In my case study, I focused on terrestrial radio and Sirius XM radio. I began by focusing on how each of them work. Radio through towers, to receivers, to the music we hear every day, and Sirius XM, through transmitters to satellites, to receivers to the music. By focusing on the logistics of both of them, I was able to uncover some pros and cons about them both.
In the case of terrestrial radio, there are two types. AM and FM, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. AM, while it can broadcast great distances, has a poor sound quality. AM also has to deal with interruptions, especially during the day because the sun transmits waves on the same frequency. FM while it does not have to deal with interruptions from the sun, cannot broadcast very far. This can be extremely inconvenient for people especially on long car rides, because the radio station will need to be change a number of times during the duration of the trip. But, on a positive side FM radio is very localized and can help a community with local conversations, elections, events and other things especially emergencies. Although terrestrial radio seems to have a lot of problems, “Seventy-five percent of Americans listen to the radio everyday, and ninety-four percent of all Americans listen to the radio at least once a week. On average, Americans spend 19.5 hours per week just listening to the radio” (Cain, 2005, p. 223).
But Cain is also careful to show the down side as terrestrial radio as well saying “Twenty-two million people in the United States receive five or fewer FM stations, and more than 700,000 people live entirely outside current FM broadcast coverage” (Cain, 2005, p. 223). Satellite radio does not have the problems of terrestrial radio. Because it uses satellites instead of radio towers, it can broadcast globally. This means no having to change the radio station multiple times on car trips. It also offers at least 120 station choices to it’s listeners. One of XM’s downfalls is that it is not localized. In the event of an emergency it would not be near a beneficial to listen to as FM radio would.
Terrestrial radio showed what its common problems were, and XM Satellite radio strived to fix them. Without the complaints received about terrestrial radio, Satellite radio would not have known what problems it needed to solve to be successful. This is how terrestrial radio served as a template for satellite radio.
Bonsor, K. (2001, September 26). How Satellite Radio Works. Retrieved October 10, 2017, from http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/satellite-radio2.htm
Cain, A. (2005, March 15). Satellite Radio: An Innovative Technology’s Path through the FCC and into the Future . Retrieved October 10, 2017, from http://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1110&context=naalj
Volume 25, Issue 1
Harper, Jim August 15, 2008. (2008, August 15). The Lesson of the XM/Sirius Merger. Retrieved October 10, 2017, from https://www.cato.org/publications/techknowledge/lesson-xmsirius-merger
Schnickel, A. (2000, November 17). Radio Waves and How They Work. Retrieved October 10, 2017, from http://illumin.usc.edu/114/catch-a-wave-radio-waves-and-how-they-work/
Straubharr, J. D., LaRose, R., & Davenport, L. (2016). Media Now: understanding media, culture, and technology. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.