From a station on Earth, sound frequency is transmitted some 22,000 miles above the earth to satellites, which send the sound back to Earth containing scrambled meta data about the broadcast. You press a button in your car and access one of hundreds of programming channels, and you can listen almost anywhere in the country without changing the dial.

Sound like science fiction? Satellite radio sounds futuristic and unattainable, but is actually a popular way to listen to your favorite music from your car, computer or home. Satellite radio allows you to tune in to various types of programming without ever “tuning in” or experiencing radio static. Plus, satellite radio is a great way to access millions of songs in dozens of genres in your home theater system.

This easy access to entertainment has definite perks. The biggest names in satellite radio, Sirius and XM (which are now combined to form SiriusXM), cover three million square miles across the United States and 200 miles offshore. It boasts more than 165 channels, including 72 channels of commercial-free music in genres like country, rap, metal and Top 20 pop. Subscribers can also access comedy, news, talk and sports channels, as well as listen to life traffic and weather from more than nine metropolitan areas.

SiriusXM comes standard in many new and used vehicles from Honda, Toyota, Nissan and Ford, but also can be installed in any type of vehicle with receivers and vehicle installation kits, available through retailers or casino online. Free apps to stream programming anywhere are available for your iPhone, Android and Kindle devices.

Before you sign on the dotted line and bring satellite radio into your life, remember that this type of programming comes with a price tag – and considering terrestrial radio (good old AM/FM) is free, the cost may seem a bit hefty. SiriusXM subscriptions start at $10 per month for a very basic plan and go up to almost $20 a month for all-access to radio and Internet streams.

To satellite or not to satellite – that’s today’s question. To make it easier, here’s our list of pros and cons.


  • Great custom selection from a wide variety of genres.
  • Live sports broadcasts from the NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR and more.
  • Listen to music almost anywhere in the country without interruption, static, or tuning the channel.


  • Must purchase additional equipment to listen, unless your vehicle is equipped with a satellite radio tuner.
  • Additional cost to stream from the Internet.
  • Can be a costly alternative to traditional AM/FM.

Have you jumped on the satellite radio bandwagon?