After getting past the initial shock that this was radio I was hearing, I started from the top of the dial, breezing through the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s (that's what the channels are called, and they're pretty self-explanatory). If you're really lazy, these babies cover almost all the bases, and they're positioned right next to each other so you can shuffle between them easily - that is, until Air Supply comes on. Then you want to get as far away from them as you can.
By the time we hit the interstate and Dave had finished his pitch about how XM offers all 100 channels (37 commercial-free, the rest with fewer than 6 minutes of ads an hour) for $9.99 a month, we had just settled in. There wasn't much talking. We just sat there listening and surfing, checking out the more specialized channels like CineMagic, which features movie soundtracks along with interviews and dialogue clips, and Pat DiNizio's Unsigned, which plays nothing but undiscovered bands (see "The Roster," left). If I had a question about the song title or artist, I just hit the "menu" button on the AC/Delco head unit (standard with the 2002 Cadillac DeVilles and Sevilles), and the information appeared on the readout - which beats the hell out of traditional radio, where you're lucky if the DJ ever tells you what's playing. Even the bad songs sounded good (you know what I mean, wiseguy).
Friday After the Gas Station: Sacking Out I was angry. J-Lo's "My Love Don't Cost a Thing" was in my head and I wanted it out. So I quickly jumped from the MTV channel to the 60s and the Monkees' "Steppin' Stone." Not my first choice, but adequate enough. But we all wanted to hear something new or interesting. I was also so hungry that I was tempted to rip out a chunk of the headrest, slather it in ketchup, and jam it in my wordhole. So we switched on the revolutionary sounds of The Joint (get it?) - an amazing "all reggae, all the time" channel - and headed toward a diner in Jersey. I drifted off to the mellow grooves of Jimmy Cliff. Luckily, I wasn't driving at the time.
Friday Afternoon: At the Diner "You're not gonna kidnap us or cut out the pictures of our heads and put them on chicks, are you?" So asked one of the three teenagers as our photographer snapped away while they listened to some unedited hip-hop on XM's Raw channel.
We had just arrived at the Club Diner, and these teens were the first passersby we invited to check out the system. After I assured them that we wouldn't kidnap them (we didn't have enough room in the car) or PhotoShop their heads on chicks (what kind of magazine did they think Sound & Vision was?), they were really impressed with the system. "This sound kicks, there's a cool variety, and it's unedited," said Joe Pantone, the tallest of the three. "It's so much better than FM, which only has three stations and everything stinks." Then again, I think they would have been more impressed if the car was on fire. So, we wanted a second opinion.
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