Tag Archives: radio

The Breaking News Concept

I’m a news junkie. Always have been. In the past, if you came to my house or got in my car, you’d likely find a TV or radio station tuned to the news. Local news, national news, you name it, I was informed.

I think I got this way partially because of my dad. He’d religiously watch the evening news each night when we were growing up; still does to this day. The other side of me believes my background in Public Relations played a large role too. Always being “in the know” for trends and current events, tracking coverage, and pitching reporters makes you interested in everything that is going on the world, whether it’s close to home or half way around the globe.

Recently though, I’ve started to hate the news. Every time I turn on the TV, there’s “breaking news.” When I would see that bright red rectangular box come across my screen, there was typically urgent, informative news to tune in to. Not anymore. These days, “breaking news” is two inches of snow in Northern New Jersey; or childish jabs from political candidates. Long gone are the days of real breaking news, like what happened in Brussels in this week.

When I turned on my TV Tuesday morning, I saw tons of “breaking news.” I assumed it was just something silly again that CNN or MSNBC deemed “breaking” just for ratings or to grab attention. Probably something about Trump and the violence at his rallies or Hulk Hogan’s sex tape scandal. Sadly, this really was breaking news and I was tuned in, just like I used to be; glued to the television, with news on in the background as I made lunch, cleaned the house and drove in the car.

I am so disappointed that networks try and grab our attention with these breaking news scrolls about celebrity couples breaking up or that there is rain in the forecast. What happened to the news that actually drew people to the channel? I don’t want bad things happening in our world, which is typically when your regularly scheduled programming is interrupted, but I think it’s time we take a closer look at what is really considered “breaking” the days to get people to trust our news sources once again.

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The Sirius XM Subscription Scam

For Christmas, my husband got me a satellite radio for my car. I had a super old system and this one would replace my old unit and could be docked in my car. Sweet!

Sweet until I got scammed by the subscription department at Sirius XM when I tried to activate my account.

I waited forever to put the unit in my car and set up service, but when I finally did, I was shocked to learn that they wanted over $200 for a yearly subscription to all their available channels. I have never been a fan of paying for radio, especially since my husband works in terrestrial radio and I have the luxuries of Pandora, Spotify and my iPod, but I was willing to pay a few extra bucks a month for commercial-free tunes geared towards my musical preferences.

Sirius/XM was never terribly reliable. It would lose its signal randomly and stations replayed the same songs within an hour or two of each other. Yet, even with these annoyances, I liked the idea of listening to the all 90s channel on my way to work or writing to the tunes of Coffeehouse. That was until I found I would be paying twice as much as other customers.

My neighbor told me he paid $94 a year for his premium service . My mom pays a mere $84 annually for the same plan. When I called, over a holiday weekend, they wanted about $230 for 12 months which included taxes and applicable service fees.  Fuck that!

I told the customer service reps that I knew people were getting the same plan at a significantly lower cost. They proceeded to tell me that there were no promotions and to try back again. I did that, and again, no specials. I was baffled. How could they keep telling me to sign up and call for new deals when there never were any? Didn’t they want to sign on a new customer, even at a discounted rate? I mean, Sirius/XM’s churn rate is insane and would be even worse if they didn’t broker deals with current customers to stay on board.

I finally asked to talk to a manager who told me he had some special promo code that the initial reps didn’t have. It didn’t quite make sense to me, but when he offered me at a deal for all the channels at $109, I said I’d take it. I had to call back with my radio’s ID number for them to activate it, so they made a note on my account.

When I called back, they told me the $109 subscription was for a selected plan – one that doesn’t give you all the channels the satellite radio giant offers. Um, hello, if I am paying for a service I can get for free (kind of), why would I only want some channels and not all? I explained this to the rep who said he couldn’t do anything for me, so he put me through to a manager. Suddenly, she had a deal for $131 for the premium subscription plan, which was still more than my mom and neighbor were paying, so I protested. They couldn’t match those deals or do  much better.

I was curious why only the managers could get me a deal and the initial sales rep could only offer me something for $200+. When I asked, the manager declined to comment, simply saying she was sorry. I went on, asking why all the managers had a code for a promotion that was locked to my radio purchase, yet when I called to subscribe, no one was able to offer me what apparently I was “entitled” to anyway.

I kept at it, demanding an answer from the manager about why I wasn’t told I could get a deal by the first 10 reps I spoke to. She hung up on me. Bitch. I decided to call back and the next manager I spoke to read from a pre-written script, apologizing for the trouble and brokering me a yearly premium channel deal for $185.

Excuse me?!? $185? That is $50 more than the manager who hung up on me offered. I asked her how this was possible and she was just as dumbfounded as the rest. Finally, she gave me a deal at $124 for everything I wanted, but told me I had to pay $4/month for internet access to stations and buy another dock to listen to the unit in my home, which would run me about $39.99.

After all this shit, I thought to myself, why do I need to pay for radio? Yeah, it’s a luxury and a convenience, but the hassle and bullshit that I went through to get it, along with the unfairness, left such a bad taste in my mouth, so I told them I was no longer interested. I mean, why would I want to pay more than other people, and why should other people pay more than me? I’m not trying to sound cheap, but the whole thing is such a scam. If I had service previously (which I did and conveniently, they couldn’t find my account despite a myriad of information I provided them), they would have done whatever they could to keep me to lessen their churn rate. I have friends who call every three months to broker a new, cheaper deal. So Sirius XM, what gives?

The Death of the Mix Tape

Remember the mix tape? You know, the cassette you played in your car or your Aiwa stereo boom box that was a compilation of everything in your life? For those of you who forget or may not even know, mix tapes were way before CDs and archaic compared to iTunes.

I recently went home to my parents’ house for a visit and we purged the basement. I love purging. I feel like a weight has been lifted from me when I purge; even if it’s not my own stuff! This time, there was a lot of my things to get rid of, including my cassettes.

When my mom asked if we could get rid of them, I blanked. How could we throw out my tape collection where I first heard Whitney belt out “Greatest Love of All,” Bon Jovi croon “Born to Be My Baby,” or the theme song from “St. Elmo’s Fire?” Forgetting the actual tapes I owned, there were literally hundreds of mix tapes I had created over the years. Seriously, I didn’t get a CD player till I was like 19!

I made mix tapes for everyone and everything. If I had a house party, there was a mix tape. And there wasn’t just one – I had a slow jam mix for late night, a party mix for when things got rowdy and a mix of the two. I made mix tapes for my friends. When someone went through a break up, there was cassette full of depressing tunes to listen to while they cried their eyes out. When we all decided to get into shape, there were motivational mixes to pump us; when someone got their license, there was a driving mix; when we went on a road trip, prom, the shore, you name it, there were tunes to accompany us.

And of course there were mix tapes for your man, full of love songs, both happy and sad. But the best mix tape, at least in my mind, was when you got one from someone else, (i.e. a guy). Whether it was a boyfriend or a guy you liked, or even a good friend you crushed on, the fact that a guy was sitting there pushing play, record, stop, and perfectly mastering the set-up of each song for your personal enjoyment, sent chills down the spine.

So now, I was left to decide if I get rid of all those good memories. While I couldn’t physically watch them on YouTube or instantly play them on my Mac, they held a little piece of my youth that always made me smile, even if some of those times were the most difficult I thought I would ever endure (if I only knew then what I know now!).

I told my mom I needed to think about it and the bag stayed in the basement. While I contemplated getting rid of them, I realized, um, hello, I don’t even have a tape deck anymore to play these damn mixes. But they’re still there, collecting dust, until I’m ready to let go. iTunes Genius has nothing on my “Serious Depressing Mix Part 5” or “Kathy’s Motivational Mix.”