I went on a long road trip over the holiday weekend and rented a car with Sirius XM in it and promptly searched out classical stations. There are three that I could find, plus a fourth that plays movies soundtracks (some of which ain't too bad). Anyway, the station called Symphony Hall is one of the best stations I've heard. I got to hear Yakov Kreizberg's recent-ish recording of DSCH 5, Karajan's Bruckner 1, Mozart's 13th & 14th string quartets, some works by Spohr, Amy Beach, some even more obscure composers, as well as Brahms, Beethoven, Mahler, and others. No commercials and minimal chatter, too. The only downside is that even satellite reception is hindered in hilly, forested areas. The "Pops" classical station is unusual in that it doesn't so much play pops works as it does play interesting movements from standard rep works (slow movement from Dvorak's 9th, piano miniatures (eg Passepied), etc). The Met Opera broadcast station is a treasure trove of performances ancient and modern.
So, I'm left wondering, should I spend the money for a satellite radio at home? I'm not convinced the business model is viable, and I could be left with worthless junk in a short period of time. And beyond the classical stations, I get the same feeling I do whenever I watch cable television. (I only do so on vacations.) There’s so much choice, but almost all of it is crap. I received around 250 satellite radio stations, but I could not find a good jazz station, and the rock stations focused on music I didn’t like at all, or could take only in small doses. There were also at least a half dozen French language stations (?) playing crappy French pop (??), and well over a hundred talk stations, or at least stations where people were babbling about something or other. Is that really worth a monthly fee?
Internet radio available via WiMax seems to be a more viable alternative for the near future.
(I will say that satellite radio is much better than cable television, which has apparently gotten worse in the year since I last channel surfed dozens of channels. I didn’t think that was possible. Really, who is this Nancy Grace moron?)