have managed to break the formulaic stereotypes.

      All these channels run 8-hour playlists and some–like Old Time Radio itself–run two to three different playlists that intermingle over the course of a week so that it’s possible to catch a full 16 hours of non-repeating music or programming. Except for full-time drivers, this is more than adequate. ’60s on 6 even has a live program that runs every Saturday evening with an abbreviated repeat on Sunday along with other occasional live events over and above its 8-hour playlists. Rarely do I find it boring and on a 12- to 13-hour drive to visit family is an easy way to pass the time on the open highway.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I knew a guy who kept the same radio for three cars. He liked the push button station selectors and the station dial instead of the LED, and ripped out what was in his next car and put in the old late ’70s AM/FM he had, and did it again with the car after that. I’d like to have done that with my old Altima, since the LEDs burned out on two radios before I got rid of the car, and I had no idea what station was on.

  • avatar
    kincaid

    I live in the populated part of the Midwest so am used to a variety of radio choices. Just took a cross country trip with no music of my own. It is incredible how little choice of radio there is in “America’s Heartland” Nothing but hate radio or old country music. No wonder these people don’t vote like the rest of the country! Radio is useless in many places unless you are a “hater”. Won’t do this again without a connection to my phone.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I generally listen to public radio for news and music, so HD is appreciated. I gave up on commercial radio a long time ago. Too many commercials and wacky antics. Sadly, I have HD at home and not in the car, but I might change that. My Mazda 5 has a 6 disc changer in the dash and an Aux plug, but Bluetooth only for the phone. But the Aux plug sounds like crap recently, lots of hiss, for reasons I can’t figure out because I changed nothing in the dash and the cable is new. Maybe the hiss was always there,but the new speakers I just put in make it noticeable. So, I’ve started using the changer more.

    Reminds me of how challenging it used to be to carry your tunes with you. Yes, I know the true audiophiles complain about the loss of sound quality for portability. But fumbling with CD’s (or tapes for those old enough) can’t be that much worse than digging through your mobile device for music(as long as that’s all you do while driving). Shuffle is great and if you use Pandora or something like that, so much better.

    I used Sirius when they were still separate from XM. I liked it, but I was driving A LOT then. Now, I don’t think the product is as good (our Odyssey had a 90 day trial) and we don’t spend enough time in the car to justify it or the cost.

    My parents have a 95 S320 with a trunk mounted changer. It’s a PITA now, but back when they bought it in 2000, I thought it was pretty cool.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I had a 2000 Camaro with a trunk mounted changer. When I sold it, I had to tell the guy that I didn’t know if it worked or not, because I had never once used it.

      Incidentally, you can buy a Bluetooth dongle and plug it into your aux-input. That’s what I use in my Miata, because the input is right in front of the shifter and the cables were in the way. Mpow Bluetooth receiver. The battery stopped charging after about 7 months, but one quick email and they sent me a new one, no questions asked.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      That hiss sounds like dirty contacts in the 3mm socket. Try making a very thin tube of 400+ grit sandpaper (non-metallic) and clean off the internal contacts. That could make a difference. Same is true for whatever device you’re using to feet that aux jack. (If it’s your phone, try plugging in a set of headphones and see if the hiss is still there). Another possibility might be dirty contacts on the control switch, if it’s mechanical. You might even be hearing recorded hiss from a tape player if you ripped your own audio from old tapes, etc.

      Try the simple stuff first. If it’s not that, it may be internal and today’s electronics are too bloomin’ complex to be easily repaired any more. Cheaper to replace and that’s what the different OEMs want.

      • 0 avatar
        gearhead77

        Thank you. The hiss is always present, no matter the music selection on my iPhone 5 and with the factory audio system selected to Aux. Sometimes I’ll be listening to music and it will be fine and then suddenly it will all go wrong. Muddled, tons of hiss and just terrible sound. If I try to charge at the same time, I get this immediately. I’m guessing there might be a shielding issue, as the 12V plug and the Aux plug are right next to each other. Neither feels loose.

        I’ve been toying with upgrading the head unit to one with front USB/Aux, I’ll give the “homeopathic” remedies you mentioned a chance.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          Normally I’d expect 12V interference to be a whine from the alternator, not hiss, but it could be – and I’d also expect that to be constant, not on-and-off.

          I’d try a new 3.5mm cable first, if cleaning doesn’t help (I’d also try electrical contact cleaner more than running abrasives in my stereo…); a defective cable could totally do that.

          Then an aux input filter, perhaps.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          Definitely clean those headphone jacks and just in case, try a different cable. Some of these jumper cables from headphone to Aux jack are very, very flimsy; the least bit of twisting may be enough to break the wire strands.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    The only two brand-new cars I’ve ever bought (’89 Omni and ’95 Ranger) did not come with radios. I don’t think you can buy any new car anymore without a radio. I would if I could. I rarely turn the radio on in my car any more, and when I do, it’s about 30 seconds before I get annoyed and turn it off.

    No audio for me, thanks.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I almost never use the radio unless I’m in extended stop-and-go traffic. Then it’s FM: public radio (if playing music), our local classical station, or mindless top 40. I can’t stand talk radio — just hearing a few seconds of it makes me feel angry.

    The car is an awful environment for actually listening to music. You can’t hear any detail because of wind and road noise, even in a quiet car.

  • avatar
    anti121hero

    It’s all about ads and money. There are ads on the radio, but it’s free. On Pandora and other apps, there are ads, and you have to pay money to hear them (data plans). Even with almost 32 gigs of music on my phone I find myself wanting to hear something different. It’s nice to let someone else take the wheel on music. Even though 90% of radio is garbage. Classic rock is good, college stations play good stuff here and there and I like npr.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Is it that they go gaga over AM/FM, or that they go gaga over FM/aux? True, all that political talk radio and other OTA opinion yap comes over AM almost exclusively… And true, most states still use AM to transmit road hazard data for construction sites and other relatively long-term incidents. However, AM is essentially obsolete for all except short-range driving now (ok, longer than FM but not nearly as good quality-wise). On the other hand, FM is where all the local entertainment stations are, offering a broad variety of music, news and weather (and traffic reports) with very little audio interference from weather or traffic. The only thing better is satellite for receiving live broadcasts. Personally, I couldn’t care less for AM and wish it were no longer even available in cars (talk radio has a habit of bringing out the worst of people–and they really don’t need to be listening to it when driving. Talk about Road Rage!).

    In my own case, I listen to satellite 99% of the time in my Jeep while I use FM/media (aux mode) in my other car powered either by an iPhone or iPod. Even a 12-hour drive over 600 miles+ won’t burn through the collected playlists in even an iPod Nano. FM itself is only used in local driving with that car.

    So again I ask, is it AM/FM, or FM/AUX that has the real fan base? It sounds to me like Forbes was asking the wrong questions.

    • 0 avatar

      Either way, all they hear is that song by Queen that I don’t think anyone noticed I was referencing. Damn that radio song (hey-hey-hey).

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      If you are going to have an FM tuner, it is literally pennies to have an AM tuner as well. So no reason NOT to have it. My Grandfather still listens to nothing but AM radio when he is in the car. As long as there are stations, the capability should be there.

      I agree with ditching the CD player though – I had a CD in my BMW and Fiat exactly once each, to make sure it actually worked. I’ve only bought one CD in the past 5 years or more, and only then because it was actually cheaper with Amazon Prime to buy the CD with free shipping, get the “instant rip” MP3 download, than to just buy the MP3 album and download it. Baffling, that one!

  • avatar
    George B

    I use the car radio to listen for traffic reports during my commutes. One day the cellphone bluetooth connection crashed in a way that blocked use of the radio and I had to pull over and restart the car to get the radio to work.

    I listened to XM-Sirius when it was free, but it’s not worth the price to me. I end up listening to a couple of Dallas area local FM stations: Commercial-free 91.7 KXT adult alternative with KHYI 95.3 The Range for some Red Dirt and classic country. XM-Sirius has many different music formats, but they completely missed the Texas/Oklahoma Red Dirt country.

    • 0 avatar
      clkimmel

      I’m not sure what Red Dirt Country is, but Sirius/XM channel 60 – Outlaw country is a very wide variety of Texas, classic country, Americana, and Alt-country. One minute you might hear the Stones the next Jimmie Rodgers!

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Red Dirt started in Stillwater, OK. It’s the rowdy cousin to Alt Country typically performed by singer songwriter musicians. The songs typically tell some personal story and the music blurs the lines between traditional country and rock. I think it’s a requirement that Red Dirt be performed live at a venue built to serve large quantities of beer.

        Cross Canadian Ragweed broke up, but this NYT article covers the atmosphere at the 2007 Red Dirt Roundup.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/18/arts/music/18beau.html?oref=slogin&_r=0

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    The only way I’m getting a Sirius subscription is if I can’t get any half decent rock stations.

    My dad lives in South Florida, and I guess he wasn’t a fan of the stations there, so he got Sirius XM. Was fun riding around listening to Ozzy’s Boneyard, that station alone kinda makes me wish I had XM.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      NoGoYo, I picked up several SXM portable receivers at garage sales or estate sales, for scratch ($1 – $5) each. Never know when I would find a use for them, or sell them for a few bucks profit to someone who wanted one but didn’t want to pay full pop for one.

      Once in awhile, usually advertised on TV, SXM will remove the inactive-radio restricted numbers from their broadcast-code list and broadcast “in the clear” for all to receive.

      That’s how I know the receivers I bought still work.

      There are several ways to play them through your car-radio, or home stereo. I got to play one through the FM s!de of my Tundra AM/FM radio. Worked great! Was free, for about 30 days.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    My wife listens to FM in her MINI because all we have is the 3.5mm aux input on it. The other two cars have bluetooth audio streaming that we use almost exclusively.

  • avatar
    turf3

    Y’all must have a lot more time than I do…

    “speedlaw” and “highdesertcat” describe the hours they spend on the phone with people at the Sirius call center.

    Lots of you describe having hundreds/thousands of tracks on your cell phones, all of which had to be located, downloaded, filed/organized, etc…

    I assume most of you have full time jobs, plus families, etc., etc.

    When I allocate time, there are a lot of things that take a higher priority than diddling around with gadgetry to get it to play the radio for me:

    – Work
    – Exercise
    – Cook
    – Sex
    – Reading
    – Practice music
    – Sleep

    Give me a radio and CD player – preferably one of standard dimensions that I can replace (although I guess these are no longer available).

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      turf3, I didn’t spend any time on the phone “with people at the Sirius call center.”

      And when we dial their 1-800 number we get connected immediately — and the CSR my wife got spoke excellent English because she was in the US. (As opposed to Dishnetwork, whose CSRs are all in South Asia, somewhere.)

      And I like diddling around with gadgetry. I am self-employed when I want to be and that is winding down since my wife and I are retiring by the end of this year.

      Once my wife dissolves her family’s business, she and I will be doing some traveling, first to spend ~ 3 months in Germany/Holland with her parents and sister, and then sometime next year ~ 6 months in Brazil with a grand-nephew of mine.

      Life is for the living. Enjoy it. Be sure to allocate time for yourself and your own well-being.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      “Lots of you describe having hundreds/thousands of tracks on your cell phones, all of which had to be located, downloaded, filed/organized, etc…”

      Well, anyone with CDs has music already.

      Putting it on a computer (or, like modern people do, buying it as a download in the first place) simply makes it accessible everywhere and means you won’t wreck it by playing it and dropping a disc.

      And you do that … *once* for each album, and then play it with a click, no fooling around with physical media and cases.

      Software organizes and syncs my music for me.

      “Putting music on my phone” is barely more work than “having a phone and having music”.

      And it’s a huge value add over everything wrong with the radio.

      So, no. The use of time to set up music playing *once* is actually very, very efficient.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      I have over 15,000 audio tracks, not even counting music videos and other video entertainment. I use iTunes. No sorting required; it’s automatic. Select your favorite song of a given genre and let the Genius fill a playlist with up to 100 tunes. Build a library of playlists and load your iPod/iPhone/iPad. Done. Very little time taken and you could have been doing it while you read and respond to this comment.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Vulpine, have you upgraded to iOS8.3 yet? I did all five of our i-devices today.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          As a matter of fact, I have.
          As well as 10.10.3 on my desktop.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            It took me a long time. I spent all day in front of my PC while waiting for each Apple device to download and upgrade.

            But, all’s well that ends well.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            I’m sorry to hear that. For me, I let it work in the background and never even noticed when it finished, though my iMac let me know by asking to be rebooted. Took less than 2 minutes to reboot and complete the install. Guess I just keep working while my devices do their thing.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            It’s done now. I can spent tomorrow doing more worthwhile things than surfing the worldwide web, while waiting on an upgrade.

            The emoji’s had our 8-yo twin grandkids fascinated!

            It appears that Apple took this upgrade seriously, as outlined in BGR and other tech sites.

            And not having to use a password to download free Apps is great!

  • avatar
    clkimmel

    I have a Sirius Stiletto (portable hand held satellite radio) that records when you listen. I will turn it on and let it record all night and then I use the 3mm plug to listen to it in my car or truck. No drop outs and I can skip songs I don’t care to hear. It’s small enough to carry and listen with headphones also. I think its great, but they don’t make them anymore. Also, they now have a smartphone app that you can listen with if you have a cell signal. Since I have had Sirius/XM I find I can’t stand to listen to regular radio.

  • avatar
    skor

    I’m in no way a Luddite, but when I’m driving, it’s mostly the radio that I’m listening to. I live 10 miles from NYC, so we’ve got a lot of very interesting stations…politics, news, jazz, classical, country, you name it.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I live in DC, and there’s one classic rock station. There used to be two, but one of them went to political talk-radio. If you’re on the north side, you can maybe pick up the station from Baltimore. One, sometimes 2, stations is not enough. And that’s about all I can listen to on commercial radio.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I’m about 50/50 SXM and BT streaming music on my phone. I’m a fairly big Pandora user, but for some reason only at work and home, not in the car.

    In my S2000 I don’t have SXM, so I do use Pandora and MP3s, and my phone is hardwired to my Alpine deck, which I basically just use as a passthrough.

    I think I’ve used AM/FM 2-3x in the 3 years I’ve owned my TSX, probably just briefly if there’s a news/weather/traffic story I want updates on. I can’t stand commercials and DJ jibba jabba, I just want tunes.

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    Always listen to local station in my car when commuting or when travelling for work in another place, because of the traffic reports. I hope that AM/FM radio in cars does not go the way of the CD-player (which is another must for me, since I do library loaned audio books for longer trips.)

    The more choices, the better.

    • 0 avatar
      skor

      A couple years back, my geezerly neighbor leased another new Cadillac, like he’s been doing ever couple of years for decades…this time a SRX. So the geezer…86 years old now…says to me, ‘You know, I think they’re going backwards. My previous car had a 6 CD changer, and this will only takes a single CD.’ I pointed out the USB port. He said to me, ‘What?’ I replied, ‘That.’ ‘What’s that?’, he asked. ‘USB port.’, said I. ‘A US-what port?’, said the geezer. I proceeded to show him how to rip and load his CDs to a flash stick. We went outside, I plugged the stick into the USB and my neighbor sat there, with his mouth hanging open, like some member of a lost Amazonian tribe that’s just been shown a cigarette lighter.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Absolutely great story, skor. I loved it.

      • 0 avatar

        The problem is that car audio systems, particularly with the luxury brands, are getting very, very good, better than most home systems I’d say, unless you have an audiophile system at home. The Meridian system in a Jaguar I had recently and the Mark Levinson system in a Lexus IS I had last week were good enough to reveal the audio shortcomings of MP3s, satellite radio and Bluetooth. Sure, they’re convenient, but they don’t necessarily sound great.

        It seems silly to put all that money and tech into an audio system and then not let people use the highest quality source. Satellite radio and MP3s are compromised. When I really want to test out a car audio system, I used CDs or a public FM radio station playing classical music.

  • avatar
    TheyBeRollin

    I’m shocked that AM/FM is the favorite, but I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. I still listen to it…

    If I had a newer car (soon), I might listen to something else, but I know that satellite is out (where I live it drops out so much that it is pointless). It is surprising that USB and Bluetooth haven’t replaced radio almost entirely in new vehicles.

  • avatar
    SnarkyRichard

    I understand that premise because for me at least – AM for sports talk radio/ FM or FM HD for music quality better than satellite whose frequency limits really hurt music quality – let alone the signal drop offs and costs . I’ve had six disc CD changers for music and the system often got stuck between discs or as was the case with the Bose system (no highs no lows must be a Bose) in my Acura RSX the CDs rattled around going over bumps .

    Nowadays it’s music downloaded from my music library on my computer onto a flash drive or SD card . This comes from my own CDs , digital music bought online ( the modern version of a 45 single) , or music from the vast public library’s collection of music CDs . Audiobooks might be the only future use for car CD players , but from my experience you get much less of the story as opposed to reading the book telling the same tale .

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    Despite the iPod, cd, etc I still end up bored. Even xm got old after a while. Although good am/fm stations are few and far between I have my go tos. In the immediate Boston area its 740 am. Perhaps an acquired taste but it’s like no other.

    Am used to be my traffic source but in Boston they generally read from a script it seems. Waze does a far superior job.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    CD? What’s that? My car doesn’t even have a CD player.

    I don’t download anything to my phone to play either, it’s a waste of time and energy to search out albums and songs.

    I use HD FM, Pandora (very nice to plug into USB and can control through the car), and Sirius. I pay $20 bucks every 5 months for Sirius, takes about 10 minutes of my time…..so while paying bills I get on the phone and take care of it.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      SC5door, my 1989 Camry doesn’t have a CD player either but I can play anything through the AM/FM radio using an old Scosche FM transmitter I had laying around. Works great.

      I used the iPhone and my wife’s Galaxy S5 phone, and both our Apple iPads, and a Rio mp3 player, and an Emerson mp3 CD player. They all worked.

      And because the signal is Frequency Modulated, the bandwidth of the music is wider than I can hear, since I’m deaf in one ear and can’t hear with the other.

  • avatar
    mx5ta

    This is kind of a good time for radio (just when it might be thought it’s left for dead). I live in the middle of nowhere, but get Fox, CBS and ESPN sports radio, all kinds of political talk, plus local talk with regular weather, etc., and that’s during the daytime. At night there’s of course more. No knock on digital, music, etc., but if you sort of concentrate on driving, what I get is more than enough.

  • avatar
    mx5ta

    On a somewhat related subject: I have a SONY cd/radio from my old, junked car. Always thought it a shame not to put it to use, and recently figured out how. I power it with the power supply from my previous PC, which, though it runs its fan, is relatively silent. There are good videos on youTube about how to do this, in case you want to give it a try; I had to watch a half-dozen of them before I got it figured out. Pretty simple, though, once you’ve done it once.

    It puts out some good big sound, powering my old, rebuilt Jensen bookshelf speakers. BTW, something I learned is that a computer power supply converts AC to DC, and the power output is about what your auto devices run on. This is more like 13.? volts, and not the 12 volts you might think a car battery charges to. Multimeter readings on my cars’ batteries show this higher readings, too, when fully charged. They can go as low as 10.? volts, as on my Miata when it sits in the garage too long.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Remember the old cabinets you could buy to install an automotive tape deck in your home? Made a really neat way to get good AM/FM/Tape audio when you couldn’t afford a fancy home audio system. I’m tempted even today to rig something similar for some of these nice new head units. Either make it a bookshelf system with built-in speakers or rig it for detachable speakers which sound a lot nicer than they did 40 years ago.

  • avatar
    mx5ta

    Again, apologies for getting slightly off subject, but someone above commented about buying garage sale amp/receivers and speakers for next to nothing, but there was no reply button, so will comment here: I bought a more modern amp/receiver for my system, but found there is no Phono input for it (cuz who plays records anymore, right?). What I learned is that the Phono input on my older amp had a built-in pre-amp, which was necessary because the input from a turntable is too low to much hear, even at maximum volume. My solution was a tiny, inexpensive, standalone pre-amp from Parts Express. Just throwing this out there, in case anyone else is puzzled why their olde-tyme turntable doesn’t sound right on a new amp.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      So true. Because the technology is so ‘obsolete’, receiver companies dropped the pre-amp as unnecessary. With vinyl coming back, that pre-amp is needed again.

      Oh, and if there’s no ‘Reply’ button on the comment you wish to respond? Scroll upwards to the first available “Reply”; all you’re doing then is responding to that specific thread (unlike one former commenter here who insisted on making every comment an all new thread, even when arguing a near-flame-war with one or two others and making it a blog-wide argument).

    • 0 avatar
      eManual

      You need a pre-amp for RIAA equalization even more than the low sensitivity of modern receivers, otherwise your phonograph disks won’t sound right! See:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIAA_equalization

  • avatar

    I may not have a car, but I’d want my radio. My mom’s idea of helping me go to sleep at night when I was little was the Top 40 station. Considering it was the time of acts like Madonna, Depeche Mode, Poison, INXS, Eddie Grant et al, I have her to thank for bringing music into my life.

    I eventually strayed over to talk radio in middle school, where I heard the likes of Don Imus, G. Gordon Liddy, Art Bell & Co., Don & Mike… no Howard Stern, though; no affiliate near my Kansas hometown aired his show.

    These days, it’s KIRO-FM and ESPN 710 for me — especially for Mariners, Seahawks and Sounders coverage — followed by KOMO 1000 and NPR et al (the latter when I’m outside Seattle). I also interned at my local NPR affiliate in Louisville, so we have that.

    My music needs, meanwhile, are handled by Google Play and YouTube.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    The one thing I did appreciate about Sirius when I had it (10 years ago) was being introduced to new music and genres of music. This was before streaming. I’d get bored with the playlist on one station and switch to a new one. I discovered Outlaw Country on Sirius and developed even more of an appreciation for different types and styles of music. It’s still good for that, but it’s not the product it was when they were separate brands.


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