We've been on XM since the very beginning of the service in 2001, the result of a decision by XM's original Program Director, the legendary LEE ABRAMS. Lee appreciated our taste and our careful approach to program creation. Lee was a music guy from the old school who genuinely loved and appreciated all kinds of music. During his tenure, XM clearly had best music channels in the business.
Lee quit XM in 2006; shortly after, XM merged with Sirius Satellite Radio to create Sirius/XM, and Sirius took over control of programming. From our original home on "AudioVisions" channel 103 under the caring, professional stewardship of RUSS DAVIS, HOS was moved to the new "Spa" channel 72. Russ was unceremoniously fired and others took over programming the Spa and Jazz channels.
Sirius has a completely different, mainstream/star-oriented programming philosophy, which led to them paying Howard Stern over half a billion-with-a-B dollars to move there, more emphasis on sports and other mass-audience channels, and a de-emphasis on their music channels, especially the "niche" channels like Spa. Note to niche music listeners: they're just not into you.
To be clear, being on XM was never a big financial thing for us. In the beginning they paid us less than small market public radio stations, which we didn't think was possible. In 2004 we signed a deal for $2000 a year for 7 shows a week, or $5.50 a show. We were able to negotiate a little more some years, but it was still minimal.
Our contract came up for renewal this year on March 31st. Despite repeated attempts to contact them, we never heard anything about renewal or renegotiation, and the show simply disappeared from the Spa channel on April 1st when the contract expired. When we finally got a hold of someone in their legal department on April 6th, the stated reason was that "Sirius has a policy of not carrying programming that is available elsewhere."
That's obviously corporate bullspin, since they carry major league baseball, basketball, the New York Philharmonic, and many other kinds of programming that are indeed available elsewhere. The real reason is that they just don't care about small audiences for niche music genres. They'd prefer to pay Howard Stern $100 Million a year to (theoretically) pull in the numbers. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be working: Sirius has "serious" financial problems and its stock is down to under $1 a share.
With 7 or 8 shows a week, over the years many new spacefans have discovered Hearts of Space on XM. They're a communicative bunch: from farmers to long haul truckers to grandmothers in Maine, we've received email from thousands of them, and we expect to hear from many more in the wake of the drop.
We're sad to lose our satellite radio listeners, and we encourage you to join us online. For a limited time, we're offering a special "transition" discount for XM subscribers to get them used to listening on-demand anytime they like, rather than on XM's broadcast schedule! Please email XM@hos.com for details.