Radio Waves: November 13, 2020

Christmas is coming…

You knew it was coming … the artificial trees have been up at the large home centers for a month now; Costco has had their Christmas decorations out even longer. So it was just a matter of time before KOST (103.5 FM) and SiriusXM announced their holiday music programming.

You may have read it in this newspaper already: KOST made the annual switch a week ago, on Thursday, November 5th with the beginning of the Ellen K morning show. This gets the popular annual format well within the “December” ratings period as well as the “holiday” ratings period, encompassing a combined final eight weeks of the year. And KOST is not alone; stations across the US started making the switch last week as well.

As is also typical, SiriusXM is getting the holiday spirit, this year perhaps a bit earlier than usual for the company. Fully 16 channels dedicated to holiday music ranging from traditional Christmas carols to Hanukkah favorites and everything in between will eventually be on the air, most available already, and most running through at least December 25th. Then on December 29th, a special New Year’s Nation channel will help ring in the new year. See the schedule and channel lineup at SiriusXM.Com.

Speaking of SXM

A few weeks ago, reader Dave Roberts wrote about a new product developed to help the pesky dropouts caused by cell phone towers that affect the SiriusXM satellite (and terrestrial repeater) signal. 

Some parts of town (and even out of town) are subject to signal losses that make listening to the satellite radio service difficult. Roberts told of a special filter designed to fix it, “but the subscriber has to pay $80 per radio to fix their problem. The $80 includes them paying an installer to hook up the filter.” He asked if he could be sent one for free and install it himself, “So far they have refused,” he said back in September.

Recently, he gave me an update: We ended up purchasing 2 filters at $80 each and installing them ourselves. No dropouts! 

“The filter comes with a plastic GM adapter on one end that you need to remove (easy) if you don’t have a GM car. Both ends are standard SiriusXM antenna connections. After a month in use: “Still working perfectly! That is why we were hooked on Sirius in the first place. Terrestrial here in California can get spotty with the hills, mountains and valleys,” Roberts concluded.

I know what he is talking about: the antenna connection used by GM (and I assume other automotive companies) has a special clip to connect the antenna; take off the plastic and the connector is just a regular Sirius, XM or SiriusXM antenna connector. I had to remove the clip when I changed out the factory stereo in my wife’s Enclave.

And it is easy. So why does SiriusXM charge $80 for a filter, making you pay for installation that can be done yourself? That’s highway robbery. Hopefully the company will change their ways on the issue, along with changing the tuner design in future editions making the filter unnecessary. In the meantime, if you are interested in the filter, you can get it here:

After you buy it, make sure you complain to customer service about the dropouts and threaten to drop the service so you can get a discounted rate on your subscription. Just sayin’.

iHeart Cuts

iHeart Media — the company no longer even pretends to care about radio — has launched its annual employee cutback program in an attempt to stave off another round of bankruptcy. So far I have not seen any positions cut locally, but they have been happening nationwide for the past two weeks.

Large radio groups like iHeart, Entercom, and Cumulus — accounting for roughly 15 stations in Los Angeles and a handful more in the Inland Empire — have been particularly hard-hit due to ad revenue declines started prior to but certainly accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. But all radio stations are feeling the pinch. This latest round of cuts at iHeart leaves very little meat left on the bone, and could leave the company extremely vulnerable in the long run.

Helping Hand

KGGI (99.1 FM) — an iHeart station, by the way — is working with the Water of Life Community Church in Fontana to collect donations of clothing, shoes, accessories, blankets, and personal hygiene products to benefit homeless in the Inland Empire.

It’s called the Fifth Annual Cover the IE Collection Drive, with station personalities broadcasting live from the church as they and volunteers collect donated items. Of course all COVID-19 safety protocols will be followed.

The station is encouraging all Inland Empire residents to drop off clean, gently used or new coats, jackets, scarves, gloves, masks, beanies, socks, blankets and/or sleeping bags plus travel sized toiletries, from 9am – 6pm on Saturday the 21st and 10am – 3pm on Sunday the 22nd at the Water of Life Church, located at 7625 East Ave. in Fontana.

While the supply lasts, donors will receive a “Be Our Guest” card for Baker’s Twin Kitchen Restaurant.