Change the channel

I’m the type of person who becomes very loyal to certain brands. My entire stereo is comprised of Pioneer and only Pioneer components. Volkswagen is always my first choice in vehicles. I go to the same liquor stores and grocery stores, even if they don’t always have what I’m looking for or are a little bit more expensive than the cheap dive downtown. I believe in brand loyalty. It’s true.

Knowing this, you’ll have to excuse me if I sound a little biased towards Sirius satellite radio. It is, after all, the brand we chose after careful research – pouring over Consumer Reports magazines and scanning the Internet for comparisons with it’s competitor, XM Radio. Sure, there are stations that I don’t care for, but I just don’t listen to them. I don’t listen to them: what an odd concept.

I say it’s odd because of an article I read over at today regarding Hyundai and its decision to choose XM Radio over Sirius for its standard equipped satellite radio. According to the article:

Hyundai recently surveyed 300 to 400 customers as it was deciding whether to choose XM or Sirius Satellite Radio in as an option for its vehicles. Hyundai ultimately decided to go with XM.

John Krafcik, Hyundai vice president of product development and strategic planning, told Inside Line that executives were stunned by the number of “unprompted write-ins” on the survey that said customers were “not comfortable with programming from (Howard) Stern.”


I don’t care who you are, or what brand you are loyal to, this is horrible logic. If those surveyed would have done a little research, they probably would have found that the sports and talk selections on Sirius where more varied and complete, while the music stations on XM were superior to those from the competitor. Those are valid reasons to choose one or the other.

But this? These people are guilty of basing an entire 180 channel spread on one four hour program that is on during “drive time.” It’s silly. It’s like not getting cable because you don’t like watching MTV’s Cribs, or not going to the mall because you don’t care for that Bath and Body Works store that just opened.

There are three arguments to this, all of which are uninformed and stupid. You’re correct, I did just call them stupid – I’m not usually that fair to uninformed and illogical opinions.

The first is this: “I don’t like what Howard Stern stands for or the content of his show.” Fine. Don’t listen to it. Program it out of your radio. It’s that easy. Instead, listen to three different channels of Public Radio. Wait, you’d probably rather listen to Fox News. Well, that’s there too.

The second is: “I don’t want my children listening to Howard Stern.” Don’t let them. Either program it out (as I said before) or simply use the parental lock to block the station from all but the most mature ears. If you’re still not willing to do that, maybe you can rest assured that XM has parental block too – you can use it to tune out XM channel 66 (Raw, the uncensored rap channel) or 150 (XM Comedy, “the world’s first uncensored radio station.”)

The third is that “I don’t want to support the company that supports Howard Stern.” That’s fine. Instead you’d rather support the company that supports the Playboy Channel, XM channel 205, where according to the XM website you can ” take a trip to the wild side — call-in to Night Calls host Tiffany, immerse yourself in the erotic world of Sexy Stories, and get playful advice from the Playboy Advisor.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying this because I’m a Howard Stern apologist. I don’t even think Stern is entertaining. Not at all. I do, however, respect that he is a human with protection against censorship and that others should have the opportunity to listen to him if they so choose. You have the choice to do it or not. Choice. Another weird concept.

Yes, I know that it was a survey. Yes, I understand that Hyundai has the final say on what radio will go into their cars as they roll out of the factory. Still, I don’t think the best way to get what we want is to avoid conflict, to hide from something offensive rather than just turn it off. Society as a whole wants to blame someone for everything instead of just taking control of their fears and doing something about it. Like simply turning the damned channel.

I guess all that I’m hoping for is that people begin realizing that choices aren’t forced, and that shunning one thing over another for the simple fact that one small completely avoidable part of it may be offensive for 13 percent of the day is pretty ridiculous.

In fact (with tongue pressed firmly in cheek) I’d call it pretty un-American.

This was lovingly handwritten on May 14th, 2005